Camden area guide

Discover the best restaurants, shops, bars and clubs in Camden

The moment you step outside the tube station, Camden attacks the senses. Bass thumps from the market stalls' speakers, the scent of street food and incense permeates the air, and goths, punks, pushers and tourists shove past, giving the area an unorthodox charm. Come to Camden for the atmosphere, but stay for the cheap restaurants and awesome live music scene.

The best bits of Camden

16 reasons to go to Regent’s Park Road, NW1
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16 reasons to go to Regent’s Park Road, NW1

You can’t afford to live here, that’s the first thing to know. There won’t be much change out of £5m for a house, but that doesn’t mean you can’t strut around like you own the place. Regent’s Park Road, which stretches across the bottom of Primrose Hill and finishes as Chalk Farm becomes Camden, is a bit famous for its celeb residents – everyone from Sylvia Plath to Gwen Stefani has shacked up round here. It also has a brilliant villagey strip of restaurants and shops to fall in love with. There’s an optician, chemist, Post Office, hairdresser, florist, pet shop and no less than three wine merchants (Bottle Apostle, Nicolas, Bibendum). Pop by for dinner, then walk to the top of Primrose Hill and marvel at the stunning view of the whole city. London doesn’t get much more romantic. The village vibe even comes with a charming local legend. For decades, a pink-painted house at number 60 had a rocking horse in the downstairs window and urban myth held that it was a condition of sale to keep it on display. Owners in the ’90s sold the gaff to Stanley (dad of Boris) Johnson but took the beloved wooden landmark with them. Johnson had another made but did the same when he sold up. The current owners don’t have a horse in the window, but they still get Valentine’s and Christmas cards addressed to the nag. Aww. Eat this   A post shared by Odettes Restaurant (@odettesrestaurant) on Jul 23, 2016 at 3:25am PDT The crisp chicken wing and curried cauli at Odette’s. Finish off

You know you live in Camden when...
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You know you live in Camden when...

Camden is one of the most famous cultural melting pots of the capital. Anyone is welcome, you can eat like a king for a fiver and bump into the latest super band in the local pub. Here are six more things you'll know if you live in Camden. You can't move anywhere. With Camden Market being the fourth most visited tourist attraction in the country, there’s certainly no shortage of bodies. The negative of that is a frustrating elbow fight to walk down your own high street everyday, but... ...You have an escape route (also known as the canal). It runs straight through the heart of the market sandwiching it between the painfully trendy Primrose Hill with the uber cool Kings Cross and is an awesome place to while away an hour or so, watching the barges go by. You occasionally smell of incense (and chicken chow mein).  No matter how hard Camden tries to smarten up its act, there will always be an endearing shabbiness about the area. It's messy, chaotic and you will find food stalls next to fashion retailers, tainting that Friday night outfit. You forget what silence sounds like. Whether it’s sweaty mosh pits at local dives or the VIP area at the Roundhouse, Camden's music scene reigns supreme. You can even expect chart-worthy singers busking outside the tube station. You're in a pub every day.  And these are real, proper, bloody cool pubs, too. There's The Dublin Castle, The Hawley Arms, Barfly and The Good Mixer – and they have their fair share of rock 'n’ roll stories.

Restaurants in Camden

York & Albany
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York & Albany

On the cusp of funky Camden and swanky Regent’s Park, this boutique hotel, bar and restaurant (part of the Gordon Ramsay empire), set in a magnificent stuccoed Victorian pub, fits the latter better. The spacious, soigné bar area serves superior snacks like truffled chips, burger and pizzas at fairly well-upholstered prices. The restaurant – an­ equally airy space with a Mediterranean-style courtyard behind (and plush basement overflow room) – seems constantly packed, with diners clamouring for zesty dishes like dill-cured salmon with fennel and orange salad or lamb with courgettes and mint gremolata. The decently priced and spritely set lunch is especially light on calories – and sometimes on advertised ingredients: legumes were scanty in a rocket-packed pea and broad bean salad with goat’s cheese. Estimably gamey chicken with broccoli and pasta lacked the promised hazelnuts, but was nonetheless intensely satisfying; bream with sweet, sticky, meaty juices was beautifully paired with puréed and sliced artichoke. Refreshing desserts might include a cool, creamy rice pudding with morello cherries. Y&A is perfect for lunching ladies and better for leisured classes than business: service is not paced for those rushing back to work. In the evening it’s understandably popular for well-heeled north London family occasions. The adjoining former stables is a rustic-looking deli and pizzeria serving top-notch thin-crust pizzas.

