I’m sure writing a guide to Stoke Newington & Dalston seems a bit passé to all those hipsters amongst you. We know the super hipsters like Vice are enjoying Dalston right now with their new show. But we have lived there for around 8 years and despite the arrival of fancy dress and funny hair cuts still feel really happy in Stoke Newington & Dalston.
So here is our guide to what makes us happiest, from Wilton Way up to Stoke Newton Church St (which we won’t venture on to because this is a blog about what makes us happy and Whole Foods on Stoke Newington Church St doesn’t), then over to Newington Green for some tapas…
One of our favourite things to do is to walk up (or down) Stoke Newington & Kingsland Rd (one turns in to the other). We do this daily to get to (and from) the 38 bus stop.
Lots of people like to get the bus to the 38 bus stop, but we like to walk, we’re not lazy, plus in the mornings we will pick up a coffee from the dude outside Dalston Kingsland station. He makes good strong coffee that makes our hearts beat that little bit faster. Mmmmmmmm good coffee.
(he’s really good at standing on one leg too).
Stoke Newington & Kingsland Road’s are special at all times of day. From the mornings when it’s quiet and clean, to the evenings when all of the barbers and restaurants have opened their doors.
You know you’re home when you smell that BBQ smell covering Stoke Newinton Rd like a gastric curtain, excreting smoke from the massive extractor fans above all of the Turkish Ocak grills. Mmmmmmmmm ocak grills.
No where else in London smells as good. Shit Stoke Newington Rd smells fine.
Stoke Newington Rd is the London capital of the ocak grill. Yes West and South London you might have the odd good one, but I’m afraid we obliterate you when it comes to good Turkish food. Don’t even bother trying to compete…
If you question who we’d start with, you don’t know us well enough…
Best Kebab, of course.
Full name: Best Turkish Kebab, Best Turkish Kebab is just that, the best Turkish kebab. We may have bored you with the many attributes of Best Kebab… but so fruitful, they are worth repeating… At Best Turkish Kebab they make the doner themselves, mostly with lamb shoulder. They are the only kebab house in the UK to do this. It’s so good it has been on the Radio 4 Food Program. So good, you don’t feel dirty after you’ve eaten it. So good you’ll eat it any time of day.
Best Turkish Kebab is a family run business, at Somesuch & Co. for obvious reasons, we are firm supporters of the family run business.
Politicians should go to best kebab to see how the country should be run. It’s worth going just to observe the queue, no one, no matter how impatient pushes in, no one, no matter how troubled, causes trouble, no one, no matter how tough, fucks with the Best Kebab brothers. Don’t get me wrong ‘the brothers’ are in no way intimidating, they are polite and delightful, you just know you don’t fuck with them, you just don’t…
Then there’s the people in the queue, not many places house such a range of people so blissfully. From the wankers like us, to the rude boys, to the Islamic kids who have traveled especially from Birmingham just for a Best Kebab, to the locals from ‘Drunk Bench’, to the prostitutes from Yakatan, to the police in flack jackets, to the undercover cops, to the local dealers, all mingling, happy to wait as long as it takes for a Best Turkish Kebab.
At Best Turkish Kebab, if you’re a bit nervous of the doner (you shouldn’t be) there are the posher options, shish, beyti etc, all very, very good. We’d just recommend you try the doner, that’s all.
Best Turkish kebab is strictly takeaway. If you’d rather sit down we have a few suggestions for you…
Everyone has their favourites, we’re traditionalists and usually stick loyally to Mangal 1 and 2. The myth is they are related. Maybe there were, they aren’t now. Mangal 1 makes that crystal on their website. Mangal 1, Arcola St has the best beyti and quail you can eat, fresh, moist (saying moist makes us happy) and delicious. Their salads are very good too, and we like the service. You can take your own booze, or get an Effes there.
Mangal 2, just around the corner, is the slightly more posh version and if you are really lucky you will see Gilbert and George, two of the most polite dudes that walk this earth. Seeing G&G at Mangal 2 makes us feel happy. They love each other and that’s a beautiful thing to witness. Mangal 2’s beyti is also good. We like their chicken beyti too.
Across the street from Mangal 2 is Mangal Lamachan, their lamachan is £3 and is VERY good, cooked in a proper lamachan (pizza) oven, then filled with salad and rolled up for you to eat there or take away. Mangal Lamachan is only open until 11pm, so it’s not a get drunk and scoff place, it’s more a respect thing. We agree with that.
