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Kentish Town area guide

Discover Kentish Town’s great restaurants, bars and pubs, check out The Forum, and find plenty of things to do in this part of north London

O2 Forum Kentish Town
Flickr / Bob Bob

Home to popular live music venue The Forum, Kentish Town also has a host of bars and restaurants for visitors to enjoy a bit of pre- or post-gig refreshment – don’t miss out on the great real ale available in the area. Think of Kentish Town as a slightly more sophisticated Camden Town and you won't go too far wrong. Oh, and there's also a farm, with ducks.

What are your favourite Kentish Town haunts? Let us know in the comments.

The best bits of Kentish Town

15 reasons to go to Kentish Town Road, NW1 & NW5
News

15 reasons to go to Kentish Town Road, NW1 & NW5

Karl Marx and Tom Hiddleston liked it so much they chose to call it home; Mary Shelley described it as an ‘odious swamp’. Yes, Kentish Town splits opinion. But its high street – relatively unchanged despite an influx of young professionals, as well as hordes of French families who’ve come for the local francophone schools – is well worth a visit. Posh and down-to-earth versions of shops cohabit nicely: the Mediterranean food hall is still thriving, despite a health food supermarket moving in a couple of doors down, and though a couple of familiar chain cafés and restaurants have arrived, Londoners from far and wide still love the local BYOB spots. Stretching down from Kentish Town to Camden Road tube, the street crosses a whole range of classic London streetscapes: pretty mews, a canal, some grimy railway tracks and a pocket park. It’s lined with Victorian redbrick gems and the odd ghost sign to reward those looking upwards. It even has a disused tube station – South Kentish Town, immortalised in a John Betjeman story about a man trapped inside – and a late Victorian church that’s now a Grade II-listed Greek Orthodox cathedral. The charity shops here are full of high-end treasures, too. It may look like a typical, run-down London high street, but that’s not the half of it. Eat this   A post shared by Anastasia Ivanova 🇬🇧🇷🇺 (@anastasiaova) on Feb 9, 2016 at 3:29pm PST A nightly changing three-course meal at intimate BYOB Anima e Cuore. It doesn’t look like m

Ten reasons to go to Fortess Road in Kentish Town, NW5
News

Ten reasons to go to Fortess Road in Kentish Town, NW5

Where can you find a cocktail bar in a disused public loo at one end of the road and Jeremy Corbyn’s old stamping ground at the other? The answer is Fortess Road, which connects Kentish Town and Tufnell Park, and offers plenty of opportunities for scoffing and boozing along its length. And yes, before Corbs relocated his bike and beard to the luvvie-topia that is Islington, he was a resident of Tufnell Park, as were Bill Nighy and Zane Lowe. Which is ironic, really, because in the 1890s social reformer Charles Booth wrote a book about London life that boldly declared ‘the rich would soon be gone’ from an area that at the time was full of merchants and music hall artistes.  Whatever the changes – or lack thereof – in this area, one thing’s for certain: the folk of Victorian-era Fortess Road didn’t have half as much choice of drinking spots as its modern-day residents have. There are bars and gastropubs galore, a music venue, cafés that will appeal to the Bugaboo-pushing mum contingent as much as to the sockless hipster brigade and, should you find yourself visiting at an hour before alcoholic drinking is socially acceptable, a couple of independent boutiques to peruse. What would Booth make of the street now? Well, he’s probably past caring, so why not go see for yourself?  Drink this   A photo posted by Nick Currey (@babel_london) on Jun 3, 2016 at 6:06pm PDT   Whether you’re after a leafy beer garden to sit in while praying it doesn’t rain or a rustic int

Restaurants in Kentish Town

Arancini Factory
Restaurants

Arancini Factory

The bricks-and-mortar location of marketeers Arancini Bros is an affable retro caff decked with boxes of the day’s fresh produce. From the open kitchen at the rear come arancini (Sicilian-style deep-fried risotto balls) served plain, with salad, in tortilla wraps, or accompanied by a hot stew.

Time Out says
4 out of 5 stars
Users say
4 out of 5 stars
Queen of Sheba
Restaurants

Queen of Sheba

This tiny restaurant is the perfect destination for those unacquainted with the joys of Ethiopian cuisine; the smiley, chatty staff will happily talk you through the menu and, if necessary, offer tactical advice on eating with injera, the sour, spongy pancake that comes with every meal.

Time Out says
4 out of 5 stars
Users say
4 out of 5 stars
The Fields Beneath
Restaurants

The Fields Beneath

‘The Fields Beneath’ is a classic about Kentish Town local history written by long-time resident Gillian Tindall, and the name is appropriate for this coffee bar: TFB has a real neighbourhood feel. It isn’t surprising that K-Towners have taken to it enthusiastically since it opened late in 2012. The place is tiny, with just one long(ish) table for communal sipping, but ample space for the takeaway crowd.

