In many ways, East Finchley is the Beverly Hills of London. Over the years all the greats have lived around here: George Michael, Emma Bunton, Spike Milligan, Margaret Thatcher… And if you fancy seeing where the likes of monarchs, business magnates and incredibly wealthy celebrities live today, check out the ridiculously expensive properties on The Bishops Avenue. (Justin Bieber rented one of the houses there in 2016 for a reported £25,000 a week.)
But N2 isn’t all about one-percenters. Take a stroll up the High Road through this lovely part of north London; it’s close enough to reach Zone 1 easily on the tube yet far enough out to feel cosy. With its wide, tree-shaded pavements and residential side streets, the High Road is home to many fantastic restaurants and inviting drinking holes, along with independent and occasionally quirky shops and other delights. It’s a great place to live, shop, eat, drink and unwind – and it’s close to some of the best views across London.
The High Road, it should be noted, doesn’t just cover East Finchley: it runs all the way through North Finchley and winds up in Whetstone. But stick around the southern end for a while, and by the time you’re done taking in all the treats you might well be sporting an ‘I heart N2’ badge.
An epic pizza at Italian restaurant Bufi (great gluten-free options are also available!). Arrive super-hungry so you can fit in a side dish of polenta fries.
The chicken satay starter and massaman curry at the friendliest of Thai restaurants, Bangkok Lounge.
An epic fry-up at the New Local Cafe just up the road from the station. They also do a pretty mean omelette and chips.
A cake (or three) at the Yasar Halim Patisserie, an offshoot of the Green Lanes favourite. There’s space inside to stop and have a cup of tea so you can really take in all the delicious smells.
A gorgeous Sunday roast at nearby gastropub The Clissold Arms, a short walk around the corner on Fortis Green.
A glass of one of the many wines available at the Bald Faced Stag pub. There’s a restaurant at the back, too, in case you fancy more than just bar snacks.
A local brew at the Old White Lion on Great North Road. On a cold evening, you can get comfy and enjoy a beer. In the summer, take in the sunshine in the garden.
Take a relaxing walk in Cherry Tree Wood, home each summer to the marvellous East Finchley Community Festival.
Indulge yourself with a massage, a tan or a manicure at the super-friendly Healthy Glow beauticians. Go for the treatments and stay for the laughs.
Visit some London heroes in St Pancras and Islington Cemetery, including the city’s first pearly king, Henry Croft.
An LP from the impressive vinyl selection found at Alan’s Records.
Something new (or old!) to read from Black Gull Books, a treasure trove of weird and wonderful literature.
A hidden gem from one of the many eclectic charity shops. The RSPCA one is my favourite: I’ve uncovered lots of old books in there.
And if you only do one thing…
Take in a film with a cuppa and a piece of cake at the listed, one-screen Phoenix Cinema. It’s London’s oldest continually operated picture house, and arguably its most magical.
By Amanda Keats, who never judges a book by its film.
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