Hackney area guide

Find the best restaurants, shops, pubs and things to do in Hackney – peruse the markets, explore the café scene and discover what there is to see and do in the area

Hackney flea market

There's plenty to heart in Hackney, where high art and edgy innovation meet. There are flavours to savour from its lip-smacking restaurants, not to mention world-class coffees (Square Mile coffee beans, anyone?). Quirky, scruffy, sleek or hip – the area's bars and pubs suit whatever taste you're packing, as do its diversions (you're seriously spoilt for things to do). And if money's still burning a hole, Hackney's shops and markets sell temptation by the truckload, from vintage fabrics and designer must-haves to rare meats and artisanal bread.

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The best bits of Hackney

11 reasons to go to Mentmore Terrace, E8
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11 reasons to go to Mentmore Terrace, E8

While tourists head in droves to bustling Broadway Market, there is a startlingly calm and much quirkier east London enclave hidden just a back road away. Mentmore Terrace was once an unassuming row of untended archways that was home to numerous squats in the ’70s and ’80s. But now, thanks to the rumbling march of gentrification, it’s a thriving hub of eateries, shops and bars. Despite being home to London Fields station and just a stone’s throw from Mare Street, Mentmore Terrace has managed to avoid becoming part of the beaten track. And, what’s more, it’s essentially a bite-sized E8. Why travel the length and breadth of Hackney when it has all the cool of Clapton, the charm of Stokey and the variety of Dalston? This little cobbled terrace is home to everything from cafés to craft breweries plus, of course, a handful of your quintessential Hackney newbuilds. It really does cover all bases: if you want mid-century modern furniture there’s a dealer, if you’re after hard-to-find vinyl there’s a remarkably good record shop, if you want to dance all night to live grime, you can. It’s all here, in a Victorian viaduct, with its own Overground station and everything. So let the avocado-on-toast brigade head to London Fields’s main drag while you take a stroll through this charmingly chill slice of east. Drink this   A photo posted by Toni Cundy (@tonicundy) on Nov 26, 2016 at 6:49am PST Sip on one of a number of limited-run lagers at the London Fields Brewery taproom

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

14 reasons to go to Mare Street in Hackney, E8
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14 reasons to go to Mare Street in Hackney, E8

Mare Street swoops through the hipster heartlands of London Fields, from Clapton to Cambridge Heath. But, while bars and boutiques might have claimed nearby Stoke Newington High Street and Kingsland Road, Mare Street is still full of actually useful things. Cheap clothing stores and supermarkets still outnumber craft beer pubs and artisan restaurants, and its pedestrianised bit feels more like a suburban town centre than a trendy urban borough. In the decades since the ’40s, the road’s been home to Afro-Caribbean, Turkish and Vietnamese communities. And, thanks to the London College of Fashion campus, there’s always an arty crowd catwalking through the area, although they’ve recently been joined by glossier fashion types, popping into Hackney Central’s new designer outlets. It’s not the first time Mare Street’s attracted people with cash to splash. In the 1600s, it was a favourite spot for holidaying aristocrats who’d indulge in shuffleboard, bowling and watching freak shows in the pub after a spot of hunting. There are still signs of some of its former architectural glory along the street: just check out number 195 for some serious Doric column shit. Mare Street is a road where you can experience London’s history, sip a nice cocktail and do your supermarket shop for less than a tenner. It’s an east London essential. Eat this   A photo posted by Rita's (@ritasdining) on May 13, 2016 at 10:11am PDT Chicken wings, chargrilled lamb and bone-marrow hash browns at

15 reasons to go to Chatsworth Road, E5
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15 reasons to go to Chatsworth Road, E5

