The boundaries of Haggerston are somewhat blurred, but the neighbourhood that’s roughly located between Dalston, Hoxton and London Fields is a lovely part of London. Lesser-known than its hip neighbours, Haggerston boasts beautiful Victorian houses next to architect-designed new builds, and the area has great bars along with some of the best restaurants and cafés in East London.
Bread & Butter is a big, friendly neighbourhood “farmhouse” café on the border of Haggerston and De Beauvoir. It’s the kind of place where people take their kids, friends meet for a Sunday brunch, and freelancers bring their laptop to do some work and drink good coffee during the week. The portions are generous and the menu has classics like English breakfast, as well as more innovative, Mediterranean-inspired dishes, burgers and other hot food for lunch. Sandwiches are good here too, and the prices keep people coming back.
In a cute, hidden location right by the Kingsland Basin you’ll find Toconoco, a charmingly authentic Japanese café that’s popular with families (it even has snacks for toddlers). The menu is straightforward and well-priced, and if you’re lucky, you can snag one of the 15 lunch sets they do each day, which has a main dish, rice, miso soup and salad, but don’t fear if you miss it – Toconoco’s noodle dishes are very, very good too. Delicious broths and simple but well-cooked ingredients make for dishes that really bring a taste of Japan to London, and there are fun daily specials for those after something more unusual. It’s more of a lunch place than somewhere to go for dinner, as the kitchen closes at 4.30pm, but definitely a must-visit if you’re in the area.
Berber & Q, like Chick ‘n’ Sours, opened in Haggerston in 2015 and has attracted people into its cave-like, smoky railway arch ever since. The music is loud, the grill is hot, and the food is great at this smokehouse from former Ottolenghi chef, Josh Katz. The Middle East, North Africa and the Ottoman have influenced the cooking at Berber & Q, which has great grilled meats and tasty meze. But there’s something for vegetarians here, too – many of the small plates are veggie, and the smoky, tasty cauliflower shawarma with tahini and pomegranate is a must-try.
Like so many other good Haggerston joints, Brilliant Corners is a bar-cum-restaurant hybrid. Start the evening with a seat at one of the tables on what later becomes a dance floor, complete with one of the best sound systems in London, and order a selection of its Japanese dishes. The sushi is really good here, and Brilliant Corners also serves hibachi-cooked meats, seafood and tofu. Stick around after dinner when it turns into a bar and club with a New York-vibe and enjoy some of Brilliant Corners’ classic cocktails – Tommy’s margaritas are always a safe choice.
Haggerston bar Pamela (named in homage to Pamela Anderson, whose picture decorates its walls) doesn’t just sell tasty cocktails to its young, cool clientele, but it also hosts regular pop-up chefs in its kitchen. Currently, the space is home to Pineapple Express, a tropical restaurant that blends food from different countries, cultures and nationalities with great results – and the dishes are served inside a pineapple, making it a very Instagrammable meal. Try the OG if you’re hungry; a combination of Chicken Aloha and Mumbo Jumbo prawns. It’s not fine dining, but it’s delicious, fun food that’s perfect to wash down with a cocktail.