Time Out says
4 out of 5 stars
Users say
5 out of 5 stars
Kentish Canteen
Restaurants Book online

Kentish Canteen

A spacious spot, the Canteen has big picture windows, a Kentish Town-themed mural on one wall and brasserie-style seating covered in faux-leather. The menu leaps around a bit, from dips and fish and chips to ambitious-sounding mains (braised beef cheeks with polenta and thyme jus).

Time Out says
3 out of 5 stars
Users say
3 out of 5 stars
See all restaurants in Kentish Town

Kentish Town highlights

The Forum
Music

The Forum

Built in 1934 and nestled in Kentish Town, The Forum is a beautiful art deco building that has played host to some of the music industry’s biggest names since becoming a live music venue in the 1980s. With a capacity of 2,300, The Forum has seen performances by the likes of Rihanna, Kiss, Justin Timberlake, The Killers, Jack White, Noel Gallagher, Bobby Womack, Amy Winehouse, Rancid and tonnes more. 

Users say
4 out of 5 stars
The Dandy Lion Market
Shopping

The Dandy Lion Market

The Dandy Lion Market is a monthly fixture showcasing independent vintage items and affordable arts and crafts from the comfort of a friendly boozer. The Oxford plays host of the pop-up market on the first Saturday of every month featuring a different theme each time. Check out their Facebook page (The Dandy Lion Market) for each month’s edition.

Users say
5 out of 5 stars

Bars and pubs in Kentish Town

Knowhere Special
Bars and pubs

Knowhere Special

 This wonderful new Kentish Town bar is housed in a tiny basement with seating for 30-something people. It features low lighting, a delightful hotchpotch of decoration and seating, eclectic but well-chosen music, and a resident Jack Russell who will be happy to come and give your ankle a friendly sniff.The human welcome radiates warmth and enthusiasm, from the moment you walk in and get a paper bag of popcorn to munch while you peruse the drinks list. And what a list: short but inventive, in the Purl/Nightjar mode, though the jokey names won’t be to everyone’s taste.The rum-based Friar’s Luck, whose ingredients include frankincense, was a masterpiece of contrasting flavours in superb balance. A Martini was made exactly as requested. The house drinks all come with a bespoke food accompaniment; classy touch.Prices for house cocktails are high at £11-12, but that includes the nibbles. And other cocktails are cheap.The big catch is because the place is so tiny, and offers table service only, it’s best to book ahead via email if you don’t want to risk waiting to ensure getting a table. Despite this, Knowhere Special is very special.

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

Quinn's

With Miles Davis on the stereo and a stream of banter from two generations of Quinns behind the bar, this Irish boozer manages to feel like a real sanctuary from the outside world. There’s a rotating selection of guest ales, and one of the longest lists of Belgian and German bottled beers you'll find in the capital (stored in a padlocked fridge beside the bar).

Time Out says
3 out of 5 stars
Users say
3 out of 5 stars
Camden Town Brewery Bar
Bars and pubs

Camden Town Brewery Bar

When its issue began gushing forth in 2010, the Camden Town Brewery became the third biggest beer producer in London by volume, behind Fuller’s (No1) and Meantime (No2). Camden Town’s marketing is clever, the labels are smart – and the beer is fantastic. Its railway arch premises at Kentish Town West have already proved inadequate in size, and fermentation tanks are being moved outside the building: now, part of it has been fitted out to create the truest sort of brewery tap, one where the beer has only a few swaying paces to travel between production and consumption. Camden’s four perennial products are on draught (Wheat, Hells lager, Pale Ale, and the pitch-black porter Ink). There are also a few more taps showcasing the brewery’s occasional or seasonal brews – when we visited there was Black Friday (a dark pilsener), Gentleman’s Wit (Dutch-style wheat beer made with roasted lemons), and an unfiltered version of the Hells. A couple of guest ales are invited in too. Outside, the peripatetic Big Apple Hot Dogs were dispensing free-range, London-made wieners while drinkers milled around in the late spring sunshine. It’s minimally decorated – a raw wood bar, some plain white tiling and a few tables and chairs – but it doesn’t need more than this, and the stripped-down style feels perfect for the purpose. The people pulling the pints are the same ones who brewed them – so it’s a great way to get closer to the source. Events are planned for the neighbouring arch – live music,

Time Out says
3 out of 5 stars
Users say
4 out of 5 stars
Oxford
Bars and pubs Book online

