The borough of Hackney, running from Bethnal Green in the south to Stoke Newington in the north and Hackney Wick in the east, is thronging with some of London’s greatest restaurants. Although it’s equally known for its nights out, peaceful green spaces and independent shops, Hackney is one of the most exciting places to go out to eat. (Also note the area’s burgeoning boutique hotel scene).
From elevated neighbourhood pubs and casual ramen joints in Dalston, to brunch in Bethnal Green and the world’s first zero-waste restaurant in Hackney Wick, there’s a whole range on offer. You could just as easily grab a cheap brunch in an industrial yard off Kingsland Road as splash out on a tasting menu with wine pairings in a cellar in Clapton.
The borough covers a fairly large area, and as the transport connections aren’t quite as extensive as in other parts of London, it’s best to take each neighbourhood at a time. There are overground stations, but we’d recommend having a stroll. Hackney Marshes beside the River Lee is lovely to walk along, as are the green spaces of Victoria Park, Clissold Park, and London Fields. But perhaps best of all is the towpath next to Regent’s Canal. Head to a station nearby (we’d suggest Angel) and take the one-hour walk along the canal to Haggerston, stopping at Signature Brew taproom for a takeaway pint, before heading over to the restaurants and bars of Bethnal Green, Dalston and London Fields – many of which are a short walk away from the canal.
Such adventuring is bound to work up an appetite, so here’s some inspiration for when hunger strikes: the ROADBOOK guide to the best restaurants in Hackney.
Best for: elevated food in an unpretentious atmosphere
Location: Canal Piece, 32 Andrews Road, Hackney, London, E8 4FX
Price: Mains starting at 13 GBP / 15.60 USD
Down a side street off Broadway Market in London Fields, the unassuming Cafe Cecilia can be found in a brightly lit space overlooking Regent’s Canal. Open for dinner on Fridays and Saturdays only, and serving breakfast and lunch from Wednesday to Sunday, your best bet may be the early morning slot, as tables here are booked up weeks in advance. Chef Max Rocha combines his experiences in top London restaurants The River Café and St. John Bread and Wine with his Irish heritage and love for family cooking in a warm and welcoming menu. Dishes like the mussels, nduja and polenta, or the porcini and king oyster agnolotti, nod to his taste for modern European cooking, while the Guinness bread ice cream and chocolate and Guinness cake take diners right back to Ireland. Do your future self a favour and get a table booked in now – you won’t regret it.
What: Low impact, hyper seasonal food in a sensitively designed space
Where: 217 Mare Street, London, E8 3QE
How much: Plates from 7-16 GBP, tasting menu 50 GBP per person
Edit opened in January 2023 with an ultra seasonal menu that changes daily, allowing the kitchen to take full advantage of produce at its best, while a ‘root to fruit’ principle allows them to cook with zero waste. Ingredients are sourced from small-scale farms, foragers and independent producers using regenerative and minimal intervention methods, resulting in a concise menu of modern British plant-based dishes. The founder, Elly Ward, is also a trained architect, and has designed the restaurant with a similarly waste-minimising mindset. Opening hours vary throughout the week, with dinner served Wednesday through Saturday.
What: Italian small plates and handmade pasta
Where: 197 Richmond Road, London, E8 3NJ
How much: Pasta from 8.50 GBP
Artisanal bakery Pophams is well known for its outrageously good croissants, cakes and coffee. The London Fields location transforms in the evening into a superbly sophisticated pasta restaurant. Reels of silky pasta is made fresh onsite, and dinner is served from 6pm every Wednesday to Saturday. The menu is made up of small plates designed for sharing and inspired by Italian flavours and methods, including orecchiette with chicken polpettini, spinach and mustard, and agnolotti del plin with pork shoulder, peach and parsley. For a casual, buzzing neighbourhood restaurant and excellent pasta, you can’t go far wrong.
Best for: udon and donburi in a casual environment
Location: 10-12 Broadway Market Mews, Hackney, London, E8 4TS
Price: Udon bowls around 9 GBP / 10.80 USD
Chef Shuko Oda’s Koya Ko is a casual, fast-paced noodle bar, which joins sister restaurants in the City and Soho. This Hackney iteration on Broadway Market in London Fields boasts a unique menu and offers room for tachi-gui – standing while dining – at the bar, or you can eat outside on the sunny terrace. At the heart of the menu is freshly made udon and dashi, staying true to Koya’s roots, but if you’re not in the mood for udon, there are donburi bowls and various sides. The restaurant is open every day, all day – it even serves breakfast udon on weekend mornings – so drop by anytime for an informal and nourishing meal.
