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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.

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4 out of 5 stars
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3 out of 5 stars
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Hook Camden Town
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Hook Camden Town

Venue says: “We roast and grind all our own spices from scratch so you get an extra depth of flavour in all our homemade sauces!”

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5 out of 5 stars
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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
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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
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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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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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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.

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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.

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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

This lively, contemporary bar-diner on the main Camden drag celebrates American musical heritage in song (live shows, DJs, free harmonica lessons), spirits and sustenance. The food is all-American in spirit and substance, with barbecue and burgers featuring prominently. Though you can, if you insist, order a 'superfood salad.'  There are around 50 bourbons in a variety of categories, some used as bases for cocktails. Rarer types (Blanton’s Gold, Sazerac 18-Year-Old Rye, Woodford Reserve 1838 Sweet Mash) go for a tenner or more, but otherwise you’ll be paying £3.50 to £6. ‘America’s native spirit’ is how Kentucky bourbon is described, with Ancient Age and Evan Williams typical examples; Tennessee, ‘the first cousin of Kentucky’, is honoured with a full suit of Jack Daniel’s labels.   

Time Out says
3 out of 5 stars
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Coffee Jar
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Coffee Jar

Venue says: “We drink coffee. We bake cakes. We do breakfast, lunch, and treats! Come visit us, 83 Parkway, Camden, London, NW1 7PP ☕️🍳🍴”

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

Venue says: “TimeOut Love London Awards 2016 Winner - Best Shop. Welcome to TRUE tea culture.”

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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
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5 out of 5 stars
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See the full results of last year's Love London Awards

Comments

21 comments
Patryk N

Camden is a nice area especially in the lock market and the area of the river with all the stalls outside. There are some good restaurants like gil gamesh or cheaper ones like wagamama. Also had a nice hair cut at the place near Chalk Farm I think it's called Red Scissors and used good local lock smith, I believe it was Prime Alert locksmith on this website www.thelondonlocksmiths.co.uk. Camden is a charm I'll be coming back for more next year.

Mirella V

An epic meal at The Blues Kitchen, followed by their Sunday Blues Jam! Great end to the weekend in my books.

Start A

This Saturday the biggest street festival in camden in Chalton street near kings cross - the START festival of cultures in Somers Town. Watch this space www.somerstownarts.org Coming on July 12th, 2014.

Start A

The biggest street festival in Camden is actually in Somers Town in Chalton street this coming Saturday 12th from about 11am ... Great music and community and funfair for kids from bands from lipstick melodies, to world music. Look it up www.somerstown.org

Steph H

Indulging on liquid nitrogen ice-cream from Chin Chin Labs. A perfect way to spend a summer Sunday afternoon after exploring the various food stalls.... 

Avantika G

The Elephant's Head on a Saturday night with crowds so loud the bartender can't hear your order - they read your lipsync. Lamb shish at First Choice and all the food stalls at Camden Lock Market.

Anne S

My favourite thing in Camden is bar Fairly Square! Hidden down Red Lion Street in Holborn they sell amazing cocktails and chilled music every night!

Jonathan D

Feed Me Primal, the only paleo market stall in the UK. Damn tasty food and Gem, the owner, is awesome! 

Nicos N

MTV, as I work there! :D

Cornel

 Sometimes it's little things that make a big impact. Besides all the parties and food places in Camden, as a film buff, I was very excited to know I used to live on the street Alfred Hitchcock filmed a scene in The Man Who Knew Too Much with James Stewart and Grace Kelly. That was on Pratt Street and better, the house behind James Stewart is where French painter and poet Rimbaud and Verlaine lived (it's on Camden Street, right at the end of Pratt Street) and the partied hard in there after the came back from the pubs at the old Camden Market and Arlington Road. 


If that's not good enough then find the best Sushi at 
Asakusa (265 Eversholt Street NW1 1BA), behind Mornington Crescent tube station. 
Alex K

Best place in Camden ... the Roundhouse.  Seen so many amazing concerts, plays, exhibitions there over the years and then to finish off the evening there is Marine Ices across the road.  What's not to like?

Cornel

Sometimes it's little things that make a big impact. Besides all the parties and food places in Camden, as a film buff, I was very excited to know I used to live on the street Alfred Hitchcock filmed a scene in The Man Who Knew Too Much with James Stewart and Grace Kelly. That was on Pratt Street and better, the house behind James Stewart is where French painter and poet Rimbaud and Verlaine lived (it's on Camden Street, right at the end of Pratt Street) and the partied hard in there after the came back from the pubs at the old Camden Market and Arlington Road. 

If that's not good enough then find the best Sushi at 
Asakusa (265 Eversholt Street NW1 1BA), behind Mornington Crescent tube station. 

Chris

Good Human are looking forward to hosting an exhibition by Czech born artist Martin Krupik taking Good Human into the world of abstract expressionism this Thursday 28th July @ Good Human Studio's, 11 Leybourne Rd Camden Town. Exhibiting and working on projects with Artisland, NO ID gallery, The Foundry, Synergy, Good night beds, TAA and Prospect art gallery his work has reached a variety of prestigious venues and organisations. His work is an ongoing research into channeled art with influences including Kandinsky, Bosch, Pollock. Krupik sees the underground brought to the surface

Lucy

Check out the monthly Pop Up Vintage Fairs in Hampstead. Next one on 24th July at St Stephen's Rosslyn Hill, Hampstead, NW3 2PP. Fab array of stalls with vintage clothes, jewellery, accessories and homeware. Definitely going there to find some vintage treasures and enjoy afternoon vintage tea and cake! 11:00-16:00. 07716 295998. They're also on facebook.com/popupvintagefairs

Claire E Hind

Live Art,Poet & Musician END OF EXHIBITION PARTY NIGHT THURSDAY 10TH MARCH 6.30PM - 9.00PM Exhibition Open with mOrganic, Live Artist, Simon O'Connor, Poet & Malcolm, from Hats Off Gentlemen If It's Adequate, performing 2 acoustic music sets. A chance for everyone involved to come together, have fun, network, relax & enjoy... THE VALUE OF THINGS An Art Exhibition Of Value... 6th March – 10th March 2011 MAPALIM THE PARLOUR STUDIO & PROJECT SPACE, 181-187 QUEENS CRESCENT LONDON, NW5 4DS http://www.thevalueofthings.com/

jason Pablo

No not really, if you visited eastlondon bricklane you'll be so much surprised and London is a such beautiful place to hang out in general agree?

Le gourmand

Where are the inimitable Chin Chin Labs with their nitro icecream?!?surely the only reason to visit Camden at all...