Image credit: Steve Ryan (Acme Fire Cult)
Talisa Dean 10/01/23
The Best Restaurants In Dalston | Only the good stuff
Now that Shoreditch is the new Soho and Hackney is the new Shoreditch, Dalston has taken its rightful place in line as the new Hackney.
What does that mean? Well, in short, a whole lot of very good, very creative, envelope-pushing restaurants. You’ll find everything from an energetic ’70s-led taqueria (with a disco ball in the toilet) to a cutting-edge Modern British spot that only serves tasting menus. And they’re just the beginning.
Find our list of the best restaurants in Dalston below…
INGENIOUSLY CREATIVE LIVE FIRE-COOKING: ACME FIRE CULT
Image credit: Steve Ryan
ACME Fire Cult – brought to you by fire-cooking heavy weights Andrew Clarke (St Leonards) and Daniel Watkins (er, St Leonards) – is a restaurant in Dalston… Wait, scratch that, a smokey den of deliciousness, conveniently housed in 40ft Brewery (which happens to be one of our favourite London breweries). Turn up with a group of mates and you can sit and feast on everything from BBQ’d bavette (perfectly balanced with ancho koji and pickles) to coal roasted leeks with pistachio and romesco, washed down by a cold locally-brewed beer. Or three.
Details: Abbot Street Car Park, Dalston, E8 3DP | Book here
LAID BACK ROMANCE: OREN
Oren is the debut restaurant from expert Israeli chef Oded Oren, a stripped-back, effortlessly cool kind of place where everything from the food to the playlist is on point. Dishes include the likes of smoked aubergine with barrel aged feta, octopus salad with sweet Romano peppers and fish koftas in a spicy Chraime sauce. All of which you can wash down with a short but carefully considered wine list curated by aficionado Zeren Wilson (who’s advised some of London’s top eateries including Kiln and Smoking Goat).
Address: 89 Shacklewell Lane, Hackney, E8 2EB | Book here
AN UNLIKELY BUT OH BOY DOES IT WORK CULINARY CROSSOVER: ANGELINA
Angelina’s head chef Daniele Cefore (previously of Bocca di Lupo and Café Murano) is clearly a big fan of Japan, so much so that he’s torn up the rule book and blended it with his native Italian cuisine in this, his debut restaurant in Dalston. The outcome is no, not sushi pizza, but two omakase set menus (ten or four courses, plus an optional Italian wine pairing) that include cross-cultural creations like hazelnut granita doughnuts, veal and red Sicilian prawn tartare tagliolini, kombu-cured seabass and hamachi with fresh cacao puree and elderflower, all in a sleek monochrome setting that pays homage to both countries. Once dinner draws to a close, keep the night moving in the ‘secret bar’ seating just six and where phones are banned. Millennials beware…
Address: 56 Dalston Lane, E8 3AH | Book here
LATE-NIGHT PIZZA SLICES: VOODOO RAYS
Dalston is jam-packed full of great places to go out: Brilliant Corners, Ridley Road Market Bar, and Servant Jazz Quarters to name a few. So it’s only right that it also has this late night pizza joint serving NY-style pizza slices until the early hours. Stroll into Rays any day of the week – until 1am on both Fridays and Saturdays – and you’ll find everything from their Hot Mix 5 (pepperoni, jalapeños, red peppers, mozzarella, and tomato) to the Queen Vegan (artichoke hearts, green olives, red onion, sun-blush tomatoes, and both red and green sauce). If you’re in the market for booze they’ve also got plenty that too – beer, wine, and a handful of classic cocktails, including their signature frozen margaritas. Alternatively, you can keep it PG with a soft and a couple of scoops of gelato for dessert.
Address: 95 Kingsland High Street, Dalston, London E8 2PB | No bookings
A REJUVENATED CLASSIC: MANGAL 2
The old Mangal 2, as in, the pre-2020 one, may have been arguably the most popular Turkish restaurant in London and had been so for nigh on 20 years when founder Ali Dirik’s sons Ferhat and Sertaç took over from their dad. Still, that didn’t stop the two from completely modernising the menu. Any pitchforks from the original loyalists have been firmly put back in the tool shed though, considering the likes of line-caught Cornish mackerel (with green tomato ezme), lame kofte and sourdough pide are now coming hot off their signature ocakbasi grill.
Details: 4 Stoke Newington Rd, London N16 7XN | Book here
KILLER SARNIES: THE DUSTY KNUCKLE
Slip down Dalston’s Abbot Street and you’ll find yourself at the Dusty Knuckle, face first with some of the best sandwiches in London (not to give you any crazy ideas, but eating them all is a seriously impressive feat…). These bad boys are thick, crusty crowd-pleasers stuffed full of everything from marinated chicken thighs and nduja charred corn to glazed cauliflower, kimchi, and fried egg. And that’s before you spot the freshly baked cakes and pasties, loaves of sourdough; and wood-fired pizzas, all of which are also very much worth your dough.
Address: Abbot Street, Dalston, E8 3DP | No bookings
GLOBAL PRIX-FIXE WITH NATURAL WINES: HACKNEY COTERIE
Anthony Lyon (the man behind Lyon’s, one of the top restaurants in Crouch End) has joined forces with sommelier and kikisake-shi (master of sake) Kelvin McCabe to open Hackney Coterie: A bright, energetic, warehouse-style restaurant, smack bang next to Hackney Downs station. Manning the pans is Head Chef Dominic Auger (formerly of HIDE and Scully) who, together with Kelvin, crafts a regularly changing 5-7 course global tasting menu, paired with mostly natural wines.