We said we usually eat an Mangal 1 & 2 because we only recently discovered Cirrik (or 19 Numara Bo$ Cirrik 1), Cirrik is in between Mangal 1 and Mangal 2 on Stoke Newington Rd. Unlike the Mangals you could easily take a vegetarian there, not that we encourage vegetarians, but you could. Cirrik’s Tabouleh is fresh and delicious and the zucchini fritters….Mmmmmmmmmm zucchini fritters….are so good we could eat them all the time. We are yet to tire of Cirrik, our only advice would be to eat upstairs.
After the Cirrik you can go next door for a delicious pastry…
On the corner of Kingsland Rd and Shaklewell Lane, shining like a ruby is a red and black rooster, this rooster can only signify one thing…Nando’s, yes Dalston has a Nando’s, a very good one too. We like that the service is rather erratic and that you can queue with 17 policemen for a takeaway meal (once we did actually queue with 17 policeman, we counted them)…
(Quick diversion to policemen; we wonder how they are not 30 stone, well some probably are, but not as many of them as should be. In part, Stoke Newington police keep Stoke Newington food joints in business, you can’t pass Best Kebab or Nando’s without seeing at least 3 bobbies ravinously awaiting their feed. For this we are thankful, for this and the fact that in the queue they happily mix with many of the people they will probably arrest later.)
Back to food (and coffee).
If you want one of the best coffee’s in London and a posh middle class sandwich or cake Mouse & De Lotz is your place. It’s on Shaklewell Lane about 5 minutes walk from Nando’s.
We love coffee as you know, so we are very fond of Mouse and De Lotz. Ain’t nothing wrong with posh middle class sandwiches either. We wish they were more readily available in London.
Believe it or not, despite looking like it might be served with a fag butt or an empty wrap of gack from the night before, Dalston Superstore also offers good relaxed fare. More middle class comfort food than middle class posh, but if you can get a seat up front, it’s a lovely place to sit and watch the world go by.
Next to Dalston Superstore are a few cafes where you can sit outside and hipster-gaze. The food isn’t as fine as Cirrik or Mangal and the coffee lacks what Mouse and De Lotz has to offer, but their service is always lovely, and good service is worth a lot.
We love a good jerk, a good jerk makes us feel real happy. Dalson has several; the Enterprise bookstore, where you can browse some books whilst you await your food served by one of the nicest ladies in Dalston…
…and in the garden at the Railway Tavern, sadly likely to become the ‘new’ Shaklewell Arms. (We won’t be discussing the newly owned Shacklewell Arms). So ‘new’ even Vice haven’t taken the piss out of it…yet…At the Railway Tavern in their beer garden you will find a very good jerk chicken or pork, and their home made soup…? ‘Oh my god that soup smells so niiiceee’.
Then there’s Bradbury Street. On the walk home from the 38 bus stop we go via Bradbury Street… as we said, we’re not lazy, we like to walk…
Bradbury Street is one of the coolest streets in London. On Bradbury St is Mama Vics, a one lady outfit. Mama Vic does lots of delicious West Indian food and of course a mean jerk chicken, mmmmmmmm jerk chicken. Even though it’s just the Mama, Mama Vic’s is definitely a family run business. Thus far that’s Somesuch & Co., Best Kebab and Mama Vics. We reckon probably the Mangals too, but we don’t know for sure, and we like to have our facts straight (ish).
On the Corner of Kingsbury Rd and Balls Pond Rd, number 40, is Peppers and Spice. Peppers and Spice often has queues out the door, which proves it’s good (Denikah gives it 14 out of 10 on London Eating). Must remember to go to Peppers and Spice more often.
Moving away from jerk, Shanghai is a fairly typical Chinese restaurant. It won’t blow you away necessarily, but if you fancy a rib or crispy duck (‘it’sth not cwispy’) it won’t let you down, and the front of the restaurant is an untouched old pie shop, so it’s real pretty too. If karaoke is your thing, you can do it out back. See, Shanghai has 2 jewels in its crown.
Trangallan is a new tapas restaurant on Newington Green and it’s very, very good.
The tapas are a little small, but they are delicious, so just order more. The service is a delight. We really recommend Trangallan, although not so much we can’t get in anymore.
If you fancy a bagel, The Bagel House on Stoke Newington High Street is open 24 hours and their bagels are bloody good, up there with those on Brick Lane. If you are lucky you will get one straight out of the oven, still warm. Yum. Who doesn’t like a good bagel?
We don’t know for sure, because the people that work in the Bagel Shop are a bit shy, but we’d be willing to put £5 on the bagel shop being a family run business.
Many people will attest that the best pizza in N16 is Il Baccio. We don’t agree. We like La Barca, next to the Shakespeare pub. La Barca is takeaway or it delivers. Many a Saturday night has been spent with a margarita with extra pepperoni delivered by La Barca in front of the telly.