What: Creative pies delivered across London
Where: 13-23 Westgate St, London E8 3RL
How much: 13 GBP
Although not a restaurant, Willy’s Pies is a Hackney food favourite. Born out of lockdown when Willy was put on furlough from his job cooking at Brat (he’s also worked at Rochelle Canteen and St John Bread and Wine), and began making pies for delivery from his home kitchen in Leyton. Towards the end of 2021, they opened their first commercial kitchen space in a railway arch in Hackney, and have been delivering banging pies across London ever since. Classics like steak, kidney and ale or roast chicken pies appear alongside more outlandish offerings like celeriac, parsnip and raclette or coq au vin pie. Order whatever catches your eye – they’re all delicious.
Little Duck the Picklery
What: An open kitchen specialising in ferments and pickles
Where: 68 Dalston Lane, London E8 3AH
How much: Mains from 12.50-25 GBP
Little Duck the Picklery is another beloved neighbourhood wine bar and restaurant in Dalston, but with a special focus on fermented and pickled foods. Bottles of kombucha and drinking vinegar line the shelves, and seasonal ferments and pickles in jars are available to buy from the fridge. There’s a large kitchen counter where chefs work on one side, and guests sit at the other. It’s this cosy interaction that makes it feel like eating at a chef friend’s home kitchen. Due to its diminutive size, reservations go quickly at Little Duck the Picklery, so book in advance.
Acme Fire Cult
What: Open fire cooking with great beers
Where: Abbot Street, London, E8 2LX
How much: Mains from 16-26 GBP
Tucked down an alley off Dalston Kingsland lies Acme Fire Cult, an open fire restaurant from chefs Andrew Clarke and Daniel Watkins that opened in the yard of Dalston’s 40ft Brewery in spring 2022. Vegetables take centre stage here, with celeriac, squash and aubergines cooked directly on hot smoky coals, as well as day-boat fish and native breed meat. On a warm day, sit outside on the terrace (one of the best in London) and enjoy the sharing plates with some hazy beers from the brewery. On Friday and Saturday evenings, the team have also introduced an izakaya menu.
Best for: Tasting menus at an affordable price point
Location: 56 Dalston Lane, London, E8 3AH
Price: Four course tasting menu for 39 GBP / 50 USD
On Dalston Lane, curious eaters will find Angelina, an inventive restaurant that explores a playful fusion of Italian and Japanese cuisine. The food comes in unfussy, well-priced omakase (chef chooses for you) and kaiseki (a traditional multi-course banquet dinner) tasting menus , which are four and ten courses respectively. Dish pairings like the fritto misto with tempura or focaccia with soft and fluffy Hokkaido milk bread gently remind you of the similarities of the two cuisines. Opt for the wine pairings option if you feel like living lavishly. Angelina serves great food, and with banging funk tunes blasting on the speakers, it’s not too serious either.
Supa Ya Ramen
Best for: Rowdy, irreverent ramen
Location: 499 Kingsland Road, London, E8 4AU
Price: One bowl for 15 GBP / 19 USD
The permanent home for popular supper club Supa Ya Ramen is low-key, lively and decidedly untraditional. There are no reservations at this Dalston restaurant, so get in the fast-moving queue and cram in with the other diners for some nourishing, slurpy noodles. The ramen here pushes the boundaries of traditional definitions, with delicious results – irreverent ingredients like parmesan shavings and roasted tomatoes frequently meet the more familiar fudgy eggs, spring onions and miso broth. There’s a short regular menu, and a smattering of specials that are added intermittently – check its Instagram for shots of what’s on now.
