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Holloway area guide

Keep busy in N7 with Time Out's guide to Holloway's restaurants, pubs and things to do

A long-underappreciated neck of the woods, Holloway has a fair amount of pubs to choose from, is a stone's throw from the trendy buzz of Upper Street to the south and the olde-worlde splendour of Highgate to the north, and has four stations along its stretch of main road (if you count Archway tube right at the top). There's a good mix of grocery, takeaway, hardware, bike and vintage clothes shops here, with the sense of community at its best on match days, when Arsenal fans fill every last neighbouring boozer with red shirts and good-natured bantz.

The best bits of Holloway

Ten reasons to go to Holloway Road, N7
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Ten reasons to go to Holloway Road, N7

Poor old Holloway. It will never get called quaint, picturesque, village-y or charming. Why? Because its high street is a dual carriageway. And not just any dual carriageway, it’s the A1. That’s the FIRST dual carriageway. But for all its crosstown traffic, Holloway Road is weirdly appealing. Even the Archway end. N7 has been home to a huge mix of people for such a long time: the buttered-toast-and-builders’ caffs do as roaring a trade as the trendy flat white purveyors. The handful of handsome new openings that are trickling up from the Highbury end have been welcomed with rumbling bellies; sourdough pizza, fancy burgers, French cheese and even a Chicken Shop are now all nestled between the local restaurants, takeaways, football pubs and corner shops. Though not a scenic road to travel, it is a practical one. With its two giant supermarkets, the brilliant Nag’s Head Market, Selby’s the department store and various other useful retailers, you can accomplish any errand. But there’s fun to be had here too, and I’m willing to bet that it’s the only road in the country where you can eat in an Ecuadorian-Bolivian restaurant and buy a made-to-measure ’40s-style wiggle dress. Drink this   A photo posted by Big Red (@thebigredlondon) on Jun 12, 2016 at 10:31am PDT   Get yourself a pint of locally brewed Hammerton N7 IPA and listen to some live Irish folk at The Lamb. The owners are lovely, it’s usually full of sleepy dogs and you can order food in from anywhere y

Six things you never knew about Holloway
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Six things you never knew about Holloway

Plenty of Londoners can look a little blank if you casually mention that you live in Holloway. Some may even ask if it's anywhere near the prison (erm, the clue is in the name?). Located between Angel's Upper Street, Finsbury Park and Kentish Town, Holloway (or Upper Holloway, depending on the side of the street you're on) is a slightly hidden, historic Islington neighbourhood with a high street you've probably driven along even if you've never walked down it. Here are a few facts about the area: <img id="d98fd0ef-5c8c-45a3-9780-2c2812dedb8a" data-caption="" data-credit="Flora Tonking" data-width-class="" type="image/jpeg" total="4884823" loaded="4884823" image_id="102933037" src="http://media.timeout.com/images/102933037/image.jpg" class="photo lazy inline"> Flora Tonking Cows coming through Holloway was a relatively rural spot until well into the eighteenth century, and the route now known as the Holloway Road was used to herd cattle into town to be sold at Smithfield Market. Islington's pasture once provided space to graze over half a million sheep and cows at any time. Just try to imagine that the next time you walk along Upper Street. As London grew, the city sprawled out into the countryside, tearing up the fields to build houses and shops in the nineteenth century and turning Holloway into a bustling metropolitan suburb.      <img id="167ccdae-faf3-7eff-909c-edf838588748" data-caption=

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Restaurants in Holloway

500 Restaurant
Restaurants

500 Restaurant

Venue says: “Come and try our 'tagliere 500', a large board with a little of all of our cold starters from the main menu. Big enough for two people!”

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

Marisko

A seafood restaurant in Holloway, Marisko lets you do the serving, with food weighed and charged accordingly once you've plated up what you fancy. There are three separate rooms, and live music nights feature regularly. 