(tiny bit too much cheese on this one, but crispy and delicious all the same)
Of course we can’t forget KFC. We wish KFC was health food so we could eat it more often, although UK KFCs don’t do potato and gravy which, even after 20 years here is still disappointing.
Even people that don’t live in Dalston know Dalston has many bars. People travel from West London for a night out in Dalston these days.
We’re a bit old to hang out with the hairdos, but we like a nice bar and we are very fond of ‘good piss’.
Recently we went to a bar on Bradbury Street with our friends Nicky & Jenny. There they do a jolly good margarita (of the drink variety rather than the eating) in very civilised surroundings, especially if you like impromptu jazz. We’re not so sure about impromptu jazz, we don’t tend to wear corduroys very often, but we love a margarita, so (we think it’s called) The Servant Jazz Quarters definitely gets on the happy scale.
Dalston Superstore (gets 2 mentions…) does a very good bloody mary… spicy, it’s neither too think, nor too complicated (other bars, please don’t put cumin in a bloody mary). We don’t like bloody mary’s quite as much as margaritas, but we do like them very much, so we like Dalston Superstore. For us it’s a pre-midnight joint, but if you like to party, especially with buff, sweaty chaps, after midnight might be more preferable to you.
After midnight we like to go to Bar 23. Bar 23 is fun, it’s not hipster, it’s just fun.
If we want hipster after midnight there is always Efes. What’s not to like about a place called ‘Efes’ (although ‘Lech’ would be better)? When we first came to Dalston, Efes was a pool club largely dominated by locals. Now it’s an ironic pool club largely dominated by kids with haircuts from London Fields, Shoreditch and West London, but it’s still got vibes.
There is of course Alibi and Bardens… but we’re sure you know about them, so we needn’t comment.
Our favourite pubs are The Shakespeare, Marquis, Spurstowe and Drunk Bench.
The Shakespeare is a proper boozer, no food served in house, no leather sofa’s. The added bonus is that next door is our favourite pizza delivery place La Barca (above), and the Shakespeare let you take your pizza from La Barca in to the pub to eat over a pint of Guinness. That’s real nice of the Shakespeare. Thanks the Shakespeare.
The Marquis has lovely staff and tables outside, which is nice in the summer. Some of the best parties we’ve been to have been in the Marquis’s basement, plus it’s next to Mangal. We like the Marquis.
Yes, we know it’s not ‘cool’ to like the Spurstowe, lots of you think it’s passe, but we do like it. The staff are lovely, the food is pretty good, and they also make a bloody good bloody mary. We’ve had some fun days and nights at the Spurstowe.
Drunk Bench is at the top of Farleigh Rd on Stoke Newington Rd (Cabbies it’s Rd at this point NOT High St FFS, don’t let us win another fiver off you).
Drunk Bench is often run by our good friend and neighbour Winston (he’s not either of those dudes above). Winston prefers the weed to booze, so he’s a bit different to the other people that frequent Drunk Bench, but he likes to hang there all the same. Sometimes there’s only one person at Drunk Bench, sometimes there are 10, other times there’s just a solitary pair of trousers hanging to dry in the fresh air.
It all depends on the day of the week and the weather. The world gets put to rights on Drunk Bench. We love it for that. Most people are welcome, but you will need to prove that you are trustworthy before you are really accepted (a six pack of Fosters Ice may help too).
Shopping & Services:
If you frequent Sainsbury’s or Tesco’s in the area you are seriously missing out. In fact we’d prefer it if you read another blog. That’s not the spirit of the area. There are so many great shops that are so much better, and cheaper too. You need an unrecognisable ingredient from the Moro Cookbook? One of the Turkish shops will have it. You need a pomegranate? One of the Turkish shops will have them for a quarter of the price? You need sumac? You’re not going to find it at Tesco Metro trust us, oh and the feta cheese? Incomparably better (don’t be scared of those tins, those tins are full of cheese of goodness).
We have our favourites, but they are all good for different reasons. This is Akdeniz. Akdeniz does good fruit and veg, as you can see…
Akdeniz is open 24 hours (most of the time), it is also a family run business, as we have said above, we love a family run business…
Opposite Akdeniz, in amongst this High Street lined almost exclusively with Turkish delicacies is an oasis of Italian fare, Gallo Nero II (Gallo Nero i is on Albion Drive).
Gallo Nero has been there for a very long time and is consistently good. It sells the same stuff you might find in Soho at Lina Stores or Gelupo for a fraction of the price. Gallo Nero even has bottarga… mmmmmm bottarga, and their homemade bolognese is just the ticket on a cold winters night.