Duke of Richmond
Best for: Neighbourhood pub pints with proper good food
Location: 316 Queensbridge Road, London, E8 3NH
Price: Burgers for 15 GBP / 19 USD. Pints for 6 GBP / 7.8 USD
From first appearances, Duke of Richmond could be your run-of-the-mill neighbourhood pub: charming, casual, and in a cool, quiet area. But inside is a dining room offering anything but standard pub grub. The food comes from chef and restaurateur Tom Oldroyd, who made a name for himself with his eponymous restaurant in Islington. There are excellent burgers, a crab chip butty, and banging modern European starters and main plates, from ‘nduja croquetas to steak au poivre. You can sit outside on the street when it’s sunny and watch the comings and goings of the road junction, or tuck up in a cosy banquet sofa in the olive-toned dining room. Local brewery 40FT are represented on the taps, as are Leyton-based Signature Brew, but if craft beer isn’t your thing, check out the classic cocktails like espresso martinis and spiced negronis, and wines from Italy and France. Between 4pm and 7pm every day, you can make the most of 5 GBP cocktails and prosecco, as well as half price lunch on Fridays.
Best for: Sustainable tasting menu
Location: Unit 7, Queen’s Yard, London, E9 5EN
Price: Plates from 4-19 GBP / 5-24 USD
Silo in Hackney Wick is the world’s first zero-waste restaurant, and one of three restaurants in London to hold the recently launched green Michelin star. Everything delivered here is shipped in reusable containers like crates and pallets, and all food waste is composted. This mindset extends to the interior, where tables are made from recycled food packaging, plates from plastic bags, light shades from mycelium grown from brewing grains, and crockery made from crushed wine bottles. If this all sounds a bit unchic, the whole thing somehow comes together in a very clean, sophisticated look. The kitchen grinds its own flour, churns its own butter, makes its own oat milk, and favours unusual cuts for the meat. The menu is even projected on a wall to save on paper printouts. Begin with ‘siloaf’ and butter, followed by a six-course tasting menu. Each dish inventive in its unusual use of whole foods (pumpkin ice cream springs to mind), while the drinks list celebrates natural wines and fermented brews. Rather like the interior, the menu descriptions are minimal in the extreme, but the staff are welcoming and extremely knowledgeable. Come along with an open mind, ready to learn a thing or two.
Best for: Neighbourhood cool and delicious sharing plates
Location: 49 Columbia Rd, London, E2 7RG
Price: Mains from 18-29 GBP / 23-37 USD
As one of London’s first small neighbourhood restaurants serving natural wine and sharing plates, Brawn set the tone for what has become a popular model across Hackney. It takes its inspiration from head-to-tail cooking: its name refers to a dish that uses meat from the head of a pig, and it takes a pig as its emblem on the signage. Thanks to the ever-changing menu, you might not know what you’re going to eat, but you’re always in for a lovely meal. We’d recommend ordering the pasta dish no matter what, because these chefs know what they’re doing.
The Water House Project
Best for: elegant food in a casual setting, special occasions, tasting menu
Location: 1 Corbridge Crescent, Bethnal Green, London E2 9DT
Price: 100 GBP pp for seven courses and five pairings, or 155 GBP for ten courses and pairings
The Water House Project began as a supper club in chef Gabriel Waterhouse’s home before it found its permanent location in Bethnal Green. The double-height space is certainly industrial, yet feels homely and welcoming, with an open plan kitchen and island right beside the tables, making it feel like you are visiting your extremely talented friend’s impressive home kitchen. The Water House Project offers a seven-course meal on Wednesday evenings and Saturday lunch, and a nine-course menu on Thursday, Friday and Saturday evenings, at 7pm. With one seating per evening, it really does feel like an intimate dinner party. The food changes seasonally but is always prepared elegantly and with utmost attention to flavours. All the delight of a tasting menu, with none of the stuffiness.
Best for: Sharing plates in a romantic setting
Location: Barnes Motors, 116 Petherton Road, London, N5 2RT
Price: Plates from 7-28 GBP /9-36 USD
The first in the family that grew to include restaurants Westerns Laundry, Jolene and Big Jo, Primeur has all the aspects you can expect from these neighbourhood joints: a simple interior, colourful ceramic water jugs, warm candlelight, and a short menu of modern European small plates written up on a blackboard. Delicious low-intervention wines, a friendly team, and an airy, informal vibe round things off. Check Instagram for the day’s menu, order to share, and opt for wine by the glass – it’s much friendlier on the wallet than by the bottle here. We’d suggest it’s especially delightful to visit in the summer, when the concertina doors fold back, opening the restaurant to the street.
