In 2002 a spate of killings on the stretch of road connecting Hackney Central in the south to Stamford Hill in the north gave Lower Clapton Road the name ‘Murder Mile’. It’s almost unfathomable how much things have changed since then. Spiralling house prices and rapid gentrification have made Lower Clapton Road ‘hot’ in a totally different way to the bad old days.
It has the appeal of Hackney’s best bits, without the downsides: it’s got a relaxed, neighbourhood feel, but without the insanely priced boutiques of nearby Stoke Newington; the bar and restaurant scene is as lively as Dalston’s, but without the hordes ascending from the Overground for a mad night out. You’re a five-minute walk from Hackney Downs, but that green space comes without the barbecue smoke that hangs over London Fields. It’s young and creative, but it has a multicultural feel (for now): Caribbean takeaways sit side-by-side with upmarket sushi bars and you’ll be spoiled for choice if, like me, you’re always down for fried chicken.
It’s the best part of Hackney, in my opinion – and I’ll admit, it’s tempting not to shout about it in case it gets overrun. You should probably visit. But get there quick: this part of London is changing seriously fast.
The lamb and coriander potstickers from My Neighbours the Dumplings. You’ll have to wait for a table as its fame has spread, but it’s worth it.
A falafel wrap at upmarket Turkish kebab spot Dom’s Place.
A crispy sourdough pizza at the first-ever branch of Yard Sale Pizza (bonus points if you manage to get a gelato down afterwards).
Scandinavian pastries from Charles Artisan Bread. The passionate bakers here also run bread-making classes.
A plate of homemade baklava at Turkish bakery Gulluoglu.
An enormous veggie full English at new vegan/vegetarian café and deli Lele’s, which proves that a delicious breakfast doesn’t have to contain meat.
Cocktails at The Bonneville Tavern, where you can place bets on which of the many Tinder dates around you will end up going home together. (The toilets are unmissable too.)
A latte at Lion Coffee & Records, while you check out its programme of music events and browse the vinyl selection.
A G&T at The Windsor Castle, if you can move their superbly uninterested house cat off the only vacant chair.
Beers at Biddle Bros, the area’s best-loved neighbourhood boozer.
A stonking margarita to wash down the tacos at new joint Del 74.
Pop in to St John at Hackney, an eighteenth-century church that doubles as a live music venue.
Take in a gig at The Round Chapel: avant-garde composer William Basinski plays this week.
A new pair of Vans at The Other Side of the Pillow, which sells vintage and limited-edition skate gear.
Just about anything you need at Palm 2. This grocery store is a Lower Clapton institution with a superb salad bar.
And if you only do one thing…
Find the rotating cast of supper clubs in the plant-filled upstairs room at Palm 2. Kino Vino pairs food and film, so you can tuck in to, say, a Persian feast inspired by Iranian arthouse cinema.
By Sirin Kale, who thinks Clapton is God.