Chatsworth road smells amazing. Thanks to the fresh bread, exotic flowers, food stalls and reassuringly expensive scented candles all over the place, the whole thoroughfare is an olfactory marvel. It’s a feast for the eyes and tastebuds too. A long residential strip running through Homerton, Chatsworth Road is both a functional, neighbourhood high street and a genuinely great destination full of independent shops, excellent eateries and good-looking people. Originally intended to cater for life’s practicalities, it was one of the first planned high streets in London. Some sparky Victorians turned fields near a growing suburb into a pathway of amenities for the locals, including a butcher, some greengrocers and a loo (which still stands today as Hackney’s only free unisex public toilet). But hey, times change, gentrification happens, and now there’s a dog-grooming parlour. But there’s also a string of nice cafés, a friendly family crowd and a weekly food market that’s much better than the nearby tourist trap of Broadway Market.  So whether you’re a Hackney local or a Chatsworth newbie, here’s where to find a great butcher, some wonderful bakers and a whole gang of scented-candlestickmakers. Eat this   A photo posted by MAX CHATER LTD (@maxchater) on Mar 3, 2016 at 6:42am PST Mountains of Mediterranean food at Pivaz where the portions are as big as the Greek deficit. It’s the perfect place for a boisterous weekend brunch or a romantic evening meal. Anything

Restaurants in Hackney

Oslo

Oslo

Venue says: “DJ sessions in the bar every Sunday night, serving roasts until 9pm.”

Time Out says
4 out of 5 stars
Users say
4 out of 5 stars
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Lardo
Restaurants

Lardo

If a restaurant is named after the cured back fat of a pig, you can expect that charcuterie is among its specialities – and so it is here. But lardo itself isn’t on the menu at Lardo, except as a pizza topping, so our charming, clued-up waiter bought a plate specially. It was excellent, as was the paper-thin fennel pollen salame. Other small plates on the short menu are divided into ‘cold’ (simple but satisfying puréed cannellini beans with black olives), ‘warm’ (an unctuous bowl of braised chicory and melted fonduta cheese topped with speck) and ‘hearty’ (Venetian lamb’s kidneys). There’s also a couple of own-made pasta dishes and a handful of pizzas with novel, tasty toppings such as goat’s curd, anchovy and sprouting broccoli. You can watch the pizzas being fired if you choose to sit on the stools around the open kitchen; otherwise there are closely packed but not cramped tables. Industrial-style windows, plenty of wood, and lighting that’s so low most people need to use the tealights to read the menu, make for a stylishly casual setting. Lardo is part of the Arthaus complex, so it’s a trek across a blinding white foyer to find the shared toilets. Drinks run from cocktails to builders’ tea plus a brief, mainly Italian wine list. Hackneyites love this place – rightly so – and cram in from breakfast to late, so it’s wise to book.  

Time Out says
4 out of 5 stars
Users say
3 out of 5 stars
Pacific Social Club
Restaurants

Pacific Social Club

Admiring the Pacific Rim postcards and tiki mask, the wall covered in vinyl inner sleeves (Columbia, Decca, ‘race records’ pioneer Okeh) and a dresser of teacups that seems to have been stolen from a Victorian parlour, we were charmed by this addition to the welter of weeny cafés that have descended on all quarters of Hackney in the last few months. The food and drinks here are inventive, though not flawless. Our flat white (the makings come from Broadway Market’s Climpson & Sons) seemed a bit long on the white, and we enjoyed the idea of a fig, gorgonzola and Parma ham toastie a little more than the execution – it was too heavy on the fig for the saltiness of the cheese and ham to really come through. The Venezuelan sandwich was great – a generous mash-up of chorizo, morcilla, black beans, avocado and cheese – but a little soggy, perhaps because we ate it later as a takeaway. Still, the cakes were a resounding success, whether the tooth-suckingly sweet crème fraîche and iced raspberry muffin, which was winningly served with a cake fork on an antique saucer; or an excellently moist Oreo brownie. For the sweaty summer’s day of our visit, a mint and apple smoothie – recommended by the cheery young waitress – was a total winner. Above all, it’s the atmosphere of this place that raises it above the competition. There’s the little bookshelf where Graham Robb’s Rimbaud biography sits alongside Charlotte Berney’s ‘The Fundamentals of Hawaiian Mysticism’, and there’s the ‘analogue li