Dalston and Hackney Downs
Best for: A sunny Saturday brunch/hangover buster
Location: Unit 3D, Stamford Works, Gillett Street, London, N16 8JH
Price: Breakfast buns for 7.75 GBP / 10 USD, full breakfasts for around 14 GBP / 18 USD
Run by two Australian sisters, Brunswick East aims to bring the best of Aussie brunch culture to Hackney, and they’ve succeeded. Portions are super generous here, and each plate has an extra special something about it that feels straight from the hip Melbourne neighbourhood the cafe’s named for. Visit especially when the sun is shining – there’s a courtyard area to sit outside which brings the whole cafe alive. With specialty coffee and indulgent bakery treats completing the offering, there’s really nowhere else to go for your hangover-smashing breakfast, or a coffee and cake Sunday treat.
What: modern warehouse wine bar and restaurant
Where: 230B Dalston Lane, London, E8 1LA
How much: Set menu for 40 GBP
Hackney Coterie is a collaboration between Anthony Lyon, who opened Lyon’s Seafood & Wine Bar in Crouch End, and Giuseppe Pepe, who previously worked at Pidgin, Casa Fofo and Marksman. The spacious warehouse restaurant is set over two floors, with a large terrace at the front for al fresco dining. A six-course set dinner is served here, with exciting dishes like fish crackling with smoked tofu dip, layered Szechuan potatoes with black tea mayo, and spiced monkfish with dashi custard and fermented celeriac. Or you can come for small plates and drinks: there’s a cocktail menu, a range of craft beers, and all the dynamic, organic, low-intervention natural wines you could ask for. The front of the restaurant also serves as a bottle shop, for those wishing to continue the party at home.
Mama Shelter Shoreditch
Best for: Maximalist interiors, Sunday lunch, co-working
Location: 437 Hackney Road, London E2 8PP
Price: starters from 7.50 GBP / 9.35 USD
Slightly confusingly, Mama Shelter Shoreditch sits on the cusp of Hackney. The eclectic hotel is a hotbed for digital nomads and remote workers and its centrepiece restaurant hums all day long. Maximalist interiors mix clashing prints, velvet banquettes and hanging fringed lampshades, soundtracked by live DJs on weekends. On the menu, find spicy ‘nduja doughnuts, generously stacked Mama burgers, vegan cottage pie and pillowy pea and shallot tortellini. The Sunday roasts are much celebrated, and there is also a heated terrace bar shaking cocktails until late.
Best for: A surprising, excellent set menu for special occasions
Location: 52 Wilton Way, London, E8 1BG
Price: Set menu for 65 GBP / 77 USD
Small, unassuming, and delicious, Pidgin is one of Hackney’s best neighbourhood restaurants. Since it opened in 2015, it’s served a set menu of modern European cuisine that completely changes each week, without repeating a single dish. The team has now created more than one thousand unique dishes. Just check out the Instagram for a sea of stunning arrangements of elegant food on equally elegant ceramic plates. According to a recent post, dish number 1157 was a smoked leak, filled with venison ragu, roasted yeast cream, and crispy seaweed. No matter what’s on the menu that week, you are guaranteed to experience an inventive, flavourful and refined meal.
Best for: wine afficionados
Location: 322-324 Acton Mews, London, E8 4EA
Price: Plates from 10-28 GBP / 13-36 USD
In the railway arches right outside Haggerston station is a wine bar, members club, restaurant and cellar called Planque – which means ‘hideaway’ in French, but also sounds a lot like plonk, which sums up the tone of the place. Planque is all about informality, and for creating a community around modern, low-intervention wines. The rotating menu is prepared by chef Seb Myers, formerly of P. Franco and the celeb favourite Chiltern Firehouse, and sommeliers James Lewis from Shoreditch restaurant Lyle’s. You can pay 80 GBP a month for membership, which grants you cellaring for 37 bottles of wine (because who has space to keep that many at home?), plus access to the member’s lounge area, and regular exclusive events. Or you can simply turn up for dinner and drinks. Meals take place around one long convivial table, so you are bound to meet some likeminded wine fans and make a friend or two.