Search for antiques in Camden Passage, tuck into some tasty international food from Exmouth Market, or sip cocktails in a not-so-secret bar, here’s our guide of what to do in Islington
Words Georgie Rutherford
Our pick of what to do in Islington
With former residents consisting of the likes of George Orwell and Sir Walter Raleigh, Islington has always been brimming with culture. From the modern apartment buildings and busy shopping hub of Angel to the leafy Georgian squares that lie just a few blocks away, Islington’s diverse qualities attract residents from all walks of life. Here’s our guide of what to do in Islington if you find yourself in the area this weekend.
There’s plenty to please the sophisticated palate in N1. Explore our favourite spots ranging from small bustling restaurants in Camden Passage to one-offs like the longstanding Le Mercury.
This long-running restaurant overlooking Islington Green is a popular spot. The menu of Afghan home cooking is equally straightforward with the focus on hearty, warming stews featuring plenty of yoghurt and mint. Booking is essential (as is bringing cash) but it is worth the trip for the light and fluffy Afghan bread alone.
35 Islington Green, London N1 8DU
This Islington-based The Wolseley spin-off is beautiful and you can order anything from a light snack to a very filling three-course meal. The a la carte menu reads like a Parisian brasserie with a lean towards eastern France and the ambience is perfect for after-work drinks.
9 Islington Green, London NI; bellanger.co.uk
There are some evenings when only a medium rare steak and a hearty glass of red wine will fit the bill. Le Mercury is ideal for reasonably priced classic French food and a cosy brasserie atmosphere. It’s location on the corner of Upper Street and Almeida Street makes it the perfect spot for a quick pre-theatre dinner before heading to the Almeida Theatre.
140A Upper Street, NI; lemercury.co.uk
This is a must if you’re shopping on Upper Street and have time to linger over lunch. Favourites include their smart salads with roasted aubergines, saffron yoghurt and bitter leaves with Yuzu. You’ll leave feeling mighty wholesome until you spot the cake covered countertop and inevitably end up taking one home.
287 Upper St, London N1 2TZ; ottolenghi.co.uk
The Elk in the Woods
A sweet, bustling restaurant in the middle of Camden Passage. Serving freshly cooked, seasonal food in a rustic style. Think hearty dishes with a European twist. Cocktails are always flowing from the bar and their wines are top notch.
3-39 Camden Passage, N1; the-elk-in-the-woods.co.uk
WHAT TO DO
Everyman Screen on the Green
One of the country’s oldest cinemas; it opened in 1913 and has been a single-screen cinema ever since. It was bought by the Everyman chain of luxury cinemas in 2008 and now offers a mix of comfy chairs and luxurious sofas with footrests. There’s also a bar at the back of the screen if you wish to top up your drink without having to miss a thing.
83 Upper St, N1; everymancinema.com
Angel Comedy Club
Raved about as one of the best comedy clubs in London, the Angel Comedy Club should be top of your list if you’re in need of a good laugh. It boasts names such as Barry Ferns, Sarah Pearce, Masud Milas and Simon Goss to name just a few. The ‘always free, always funny,’ motto creates a popular and vibrant atmosphere with exciting and diverse comic voices, attracting a consistent flow of customers.
2 Camden Passage, N1; angelcomedy.co.uk
Islington’s Farmer’s Market
The first and most reputed farmer’s market in London, Islington Farmer’s Market is definitely something to visit if you are in the area and in the mood to try out some new flavours and tastes. Taking place at Chapel Market between Baron Street and Penton Street, the market is open every Sunday. Look out for the colourful selection of seasonal flowers from Grange Nurseries, choices of veggies and organic meat and poultry. The perfect way to enjoy a summer’s day.
Chapel Market, N1; lfm.org.uk
Famous for its contemporary shops, markets and arcades, the Camden Passage in Islington is a wonderful place to get lost in the magic and charm of old antiques, collectibles and quaint restaurants. Full of new and exciting discoveries around every corner, the Camden Passage is a must-stop for all collectors.
1 Camden Passage, N1; camdenpassageislington.co.uk
If you’re a big fan of rock ‘n’ roll, make sure you pay a visit to Flashback Records. Head inside to find a ground floor dedicated to CDs with everything including rock, pop, metal and dance, while the basement is vinyl only with an ever-expanding jazz collection alongside soul and hip hop classics.
50 Essex Road, N1; flashback.co.uk
The Grade-I listed gothic masterpiece, completed in 1877, is still used as a working church and help centre for London’s homeless. What is equally uplifting is the effect the environment has on performances – and performers. The spellbinding surroundings and acoustics means bands raise their game when they’re playing here.
Compton Terrace, N1; unionchapel.org.uk