Between the hip hubs of Shoreditch and Dalston runs the ever-changing Kingsland Road: a 20-minute-walk’s worth of standout bars, shops and restaurants which far too many Londoners overlook as an arid schlep.
Originally the thoroughfare connected London to the village of Kingsland. Then the village was engulfed by Dalston, with only the road’s name left as a reminder. And just as the area around it has changed, so had the road itself. The old manor houses were replaced by industrial buildings which have since been converted into apartments. Immigration from the late 1940s brought new cultural influences: you’ll first walk up the ‘Pho Mile’ of Vietnamese restaurants before hitting the Turkish kebab shops and Afro-Caribbean food stores. The result is a patchwork of culture and class that’s quintessential London.
At some point in the last decade, the general smartening up of east London made Kingsland Road a destination rather than just a corridor. You’ll still wander past fried chicken shops, dodgy looking electronics stores and car-part outlets but you’ll also find a new bar, café or boutique store opening every few weeks. It’s far from being the prettiest road in London but it’s certainly one of the most exciting. Skip the bus and take a stroll: you might just be surprised.
Cocktails like you’ve never drunk them before at Untitled Bar. It’s booze as a fine art.
Two-for-one mezcal negronis at bar and tapas joint MAP Maison.
A caffeine hit from the Make Coffee van, which serves up top-class cups outside Haggerston Overground.
Espresso in the shabby-chic, lamp-lit upstairs lounge at The Bridge Coffee House.
Twenty-plus ales, lagers and ciders on the rooftop terrace at The Fox.
Beers at The Haggerston: an old boozer that’s got a bit trendy without losing its sense of fun.
Fried chicken with gochujang mayo, chilli vinegar and crunchy slaw, washed down with an amaretto sour at Chick ’n’ Sours.
A warm and nourishing bowl of pho at Hanoi Café on the ‘Pho Mile’.
Bold vegan takes on tacos and more by Club Mexicana, in residence at laidback cocktail bar Pamela.
As many baby red velvet cupcakes as you can at Molly Bakes. They also do freakshakes, obviously.
Get your hair did at the Bleach hair salon, specialising in strong new looks and fixing bad colour jobs.
Head to the Geffrye Museum, which tells the city’s story through the home lives of Londoners. The front lawn is perfect for a summer picnic.
Experience the madness of Visions Video Bar: hands down one of London’s best clubs.
Dial 2-5-8-0 at the telephone box and hope to be let into underground speakeasy bar La Cabina for some (very) late-night drinks and dancing.
Organic food, posh toiletries and other feelgood products from The Grocery. There’s a little café too.
A good read from Haggerston’s indie bookshop Burley Fisher.
Outfits, vinyl and tapes from Oxfam Dalston: one of London’s biggest and best charity shops.
And if you only do one thing…
Ascend to drag heaven at The Glory, a sweaty den of performance and disco debauchery set up by London club legend Jonny Woo, where it’s pretty much impossible to have a bad night.
By Andrew Zuccala, whose favourite king is either Elvis or Kong.