Angel’s Islington Green and Upper Street are one of the gems of north London. The latter is a treasure trove of indie bakeries, gift shops and restaurants, with many having been here for years rather than be replaced every couple of years by the latest trend. There’s a community feel up and down the street and in the summer it’s packed with diners on the pavement. Here are our favourites.
This cute as a button but seriously cool Chinese takes inspiration from the old school Chinese home cooking of the 80s, but then serves up small sharing plates that does for Chinese what Smoking Goat and Som Saa have done for Thai. Try the double rubbed chicken carcass and the Manchurian lamb. It’s a tiny space, so booking is essential.
Jamon Jamon is an Angel institution, the Spanish restaurant predates many of the cooler joints that have moved in of late. Bowl in for tapas, paella, sangria and of course, the thin, rich, fatty slices of Spanish Iberico ham that are so finger lickin’ good. There’s a healthy veggie selection too.
The Elk in the Woods has been around for years serving up posh pub food and decent cocktails long before hipsters moved in with their jars and beards. It’s the kind of place you can take parents for lunch and everyone’s happy. Try the Elk kebab with maple syrup, brushed apple, smoked bacon and plum ketchup or the daily changing sandwich menu. It also does a mean fry up.
80s referencing, fry up slinging chain The Breakfast Club has popped up all over London, but this tiny spot in Camden Passage is a stand out. There’s a cardboard cutout of Elvis to welcome you in, a large courtyard out the back (if you’re not too hungover) and more breakfast options that you can shake a coffee mug at. It’s actually open all day and its brunches are legendary. Try the salted caramel banoffee pancakes.
Yotam Ottolenghi might be the star veggie chef but his long-standing Middle Eastern inspired restaurant on Upper St has been where ladies who lunch and yummy mummies brunch for yonks. Its long communal table is often awash with kids, but the food here is worth the noise. Get past the piles of meringues in the window and plump for Dukkah crusted mackerel with burnt aubergine yoghurt or mixed green beans and peas with coconut sambal, cucumber and coriander.
French cuisine has kind of been overlooked over the last decade, but reasonably priced Le Mercury has weathered the storm – it’s an Upper St favourite. There are candle lit tables on three floors, a decent set price lunch and dinner menu of French bistro classics. French onion soup, steak frites and creme brulée, it’s all here.
Colonial meets north London at Hoxley & Porter, which is decorated like a turn of the century gentleman’s club but serves up posh pub food that’s good for a midweek catch up with mates. There’s Victorian style wallpaper, shaded lamps and dishes like lamb gigot marinated in garlic, roasted rack of pork marinated in paprika and tomato, squid and crayfish linguine. It’s not going to break the bank either.
If you’re looking for somewhere to spend a long lazy Sunday, munching on a Sunday roast and getting slowly tiddly, then this it. John Salt is a huge industrial space halfway up Upper St that has DJs on at weekends, there’s plenty of room for the papers and boardgames and the food’s pretty decent. There are burgers on boards and inventive salads during the week.
Award-winning Comedor London brings the taste of South Americna and Argentine cooking to north London with a range of steaks and ceviche – the former you can have cut to order. There’s also a brunch menu which includes dulce de leche pancakes.
This bright and airy two storey simple restaurant overlooks the pretty Islington Green and is a great spot for lunch. There’s always warm bread on the go and a ever changing rota of curries and rice – always a range of veggie and meat – and plenty of creamy dhal. Expect to find groups of students washing down the cheap filling curries with a few beers.