Users say
  • 5 out of 5 stars
Wolkite Kitfo restaurant and cafe
Restaurants

Wolkite Kitfo restaurant and cafe

Users say
  • 5 out of 5 stars
Spoke
Restaurants

Spoke

It’s got a cycle-related name, for sure, and its strapline is ‘coffee, burgers, cycling’, but on visiting this new Holloway Road pub conversion, it’s a bit tricky to tell where the bike connection is. There’s no workshop, no big screen showing cycling events, no bike gear on sale, not even any themed decoration. There are no indoor racks either – mine was the only bike in evidence, and I had to just leave it in a corner which, in a busy place, wasn’t ideal. So is Spoke just a shameless attempt to cash in on London’s cycling boom? Maybe, but all the same it’s a great place whether you arrive on two feet or two wheels (or four – there were plenty of prams). The former pub has been brightened up and fitted with an open kitchen at the centre of the action. Chefs knock out brunch classics, a few specials (pork shoulder sandwich, macaroni cheese) and the abovementioned burgers: beef, chicken or a prawn po’ boy sandwich, which is a Deep South classic made here with wasabi mayonnaise. As well as a serious coffee offer (filter is ‘coming soon’, we were told in May 2014), there’s wine and beer – making this a place to linger. But it’s no pitstop if you’re on a bike.

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

Holloway highlights

Things to do

Designer Warehouse Sale - women's

Users say
  • 5 out of 5 stars
Attractions

St Luke's Church

Users say
  • 5 out of 5 stars
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Bars and pubs in Holloway

Swimmer at the Grafton Arms
Bars and pubs

Swimmer at the Grafton Arms

A large front terrace enveloped by branded umbrellas gives way to a classic, high-ceilinged pub, with one end dedicated to an open kitchen manned by a commendably grizzled southern Italian. Rump steak with chips is all well and good, but most customers are here for what the sign over the counter advertises as ‘handpumped cellar-cooled real ales’. The likes of Butcombe Bitter and London Pride are complemented by Litovel, Leffe and Früli, with bottles of Duvel and Corona chilling in the fridge behind. Comfortably sparse, the interior features a fireplace surrounded by gilt-framed mirrors and swimming memorabilia: photographs of Johnny Weissmuller, Buster Crabbe and the White City pool of 1908 (the first time the Olympic sport wasn’t held in open waters).

Time Out says
  • 3 out of 5 stars
Users say
  • 5 out of 5 stars
Bedford Tavern
Bars and pubs

Bedford Tavern

One local resident described Seven Sisters Road to me as ‘predominantly a flat grey mass of gloom’. There are a few beacons, however, such as the recently reopened Bedford Tavern. This big Victorian boozer had been boarded up since 2009, but new owners have revived it with great results. The beer list emphasises London. Regular draught offerings all come from the city’s breweries including Beavertown, Hackney or Hammerton. There are also guest beers on draught (£4-£5), plus 25 by the bottle (£3.50-£5.80). The wine list, starting under £20, is chosen with unusual skill and sold at exceptionally low markups. If there’s a pub in north London selling wines this good at such affordable prices, I have yet to hear of it. We were there on quiz night, which was very lively and populated by a nicely mixed local crowd. Some appeared to be long-time residents who might have patronised the old Bedford, while others looked like younger newcomers to Finsbury Park. All seemed to be completely at home in the darkly painted room, even though the place had been open just a couple of weeks. The minuscule kitchen has a limited range of offerings, but mostly does them very well. A cheeseburger was made of excellent beef and came with irresistible skinny fries. Made-to-order scotch eggs (£7 each) are all good, but the pork and black pudding version is exceptional – even in a city over-populated with scotch eggs. It comes with own-made piccalilli, which hides at the bottom of the dinky preserving

Time Out says
  • 3 out of 5 stars
Users say
  • 5 out of 5 stars
The Edward Lear
Bars and pubs

The Edward Lear

Users say
  • 5 out of 5 stars
North Nineteen
Bars and pubs Book online

North Nineteen

Don’t be deterred by the anonymous name and the drab housing blocks that surround North Nineteen: this is a gem of a makeover. The main bar adds a fireplace, a TV and a space for open-mic sessions to a counter offering the likes of Timothy Taylor Landlord, guest ales and beers from Skinner’s in Truro (Cornish Knocker golden ale, Betty Stogs bitter); a chalkboard and an array of beermats testify to the presence of regular guest ales. Another bar, accessed via the dog-leg front terrace or through the gents’, best suits the convivial enjoyment of superior pub grub (Irish stew, chargrilled chicken sandwiches and so on). Whiskies, too, are a strong point: there are 26 in all, ‘plus six off-menu’, according to Tony, the landlord, who’ll be playing darts in the side games room on rare quiet moments.  