Oxford

One of the Real Pubs stable, the Oxford is clearly thriving, packed out on a Sunday lunchtime with big parties enjoying hearty roasts or choosing from a menu of posh gastropub fare. Dark grey walls, dark wood furniture and a dramatic oversized chandelier add up to a stylish interior. Staff were pleasant enough, but too rushed – it can take a while to order and get a drink – one of 20 or so wines by the glass, or a pint of Camden Town Brewery’s Camden Hells lager, perhaps. The food can also be a bit hit and miss. Mussels came in a sauce where any hint of cider was overpowered by cream, but a plate of Spanish charcuterie with toasted Poilâne, cornichons and caperberries was fantastic: generous piles of chorizo, lean, chewy and intensely flavoursome lomo and deliciously salty jamón. Inconsistency continued with the mains – pork, leek and ham hock pie with spring greens had a light shortcrust pastry lid covering a lip-smacking and moist filling, while a generous, well-grilled sea bass fillet on confit onion and fennel was again drowned by an excessively creamy sauce. Perfect fat chips did a lot to ease the pain. Lemon tart with undercooked pastry wasn’t a touch on the M&S version. Truly a mixed bag.

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

The perfect weekend in Kentish Town

Buy: Phoenicia
Shopping

Buy: Phoenicia

Stock up on incredible food at a Mediterrannean food hall

Users say
5 out of 5 stars
Eat: Bintang
Restaurants

Eat: Bintang

Munch creative dishes galore at this friendly pan-Asian restaurant

Users say
4 out of 5 stars
Dance: The Forum
Music

Dance: The Forum

Hear top bands at a famed art deco gig venue

Users say
4 out of 5 stars
Drink: Ladies & Gentlemen
Bars and pubs

Drink: Ladies & Gentlemen

Quaff cocktails in a former subterranean public toilet

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

Love London Awards: last year's winners

Korova
Restaurants Book online

Korova

Thanks, Time Out Love London Awards! You alerted us to a new restaurant in Tufnell Park that we probably wouldn’t have heard of. Fans of ‘A Clockwork Orange’ will recognise the name: the Korova Milk Bar served milk mixed with mind-bending drugs. Don’t worry, there’s nothing sinister going on in TP. The name (Russian for ‘cow’) is more a reference to the venue’s origins: Tufnell Park formerly supplied a lot of London’s milk, and this place was once a dairy. More recently, it has been a graveyard for a café-deli and a bakery. Now Steve Wilmot (owner of the Zensai bar in Camden Town) and his wife Sital have bet they can do better with a café that turns into a cocktail bar and restaurant by night. It was brunch that got good comments online. We went for dinner, however, and it was really memorable. There’s a tiny menu, just four choices at each stage. Shallot soup had silky texture and deep flavour. A special of seared foie gras, with lozenges of baked apple, was perfectly executed. Beautifully cooked ribeye came with a lush gratin dauphinoise; tender braised lamb shank with creamy-textured butter beans. Chocolate mousse was nicely bittersweet. No main course costs over £15, but the bill will swell if you fall for cocktails and the wine list. Do yourself a favour: fall. Especially for their negroni and the Vesper martini; as 007 would have said, ‘Same again, bartender.’  There’s something very retro about Korova. The decor combines original tiling with new features such as a

Time Out says
4 out of 5 stars
Users say
5 out of 5 stars
Book online
Bear & Wolf
Restaurants

Bear & Wolf

A Tufnell Park café serving breakfasts through till lunch, and lunches through to 5pm. In the back there is a play area, which makes B&W very popular among local families with young children.

Users say
5 out of 5 stars
Caps & Taps
Shopping

Caps & Taps

Phill Elliott and Stephanie Palgrave-Brown used to work in accountancy (him) and film and events (her). In the autumn of 2014 they went on a four-week ‘beer holiday’ in the US, visiting small breweries in Oregon and California. The offspring of their trip is Caps & Taps, Kentish Town’s first craft beer specialist. This is a tiny place but it sells around 300 beers from London, the rest of the UK, the US and the rest of the world. Look out for relative rarities: Burning Sky Cuvée from Sussex, Stone Old Guardian from Southern California, and Barrel-Aged India Hells Lager from nearby Camden Brewery. Fans of esoteric US beers are particularly well served.

Users say
5 out of 5 stars
Lion and Unicorn Theatre
Theatre

Lion and Unicorn Theatre

The Giant Olive Theatre Company looks after the bill at this intimate pub theatre with artistic director George Sallis at the helm. The emphasis is on new work and in-house productions – in fact, The Giant Olive is so keen to cultivate talent, it runs theatre workshops (the cutely named Little Olives) for children as young as six. There are also classes for adults and community projects for its Kentish Town locals.

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