Time Out says
4 out of 5 stars
Users say
3 out of 5 stars
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Hook Camden Town
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Hook Camden Town

Hook will make you feel as if you’re at the seaside. The simple, maritime-themed furnishings are reminiscent of a beach hut. The walls are painted blue like sea and sky. And, as on any seaside visit, you’ll be eating fish and chips. But not just any old fish and chips. Forget about slabs of grey flesh in thick, greasy body bags of batter. Think instead sea bass in a lime, mint and wasabi batter, applied sparingly; think Cajun spiced hake; think cod in a ‘classic’ batter made of panko – Japanese breadcrumbs. Barely a hint of grease in either one, and fish perfectly cooked: juicy and tender. The menu changes daily. Hook gets some of its fish from Cornish day boats; catches vary day by day. Some other fish are farmed, and they’re not afraid to use lesser-known species such as gurnard and ling. The catch makes it to NW1 speedily, and is served very fresh. Side dishes on our visit included a tasty celeriac slaw and a salad with samphire. We got a sampler plate of all their sauces, and they’re good, but the battered fish is so fine that it doesn’t need anything else. If you want vinegar for your chips, you’ll get a dinky atomiser of the sherry variety: classy. Our deep-fried rounds of potato tasted great, but needed a bit more chippy crunch. The drinks list is basic, but a small selection of bottled beers should do the trick. You may find a family at the next table, or a group of friends celebrating in sybaritic style. Camden Town is rapidly learning that it does like to be bes

Time Out says
5 out of 5 stars
Users say
5 out of 5 stars
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Q Grill
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Q Grill

‘Twat.’ ‘Cow.’ ‘Wanker’: those of us who have ever worked ‘front of house’ in the past would expect this kind of abuse on a Friday night, when service would reach boiling point and the chefs would lose their cool. Afterwards, we’d sit down for a few beers, and all would be forgiven. These days, of course, all the cool, sexy restaurants have open kitchens, so you can see – and hear – all the action.   So it was with some admiration that we watched the chefs at this US-style grill. On the Friday night of the first official week, the place was heaving, the kitchen struggling to cope. No names were called. The cooks kept calm and carried on, while the equally professional waiting staff gave us sincere apologies, bringing out complimentary cocktails. Our main courses took an hour to arrive – but the food was well worth the wait. Having demolished a terrific seabass ceviche starter, we’d moved on to ‘Southern fried chicken’ – actually two fillets, flat-beaten and breaded like a schnitzel (with Japanese panko breadcrumbs, for a lighter ‘crunch’). Cooked to perfection, it came with another twist: a variant of a persillade (parsley, garlic and oil sauce), here made with wild garlic, and a few capers for sharpness. A side of rough-textured ‘creamed’ corn (spiked with shallots, garlic, coriander and chilli) was so good we’d have happily eaten an enormous plate of it. But praise be to baby Jesus that we’d left room for pudding – an outstanding pecan and bourbon tart so boozy it should h

Time Out says
4 out of 5 stars
Users say
3 out of 5 stars
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Ma Petite Jamaica
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Ma Petite Jamaica

No cash for a Caribbean jaunt? Then get away for just the night with the aid of this Camden newcomer. Bedecked with bright murals and beach shades, Ma Petite Jamaica – on our Saturday night visit – even provided a tropical temperature. Like most venues on Inverness Street, it is long and incredibly narrow. However, while rows of tables and the constant brushing past of busy staff kills off any chance of intimacy, they don’t detract from the experience. When ordering food, don’t mistake ‘small plates’ for starters: one is definitely enough to share, and friendly waiters are on hand to help navigate the menu. Our dumplings filled with jerk chicken were moreish, but the salt fish fritters were heavy and underseasoned. Main course portions were consistently massive and generally decent. Curried goat was good but messy, as the meat was served on the bone (not that we minded getting stuck in). A main of fiery jerk chicken was moist and tender, smothered in hot sauce and served with rice and peas; while a side of coleslaw soothed the aggressive heat of the chicken. Cocktails, unfortunately, were a disappointment. Average piña coladas were icy and the Killer Doppi (four types of rum, apricot liqueur, blue Curaçao and fruit juices) was choked with orange juice and so felt overpriced, especially when compared with the food. Still, at least there was Red Stripe on tap. The odd let-down aside, Ma Petite Jamaica is a great-value, fun destination for lining your stomach and kicking off

Time Out says
3 out of 5 stars
Users say
3 out of 5 stars
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Camden highlights

Camden Market
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Camden Market

What was once a treasure trove of fashionable bargains and unusual gifts is now mainly variations on an 'I heart London' theme, but Camden's markets are still worth shopping in if you know where to look. The section nearest the station (on the east side of the high street) is home to endless printed hoodies and cheap cotton dresses. The Lock Market hosts the best food stalls and some crafts and gifts. North of the canal is a maze of Stables Market, which was spruced up in the late naughties. Avoid its front of cheap Chinese food and hunt down the corner of vintage clothes and antiques stalls and Camden's emporium of neon clubwear, Cyberdog.

