De Beauvoir Town is every bit as middle-class as it sounds. Thankfully there’s loads to see and do along its relaxed, handsome main thoroughfare. Poised between the traffic-choked Dalston strip and manic Essex Road, Southgate Road quietly goes about its business with some of the best cafés, pubs and delis in this neck of the woods.
When they hear N1, most people think straight away of Angel, but unlike chain-choked Upper Street, Southgate Road has proper Islington class. It’s mostly free of high street shops and traffic, with the beautiful Rosemary Gardens and Regent’s Canal at one end, De Beauvoir Square just a stroll away, and rows of pretty Georgian terraces lining it and the streets nearby. This is the jewel in the De Beauvoir crown: a proper looker.
And make no mistake – it’s posh round here. There’s more organic veg, artisan bread, locally roasted coffee and vintage furniture than you can shake a hand-whittled stick at. No surprise, then, that the two best boozers – The Rosemary Branch and The De Beauvoir Arms – are upmarket watering holes. But unlike your local blah-blah gastro joint, each hosts a year-round programme of theatre and performance. Hackney cool meets Islington style: that’s Southgate Road in a nutshell. It’s the perfect place for a sophisticated Sunday.
A hangover-busting flat white at the funky 52A Coffee House, a cool little shop with eclectic furnishings and awesome croissants.
A cracking pinot at The De Beauvoir Arms, an upmarket pub with no TV, serving posh Mediterranean food and boasting an awesome wine list.
A bottle of craft at The Hunter S, a hip, buzzing pub with an edgy vibe, sought out by hot young things escaping the Dalston madness.
A delicious and Instagram-ready salsiccia pizza from Sweet Thursday. We’ve no idea what’s behind the name, but this place serves boss pizzas matched with a fine array of wines.
Organic fruit and veg from Field to Fork. No self-respecting Islingtonian shops anywhere as quotidian as Sainsbury’s or Tesco, not when there’s this deli offering fresh produce from the Home Counties.
Great gourmet ready meals and coffee at the other deli round these parts: De Beauvoir Deli.
Pork and prawn summer rolls from Salvation in Noodles. Easy to miss, on the corner of Southgate Road and Balls Pond Road, this little place does brilliant Vietnamese food in a stylish setting.
Lounge about listening to folk music in De Beauvoir Square. Once a month, Sound Advice’s Acoustic Sundays turn St Peter’s Church into a relaxing haven.
See a play at the Rosemary Branch. Not content with being a fine pub, this local favourite is also an award-winning theatre.
See another play at The De Beauvoir Arms. Yep, two theatre-pubs on a single street. The Arms hosts thesps upstairs in its COG ARTSpace.
Lovingly repurposed and refurbished retro interior furnishings from 2&4 Vintage Furniture, which also sells awesome sourdough toasties and coffee – they tick just about every hip box.
A proper Bianchi road bike from Micycle East, which also runs regular bicycle maintenance workshops. You’ll be the envy of Cycle Superhighway 1 in no time.
And if you only do one thing…
Get active in Rosemary Gardens. This lovely little park boasts tennis courts, ping-pong tables and one of those free outdoor gyms.
By Josh McLoughlin, who reckons he’d do a decent job as England manager.