First things first, there’s no regal connection here – it’s named after John King, a seventeenth-century Bishop of London. But King Street reigns supreme in the realm of (more humble) west London shopping streets. Tattier than Chiswick High Road but buzzier than Shepherd’s Bush Road, what this mile-long stretch lacks in cool it makes up for with retail credentials. There’s not a single third-wave coffee shop or concept store in sight. Instead, it’s packed with bargainous high-street staples and seriously sparky independents.
Then there are the restaurants. Oh, the restaurants… Dotted between the chain joints are some real neighbourhood gems. Anyone living within walking distance is quite right to be smug about their situation. However, with not one but three tube lines pulling into Hammersmith, it’s easy enough to reroute your night and grab a seat at one of King Street’s global dining establishments. A special shout-out (mainly for its name) has to go to Credit Munch, a low-key sandwich bar that’s essentially King Street’s spirit animal.
A new development of homes, offices and a Curzon cinema could soon take the area from unassuming to in-yer-face, but here’s hoping my beloved strip retains its gritty charm. If you like shopping at a snip, ogling brutalist concrete and eating and drinking like a king – well, you’ve found your domain.
A good ale at Grade II-listed pub The Salutation. You can’t miss the place: it’s Quality Street purple.
Wine by the carafe at The Hampshire Hog, among the wellies and Barbours – it’s like the Cotswolds decamped to W6.
Ice-cold Vietnamese coffee (rocket fuel, basically) from Viet Ace.
Dosas bigger than your forearm at Sagar. That’s not an exaggeration. Cram into this friendly South Indian veggie joint and order as much as your stomach can take.
Proper Iranian stews and kebabs at Mahdi. Portions are mammoth so expect to leave with a doggy bag.
A plate of fresh homemade pasta at L’Amorosa – piled high with pork belly, wild boar or beef rib ragout. Date night gold dust.
Anything from Yoshi Sushi. It’s run by Koreans so, as well as great Japanese food, it does killer kimchi and bibimbap. A blowout dinner with plenty of hot saké will barely nudge the 30 quid mark.
A Thai curry from the Hammersmith Café. This dingy BYOB just off the main drag hasn’t changed in years. The cheery service and absurdly cheap dishes will have you hooked.
Vintage threads from Traid. It’s so stuffed with designer clothing that you’d never guess it’s technically a charity shop.
A hunk of vegan halva from Bushwacker Wholefoods, a healthfood store that feels like a cornershop.
Stroll the green pastures of Ravenscourt Park near the Chiswick end of King Street. Its eighteenth-century walled garden is perfect for trysts.
Bob your head to live jazz at Café Posk, the Polish Social & Cultural Association’s basement bar. Easily one of the most vibrant jazz spots in London (and no, it has nothing to do with the free vodka shot on entry).
Browse the Lyric Square Thursday market. There are Filipino, Caribbean, Moroccan and Ghanaian hot food stalls – plus farmers selling fresh bread, cheese and veg. It’s the best way to spend a lunch break in Hammersmith.
And if you only do one thing…
Catch a leftfield play at the refurbed Lyric Hammersmith. This community hub manages to be both innovative and accessible. Plus it has a banging roof garden: ideal for that interval cocktail.