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

Supper clubs are great. Hosted by the type of people who understand that there’s more to dining out than just food (if there wasn’t, we’d all be at home eating takeaway), they blazed a trail for laid-back dining and short, no-choice menus. No choice equals no stress. No pretending to listen to your not-seen-each-other-in-ages friend’s stories while actually doing game theory on the piece of paper in front of you. It’s like being at a great dinner party, the sort where you trust the host’s cooking, drink shots and don’t talk about house prices.  Pidgin shares this philosophy. The first foray into ‘proper restaurant-hood’ from James Ramsden and Sam Herlihy, creators of the acclaimed supper club Secret Larder, it translates the best of these qualities – stress-free menu, vibrant atmosphere – into a cute space, with copper-trimmed tables, walls bearing twigs gathered in the New Forest, and a seascape-papered loo complete with the sound of crashing thunder.  As you’d hope, it’s wonderfully convivial. Our table-neighbours spontaneously chatted to us; a gaggle of mates took grelfies in the corner. James – who had called to confirm our reservation and check dietary concerns – bustled around, oiling the wheels.  They’ve hired a real pro to run the kitchen: Elizabeth Allen, formerly of Islington’s excellent Smokehouse. And the food is terrific. Our meal – it changes weekly – took in charred baby gem lettuce with shards of crispy chicken skin, grated pecorino and a dusting of dehydra

Time Out says
4 out of 5 stars
Users say
5 out of 5 stars
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Things to do in Hackney

Broadway Market
Shopping

Broadway Market

For east London’s fashionably attired food-lovers, there's no better Saturday destination than Broadway Market. Quaint cafés, pubs and indie music shops line the street, but the real star here is the market. The food-loving hipster's weekend hangout of choice, Broadway Market is as much about seeking out quality food as it is about just letting your hair down and soaking up the vibe – with a freshly grilled burger (from Northfield Farm) in one hand and a chilled Vietnamese coffee (from Ca Phe VN) in the other. Stalls range from the classic (sweet seasonal cupcakes from Violet) to the exotic (The Arabica Food & Spice Company do a mouthwatering range of mèze, as well as Damascene falafel wraps). Spices, cheeses, breads, rare-breed meat, luscious cakes and olives are all present – it's hard to imagine the need to go anywhere else for your weekly food shop. The market is also popular for its vintage and new designer threads, old Vogue patterns, buttons, Ladybird books, flowers and crafts. The permanent shops and eateries are worth popping into as well – look out for the Broadway Bookshop, coffee house Climpson & Sons, haberdashery store Fabrications and florist Rebel Rebel. The neighbouring Netil Market is just around the corner on Westgate Street – you'll find more vintage clothes, food, jewellery and bric-à-brac.

Users say
5 out of 5 stars
Hackney Empire
Theatre

Hackney Empire

Charlie Chaplin, Stan Laurel and Marie Lloyd all trod Hackney's boards during its time as a music hall. It's since been used as a television studio and, rather quaintly, as a bingo hall, before opening as a theatre proper in 1986. Today, it's a much-loved East End institution whose pantos have become the stuff of legend. High art does feature (the English Touring Opera presented Mozart's 'The Magic Flute' in 2009) as does issue-heavy theatre, often with an emphasis on class and multiculturalism. But the focus tends to be on fun: comedy, children's theatre and music all featuring large on its programme. Tours of the Grade II-listed auditorium take place during Open House London weekend in September.

Users say
4 out of 5 stars

Bars and pubs in Hackney

Prince George
Bars and pubs

Prince George

Once a mellow backstreet local, the George now swarms with rowdy, slumming-it art students in ridiculous outfits on Fridays and Saturdays, to the point where the landlord has even hired a bouncer.

