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Shish kebabs, meditation classes and table football: it's the best bits of Holloway

By Elizabeth Darke
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Prison? What prison? Come for the bright lights and cheap eats of LoHo

Isn’t Holloway just a prison? Why should I go there?

Because besides being home to London’s only all-female (and soon to be closed) prison, Holloway is brimming with brilliant shops, pubs and places to eat. Okay, it might look like a traffic-filled thoroughfare just for getting from Highbury to Highgate, but N7 has a lot going for itself.

Brilliant local shops, you say?

Oh yes. New in Lower Holloway – or LoHo to its residents – is Provisions (Holloway Road), a cheese and wine parlour selling delectable products from independent producers, which also hosts after-hours tasting events. Further up the road is Selbys, a three-storey department store complete with haberdashery, café and threading counter for all your facial-hair emergencies. Off the main road, there’s Grafton School Market (entrance in Hercules Place) which takes place every weekend and sells everything from books and secondhand vinyl to toys and clothing. At the seven-days-a-week Nag’s Head Covered Market (Seven Sisters Road), you can have your meat butchered, shoes shined and palm read all under one roof.

Sounds good. Now, where can I eat?

Mate, where can’t you eat? Start the day with smashed avocado at veggie café EZ & Moss, lunch on sticky chicken wings and Korean fries at newly opened Bird (both on Holloway Road) then head for authentic Chinese street food at Xi’an Impression (Benwell Road). If that lot doesn’t make you split your skinny jeans, end the day with a chicken shish from Crystal (Holloway Road).

Whoa – what if I only fancy a drink?

Oh, Holloway does drinks. Good drinks. For caffeine-lovers: Vagabond (Holloway Road) brews some of the north’s nicest coffee. For alcohol-lovers: shabby-chic pub The Lamb (Holloway Road) serves a vast selection of beers; the toasty Swimmer at The Grafton Arms (Eburne Road) has an open fire as well as a top-notch pub quiz; and then there’s The Spoke (Holloway Road) for late-night mojitos and martinis.

So it’s good for a night out then?

Holloway is home to legendary rocker bar Big Red. With live music, neon lighting, table football and a 2.30am closing time on Friday and Saturday, it certainly won’t kill your post-pub vibe.

Ewan Munro

I need some down time. Where’s good to chill?

There’s always the art deco Odeon, or you can wind down at the North London Buddhist Centre which runs drop-in meditation classes, yoga events and mindfulness workshops (all Holloway Road). 

By Liz Darke, who’s had more chicken shish kebabs from Crystal than the whole of N7 put together.

Fancy a change of scene? Take a look at the best bits of Paddington.

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