Not only are the ingredients great but like Somesuch & Co., Best Kebab, Mama Vics (probably The Mangals) and Akiniz, Gallo Nero is also a family run business and the family who run it are delightful. Being in Gallo Nero actually makes you happy.
Kind of opposite Gallo Nero is a shop new to Stoke Newington High St, ‘Luis Fernando International Traders’.
Luis Fernando International Traders is Cuban and sells mostly cigars and rum (of course) but also some beautiful ash trays and other items mostly relevant to smoking, drinking or music. Luis Fernando International Traders looks like pure good vibes to us, next time we need a cigar we will definitely go there.
Just south of Luis Fernando’s, in the church yard, only to be found on Saturday’s is a farmer’s market (it moved from the school on Church St), a really good wee farmer’s market. It might not have the same diversity as Broadway Market, but it doesn’t have the crowds either, so for that we prefer the Stoke Newington Market, that and the fact that it feels more direct from farm to customer, oh and the tomatoes, they do a bloody good tomato, and we love tomatoes nearly as much as coffee….mmmmm coffee.
Further south still is The New Jet-set. By it’s name you can see that The New Jet-Set is geared up for… the new jet set.
They are a dry cleaners, and they are a very good dry cleaners too. We absolutely trust them with all of our outrageously overpriced and pretentious clothing. Oh and like Somesuch & Co. Best Kebab, Mama Vics (probably The Mangals), Akiniz, Gallo Nero and The Bagel Shop, The New Jet-set is a family run business. I reckon it’s getting even more clear how we feel about family businesses…
Next door, the gem, Cuckoo Wines.
Cuckoo is run by a really special Indian (you guessed it…) family (I won’t go over it again, you get our position). From the outside Cuckoo looks like it’s sole purpose is to fuel Drunk Bench (above), but don’t be fooled. Not only does Cuckoo have very good, very reasonably priced wines, Mr Cuckoo Jnr (not sure that’s his actual name) has a very good knowledge of wine, and if you tell him what you fancy or better still, are eating, he will sell you something very good that you might not have tried before. Cuckoo also love cricket, so if you add that to the fact they have booze and good booze to boot, Cuckoo is a very special place indeed.
Not far from Drunk Bench is Stokey. When Stokey first opened it was called Stoky. We liked that, it made us smile, but soon after they changed it to Stokey.
Stokey is like a Turkish ‘Metro’ but better and cheaper, and it sells pretty much everything you need (except green peppercorns in brine, no one in Dalston or Stoke Newington sells peppercorns in brine, trust us, don’t waste your time looking). Stokey is also a family run business, and it has a similar vibe to Best Kebab, once inside you feel safe and you know no messing. During the riots Stokey was one of the many places that made us feel safe. Thanks Stokey.
Pelicans & Parrots is a really delightful vintage store that you could dress from or decorate your house, we’ve found many a treasure at Pelicans & Parrots. We don’t like to be nosy, but we do wonder if the lady and the man that run it are a married couple? As I’m sure you can imagine married couples in business very close to our hearts.
Dalston is famous for Ridley Rd Market, and so it should be.
Ridley Rd is an incredible market and there aren’t many like it left. Regardless of what you think of the produce for sale on Ridley Rd, from balloons to pig brains, Ridley Rd sells everything you could possibly need and quite a lot of stuff you don’t… or probably shouldn’t…
Ridley Rd is also home to our friends Tim and Barry.
They have their studio there. Their studio has 2 cats. We love cats. Akinola who works with Tim & Barry told us about the meatball man On Ridley Rd, sadly we haven’t had time to try the meatball man’s meatballs, but if Akinola says they are fine they will be…
The southest or eastest, or south-eastest of all and very near The Spurstowe is Borough Wines.
We always feel a bit bad not going to Cuckoo, but Borough wines is of exceptional quality. We love the refill service and the people that own it and work there are absolutely gorgeous.
Plus Borough Wines did our 1st birthday party (yup they do parties) so beautifully we will love them forever. Thanks Borough Wines. (Shit, we still have a bottle of wine waiting there for us.)
If it’s a haircut you are after and you’re a man, take your pick on Stoke Newington Rd, they are all good. We have tried a few, and the current favourites are Pasha’s
£10 for a haircut, facewash and unwanted facial hair trim…who wouldn’t…?
So that’s a summary of Stoke Newington, Dalston and the Borders, a very special part of London, open almost 24 hours and predominantly family run which as you know we think is really pretty wonderful. Please add your favourites to the comments section.
If you are too cool for Dalston and Stoke Newington, you can watch Dalston Superstars it’s pretty funny.
See you soon with Mumbai and Kerala. YAY!