Poor old Holloway. It will never get called quaint, picturesque, village-y or charming. Why? Because its high street is a dual carriageway. And not just any dual carriageway, it’s the A1. That’s the FIRST dual carriageway. But for all its crosstown traffic, Holloway Road is weirdly appealing. Even the Archway end.
N7 has been home to a huge mix of people for such a long time: the buttered-toast-and-builders’ caffs do as roaring a trade as the trendy flat white purveyors. The handful of handsome new openings that are trickling up from the Highbury end have been welcomed with rumbling bellies; sourdough pizza, fancy burgers, French cheese and even a Chicken Shop are now all nestled between the local restaurants, takeaways, football pubs and corner shops.
Though not a scenic road to travel, it is a practical one. With its two giant supermarkets, the brilliant Nag’s Head Market, Selby’s the department store and various other useful retailers, you can accomplish any errand. But there’s fun to be had here too, and I’m willing to bet that it’s the only road in the country where you can eat in an Ecuadorian-Bolivian restaurant and buy a made-to-measure ’40s-style wiggle dress.
Get yourself a pint of locally brewed Hammerton N7 IPA and listen to some live Irish folk at The Lamb. The owners are lovely, it’s usually full of sleepy dogs and you can order food in from anywhere you fancy. The dream, basically.
If you’re more interested in fun than hops, make sure to stop by Big Red. This massive heavy metal bar is much less scary than it looks, open very late, free to get in and has pool tables and dartboards.
The unassuming-looking OA Comtam does some totally fantastic Vietnamese food. Not every dish is bang on, but the spring rolls and the sizzling lemongrass goat are definitely not to be missed.
At the western end of HR the place to go is The Spoke, which is technically a cycle café but more practically is a great place for burgers and cocktails.
For an affordable terracotta pot full of comfort food you need look no further than Tbilisi, one of London’s oldest Georgian restaurants. Its stews are super.
Take a trip to the magnificent but dilapidated Odeon cinema or wander around the Nag’s Head Car Boot at the weekend to browse the broken N64s and piles of jumble.
Spend a good hour browsing the interesting foodstuffs in Korkmaz Food Centre, a Turkish shop that’s open nearly 24 hours and is packed with bargains.
There’s many an interesting treasure to be dug out from the antiques in Ooh La La. The owner’s got an eye for interesting design and prices are dangerously affordable – I once accidentally bought a Dansette-leg table on my way to the Overground.
You can tell that the guys at Provisions know what they’re doing because they have a proper conversation with everyone that comes in. Buy a refillable bottle from them for £2 and you’ll be able to fill it with French or Italian white or red for just £6 a go. Which leaves you a bit of cash to splash on their incredible cheeses.
If you only do one thing…
Head to The Beer Kat, the newest boozer on the block, currently serving only Beavertown beers in a fairly vast ex-Irish pub. It’s beer-vana.
By Ashleigh Arnott, who sings ‘Holloway’ to the tune of Madonna’s ‘Holiday’
Fancy a change of scene? Here are 11 reasons to go to Marchmont Street in Bloomsbury, WC1