The Baring - JWHoward Photography


Hattie Lloyd 06/03/24

The Best Islington Restaurants

The Best Islington Restaurants | Heavenly Dining Options in Angel

Islington might be represented by the quasi-impoverished baby blue squares on the Monopoly board, but that doesn’t reflect Islington restaurants, which, instead, are solid gold…probably occupied by the fancy motorcar…driven by the dog…wearing the top hat.

There’s elegant French brasseries; iconic Chinese; Italian comfort food – you name it. We’ve tried and tested every one, in the quest to pin down the best Islington restaurants for your delectation.

These are they –



Trullo islington restaurants

Named after odd-looking conical houses in Apulia, Italy, Trullo is the kind of contemporary little trattoria that you dream of finding on holiday, but sadly never do. 

Because it’s in Highbury.

It comes to you from Padella‘s Jordan Frieda and Tim Siadatan. But here as well as finding some of the freshest pasta available, you’ll also score meat and fish cooked simply over burning coals. And when you’re done, you can slink next door to Trullo’s wine bar for a nightcap.

Details: 300-302 St Paul’s Road, N1 2LH Book here

Little Georgia

little georgia best restaurants islington

Your ultimate saviour in that otherwise very residential pocket of land between King’s Cross and Angel: an eccentric, friendly and delicious restaurant dedicated to serving you the very best in Georgian food and wine, with vintage travel posters and lighting that seems almost scientifically designed to make you look your best. It’s an offshoot of Little Georgia in Hackney, with the benefit that the Islington restaurant can seat almost twice the number of punters.

Details: 14 Barnsbury Road, N1 0HB | Book here

The Baring

the baring best islington restaurants

JW Howard

This gastropub comes to you from a pair with impressive CVs: it’s the first independent venture from chef Rob Tecwyn (Dabbous, Moro, Kerridge’s Bar & Grill) and GM Adam Symonds (Orasay, Six Portland Road). The smart decor and airy feel means the place leans more towards gastro than pub (though the drinks menu has plenty to pique your interest, too). On the menu: fantastically well-executed dishes like quail shish, ricotta gnudi with pea & broad bean, and a stellar Sunday roast…

Details: 55 Baring Street, London N1 3DS Book here


best highbury restaurants

We’re getting into serious ‘this isn’t Islington damn it!’ territory here, but it’s worth it to introduce you to Seb Holmes. Having started his culinary career at 13 years of age, he worked up to become head chef at Smoking Goat and The Begging Bowl, before taking his own pop-up to a permanent fixture in the Islington restaurant scene. The space is simple (it used to be an Italian trattoria, and you can tell), but the food is next-level delicious. Expect fragrant stews like Cornish mussels in a coconut-scented green curry broth; spicy meat dishes like flat iron-grilled beef steak with roasted chilli jaew (a kind of dipping sauce); and fresh veggie options like aromatic crispy wontons and dipping vegetables. And there’s unlimited jasmine rice, too.

PS: if you’re willing to venture up this far, Westerns Laundry and Top Cuvée are well worth a look, too.

Details: 72 Highbury Park, N5 2XE | Book here

The Tamil Prince

tamil prince islington restaurant

The Tamil Prince is the lauded Desi pub from Prince Durairaj (former exec chef at Roti King), and Glen Leeson of JKS (the prolific group behind Gymkhana, Hoppers and BAO). They’ve taken over an old pub in the depths of residential Islington, and are laying on a gripping survey of the cuisine of Durairaj’s home state, Tamil Nadu. Feast on masala-marinaded grilled tiger prawns; rich, buttery dhal makhani; and giant bhatura (a kind of inflated fried bread) alongside cocktails and beers in a buzzy, intimate setting.

PS: They’ve now opened a follow-up, also in Islington, called The Tamil Crown. And they do an amazing Indian take on the Sunday roast…

Details: 115 Hemingford Road, London N1 1BZ Book here


Black Axe Mangal Islington restaurants

Nose to tail dining meets rock’n’roll at ex-St John chef Lee Tiernan’s legendary Islington restaurant. Bag yourself a reservation and you can feast on weekly changing tasting menus of haute kebabs and lamb offal flatbreads to the thrashing sound of heavy-metal.

Details: 156 Canonbury Road, N1 2UP Book here

Xi’an Impression

X'ian Impression islington restaurants

This cheap eats stalwart is a relaxed, café-style space in Highbury serving up authentic X’ian street food. Slurp your way through pork & vegetable dumplings, and thick belts of biang biang noodles – and wash them down with absolutely any tipple of choice, thanks to the restaurant’s convenient BYOB policy.

