The vast 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 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 (yet chic, of course) 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 (the stereotypical Hackney resident is often a cyclist), 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: Taster 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. It’s great food, and with banging funk tunes blasting on the speakers, it’s not too serious either.
Best for: Natural wines and casual communal dining
Location: 107 Lower Clapton Road, London, E5 0NP
Price: Small plates for around 8 GBP / 10 USD
A cave à manger-style natural wine bar right in the heart of Lower Clapton. So unassuming that you could walk right past it if you hadn’t heard of it before, yet it’s one of the most casual, fun, delicious and intimate dining experiences in Hackney. There’s one main kitchen island to sit around, plus a few bar stools at the window, and a strict walk-in only policy. Head down early with a significant other, get a seat around the island, and join in the dinner party – everyone chats to one another here. There’s a revolving schedule of guest chefs, meaning the cuisine changes every six months or so (Jamie Smart of St John Bread and Wine and Meedu Saad of Kiln Soho are both recent holders of the post). The quality is always excellent, so come along with an open mind and be whisked along by the buzzing, dinner party vibe.
Supa Ya Ramen
Best for: Rowdy, irreverent ramen
Location: 499 Kingsland Road, London, E8 4AU
Price: One bowl for 15 GBP / 19 USD
The new permanent home for popular supper club Supa Ya Ramen is low-key, lively and decidedly untraditional. There are no reservations, so get in the fast-moving queue and cram in with the other diners for some nourishing, slurpy noodles. In a similar vein to American-Korean chef David Chang’s approach in his Momofuku restaurants, 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 soft-boiled eggs, spring onions and miso broth. There’s a short regular menu, and a smattering of specials that are added intermittently – check their 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, this 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. What’s more, between 4pm and 7pm every day, you can make the most of 5 GBP cocktails and prosecco.
Best for: Sustainable tasting menu
Location: Unit 7, Queen’s Yard, London, E9 5EN
Price: Plates from 4-19 GBP / 5-24 USD
Silo 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, lightshades from mycelium (a fungal structure) grown from brewing grains, and crockery made from crushed wine bottles. If this all sounds a bit unchic, the whole thing somehow manages to pull off 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. The food arrives in a six-course tasting menu, and each dish is inventive in its unusual use of whole foods (pumpkin ice cream springs to mind). 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: 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, 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.
Best for: Neighbourhood cool and delicious sharing plates
Location: 49 Columbia Rd, London, E2 7RG
Price: Mains from 18-29 GBP / 23-37 USD
Someone we know recently penned on a visit to Brawn, ‘heaven is a place on Columbia Road’. And she’s right – that heaven is probably Brawn. Or maybe the Flower Market. But probably Brawn. As one of London’s first small neighbourhood restaurants serving natural wine and sharing plates, it 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 to get, but you’re always in for a lovely meal – we’d recommend ordering the pasta dish, because these chefs know what they’re doing.
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 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 the 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 all-day brunch 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 great 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.
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 (who we interviewed for our How Did I Get Here? series) has opened Koya Ko, a casual, fast-paced sister restaurant that joins her other udon noodle bars in City and Soho. This Hackney iteration on Broadway Market boasts a whole new menu, and offers room for tachi-gui – standing while dining – at the bar. 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’s donburi bowls and various sides. The restaurant is open every day, all day – it even serves breakfast udon or rice bowls – so drop by anytime for an informal and nourishing meal.
Best for: Surprising, excellent modern European
Location: 52 Wilton Way, London, E8 1BG
Price: Set menu for 45 GBP / 58 USD
Small, unassuming, and delicious, Pidgin is one of Hackney’s key neighbourhood spots. 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. They’ve now created over one thousand unique dishes. Just check out their 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 new 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 whole 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, and Sarah Papadimitriou of late night wine bar The Laughing Heart hold down the wines. You can pay 80 GBP a month for membership, which grants you cellaring for 72 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. The space is centred around one long convivial table, so you are bound to meet some likeminded wine fans and make a friend or two.