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4 out of 5 stars
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Regent's Park
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Regent's Park

Regent's Park is one of London's most popular open spaces, covering 410 acres in north-west London. Originally a hunting ground for Henry VIII, it remained a royals-only retreat long after it was formally designed by John Nash in 1811; only in 1845 did it open to the public as a spectacular shared space. Attractions run from the animal odours and noises of London Zoo to the enchanting Open Air Theatre. Various food and music festivals pitch up here over the summer and rowing boat hire, bandstands, beautiful rose gardens (with some 30,000 roses and 400 varieties), tennis courts, ice-cream stands and eateries (including the delightful Garden Café) complete the picture. Regent’s Park has several playgrounds, but the most interesting is at Hanover Gate where, in 2010, a timber treehouse area for older kids was built within a large sandpit next to the boating lake and existing playground. Visit more of London's biggest and best parks

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5 out of 5 stars
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Camden nightlife

Pubs in Camden
Bars and pubs

Pubs in Camden

Camden has a great selection of pubs, ranging from traditional boozers to dolled-up and DJ-ed gastropubs. Here's Time Out's guide to the best pubs in the Camden area.

Camden bars
Bars and pubs

Camden bars

You're not short of bar options in NW1, but use this list of our favourites to make sure you end up in one that will mean maximum satisfaction. Read on to see Time Out's recommendations for the best bars in Camden.

Clubs in Camden
Clubs

Clubs in Camden

As a place that revolves around music, Camden is unsurprisingly home to some of the most renowned clubs in the capital. Koko has had a long history as a famous venue, but it is now known as a premier indie club. Electric Ballroom has played host to some of the biggest names in music before they were stars. So get ready for a great night out, as we show you the best places to go clubbing in Camden.

Live music in Camden
Music

Live music in Camden

Camden Town has more than its fair share of iconic music venues. Up near Chalk Farm station, The Roundhouse has hosted Pink Floyd and Jimi Hendrix, and Koko (formerly Camden Palace) was the home of Britpop. But these days the best gigs in Camden tend to happen on small pub stages, at places like The Barfly, where up-and-coming indie bands keep the racket going seven nights a week. Here are the best places to catch gigs in Camden.

Hotels in Camden

Camden Lock Hotel

Camden Lock Hotel

This small budget option is situated at the Chalk Farm end of Camden, opposite the celebrated Roundhouse – so it’s a good bet if you’re seeing a gig or performance there. The 33 en suite rooms are basically furnished, with cream walls, plain white bed linen and flat screen TVs; bathrooms have complimentary toiletries. You won’t find much in the way of design inspiration here, but if you’re after a simple and clean budget room in Camden with free wifi and a café (the Coffee Lounge) serving breakfast, this is worth considering.

Users say
3 out of 5 stars
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St Christopher's Inn Camden

St Christopher's Inn Camden

This Camden Town hostel, above the grungy Belushi’s bar on Camden High Street, is known for its friendly staff and young party vibe. It’s not a chic option – with bunk-style beds, scuffed wooden floors and basic shared bathrooms – but it offers up the standard backpacker-hostel facilities (free wifi, lockers and complimentary breakfast) from a conveniently located space. If you’re in town to enjoy Camden’s renowned nightlife then this might just be your place.

Users say
4 out of 5 stars
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Check out the best hotels in Camden

Love London Awards: last year's winners

The Blues Kitchen Camden

The Blues Kitchen Camden

Venue says: “Celebrate NYE in style, with hands-in-the-air soul & Motown favourites from our house band & Dj's to keep you moving into 2019. 🎉💃🍾🙌”

Time Out says
3 out of 5 stars
Users say
4 out of 5 stars
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Coffee Jar
Restaurants

Coffee Jar

Venue says: “We drink coffee. We bake cakes. We do breakfast, lunch and treats! Come visit us in Camden!”

Time Out says
4 out of 5 stars
Users say
5 out of 5 stars
Chinalife
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Chinalife

Created with the aim of bridging the gap between Eastern and Western healthcare, Chinalife is a modern holistic health shop with wooden shelves piled high with a selection of teas, supplements and aromatherapy oils. Stylishly packaged skincare and body ranges feature all-natural active ingredients: some familiar (gingko and ginseng), others, like the anti-ageing reishi or moisture-boosting Chinese angelica, less well known in the West. We particularly like the herbal foot bath, the flower water sprays and the jasmine face mask for dry skin. Tea-lovers are spoilt for choice, with an impressive array of medicinal blends and flower- and berry-filled sachets. A chic tea bar also offers exotic concoctions infused with pomegranate syrup and crushed rosebuds and fragrant, spice-infused lattes. At the shop’s rear, canvas panels suspended from the ceiling create an airy room where a therapist can help you feel right as rain with an energising lifestyle package, where acupuncture and Chinese Meridian massage fulfil their promises. Next door at the AcuMedic clinic, a team of experts from China can offer solutions to just about anything, from infertility through to smoking addiction.

Users say
5 out of 5 stars
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Green Note
Music

Green Note

An international line-up of acts at this relaxed Greenwich Village-style hangout for beatniks has included the Coal Porters (the ‘world’s first alt-bluegrass band’) and in summer 2009 the venue staged its third annual Festival of Latin Music. Follow on Twitter for updates. Paintings of folk icons Joni Mitchell and Bob Dylan line the walls. Food is vegetarian and organic; daily specials, salads and tapas can be eaten in the café/restaurant area out front, or in the music venue at the back.

Time Out says
3 out of 5 stars
Users say
5 out of 5 stars
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See the full results of last year's Love London Awards