December 2018: We've added Neighbour, a laid-back local eatery with great all-day food and chilled vibes. Look out for the cornflake-crusted chicken burger.
From classy gastropubs to full-on fast food, Kentish Town restaurants are making a name for themselves. This lovely north-west part of London is no longer known as the place for cheap chippies and best-avoided boozers – instead, you'll find lovely pub food, dirty burgers and loads of deliciously cheap eats.
From the outside, Anima e Cuore looks like a gelateria-cum-café. But don’t be fooled, because the tiny restaurant at the back serves bargain-priced Italian food that can stand comparison with the best in the capital. There’s precious little decor, the menu is scrawled on paper and it’s strictly BYOB, but the sensational cooking guarantees packed houses. Tip: don’t miss the daily ravioli specials.
The bricks-and-mortar location of marketers Arancini Bros is an affable retro caff cluttered with boxes of fresh produce – although all eyes are on the food coming from the open kitchen at the back. Deep-fried arancini balls are the headliners, served plain, with salad or stuffed into tortilla wraps. Breakfast classics, Aussie-themed open sandwiches, vegan burgers and great coffee also play their part.
Taking its name from a classic book on Kentish Town local history, this cute little coffee bar’s genuine neighbourhood feel has made it an enduring hit with caffeine-loving K-Towners since 2012. TFB is now totally vegan, so everything from the milk to the dhal and the cookies is plant-based. It’s also very handy for commuters spilling out from the rail station next door.
A laid-back local eatery of the best sort, Neighbour lives up to its name with leisurely service, a chilled soundtrack and an all-day menu that keeps things on-trend. Voguish vegan salads line up alongside burgers of every description (cornflake-coated chicken with crispy ramen, anyone?), while dude-food appetisers and soft-serve ice creams provide the bookends. Hit Jukes Bar in the basement for cocktails.
Set up by the couple who formerly ran Café Gourmand in Soho, this cosy little cave à manger has a properly Parisian feel. The tables are a bit small, and they’re closely packed – just like cafés on Le Rive Gauche. At its best, the food is wonderful bourgeois bistro stuff (steak tartare, moules marinière), and there’s a cheeringly inexpensive all-French wine list too.
Greek families and others regularly pack this high-ceilinged open-plan dining room for its garrulous neighbourhood vibe, cheery service and generous plates of pan-Mediterranean food. Fresh fish is a strong suit, but the menu covers everything from hot and cold mezze to chargrilled kebabs. You can also rekindle those package-holiday memories as you knock back bottles of retsina and Cypriot Keo beer.
A perfect destination for anyone unacquainted with the joys of Ethiopian cuisine, this bijou restaurant doesn’t dumb down its food for Kentish Town palates, although the heat setting is adjusted here and there. Smiley, chatty staff will happily talk you through the menu and, if necessary, offer tactical advice on eating with injera – the sour, spongy flatbread that comes with every meal.