Connecting Dalston’s hipster heartlands with the quirky boutiques and cafés of Church Street, there’s loads to shout about in this laidback little corner of town.
This is where the pop-up-ravaged, vintage-slathered streets of fashionable east London meet the affluent, family-friendly suburbs of the north. It’s also a place where Turkish, West Indian and Jewish communities have lived, merged and flourished for decades. And it’s where London’s wide-eyed radicals, free thinkers and anarchists famously once congregated in squats to plan their ill-fated revolutions.
Stir all this together and you’re left with one of the most vibrant, diverse and multicultural bits of the capital, with great independent places to eat, drink, shop and potter about for each and every one of its varied inhabitants and visitors.
Gentrification has made its inevitable mark here in recent years. However, unlike nearby Church Street – where trainer-wearing cool dads shunt designer pushchairs past ethical wooden toy shops on their way to spend £5 on an artisan loaf in Whole Foods; or equally close Kingsland Road, where the hipster apocalypse is surely nigh – there’s something reassuringly real about a London high street that has a Sports Direct, a Wetherspoon’s and a Savers… As long as there’s also somewhere to get a Negroni at 1am, of course.
A pint in the sunshine in the huge leafy beer garden at The White Hart. If the weather’s bad, settle down inside on one of its comfy chesterfields.
Locally roasted Nude coffee served in vintage mismatched china at quirky café/bar/restaurant The Haberdashery.
Local craft beers and real ales from the massive drinks menu at The Jolly Butchers. The Sunday lunches are highly recommended, too.
Belgian beers from Jan’s, round the corner on Northwold Road. It’s never busy, and their beers are stunning.
Lager at The Rochester Castle, because Wetherspoon’s exists for a reason, and it’s a damn good one: Cheap beer.
Marinated lamb’s testicles at the aptly named Testi if you’re feeling brave, or skip those for some of the very best Turkish kebabs, breads and starters in London.
Banging burgers, fabulous fries and wonderful wings from local meat shack Stokey Bears.
All your Thai favourites at Yum Yum Thai, an enormous and ever-popular restaurant in a Grade II-listed Georgian building.
Seaside-quality fish and chips from Sutton & Sons. Serving Stokey’s foodies sustainable fish, oysters and more from its fishmongers over the road.
Something to read from Stoke Newington Book Shop. Browse the well-stocked shelves of new and secondhand books in this much-loved local literary haven.
Old-school denim at Mint Vintage, a small but perfectly turned-out shop filled with tons of stylish old threads.
Knit away that creative itch with a ball of yarn from Knit with Attitude. Ethically sourced, beautifully presented stock served with a knowledgeable smile.
Boards, T-shirts and footwear from Tom’s Skate Shop. This independent boutique serves local skaters and those visiting the bowls in nearby Clissold Park.
If you only do one thing…
Lose yourself in the gloriously overgrown Abney Park Cemetery with its crumbling, ivy-covered gothic gravestones and dilapidated central chapel. Beautiful and spooky.
By Jonathan Cook, who puts the OK in Stokey.