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Upper Holloway area guide

Keep busy in N19 with Time Out's guide to restaurants, bars, pubs and things to do in Upper Holloway

Rob Greig

A long-underappreciated neck of the woods, Holloway and Archway combine (on the whole) large houses on leafy streets, reasonable pubs (there's certainly lots of choice such as The Landseer) and easy access to the olde-worlde splendour of Highgate to the north and the trendy buzz of Upper Street to the south. On Holloway Road itself, you have the iconic Daniel Libeskind building, which is part of London Metropolitan University. Tube and train stations are tolerably spaced along the main drag, with a good mix of grocery, takeaway, hardware, bike and vintage clothes shops. The definite sense of community is at its best on match days, when Arsenal fans fill every last neighbouring boozer with red shirts and good-natured bantz.

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Fabrizio Highgate Hill
Restaurants Book online

Fabrizio Highgate Hill

Users say
  • 5 out of 5 stars
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Cricks Corner
Restaurants

Cricks Corner

A trendy corner café up in Archway.

Users say
  • 5 out of 5 stars
Map Gift Shop
Shopping

Map Gift Shop

Wrapping paper, greeting cards and seasonal decorations are all in the offing at this pocket-sized gift shop, along with jewellery, homewares, toiletries and more

Users say
  • 5 out of 5 stars
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Restaurants in Upper 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
Gilak
Restaurants

Gilak

Gilak’s workaday decor – dark wooden furniture, whitewashed walls dotted with photos of the Caspian Sea, a cabinet of dusty knick-knacks – is rather spartan, though mellow Persian melodies and fairy lights are preferable to the muzak and harsh overhead lighting we’ve experienced here in the past. The kitchen specialises in the cuisine of Gilan, the northern Iranian province bordering the Caspian Sea, and much of the menu has a briny tang. Smoked mackerel pops up unexpectedly in a whole range of dishes, alongside the usual pomegranate, dried limes and dried plums. Starters of kale kabab, a blend of aubergine, fresh herbs and tangy pomegranate juice, and salad olivieh, a Gilani rendition of russian salad, didn’t disappoint on flavour but were served too chilled, and the presentation was unimaginative: two bowls of beige mush. Mains worked better: zereshk polow ba morgh (tender braised chicken with saffron rice, exotic sweet-sour barberries and chopped almonds and pistachios), and kabab momtaz (melt-in-the-mouth chicken and succulent lamb, in a zesty marinade, grilled to perfection, served with fluffy rice dotted with saffron). Gilak is a perfectly good local but lacks the atmosphere to transport diners away from the noisy Holloway Road outside.  

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

Del Parc

Located on a plain north London thoroughfare, this place is intimate, friendly and really rather unusual. There’s no menu: you’ll be asked about any dietary restrictions when booking; after that, your meal is in the hands of chef Steve Marrish. For once, over-used terms like seasonality, freshness and creativity genuinely matter here. Dishes are tapa-sized (with around seven in a meal for two), but the cooking takes in North African as well as Spanish influences. Openers such as high-quality olives with piquillo peppers were followed by mackerel fillets with rhubarb, mint and vanilla-infused olive oil – a combination we’d never have imagined, but which worked brilliantly. Even simple dishes are made special by the sheer quality of the ingredients. The tapas got progressively larger, up to lamb meatballs with lovely Moroccan touches of cumin and mint yoghurt, and succulent grilled prawns in a wine, garlic and chilli broth. From the dessert menu, we couldn’t pass on the superb pomegranate ice-cream. There’s no set price, which some may find unsettling, but the chef’s menu of the day usually works out at around £30 per head. A sophisticated, mostly Iberian wine list includes a superior sherry range. One to discover.  

Time Out says
  • 5 out of 5 stars
Users say
  • 3 out of 5 stars
Bread and Bean
Restaurants

Bread and Bean

This nice little place opened in November 2011 and it’s a big hit with young locals. It’s easy to see why they come. From the copper lamp fittings to the quirky decor to the massive windows giving a full view of the street scene, this is very pleasant place to while away an hour or two. There’s just one coffee on offer, Union Coffee Roasters’ Revelation blend, and it’s well handled with just one complaint: the cup wasn’t hot enough, so inevitably the brew wasn’t, either. The food ranges from cooked breakfasts to sandwiches, baked spuds and a daily soup and salad. Plus the inevitable baked goods, most of them made on the premises.

