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Finsbury Park and Manor House area guide

Keep busy in N4 with Time Out’s guide to Finsbury Park and Manor House restaurants, bars, pubs and things to do

Affectionately known as ‘Little Algiers’, Finsbury Park is home to London’s largest Algerian population, as well as plenty of students, surly youths with low-slung trousers, boozy Arsenal fans and priced-out-of-Crouch-End mumsy-types. It’s also starting to develop cultural hubs, as canny renters realise they can save a few bob, still have access to two tube lines, and have a massive lovely park to enjoy. Party animals will appreciate the warehouse parties which regularly rumble on all weekend, while Finsbury Park itself is a vast, sprawling patch that’s got a bit of everything for everyone.

The best bits of Finsbury Park and Manor House

15 reasons to go to Stroud Green Road in Finsbury Park, N4
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15 reasons to go to Stroud Green Road in Finsbury Park, N4

Just north of Finsbury Park station and straddling the Islington-Haringey border, Stroud Green Road is a relatively undiscovered gem that still has the feel of a real neighbourhood. Despite being the main bus route up to the lofty heights of Crouch End and Muswell Hill, this high street is so much more than a thoroughfare. Londoners are flocking to it in increasing numbers, and not just because the hipsters have discovered the delights of Rowans bowling alley as a pseudo-ironic party destination. Stroud Green Road is one of the best streets for eating out in north London and, unlike other foodie hot spots (we’re looking at you, Upper Street), this one is fairly free of chains. With eateries to suit all cravings and wallet sizes, you could spend a waistband-expanding day and night here, falling in and out of restaurants, cafés and pubs until you need to take a nap.  Great scoffing opportunities aside, take a short stroll from the station and you’ll stumble across streets of beautiful Victorian houses and a sprawling, leafy park so peaceful that you could almost forget you’re in the capital.  What really makes this area special is the community, with its impressive mix of nationalities, ages, families and Arsenal fans all living alongside each other in harmony – and feeling smug about being so near well-connected transport links.  Drink this   A photo posted by Laura Good (@laurakgood) on Feb 3, 2016 at 10:35am PST   A pint in the massive multi-tiered secre

You know you live in Finsbury Park when...
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You know you live in Finsbury Park when...

Ah, Finsbury Park. Equipped with the supersonic Victoria Line, this neighbourhood has enough independent restaurants to keep an army of Deliveroo drivers in business. It also has a medium-sized green space hosting sporting activities for 95 percent of the year and girls in flower headbands singing Drake lyrics for the other five percent. No one really knows what constitutes this all-powerful Islington/Hackney/Haringey mash-up (does Stokey count? Holloway? Crouch End?) but you know you live in Finsbury Park when...   A photo posted by Agathe Van Der Costes (@agathevdc) on Dec 13, 2016 at 1:08am PST ...you've lifted your phone above the heads of an angry mob at 8.15am to send a photo of closed tube gates to your boss at least three times this week. The picture probably isn’t necessary, but the mob mentality routinely convinces you otherwise. ...you campaigned via Facebook against the closure of The Silver Bullet but a) didn't part with your money in the hope that everyone else did b) scoffed at heavy metal music and c) barely even noticed it was there due to escaping from Station Place as quickly as humanly possible.    A photo posted by Sara Georgina (@sara_georgina) on Sep 18, 2015 at 3:15pm PDT ...you and your friend from the Seven Sisters Road exit have a strategic, verging-on-military-standard operation when it comes to shopping at Lidl. Whether you're a 7am trooper or 10.55pm rusher, you know better than to brave the aisles during that p

Restaurants in Finsbury Park and Manor House

Gökyüzü
Restaurants

Gökyüzü

If our informal poll of passers-by on Green Lanes is anything to go by, Gökyüzü is the go-to place for Turkish food in London’s main Turkish neighbourhood. This large, utilitarian restaurant (it doubled in size some years ago) is consistently the busiest place on the strip. It’s clear why: the prices are low, the cooking is excellent, and the portions are generous bordering on reckless. We were almost sated after demolishing a basket of bread cooked in the wood-fired oven and a huge ‘small’ mixed meze dish – highlights being a sprightly kısır loaded with mint and spring onion, a haydari rich with dill, and a fresh-tasting soslu patlıcan (grilled aubergine with tomato sauce). The mains were exceptional. Sarma tavuk beyti featured no less than 15 large pieces of spicy minced chicken wrapped in lavash bread, slathered in tomato sauce and served with yoghurt and pilaf rice. Güveç (lamb and aubergine casserole) had been stewed to tender perfection in an earthenware pot. Service tends to be rushed and the wine list is short (there are only five whites), but you wouldn’t come here for a leisurely drink. Food is the thing at Gökyüzü.  