Address: 230 Dalston Lane, Hackney, E8 1LA | Book here
GLOBAL SMALL PLATES: ROGUES
What started out as a series of popups in the Hackney Coffee Company over the road has now become a beautiful little independent restaurant in Dalston called Rogues, serving up a global array of small plates. The two show-runners, Freddie & Zac, met while working in the kitchens at the Michelin-starred Galvin La Chapelle, where they soon realised they shared the same values & food philosophy. So here, they’ll cook “dishes they’d like to eat”, and you’ll want to devour…
Address: 460 Hackney Road, E2 9EG | Book here
WATERSIDE DINING: TOWPATH CAFE
Tables at Towpath Café are like gold dust in the summer, and if you’re lucky enough to get one you’ll see why. This little canal-side café spills out from shuttered arches onto the towpath itself and serves everything from spectacular brunch dishes to delicious, loosely modern British small plates come the evening.
Address: 42 De Beauvoir Crescent, London N1 5SB | No bookings
INVENTIVE TASTING MENUS: THE SEA, THE SEA
The Sea, The Sea Hackney is so good they named it twice, and, much like its West London counterpart (also named The Sea, The Sea) is part fishmongers, part restaurant. They take in daily shipments of swimmers fresh off the day boats, then descale, fillet, and occasionally dry-age them before sending them to some of London’s top kitchens. Including their own. That’s where chef Leandro Carreira puts together his highly inventive tasting menus, served up at their beautiful aquamarine chef’s table…
Address: 337 Acton Mews, E8 4EA | Book here
NATURAL WINES AND FERMENT-FOCUSED FOODS: LITTLE DUCK THE PICKLERY
Little Duck The Picklery: a fermenting room, wine bar and restaurant in Dalston brought to you by the same folks behind the delightful Duck Soup in Soho. Upon entering you’ll be warmly welcomed into what feels like a well-stocked country kitchen, to feast on a daily-changing menu of seasonal small plates, all of which have been designed with with house-made pickles and ferments in mind. The restaurant is open breakfast through to dinner so dishes move from the likes of poached peaches and ricotta on sourdough to charred mackerel, pickled nectavigne and dill, all of which you can enjoy alongside either one of their drinking vinegars, or – if you’re in the mood for something a little stronger – one of their many bottles of top-notch natural wine.
Address: 68 Dalston Lane, Dalston, East London, E8 3AH | Book here
CULT RAMEN: SUPA YA RAMEN
After years of running sell-out supper clubs from his very own home chef Luke Findlay (ex Nopi and Berber & Q) decided to give the people what they clearly wanted: a permanent ramen refuge, along Dalston’s chaotic Kingsland Road. The space itself is nothing special: 10 or 15 covers in what feels like a stripped back café. However Supa Ya doesn’t need a fancy schmancy interior to be one of the best ramen restaurants in London. The noodles are packed full of flavour – everything from the roast chicken with buttered chilli corn to the the salt beef with house-made pickles (both served with a fudge egg) . On weekends they do brunch ramens, plus they’re also known for running some pretty special collabs with everyone from Two Hot Asians to Ling Lings.
Address: 499 Kingsland Road, Hackney, E8 4AA | No Bookings
BEAUTIFULLY CRAFTED MODERN BRITISH: PIDGIN
If you’re wondering how a Dalston restaurant tackles fine dining, head to Pidgin – a tiny, tasting-menu only modern British venue where guests all feast on the same four dishes, for £65 a head. Exactly what the dishes are changes weekly. and never in their entire time of existing have they served the same one twice. So if you fall in love (which is likely) you need not worry about getting bored. Instead you’ll be forever delighted with the likes of beef, beetroot, shiso, and whiskey or mussel, leek, sake lees, and wasabi (most dishes also have a slight Asian twist) all of which are plated to perfection. (Seriously. Like artwork) and served alongside an equally as impressive cocktail menu or paired wines.
Address: 52 Wilton Way, Dalston, East London, E8 1BS | Book here
TEQUILA-FUELLED FUN: DEL 74
Del 74 is the kind of place that has a disco ball in the toilet – where the tacos are cheap (and delicious) and margaritas are served by the jug. There’s a happy hour every day, including all night on Tuesdays and it’s not unusual to find the wacky silver-haired owners pouring complimentary mezcal shots directly into the mouths of enthusiastic punters. Naturally, with this being said, it’s one of the best Mexican restaurants in London. We dare you not to have a good time.
Address: 129 Kingsland High Street, Dalston, East London, E8 2PB | Book here
FUN BRUNCH: SNACKBAR
Image credit: Sam Harris
Time to break up with avo & poached eggs. Pickling whizz and comfort food queen Freddie Janssen devotes her brunch menu at Snackbar to mouthwatering plates from across the globe – try the Singaporean version of dippy soldiers with kaya toast and onsen egg; or bust a hangover with the kimcheese croissant, oozing with melted Montgomery cheddar. Ready to hit the sauce again? Go for one of the best bottomless brunches in London on Sundays with bloody Marys, rhubarb fizz cocktails, and their legendary gooey butter cake.
Address: 20 Dalston Lane, London E8 3AZ | Book here
A VEGETARIAN CLASSIC: MILDREDS DALSTON
Mildreds is a modern arm of Mildred’s burgeoning vegan empire. First opening back in Soho in 1988, they now have five restaurants across London, all serving the same globally-inspired menu perfected over the past thirty years. It’s ideal for a casual weekend brunch (they serve some of London’s best vegan breakfasts) or an early evening dinner that won’t break the bank.
Address: Thomas Tower, 1 Dalston Square, Dalston, East London, E8 3GU | Book here
Looking to make an evening of it? Why not have a drink in one of the best bars in Shoreditch first.
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