Time Out says
  • 3 out of 5 stars
Users say
  • 5 out of 5 stars
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Things to do in Upper Holloway

Shaolin Temple UK
Attractions

Shaolin Temple UK

It's not every day you get the chance to train with a genuine Shaolin, but Shi Yanzi is a thirty-fourth generation fighting monk sent by the Abbot of the Shaolin Temple in China's Henan province to spread the word in the UK. Archway is where he pitched up, running a busy programme of kung fu, tai chi and sanshou (Chinese kickboxing) classes for all ages and standards – plus, for those wanting to learn more about the culture, occasional workshops in Mandarin, calligraphy and Buddhism. The Temple also has an offshoot in Lewisham.

Things to do

National Youth Theatre of Great Britain

Users say
  • 5 out of 5 stars

Bars and pubs in Upper Holloway

St John's Tavern
Bars and pubs

St John's Tavern

There’s no denying St John’s Tavern is a slick operation. The charmingly refurbished saloon bar is light and cheerful, while the huge adjacent dining hall works well as both informal gastroboozer and special-occasion restaurant. Staff strut the wide aisles of tables and booths with an air of authority backed by an open kitchen that serves well-crafted food of estimable provenance. Dishes tend to be modern British with Mediterranean influences – a big plate of Dorset snails with spinach tagliatelle, for instance, or roast leg of lamb with runner beans, Jersey Royals and salsa verde. They’re not afraid to offer pub staples in their purest form, but if creativity is more to your liking (gooseberry tapenade, anyone?) there’s sure to be something tempting on offer. Offal makes frequent appearances: jellied pig’s head, say, with pickled green apple and beetroot purée, or lamb’s kidneys with lentil, purslane and sweetcorn salad. The list of puddings and cheeses is dreamy, so do save room. Real ales are respected (there are handpumps in both restaurant and bar) and the genial European wine list starts at £16 a bottle. If you can’t get (or don’t want) a table in the dining room, the appealing choice of bar nibbles includes cockles and whelks, montgomery’s cheddar and patatas bravas.  

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

Star

There's a firm foodie feel to this attractive old boozer tucked away in the backstreets just south of Highgate Cemetery. The seasonal produce is all meticulously sourced from the likes of Billingsgate Market, Barrett's and Stoke Newington's The Fishery, and menus read a step above the usual gastropub fare. Dishes range from lobster ravioli and citrus-cured salmon to haunch of venison with roasted butternut squash, braised shallots and juniper jus, wood pigeon with a red onion tarte tatin, and pan-fried hake with a kohlrabi gratin, pot-roasted oxtail nuggets and girolles. A short wine list focuses on the old word.  It's all served in a suitably rustic room, with exposed brickwork, chesterfield sofas, mismatched furniture and an open fire roaring through the winter months. An al fresco courtyard proves popular come summertime.

Users say
  • 4 out of 5 stars
Tufnell Park Tavern
Bars and pubs

Tufnell Park Tavern

The area between Tufnell Park tube and Holloway Road is a long-standing restaurant desert. The refurbed Tufnell Park Tavern, now owned by the Handmade Pubs group set out to fill the gap when it opened in mid-May with a huge and attractive multi-roomed pub/deli/restaurant. Word has spread: after a month of trading, the place was packed on a Thursday night. And many of the customers were already regulars – an indication of how nice this place is. I will join the ranks of ardent fans when the kitchen irons out some pretty deep wrinkles in the cooking. One of our starters, a smoked haddock salad with boiled egg, broad beans, new potatoes, dill and spring onions, was poorly presented and woefully unappetising. Pea and pea pod soup was good, but the ‘polenta croutons’ served in it were simultaneously leathery and rubbery. Main courses were better. Rabbit stew was good, though presented inelegantly. Rib steak was cooked as ordered, and served on the bone with fried potatoes which had a delicate spicy crust and split-second-perfect cooking within. The enticing desserts included the best of British and standard continental intruders. The wine list is compact and notably good, with prices starting at just £14.50, although this seems to be at the expense of the beer offer. As well as a few inoffensive lagers, there are only two ales on tap (Butcombe and Brakspear) and just Budvar or the rather passive Brahma in bottles. Service was wonderful: smiling, efficient and solicitous. Concentra

Time Out says
  • 2 out of 5 stars
Users say
  • 3 out of 5 stars
North Nineteen
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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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