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.
Chick ‘n’ Sours has been a firm favourite with locals since it opened in Haggerston in 2015. The cosy restaurant gets really busy at the weekends, as people cram in to enjoy its signature fried chicken, which comes in many, ever-changing options; the standard fried chicken might be supplemented with a katsu curry version, for example. Its K-Pop sandwich is a thing of beauty, a crispy burger with Sriracha sour cream and gochujang mayo, and the sides are equally fun – don’t miss the pickled watermelon salad with peanuts, coriander, mint and nahm jimThai dipping sauce. The “sours” in the name are the house beverages: moreish cocktails that complement the food here well. Though Chick ‘n’ Sours has four restaurants now, the original is still a must-visit for fried chicken fans, and a great place to start a night out in Haggerston.
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.
“If you don’t make your own noodles, you’re just a soup shop.” The motto of ramen restaurant Tonkotsu can be seen in action at its Haggerston outpost, Tonkotsu East, where noodles are made fresh behind a glass screen in the small-ish yet stylish restaurant. Located in a railway arch, like so many of East London’s most interesting eateries, Tonkotsu East is a good date place with its cool, oversized rice paper lamps and tables that let you get close to your dining companion. The food is reliably great; try the spicy chili chicken ramen if you want your noodles with a bit of a kick, and add some side dishes for a filling, warming meal. Tonkotsu East also has a small outdoor patio for the summer months. The restaurant no longer takes cash, so don’t forget your card (or digital wallet) when visiting.
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.