Time Out says
4 out of 5 stars
Users say
3 out of 5 stars
Dove
Bars and pubs

Dove

The staff at the Dove long ago realised that the formula of great beers, uncomplicated food and simple decor was a winner that'd stand the test of time.

Time Out says
3 out of 5 stars
Users say
4 out of 5 stars
Kenton
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Kenton

One of Hackney’s hidden gems, this eclectic boozer draws a crowd of loyal locals to an interior that mixes candlelit antiques and modern curiosities.

Time Out says
3 out of 5 stars
Users say
5 out of 5 stars
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Cat & Mutton
Bars and pubs Buy tickets

Cat & Mutton

Show up at this corner pub on a Sunday lunchtime and you’ll think you’ve walked into an estate agent’s advertisement for urban living.

Time Out says
3 out of 5 stars
Users say
4 out of 5 stars
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Check out our favourite bars and pubs in Hackney

Hotels in Hackney

Town Hall Hotel

Town Hall Hotel

A monochrome greyhound pads down the grand central staircase towards reception. She’s meant to be there: Dizzy is the hotel dog, and her casual confidence is a good fit for the Town Hall Hotel, which is every bit as cool as it is handsome. The classy cocktail bar, the flawless service, the beautiful furniture and the DAB radios on the bedside tables (set to BBC 6 Music, natch) all point to the fact that this is a grown-up hotel intended for bright young things. The grand building is quite the anomaly on Cambridge Heath Road. Its neighbours are mainly chicken shops, taxi offices and pubs of varying quality, but a generous dose of gentrification has ensured that the discerning consumer can still feel at home. Hidden behind the local petrol station, for instance, you’ll find a cobbled strip of railway arches that’s home to excellent restaurants Sager + Wilde and Paradise Garage and craft beer emporium (and bar) Mother Kelly’s. But you don’t really need to leave the hotel – The Typing Room restaurant serves a fairly spectacular tasting menu of modern British creations; the gorgeous Corner Room serves a more affordable but still inventive à la carte at both lunch and dinner. A well-crafted nightcap can be found at the sultry Peg + Patriot cocktail bar.   I didn’t see a piece of furniture I didn’t covet while staying there. Midcentury teal sideboards and upholstered chairs sit appealingly alongside modern conveniences such as espresso machines and swift wi-fi. The bed, though marve

Time Out says
4 out of 5 stars
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The RE London Shoreditch

The RE London Shoreditch

The RE London Shoreditch is a modern, air-conditioned hotel with stylish rooms and a 120-seater restaurant. London buses stop outside the hotel and reach Liverpool Street Station in 10 minutes.The large rooms at RE London Shoreditch have luxury beds, a flat-screen TV, an en suite power shower and Fair Trade tea and coffee.Quattro Bar & Grill offers relaxed dining in a stylish setting, and there is also a meeting room for up to 50 people.Bethnal Green London Underground Tube Station is a 10/15-minute walk away. There is a bus stop outside hotel, with buses going to Liverpool Street, London Bridge, Waterloo and Oxford Circus.

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The perfect weekend in Hackney

See: The Viktor Wynd Museum of Curiosities, Fine Art & Natural History
Museums

See: The Viktor Wynd Museum of Curiosities, Fine Art & Natural History

Gawp at shells, skulls, taxidermy esoteric art and some truly eccentric oddities

Users say
4 out of 5 stars
Drink: Crate Brewery
Bars and pubs

Drink: Crate Brewery

Be part of the buzz at this perennially popular riverside brewery and pizza pub

Time Out says
5 out of 5 stars
Users say
4 out of 5 stars
Craft: The London Loom
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Craft: The London Loom

Venue says: “Our children's freestyle weaving classes are available for children aged 6+, kids love using our floor looms and being let loose on our yarn”

Users say
5 out of 5 stars
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Dance: Oslo

Dance: Oslo

Venue says: “DJ sessions in the bar every Sunday night, serving roasts until 9pm.”

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