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Dalston area guide

Clubs, kebabs, markets and independents of all sorts all make Dalston a great place to explore

It may not seem the case as you peer out of the Overground station, but Dalston is packed with fun nights out, affordable (delicious) meals and unique bargain buys. Our guide to Dalston's best bits will help you get to grips with an area that's a glorious blend of London's many tastes and characters.

The best bits of Dalston

18 reasons to go to Kingsland Road, E2 & E8
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18 reasons to go to Kingsland Road, E2 & E8

Between the hip hubs of Shoreditch and Dalston runs the ever-changing Kingsland Road: a 20-minute-walk’s worth of standout bars, shops and restaurants which far too many Londoners overlook as an arid schlep. Originally the thoroughfare connected London to the village of Kingsland. Then the village was engulfed by Dalston, with only the road’s name left as a reminder. And just as the area around it has changed, so had the road itself. The old manor houses were replaced by industrial buildings which have since been converted into apartments. Immigration from the late 1940s brought new cultural influences: you’ll first walk up the ‘Pho Mile’ of Vietnamese restaurants before hitting the Turkish kebab shops and Afro-Caribbean food stores. The result is a patchwork of culture and class that’s quintessential London. At some point in the last decade, the general smartening up of east London made Kingsland Road a destination rather than just a corridor. You’ll still wander past fried chicken shops, dodgy looking electronics stores and car-part outlets but you’ll also find a new bar, café or boutique store opening every few weeks. It’s far from being the prettiest road in London but it’s certainly one of the most exciting. Skip the bus and take a stroll: you might just be surprised. Drink this   A post shared by Hannah Tomlinson-Roe (@hannahtomlinsonroe) on Mar 13, 2017 at 11:49am PDT Cocktails like you’ve never drunk them before at Untitled Bar. It’s booze as a fine ar

12 reasons to go to Shacklewell Lane in Hackney, E8
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12 reasons to go to Shacklewell Lane in Hackney, E8

If Shacklewell lane feels like less of a lane and more of a self-contained hamlet, it’s probably because that’s how it began life back in the fifteenth century.There were natural springs (or ‘wells’) in the area, and this Hackney street is named after these. There are no wells around nowadays, but it has a wealth of other amenities such as a cinema, eateries, a yoga studio and a tree-lined green where you can head with a coffee or sandwich for some peace. And because you’re sufficiently far from the hugely popular, hugely busy Kingsland High Street, you’re even likely to find a bar with a spare seat at any given time. You heard me right: you’re in east London, but you have room to breathe. Wedged neatly between Rectory Road, Dalston Kingsland and Hackney Downs stations, Shacklewell Lane brings together people from the multicultural melting pot of Dalston with young parent types of Stoke Newington and artists from Hackney. The official vibe is easy-going: this is the kind of place you go to find homemade houmous at cosy café Mouse & de Lotz, or discover up-and-coming bands in the backroom of The Shacklewell Arms, followed by a stroll to Akin Supermarket to ease the hangover with their selection of Turkish biscuits. What’s more, Shacklewell Lane is free of chains – except for a fancy Nando’s on its Dalston corner – so offers a bevy of unique experiences. All you have to do is discover them. Drink this   A photo posted by Cheechee (@blahdiduh) on Jun 19, 2016 at 5:25am

Restaurants in Dalston

Mangal Ocakbasi

Mangal Ocakbasi

Grill: Turkish,  The tang of carbonised meat that hangs in the air of Stoke Newington Road is an olfactory reminder you're in ocakbası territory. 

Time Out says
  • 4 out of 5 stars
Tina, we salute you

Tina, we salute you

Coffee house: European,  Here, the magic comes from Square Mile beans and a shiny, top-notch La Marzocco machine. Our barista pulled the perfect shot. 

Time Out says
  • 5 out of 5 stars
19 Numara Bos Cirrik I

19 Numara Bos Cirrik I

Grill: Turkish,  There are many reasons to visit this long-standing Hackney favourite, but the decor isn't one of them... 

A Little of What You Fancy

A Little of What You Fancy

Restaurants & cafés: British,  Hackney's patterns of immigration have ensured the borough has never been short of decent dining options.... 

