The Culture Whisper guide to Hackney: where to eat, drink and enjoy
Hipster havens, smooth watering holes, marvellous markets and more – here are the best things to do in Hackney
Here's our guide to the best spots in Hackney.
Naturally, this mid-morning meal is the first point of order in these hipster heartlands. Bring a healthy appetite to the Barge House, a light-filled cafe on Regent's Canal with great waterside views and a 'Breakfast in Bread’ brunch headliner. For something a bit different, try the Venezuelan breakfast a short walk down the canal at Arepa & Co. More international brunch fare awaits at Berber & Q which serves Middle Eastern and North African-inspired breakfasts of shakshuka and a myriad of mezze.
Lunch / Dinner
Hackney is a hotbed for high-end dining as well as delicious cheap eats. For modern dishes with top-quality ingredients, make a reservation at Columbia Road's Brawn or at Hackney's hottest wine bar and eatery, Bright. For authentic Mexican food and fresh tacos head to Dalston's Del74 and for no-fuss, mouth-watering Turkish barbecue then the nearby Mangal 1 is a must. If you're searching for a Sunday lunch with some class, then try the Marksman, a Victorian pub with Dickensian interiors and a gourmet take on a traditional roast.
Coffee and cake
It's not a stretch to say that you'd be out of place in Hackney if you don't have an encyclopaedic knowledge of coffee beans, but knowing where to find the best coffee is also good enough. We recommend Broadway Market's Climpson and Sons, Mare Street's Hackney Bureau (which claims to be the first purveyors of flat whites and smashed avocado in the city), and the canal-side gem the Towpath Cafe. If you're more of a tea drinker then head to Tiosk, which also serves gloriously silky chai lattes. For sweet treats, Violet is the undeniable queen of baked goods – owner Claire Ptak is the pastry chef who masterminded Harry and Meghan's wedding cake.
Bars and going out
Night owls in Hackney can go bar-hopping from Shoreditch all the way to up to Stoke Newington. Dalston also has a string of intimate cocktail bars that add a bit of glamour to your evening without breaking the bank. Our top pick is High Water which serves tantalising concoctions at decent prices.
For live music, head to Oslo, a converted railway station which channels warm Scandi vibes and also has a restaurant with a new, hearty food menu for a pre-gig feed. For the tastes and sounds of Japan, head to Kingsland Road's Brilliant Corners, an achingly cool low-lit bar that has been modelled after Tokyo's 'listening rooms' and also serves top quality sushi and izakaya dishes. For dancing, we recommend Ridley Road Market Bar which serves up tropical-themed decor and DJs who play everything from disco hits to RnB classics. However, the ultimate Hackney hangout has to be Hackney Wick's Crate Brewery, a converted warehouse which offers craft beer on tap, thin-crust pizzas and sun-soaked DJ sets – it doesn't get much more hipster than that.
Saturdays in Hackney means a trip to Broadway Market. This Victorian street market has been in operation since the 1890s and has evolved into a high-end farmers' market peddling fresh produce and delicious street food. Sample buttery lobster rolls from fishmongers Fin and Flounder's pop-up stall or head to their permanent establishment down the road for some freshly shucked oysters, pick up some smoked burrata from Italian cheese stall Marco Cheese, or try some hearty salads from Zakuski. As well as these Saturday traders, look out for permanent fixtures on the road, like F. Cooke's 100-year-old mash-and-pie shop, the cosy art bookshop Donlon Books and the high-quality butcher-cum-restaurant Hill & Szrok.
Columbia Road Flower Market
Every Sunday, Columbia Road is transformed into a floral paradise from 8am until around 5pm. Lose yourself in a cacophony of sound and colour as vendors yell plant names and prices over endless rows of bright blooms. You'll be able to find everything from budding flower beds to leafy banana trees at this market which is certainly feeding the plant obsession among London's millennials.
Hackney City Farm
Hackney City Farm offers a country escape right in the middle of the city and is a great place to visit after browsing Broadway Market or bagging some botanical bargains at Columbia Road. This community farm is a fantastic place to take the kids to see animals in London and you can also pick up home-grown fruit and vegetables and honey made by their bees. The farm also runs yoga sessions, beekeeping workshops, art classes and a host of other activities to help busy urbanites reconnect with nature.