Time Out says
  • 5 out of 5 stars
Users say
  • 5 out of 5 stars
Max's Sandwich Shop
Restaurants

Max's Sandwich Shop

When Woody Allen was asked whether sex is dirty, he replied: ‘It is if you’re doing it right.’ A similar principle applies to eating at Max’s. If you don’t get your hands dirty, you’re not doing it right. Max’s sells just three sandwiches, all conceived as complete meals. For instance, one combines ham hock, fried egg, piccalilli and miraculously thin shoestring potatoes. Another comprises braised short ribs, sauerkraut, deep-fried broccoli and ‘very slutty gravy mayo’. They are large. They are cheap, £7 a pop. They are deeply complex and tasty. And they are very, very messy to eat. What else does Max’s sell? Not much. There’s one dessert, a brioche bun encasing ice cream from Gelupo (£5), and a short, well-chosen drink menu of exceptionally low cost. There is also one guest sandwich, and sometimes ‘my Mum’s guacamole’ with fried eggs. The guacamole is great. The décor is endearingly and artlessly scruffy, apart from some lovely lampshades. The random selection of coffee cups filled with Allpress filter brew (free refills) came from the local charity shop. (On opening day in December 2014, a customer ordered coffee and they realised they didn’t have any mugs.) Everyone covets the World’s Greatest Granny mug, but we liked our X-Files just fine. The key ingredient at Max’s is Max himself, Max Halley, who has worked at top-end London restaurants including Arbutus and the Salt Yard group. When he opened his own place, he wanted to keep it simple: a small space in a cheap loca

Time Out says
  • 4 out of 5 stars
Users say
  • 5 out of 5 stars
Dotori
Restaurants

Dotori

This restaurant next to Finsbury Park station established its reputation soon after opening in 2008. It’s still nigh on impossible to get a table without booking – even on our early-evening midweek visit, several hopeful diners were turned away. All’s not lost if you don’t bag a seat, however, as they do offer takeaway. The dining room – like the menu – blends Korean and Japanese influences; there’s a Shinto lantern by the door, and Hangul calligraphy and Korean masks on the walls. Prices are impressively low: a capacious bowl of yukkaejang was a mere £3.50. Thick with chilli flakes, the broth contained a generous quantity of deliciously tender shredded beef. A mountain of bokum bap (fried rice) came studded with crisp-fried pork belly pieces, spring onions and scrambled egg. The plump grains were resonant with ground black pepper and sesame oil. The Japanese side of the menu offers sushi, sashimi, tempura and donburi dishes. Dotori isn’t known for its sparkling service, but we found the staff warm and efficient. Even on an off-day, it’s hard not to be forgiving, thanks to the well-prepared and well-priced food.  

Time Out says
  • 4 out of 5 stars
Users say
  • 4 out of 5 stars
Le Rif
Restaurants

Le Rif

It’s tough finding a tagine for under a tenner in this town. But at Le Rif, only one dish on the extensive menu costs more than £5. This Finsbury Park eaterie isn’t remotely atmospheric, although there’s much to be said for a North African restaurant free of Arabic cliches. Instead, it caters to a local lunchtime crowd, many of whom eschew the North African offerings for sandwiches, jacket potatoes and spaghetti bolognaise. While such options seem bland compared to the Moroccan dishes the friendly owner can speedily conjure up, the starters were nothing special: a mild lentil, chickpea and rice soup; and houmous with olives and flatbread. The mains were excellent, though. With a combination of spinach, olives, potato, aubergine and lemon, the fish tagine got that balance of sweet and savoury flavours absolutely correct. Couscous royale was every bit as successful, with tender, succulent chunks of chicken and lamb in a subtly spicy broth. There’s only one way to end a great Moroccan meal – with pastries and a cup of fresh mint tea – although it does feel a little surreal to pour tea from a beautiful brass pot in a Finsbury Park caff.

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

Finsbury Park and Manor House highlights

Rowans Bowl
Things to do

Rowans Bowl

There aren't many places in north London where you can bowl, dance, slurp slushies and sing your heart out in a karaoke booth until the wee hours, but Rowans is one of them. This old den of entertainment has been there since 1913, surviving two world wars and even playing host to The Beatles in 1963. It almost got torn down by Harringay council to amke way for flats in 2014, but the adoring locals petitioned hard until the council gave in. And so they should! Here are five reasons we think it's so great, not to mention you can have pizza delivered straight to your lane or karaoke booth.

Users say
  • 4 out of 5 stars
New River Studios
Things to do

New River Studios

A community arts centre in Manor House run on a not-for-profit basis.

Bars and pubs in Finsbury Park and Manor House

Faltering Fullback
Bars and pubs

Faltering Fullback

Don't be put off by the fact that the ramshackle horseshoe bar is always full, or that the vast but rowdy main room has the atmosphere of a sixth-form common room crossed with a 1970s pool hall. This vaguely Irish pub has long been a Finsbury Park favourite, and that's 98 percent down to its amazing garden. Drinks are reasonably priced, the Thai food is good and it’s a sport-watchers paradise, but these are just cherries on the verdant layer cake that is its three storeys of leafy nooks, crannies and look-out posts outside. Even when it's chilly you'll find a comfortable outdoor spot as many of the benches are heated and covered. Just be warned that even Ray Mears wouldn't be able to direct you to his table, so get friends to let off a flare (or carry a helium balloon) if you're the last to arrive.

