Stoke Newington feels like a village squatting in London. Once the home of radical thinkers and religious breakaways, it’s retained its somewhat bohemian character. Part of which, of course, is due to its slightly off-grid status from London’s tube map: the best stops are on the Overground, Rectory Road and Stoke Newington, or take buses from Dalston, Manor House or Finsbury Park.
At its nucleus is Stoke Newington Church Street, a long stretch of independent shops, pubs, and restaurants spilling out onto the pavements. It’s literally the oldest named street in Greater London (having first been recorded back in 1329) and over the centuries, even as Stoke Newington village was gradually swallowed up by the capital’s unstoppable advance, it has always managed to hold onto its own individual identity, as if it were a dinky little micro-neighbourhood unto itself. And we do mean dinky. Its entire length is strollable in only fifteen minutes or so, but within that small span it packs enough overwhelmingly pleasant interruptions to ensure your walk takes the better part of the day. Here are just a few of the highlights:
The Good Egg – The flagship outpost for this Jewish deli spot. Go for the Montreal-style bagels with lox, stay for the chocolate babka.
Rasa – This strikingly pink, all vegetarian Indian staple has been around for decades, and has won some extremely devoted fans along the way. (Including us.)
Aun – A specialist in what they call ‘Japanese tapas’, and what we call ‘straight up bloody delicious’.
Rubedo – A beautiful menu in a beautiful space. Expect pan-European dishes (leaning towards Italy) paired up with biodynamic wines.
Escocesa – Scottish seafood served in Spanish style dishes, served in an intimate, atmospheric space. What’s not to love?
BARS & PUBS
The Clarence Tavern – Sure, there are pale pink walls and old fashioned wooden furnishings varnished to a rich chestnut-brown… but the prettiest things here are the 57 single malts behind the bar.
The Rose & Crown – A Stoke Newington legend, this place is Grade-II listed and serves Grade-A real ales. Ask for a pint & a board game and settle in…
Ryan’s N16 – This cocktail spot has a large beer garden, a decent menu, and a teeny live music venue hidden downstairs…
The Three Crowns – An old school boozer that’s been here since 1900, this place ALSO has decent grub (Thai street food from Krapow) AND a live music venue (The Waiting Room) hidden underneath.
The Auld Shillelagh – Easily one of the best Irish pubs outside of Ireland, expect frequent live music, Gaelic games, and frosty pints of the black stuff.
Search & Rescue – One of those places you just can’t walk past without sating your curiosity by popping in, S&R has every little beautiful, vintage, mid-century homeware you could dream of.
Hub – This appropriately named one-stop carries a wealth of beautifully designed clothes, accessories, toiletries, books, chocolates, and more.
Nook – An independent boutique showcasing good design, whether it be in the form of kitchen tools, office supplies, living room accessories, or wellbeing goods.
Array – Ostensibly a menswear shop, look a little below the surface and you’ll find a gender-neutral, homeware-filled, accessory-laden treasure trove.
Mother Kelly’s Bottle Shop – Like good beer? Here are 300 bottles of the stuff from across the globe. Don’t like good beer? Well, they have organic wines, ciders, spirits, chocolate, chutneys and cheese too.
Of Cabbages & Kings – If you want to decorate your walls and/or shelves, then this print shop is the place to do it.
Two Wheels Good – “Cycling is a very broad church, we have customers and staff from all denominations.” …this pretty much sums up the inclusive mission statement of this charming little bike shop.
The Green Room Cafe – With such an abundance of verdant plant life dotted between tables, it feels like this place could double up as a flower shop. Which, it turns out, it literally does.
Caffeine – A family-run outfit with homemade cakes & sandwiches, their eponymous stimulants are all made using Monmouth coffee.
Acoustic Brasserie – As the name suggests, this place is also kind of a restaurant, but it’s an all-day-er, with a dozen coffees, plenty of cakes, and a blended juice called the “Hangover Cure”. You can add optional vodka.
The Spence Bakery – Everything here is baked fresh, on-site everyday, and it’s delicious, so it’s no surprise it gets popular with regular queues out the door. But don’t worry, they’ll bring out mini cinnamon buns to tide you over while you wait.
London Loaves – Started by ex-Trivet pastry chef Arran Schaffer, and ex-Ritz pastry chef Derya Adema, you’ll find Loaves within a flower shop (also worth a visit). And the loaves they make here taste as though there were touched by god.
Stoke Newington Church Street is bookended by the area’s sprawling green spaces; the well-kept Clissold Park with its lakes and a café in a mansion, and Abney Park with its surprisingly beautiful Victorian cemetery.
Adrenaline junkies can get a fix at the Castle Climbing Centre, housed in a former water treatment works that was built to resemble a castle, and saved from demolition in the ‘70s. Or take a dip in the vast West Reservoir, open-air ponds for wild swimming surrounded by trees. Both of which give you a very good excuse to stop by one of London’s best gelaterias afterwards…