Time Out says
  • 4 out of 5 stars
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Dalston highlights

Dalston Roof Park
Bars and pubs

Dalston Roof Park

A mere hop, skip and ladylike stumble from Dalston Kingsland station is the Print House, a four-storey former factory which is home to the innovative Bootstrap Company and the annual outing of the Dalston Roof Park. Designed by Zector Architects it's a staggering space – and not just because of the views over the City.

Users say
  • 4 out of 5 stars
Rio Cinema

Rio Cinema

New indie and mainstream releases are brought to Dalston by this friendly independent cinema.

Users say
  • 4 out of 5 stars
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Bars and pubs in Dalston

Railway Tavern
Bars and pubs

Railway Tavern

The Railway Tavern, on a residential street in the fringes of Islington, is essentially a local – but it’s to its credit that drinkers from locales further afield will travel to visit. The owners of the Pineapple in Kentish Town returned this pub to its original name and gave it a thoughtful, mid-century-style makeover, with a few bits of artful railway ephemera here and there. Food is Thai; there’s live music. But the beer selection is something special, and served with a dedication that prospective London publicans would do well to emulate. There are six regularly changing real ales on tap, and they’re often made in London – from Redemption, Brodie’s or the East London Brewing Company, for instance; on the recently expanded keg taps are Meantime London Lager, König Pilsner, Black Isle Porter and Brewdog’s 5am Saint. The bottles pay homage to the microbrewing nous of the Americans, with the likes of Brooklyn, Anchor and Sierra Nevada, although there’s also a good few Europeans. It’s also a place to sample the latest hop explosions from Bermondsey’s cult Kernel Brewery. No mainstream sops for the unadventurous sipper in sight, and brews are served in handled, dimpled pint mugs: magic.

Time Out says
  • 4 out of 5 stars
Users say
  • 4 out of 5 stars
Ruby's
Bars and pubs

Ruby's

The phrase ‘hidden gem’ is on Time Out’s list of banned clichés, its use punishable by being forced to write out ‘Does what it says on the tin’ 100 times. But a bar called Ruby’s, accessed via a flight of rickety, lino-clad stairs off a quiet bit of Stoke Newington Road, its presence barely advertised… you get the picture. It’s below Ruby House, a five-storey townhouse hired out as an artfully dishevelled backdrop for fashion shoots and music videos. The style continues down to the basement bar – it’s tiled with glorious glazed bricks, the wooden floorboards are battered but sturdy, and there’s an assortment of original features probably imported from somewhere else that make the place look even more atmospheric. The only things less than 20 years old are the staff. The decor feels half-finished or half-started, depending how you look at it. It’s restrained, but intriguing enough to hint at a mysterious past – apparently it was the kitchen of a Chinese restaurant, but before that… It surely holds a few stories. Upon the house-clearance tables is placed a collection of very nickable vintage beer mats (I didn’t, though); upon these can be placed something from the small but carefully assembled drinks menu. Five simple cocktails, elevated to something more special by clever presentation (piled with crushed ice and berry garnishes in an antique milk bottle, say, or in an enamel mug). There’s the full range of craft beers from Redchurch Brewery, and a wine list. There’s no need fo

Time Out says
  • 3 out of 5 stars
Users say
  • 5 out of 5 stars
Ridley Road Market Bar
Bars and pubs

Ridley Road Market Bar

Last summer a furniture and computer shop in Dalston’s Ridley Road, following a quickie remodel, became home to a very different type of enterprise. Not that you’d know it from the sign: in that knowingly understated east London style, ‘Furniture & PC Sales’ remained above the entrance, reminding those who sought it out they were about to enter a wilfully DIY operation. It traded as a café until a few weeks ago, when a liquor licence turned it into a bar proper. Inside, fake-wood wall veneers clash gloriously with homemade cymbal lightshades, a checquered dancefloor, mirrorballs, a bar made of offcuts, cheapo seating and piles of exotic fruit. DJs play and sometimes there are bands. It’s like a Club Tropicana where strangers don’t take you by the hand and drinks aren’t free – but they’re pretty cheap. The nightspots up and down the nearby Dalston drag of Kingsland Road can be a bit intimidating for those not in leotards (men) or without undercuts (women), so RRMM, although clearly aware of its ironically tacky trendiness, feels brilliantly egalitarian. On our visit, a giant but very friendly bouncer ushered us in; staff were assembling cheerful and uncomplicated cocktails. The short list was displayed on a peg-board menu: the likes of ginger mojitos, or gin with fresh pomegranate, served in plastic pint pots with a straw and piles of crushed ice for a fiver. Beer, appropriately enough for a tropical-themed bar in east London, is Red Stripe. Instead of trying to cram a kitchen