Time Out says
  • 4 out of 5 stars
Users say
  • 5 out of 5 stars
The Salisbury
Bars and pubs

The Salisbury

It is not unusual when frequenting London pubs to share both furniture and personal space with strangers. In this grand old building at the north end of Green Lanes you barely have to share bar staff: it's absolutely massive. Taxidermy cases and ornate cornicing decorate the central, beer-focused bar, and drinkers take their pick from private booths, fireside armchairs or more sociable clusters of tables and chairs in one of two huge spaces. If you're expecting company you might want to alert them to your whereabouts with some kind of flare. A jukebox plays music in the main room and a projector plays sport in the second, but apart from its architecture the main reason for a trip to the Salisbury is for a peaceful pint with extensive elbow room.

Time Out says
  • 4 out of 5 stars
Users say
  • 5 out of 5 stars
Old Dairy
Bars and pubs Book online

Old Dairy

As the name suggests, the building was a Victorian dairy, which sets the tone both outside (there are some stunning friezes on the exterior walls) and inside this Real Pubs venture. Exposed brickwork and unusual angles create all sorts of cosy corners in what is actually a very large space, and locals of all ages come to enjoy the friendly welcome and above-average food. The weekday menu has dishes such as pan-fried sea bass and braised fennel with salsa verde, as well as pub classics (fish and chips, lancashire hotpot). On a Sunday lunchtime, roasts are the popular option. Beef was slightly more than medium rare – a small quibble about a great plate of food that included yorkshire puddings, bashed carrot and parsnip, a delectable pea, pak choi, mint and spring onion dish and horseradish cream. For pudding, our waitress directed us to the odd-sounding ‘peanut butter parfait with strawberry jam’. It was one of the finest puddings we can remember eating, but it could do with a better name. A decent range of drinks includes a guest cider (Orchard Cornish cider, say); real ales such as Thunderbird from Cottage Brewing in Somerset or Windsor & Eton Brewery’s Guardsman; and a global wine list with plenty by the glass.

Time Out says
  • 4 out of 5 stars
Users say
  • 4 out of 5 stars
Book online
World's End
Bars and pubs

World's End

A Finsbury Park pub that knows how to handle music and sports.

Users say
  • 5 out of 5 stars

The perfect weekend in Finsbury Park

Drink, bowl and sing: Rowans Bowl
Things to do

Drink, bowl and sing: Rowans Bowl

Chug a boozy slushie, hit the bowling lanes, karaoke your heart out, all in one night

Users say
  • 4 out of 5 stars
Watch: Park Theatre
Theatre

Watch: Park Theatre

Get cultured up at one of London’s newest theatres

Users say
  • 5 out of 5 stars
Explore: Finsbury Park
Attractions

Explore: Finsbury Park

Hit the boating lake or the tennis courts, or just relax in this community-focused park

Users say
  • 4 out of 5 stars
Drink: Old Dairy
Bars and pubs Book online

Drink: Old Dairy

Grab a pint and a great roast with friendly locals at this attractive watering hole

Time Out says
  • 4 out of 5 stars
Users say
  • 4 out of 5 stars
Book online

Love London Awards: last year's winners

Autograf Grill
Restaurants Book online

Autograf Grill

A Polish restaurant on Green Lanes, in Harringay. Expect traditional Polish dishes alongside plates influenced by the US.  

Users say
  • 5 out of 5 stars
Book online
Blighty Coffee
Restaurants

Blighty Coffee

Community-minded coffee house.

Users say
  • 5 out of 5 stars
Crisis Finsbury Park
Shopping

Crisis Finsbury Park

One fo the two shops run by the homelessness charity Crisis, selling clothing, homeware, accessories, music and books. Their second shop is in Hackney.

Users say
  • 5 out of 5 stars
Finsbury Park
Attractions

Finsbury Park

Finsbury Park is a 112-acre oasis in the middle of a hectic patch of north London, with the buzzing traffic of Seven Sisters Road on one side and the chatter of Green Lanes on the other. It's a prime example of what a London park should be: a place that's used by all slices of the surrounding community, from the surly hoodies with trousers around their thighs walking soft-as-anything dogs, to the middle-class couples from gentrified Stroud Green Road trailing space-age pushchairs. There's a lovely café in the middle of the park (with toilets), and a children's playground next to that, built with a £5 million Heritage Lottery Fund, that will keep kids amused for hours. There are fast slides going into the sandpit and really tricky climbing equipment to challenge older children, plus lots for toddlers to enjoy. Kids of all ages also love the enormous wooden structure adjacent to the playground, with its aerial walkways, slides, ramps and ladders. The boating lake with ducks and swans in it and the friendly café also border the playground. There's a running track, tennis courts and areas for ball games, plus a small skate park. A real people's park.

Users say
  • 4 out of 5 stars
See the full results of last year's Love London Awards

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