Islington has a HUGE amount of restaurants, with the majority of them along Upper Street. But which are the ones you should be paying attention to - here's our list of the best in the area...
Michelin-starred James Cochran has gone back to his roots with 1251, his Islington restaurant which is a much more personal affair for him. Here he's serving up modern British food, made with Kentish produce (and several nods to his West Indian heritage). The restaurant is pitched as a place to try Michelin-level dining in a more relaxed environment.
Lee Tiernan's Black Axe Mangal has made a small site on Highbury Corner into - in our opinion - one of the best restaurants in London. With metal and rock music blaring out on the speakers, it's certainly unlike much else in town. It's described as 'an unauthentic, bastardised take of Turkish Mangal and Ocakbasi, with global influences.' With an ever-changing menu, it rewards repeat visits.
Chick n Sours comes from the team of Carl Clarke and David Wolanski, whose mission is to serve up some of the best fried chicken in London. And they're doing a pretty good job of it so far, with their wings, tenders and huge chicken burgers all some of the best in town. All that plus an excellent selection of sour cocktails.
Delhi Grill is Islington's "Indian Canteen" a London version of a Punjabi “dhaba”. The emphasis here is on Indian street food (on a menu which changes regularly) in a pared-back restaurant that's covered with its fair share of Bollywood posters. Come here with the intention of sharing everything and you'll have the best time.
Farang comes from ex-Smoking Goat chef Seb Holmes. Originally a long-term pop-up, it's become a permanent restaurant in Highbury. It's a little trek from the nearest tubes, but you'll be rewarded with some of the best Thai cooking in London.
This is a venture by brother and sister team Oriona Robb and Marcel Grzyb. Marcel was Head Chef at Soho’s Randall & Aubin for a decade and, as you might expect given his background, he's put together a menu with a strong focus on seafood, in a menu that's also influenced by North Africa, Asia, South America and Europe.
Chapel Market might not be the first place you'd think of for top quality sushi, but Head chef Padam Raj Rai was the former head sushi chef at Tsukiji restaurant in Mayfair and he knows his stuff. Plus, you'll get to throw an A5 Japanese Wagyu steak on the stone here and cook it exactly how you like it.
Linden Stores comes from one of the people behind Oklava and Kyseri, on the corner of St Paul's Road and Highbury Grove. Here, there's a wine shop/bar on the ground floor as well as a restaurant in the basement. They put on a regularly changing small plates menu that has some great value well-chosen wines alongside it. Make sure to order the "Smoked & Fried Spuds, Bovril Mayo" which are always on the menu.
This Spanish restaurant on Upper Street comes from expert jamón producers Jamon y Salud, so you'd be expecting their jamon to be of a particularly high standard (it is). But it's not all about ham as the restaurant does a great line in authentic Spanish tapas, as well as serving up excellent Spanish wines. It's also worth popping in and grabbing a seat on the bar if you just need a snack.
Since they opened, MEAT liquor have grown their burger and cocktail empire across London, but all of their locations are places where you can get some of the very best burgers in town. Not to mention some killer cocktails.
Previously best known for having a hand in most of the Polpo launches, Tom Oldroyd came into his own at his eponymous Islington restaurant, with a seasonal menu (and excellent croquettes). It's now one of the best spots to chow down in Islington and has a special meat-free Mondays menu.
After gaining a reputation for cooking Italian in the much-loved Bocca di Lupo, Jacob Kenedy returned to his US roots with a wonderful Cajun and Creole menu at his Lousiana-themed Plaquemine Lock on Regent’s Canal. If you fancy some deep-south cooking in London, there's little better available.
This artisan bakery in Islington is best known for its pastries - chief among them the maple bacon croissant, but its bread is up there too. Head along here for some great coffee in the minimalist setting and work your way through some excellent pastries.
Now moved to a larger location, Prawn on the Lawn is a fishmonger and seafood bar - with a wine bar on the side. Expect the usual fruits de mer platters and whole crab as well as some more tapas-style dishes like scallops ceviche and their signature dish - the prawn on the lawn which is toasted soda bread with avocado and prawns.
This restaurant on the borders of Islington and Stoke Newington, was the first from the group that also brought us Westerns Laundry and Jolene. As with their other restaurants, there's a regularly changing menu - influenced by Parisian Bistronomy - and it's paired with a carefully selected wine list that's also regularly updated.
This is an Italian trattoria with a terrace and wine room on Almeida Street, bringing with it lots of traditional south Italian dishes, as well as more laid back meals like pizzas, charcuterie and cheeses. It comes from Francesco Mazzei, best known for Sartoria and L'Anima.
Malaysian laksa specialists Sambal Shiok, headed up by Mandy Yin, have finally found a permanent spot for their critically-acclaimed dishes. The laksa is great, but so are all the other dishes. Look out for regular events there and enjoy the wine list with a focus on Riesling.
A protégé of Stevie Parle, Alex Jackson, has brought a taste of the Mediterranean to Old Street. Sardine may be tucked away in an annex of the Parasol art gallery but it's built up an incredibly loyal local following.
Originally the home of Neil Rankin, both he and the restaurant have moved on, although the emphasis on smoking and BBQ remains. Alongside the food expect plenty of rotating beers and the outside garden is a surprise oasis just off a busy Islington road.
This bright, friendly neighbourhood cafe really comes into its own at the weekends when it serves up one of London's best brunches. You'll have to fight off every other Islington to get a seat, but it's worth it for dishes like Crispy Pork belly with spring onion pancake, kimchi and scrambled eggs.
This Islington pub is tucked down a quiet side street and remains one of the prettiest pubs in the borough. Run by Nick Gibson, the menu is a modern take on British pub grub. Grab a table in the garden if the weather's behaving itself.
The Gate first started in London over 30 years ago, long before vegetarian and vegan menus became a big thing. They've been serving up quality vegetarian fare for years and have earned a big following as a result. As you'd expect, much of the food is plant-based and there's a strong vegan selection too (and their wine list is entirely vegan).
Probably Islington's most famous (and hard to get into) restaurant, this Italian affair sees Jordan Frieda, formerly front-of-house at The River Cafe teaming up with chef Tim Siadatan - one of the original trainees at Fifteen. Expect superlative Italian cuisine. If you're having trouble getting into Padella, from the same team, then booking a table here will help you avoid that queue.
Slightly off the beaten track in Canonbury is this small neighbourhood wine bar, serving up a changing seasonal European menu. The owners are Hugo Thurston and Vinny Burke, who were also behind Shoreditch's Jago.
Owners David Gingell and Jeremie Cometto-Lingenheim also run nearby Primeur and Jolene, both also excellent. Here, there's a distinct focus on seafood and the menu changes every day, although if the cuttlefish croquettes with aioli are on there, make sure you order those. In the summertime, you can take a glass of something cold out on the front courtyard and if you're really pushing the boat out, ask for the leather-bound, handwritten, ‘black book’ of fine wines.
This Holloway restaurant (it's just across the road from the Emirates stadium) has won a deserved reputation for cooking up some of the best Shang Xi-inspired street food in London. Yes, that means there's a bit of heat involved here, but their hand-pulled noodles are among the best in town. Their pork/beef "burgers" are not to be missed.
Set on Liverpool Road, this critically-acclaimed restaurant specialises in Hunanese and Sichuan cuisine, so while the menu is huge it's best to concentrate on those sections.
A top Holloway Road pizzeria which prides itself on its dough. The standard is 48-hour fermented and there are also vegetable charcoal, wholemeal and gluten-free options. Combine this with some unique toppings and combinations (including truffle honey) and you've a winning combo.
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