Photo credit: khf.co.uk
Visiting London and want to discover an off the beaten path local neighbourhood? Stoke Newington in the north east of the city is a great place to start if you want authentic and creative vibes and a strong community feel! Londoners are loud and proud about which of the city's characteristic areas they call home, and our local Naomi is no differernt! Check out her guide to the best spots to eat, drink and live like a local in Stokey and escape the city centre for a day to explore this vibrant area that's loved by locals.
You've seen the main sights so now you're keen to understand more about what it's like to live and exist in the cultural and racial hot pot that we call London... So why not explore Hackney in north east London, the most hip of all London boroughs and visit Stoke Newington, nicknamed Stokey by residents. Stokey is the new buzzing area above hipster Dalston, cyclists' residential zone and "yummy mummy ville" (think pretty cafes, eateries and Whole Foods). There are no tube stations nearby, but lots of buses to get you here, and easily reachable by Uber from Shoreditch, Kings Cross and other areas in and around Hackney.
Photo credit: standard.co.uk - The Good Egg
Stokey used to be a somewhat derelict area after the second world war, and was also associated with the Krays (famed London gangsters in the 1960s). However, it's become a hotpot of ethnicities including Muslim, Turkish and orthodox Jewish communities. You're likely to encounter ultra-orthodox Haredi Jews with enormous furry hats and curled side locks if you head a little north on a bus. After undergoing much gentrification, it's fast becoming a foodie hub. The residential streets off the two main streets of the area, High Street and Church Street are lined with traditional terraced houses, often converted into large open plan spaces on the inside (have a little peak through the windows!). It's charming yet busy, lively on the weekends but also quietly buzzing during the week.
Photo credit: timeout.com - The Haberdashery
There are plenty of options here, but here’s some of my favourite! The Haberdashery is a Hackney resident's favourite for brunch, often with a queue pouring out onto the High Street on weekends. With eclectic and vintage decor, this eatery has a Danish feel when it comes to food. Get your dose of English muffins and sourdough bread here together with scrumptious sides whilst listening to Hackney residents gossip. An alternative and quieter option is La Duchesse; underrated spot with a splendid brunch menu and the best individual cake slices and tarts on Church Street. Coffee and tea is great here also, and the prices are a lot more reasonable than other places.
After some shopping, browsing and walking in the nearby parks, consider lining your stomachs with the following:
There's a handful of great places in the area, but for the best grilled kebabs, grilled onions covered in pomegranate sauce and yummy hot and cold sides head to Testi. Stare at the huge grill ovens and ventilators and dare to try lamb's testicles!
For the best greasy gourmet burgers and a hipster vibe, head to Stokey Bears. This is where the cool kids gather to plan their night out.
Israeli and fusion
Think of Ottolenghi style fusion food perfect for sharing with friends at dinner, and you’ve got The Good Egg. Book in advance and avoid brunch as there are too many yummy mummies with BIG prams.
The Black Pig With White Pearls; think candlelight stools and tables with your fill of good Spanish and pork dishes.
Traditional fish and chips
Don't get fish and chips from a random pub, go to Sutton and Sons! The family run shop is fast becoming a small chain in East London due to popularity. Spot the super-friendly and lively fishmonger and owner on the High Street during the day.
Next to Stokey Bears find your gateway (a stairwell adorned by two chandeliers) to superb cocktails made by mixologists. Bare brick walls, soft cushioned booths and a classic pool table make Original Sin a classy joint. Head here for after-work drinking hours and the bar staff will recommend you what to order depending on your wants and needs. For no-nonsense, real ales and ciders head to The Jolly Butchers on the High Street and mingle with the locals.
Photo credit: jollybutchers.co.uk
The best thing to do in Stokey is to go for a walk and browse. Be warned that you're likely to be carrying paper bags at the end of your day. For food shopping, try to avoid Whole Foods (although their Gail's bread corner is a regular addiction for residents) and browse both local and exotic groceries from "Green fruits and vegetables" - a wonderfully laid out grocery store across the road on Church Street. If you're renting an apartment in town and want to cook up some serious meat; head to The Cookery on the High Street for discount chicken, and for something more posh and traditional, head to Meat N16 on Church Street for condiment souvenirs.
There's also a Farmers' Market on Saturdays from 10AM til 2PM. Walk down Church Street (between Clissold Park and the junction with High Street) for quirky and tasteful homeware, hand-made beautifully scented candles, cushions, covers, greeting cards, and flower pots. Pop by the second hand furniture shop (Retrohub) for a browse, this is where local residents find a retro bargain to decorate their homes.
If it's not raining, continue onto Clissold Park (there's a bird cage and paddle pool there, perfect for the little ones), or even better, Abney Green. A haven away from bustling London streets, Abney Green acts as a green and gothic stage to practice your Instagram and SLR skills here. Finally if you need a last minute facial using Dermalogica lotions and potions, wax or mani/pedicure head to Your Beautiful further down the High Street. There aren't many places in London that offer great service with cheap price tags.