Details: 117 Benwell Road, London, Highbury , N7 7BW | Walk-ins only

The Drapers Arms

drapers arms islington

The Drapers Arms is a beautiful, powder blue Georgian tavern tucked away on Islington’s residential terraces, and the locals are quite happy for it to stay a neighbourhood secret. It certainly looks quite lovely, but the food is what you’re here for. The Drapers’ menu is constantly rotating depending on what ingredients are in season, but it always takes on a comforting, old-school bent with dishes like Devon slip sole with brown butter & capers; Cornish mussels & cream; and a suet crusted venison pie for three to share. Desserts, naturally, include sticky toffee pud, and wine is served in generously priced carafe measures. A typical boozer it ain’t.

Details: 44 Barnsbury Street, Islington, N1 1ER | Book here


caravel islington restaurant

Sure, some restaurants go for style over substance. But Caravel is a genuinely fantastic, utterly romantic little dining room that just so happens to be tucked into a converted barge on Regent’s Canal. It owes its quality output to showrunners the Spiteri brothers, who draw on their time spent at Quo Vadis and 69 Colebrooke Row to put together a short, well-considered menu of unusual modern European dishes like grilled octopus skewers with salmoriglio; cavolo nero & walnut tagliatelle; and er, chips with curry sauce.

PS: Their floating bar, Bruno’s, is moored up right next door.

Details: 172 Shepherdess Walk, Islington, N1 7JL | Book here


salut best restaurants islington

Opened by brothers Martin and Christoph Lange, Salut! resides on Islington’s Essex Road with casual-yet-fine-dining food, a relaxed atmosphere, and remarkably friendly service provided by the duo themselves. They’re cooking up everything from seared lamb loin with parsnip ‘variations’ to grilled squid tartare; garden pea risotto and olive oil cake with rhubarb and lavender. And it’s all delicious.

Details: 412 Essex Road, N1 3PJ | Book here

Tiella at Compton Arms

compton arms islington

An exquisite backstreet boozer with vamped-up cottage décor, a natural-leaning wine list, and a stellar food menu available Wed – Sun, courtesy of Tiella. This outfit comes to you from Italian chef Dara Klein, who’s drawing not only on her Puglian background, but also her stints manning the pans at BrawnTrullo, and Sager + Wilde. Here she distils that wide-ranging experience into beautiful, lesser-known Italian dishes like the tiella itself – a Puglian recipe using rice, potato, onion and mussels. For impressive dining in a laid-back setting, you won’t find anything better in Islington.

Details: Compton Arms, 4 Compton Avenue, London, N1 2XD | Book here

Prawn on the Lawn

prawn on the lawn

This rustic styled Islington restaurant has a catchy name, but it doesn’t joke around when it comes to selling and serving its ultra-fresh seafood, delivered daily from its Padstow branch. Pick off a platter of fruits de mer at their cosy counter seating, or try tapas-style fish dishes from a daily changing menu like mackerel with n’duja & fennel. You could say it’s surf on the turf.

Details: 292-294 St Paul’s Road, N1 2LH Book here

Tofu Vegan

tofu vegan

Islington’s temple to lip-smackingly spicy, salty, flavour-packed Chinese cooking is an entirely vegan restaurant (surprise!). Plant-based dishes like the sesame-laced hand-shredded oyster mushrooms sit alongside dishes making the most of actually convincing meat alternatives, and of course the eponymous tofu makes appearances in its most perfected, crispy form.

Details: 105 Upper Street, London N1 1QN | Book here

Sambal Shiok

sambal shiok

Sambal Shiok started life as a street food stall, before overwhelming demand gave Malaysian-born owner and chef Mandy Yin the confidence to open her first permanent site. Yin’s food takes inspiration from her childhood in Kuala Lumpur, with the main focus being big bowls of spicy coconutty laksa (Malaysian noodle soup) topped with everything from fried tofu puffs, bean sprouts, and green beans; to poached chicken or king prawns.

Details: 171 Holloway Road, London, N7 8LX | Book here


canto73 islington supperclub

On Friday and Saturday nights Islington café Fantail plays host to Canto73’s supperclubs, where Michelin-trained chef João Ferreira Pinto flexes his culinary nous. For £50 a head you can settle in for a seven-course tasting menu that makes the best of that month’s seasonal produce, from pork tenderloin with pickled peaches to blowtorched leeks that use every part of the plant. It’s an intimate, top-quality, totally unexpected little gem that seems to be right for every occasion.

Details: Fantail, 274B St. Paul’s Road, London, N1 2LJ | Book here


Enjoyed reading about the best restaurants in Islington? Then – crazy idea – check out the best restaurant in every London neighbourhood