Time Out says
  • 3 out of 5 stars
Users say
  • 5 out of 5 stars
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The perfect weekend in Holloway

Eat: Tbilisi
Restaurants

Eat: Tbilisi

Superb stews at one of London’s oldest Georgian restaurants

Time Out says
  • 4 out of 5 stars
Users say
  • 3 out of 5 stars
Drink: Spoke
Restaurants

Drink: Spoke

Enjoy cocktails, burgers and coffee at a cycle shop in a converted pub

Time Out says
  • 4 out of 5 stars
Users say
  • 4 out of 5 stars
Buy: Ooh-La-La
Shopping

Buy: Ooh-La-La

Browse through furniture, vintage accessories and other treasures at this chaotic and bohemian shop

Users say
  • 5 out of 5 stars
Eat: Oa Comtam
Restaurants

Eat: Oa Comtam

Sample summer rolls, salads and pho at this simple but enjoyable Vietnamese joint

Users say
  • 5 out of 5 stars

Love London Awards: last year's winners

Zia Lucia
Restaurants

Zia Lucia

Zia Lucia is your new favourite non-family member. The name is Italian for ‘Aunt Lucy’, and the kindly looking lady smiling out at you from its logo was the inspiration for this lovely neighbourhood pizzeria, opened by Highbury locals Gianluca and Claudio in June 2016. While its branding, flavours and atmosphere are bang on-point, the place still pulses with the sort of old-fashioned charm you only find at an Italian family feast. Different doughs give the menu its USP: there’s a deliciously nutty wholemeal option, an impressive-looking vegetable charcoal one that’s said to ease digestion, and a gluten-free crust that’s been getting rave reviews from those avoiding nature’s elastic. They’re interesting, but they don’t exactly transform the flavour, and at £1.50 extra per pizza, quietly push the bill away from bargain status. Toppings are mostly the more interesting classics – ’nduja, aubergines, broccoli and speck ham (not all at once) – but the pizza chef has added a couple of haute Italian options: the Arianna with mozzarella, sausage, taleggio, pecorino and truffle honey could almost be Caesar’s breakfast buffet. It doesn’t matter what you end up ordering, because every last ingredient is of the utmost quality. Even the flour is the most expensive on the market. This attention to flavour is particularly apparent in the ‘Tagliere’, a sharing board of meats and cheeses that are all cut to order and marvellously fresh. The mortadella is sourced from Bologna, and is the best

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

Vagabond

Expect flat whites in glasses and own-baked cakes at this hip Holloway coffee shop

Users say
  • 5 out of 5 stars
Swimmer at the Grafton Arms
Bars and pubs

Swimmer at the Grafton Arms

A large front terrace enveloped by branded umbrellas gives way to a classic, high-ceilinged pub, with one end dedicated to an open kitchen manned by a commendably grizzled southern Italian. Rump steak with chips is all well and good, but most customers are here for what the sign over the counter advertises as ‘handpumped cellar-cooled real ales’. The likes of Butcombe Bitter and London Pride are complemented by Litovel, Leffe and Früli, with bottles of Duvel and Corona chilling in the fridge behind. Comfortably sparse, the interior features a fireplace surrounded by gilt-framed mirrors and swimming memorabilia: photographs of Johnny Weissmuller, Buster Crabbe and the White City pool of 1908 (the first time the Olympic sport wasn’t held in open waters).

Time Out says
  • 3 out of 5 stars
Users say
  • 5 out of 5 stars
Attractions

Freightliners City Farm

Islington’s small community-run farm is battling against large government cuts but is determined to keep afloat. Hidden behind the blustering Holloway Road, Freightliners is a vibrant hub of wildlife with a wide range of animals. There is also a great vegetarian café with tasty daily specials, all housed in a volunteer-built eco building. There is also a small petting zoo, bee hives, vegetable gardens and even animal boarding for local pets. Make sure to stop by the shop to pick up some homegrown honey, eggs or veg too.

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

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