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 them and more below…
LAID BACK ROMANCE: OREN
It’s 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 (previously of both Kiln and Smoking Goat).
Address: 89 Shacklewell Lane, Hackney, E8 2EB
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 a late night pizza joint serving NY-style pizza slices until the early hours. Stroll in there 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
KILLER SARNIES: THE DUSTY KNUCKLE
Slip down Dalston’s Abbot Street and you’ll find yourself met with some of the best sarnies in the city: 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 very much worth your dough.
Address: Abbot Street, Dalston, E8 3DP
GLOBAL PRIX-FIXE WITH NATURAL WINES: HACKNEY COTERIE
Anthony Lyon (the man behind celebrated seafood spot, Lyon’s in Crouch End) has joined forces with sommelier and kikisake-shi (master of sake) Kelvin McCabe to open this 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, organic wines.
Address: 230 Dalston Lane, Hackney, E8 1LA
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 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
WATERSIDE DINING: TOWPATH CAFE
Tables here are like gold dust in the summer, and if you’re lucky enough to get one you’ll see why. This little canalside 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
INVENTIVE TASTING MENUS: THE SEA, THE SEA
The Sea, The Sea, much like its West London counterpart, 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 bar…
Address: 337 Acton Mews, E8 4EA
NATURAL WINES AND FERMENT-FOCUSED FOODS: LITTLE DUCK THE PICKLERY
It’s a fermenting room, restaurant and wine bar brought to you by the same folks behind the delightful Duck Soup in Soho. This time however you’ll want to head to Dalston where 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 he 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
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, 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
BEAUTIFULLY CRAFTED MODERN BRITISH: PIDGIN
Next on the list of best restaurants in Dalston is this tiny, tasting-menu only Modern British, where guests all feast on the same four dishes, for £45 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
TEQUILA-FUELLED FUN: DEL 74
It’s 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. We dare you not to have a good time.
Address: 129 Kingsland High Street, Dalston, East London, E8 2PB
FUN BRUNCH: SNACKBAR
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 croisant, oozing with melted Montgomery cheddar. Ready to hit the sauce again? Go bottomless on Sundays with Bloody Maries, Rhubarb Fizz cocktails, and their legendary gooey butter cake.
Address: 20 Dalston Lane, London E8 3AZ
A VEGETARIAN CLASSIC: MILDREDS
It’s the latest edition to Mildred’s burgeoning vegetarian empire. First opening back in Soho in 1988, they now have four restaurants across London, all serving the same globally-inspired menu perfected over the past thirty years. It’s ideal for a casual weekend brunch or an early evening dinner that won’t break the bank.
Address: Thomas Tower, 1 Dalston Square, Dalston, East London, E8 3GU
Looking to make an evening of it? Why not have a drink down in Shoreditch first.