Time Out says
  • 3 out of 5 stars
Users say
  • 4 out of 5 stars
Spurstowe Arms
Bars and pubs

Spurstowe Arms

This Hackney pub might look like a traditional East End boozer but the range of its food output suggests the kitchen isn't playing second fiddle to the bar. Starters include a soup of Jerusalem artichoke and roast garlic, or smoked duck breast with pickled plums and baby watercress. Mains range from lamb rogan josh to pan roasted guinea fowl on sourdough with girolles, sauteed rainbow chard and masala sauce. Traditional roasts are available on Sundays, too.  There are four ales on tap, complemented by continental lagers, guest beers and cocktails such as an elderflower cooler made with Boxer gin, St Germain, strawberries and mint. They also open a new wine 'find' each day, served by the glass. Bar snacks are also available.   

Users say
  • 3 out of 5 stars

Hotels in Dalston

Avo Hotel

Avo Hotel

Looking rather more like a shop than a hotel, with an Indian restaurant downstairs, Avo lies in the heart of Dalston, close to the Overground station, Dalston Curve Garden and hotspots like music venue Café Oto. Rooms are ‘bijou’ in estate agent-speak, but have tea- and coffee-making facilities, and bathrooms are supplied with Elemis toiletries and dressing gowns. Indian takeaways can be ordered to your room.

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Premier Inn London Hackney

Premier Inn London Hackney

Just a minute’s walk to Dalston Junction Overground, this Premier Inn is in a modern, if undistinguished, block with comfortable, spacious accommodation, and the added benefit of Hypnos beds and power showers. With prices starting from just over £50 per room, and free breakfast for kids, this is one of cheapest options in the area. Wifi is free, and there’s parking nearby from £7.20 per day.

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Comments

10 comments
A.M.
A.M.

Try small stall with Trinidad food on Ridley Road Market, which is served by merry woman.

A.M.
A.M.

Try traditional portuguese bacalao a bra (salted cod) in The Portuguese Conspiracy 

writtenbyfitton
writtenbyfitton

Ruby's cocktail bar - underneath the vintage cinema sign on Kingsland Rd. Great drinks. Quirky place.

- Nina

Have You Heard Of It? bar & restaurant blogger | HYHOI.com

HitachiSpotter
HitachiSpotter

The A10, so I can leave all the hipsters behind.

Valeria T
Valeria T

I think the best Turkish food you can find in Dalston is in Umut 2000. I been going there for the last 2 years at least once every 2 months; the quality of food is very consistent and the service is excellent!

GR8KATSBY
GR8KATSBY

Ridley Road Market Bar - killer ginger beer mojitos

Alice
Alice

For 2 years I have been eating at Stone Cave for at least once a month. The food is great, Atmosphere is great, Service is exceptional and it is well priced. Great place for all occasions. Recommended place in Dalston.

Tallulah
Tallulah

Has anyone checked out the Anglia Grove Snooker Club? It's underneath the Victorian railway arches under the Hackney Downs Railway Station. Recently refurbished. Very atmospheric, proper East End snooker club, very authentic unlike those glitzy american clubs. This is a club for serious players. 10 Full size snooker tables , 2 pool tables , Slot machines and licensed bar. Friendly, fun staff. Off the beaten track but well worth finding, it's a local secret. Has large tv screen so that you can watch football whilst waiting for a table. Real mix of clients which adds to the uniqueness of the club. Busy on the weekends and public holidays so book a table in advance.