Don't Miss London's Hottest Restaurant Neighborhoods on Your Next Trip
There weren't many noteworthy food offerings in London's Hackney borough before Tom Harris and Jon Rotheram arrived, save for Mediterranean mainstay Brawn and newly opened wine bar Sager + Wilde. "There were only retail shoe and handbag shops," Rotheram recalls. "That's one of the reasons we looked at Hackney Road, but that was also a reason why we nearly didn't take on the Marksman."
Thankfully, they did. The area, in particular Hackney Road, has become a dining destination since the Marksman Public House opened in 2015. It's a buzzy restaurant inside a refurbished Victorian pub from Harris and Rotheram, serving modern takes on traditional British pub food that won them Michelin Pub of the Year in 2017.
As hyper-hip area Shoreditch, located at the southernmost tip of the borough of Hackney, becomes even slicker and more established, independent-minded London chefs and restaurateurs are pushing even deeper into the district. As you move further northeast, you'll discover hidden pockets of commerce in South Hackney, Hackney Central and Clapton that are all brimming with cutting-edge restos and independent bars.
Hackney residents, as well as stylish Londoners on the hunt for the next culinary hot spot, regularly dive into fusion small plates at the nearby Laughing Heart and dine on Spanish-inspired dishes at the third location of Morito, a favorite restaurant centered around a marble-topped horseshoe bar. "It's becoming a fascinating street with individual bars and restaurants opening up with everyone feeling slightly local, but it's also interesting enough to attract other people," Rotheram adds.
Just across the Regent's Canal from Hackney Road, Broadway Market is packed with trendy bakeries, bars and boutiques with all the requisite lines (or queues, rather) that only Londoners can do better than New Yorkers. They patiently wait for freshly baked loaves of sourdough bread at Pavilion Bakery and a plant-based brunch of rice waffles with avocado and Sriracha cream at Twigs. Just around the corner, food stalls pop up at Netil Market. On Saturdays, Terrone & Co. Coffee Roasters pours excellent brews, while Bao Bar specializes in Taiwanese treats. For classic pub fare, there's always the Marksman: famous beef and barley buns with horseradish cream, duck leg with radicchio and prunes, and Hereford roast beef with Yorkshire pudding.
Walk 15 minutes north (or hop a double-decker bus), and you'll find yet another vibrant area along Wilton Way. Pidgin, an intimate restaurant conceived by food writer James Ramsden and musician Sam Herlihy, earned a Michelin star for its inventive four-course dinners that change every week. In fact, none of their menus has ever repeated a single dish during its time in operation. On the same street, enjoy a vegetable-forward lunch at Footnote and satisfy your sweet tooth with halvah tahini brownies or banana buttermilk bread by pastry chef Claire Ptak at Violet. Still hungry? You'll find small plates-focused Legs, classic cocktails at Every Cloud, and vegan burgers and fried chicken at Temple of Seitan.
In this city of villages that slowly grew into each other, it's no surprise there are still more areas of sprawling Hackney to explore, located just a short walk further north on Lower Clapton Road. Once known for its squat houses, Clapton now boasts cleaned-up storefronts filled with vibrant businesses, like industry favorite wine shop-turned-bistro P. Franco and taqueria Del74.
At the end of the Lea Bridge Road roundabout, you'll find the Clapton Hart, a contemporary public house inside a cavernous 18th-century building. Hip neighborhood dwellers sip pints at mix-and-match tables with a thrift store feel and feast on pub dishes like goat cheese and red pepper tarts, Angus roast beef, and artichoke roast with mushrooms and walnuts. It's the perfect place to go for Sunday lunch and a great way to toast to the neighborhood's growing dining scene.
Meredith Bethune is a food and travel writer based in Belgium. See how many different beers she can possibly try while living abroad on Instagram at @meredithbethune.
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