Above the Shoreditch triangle and below Haggerston’s canal lies a mismatched area of London filled with kebab shops specialising in cheesy chips, gourmet seasonal British restaurants, scruffy old boozers and one of London’s most awarded cocktail bars. This is the heart of east London, balancing the old history with pioneering innovation. This is Hoxton.
Breakfast and Brunch
We’re starting the day with fresh bread, cracked eggs and a strong pot of coffee. Head to Fabrique Bakery, tucked into the archways of Hoxton station for some of London’s most amazing loaves and pastries – this isn’t glamorise dining, we’re talking a few café-style chairs and tables, but you won’t find bakes this authentic and tasty elsewhere. In the summer simply grab them to take away and find a sunny spot to relax in Haggerston Park. For Mediterranean-fresh breakfasts on the weekend head to Morito on Hackney Road for granola with cardamom, yoghurt, pomegranates and pistachios or Msemen (Moroccan bread) with fresh seasonal jam and butter. We’re also fans of their Bougatsa which is a Cretan filo pastry with fresh cheese, sugar and cinnamon or the Beghrir (Moroccan pancakes) with fresh sheep’s cheese and thyme honey.
For extended brunches, plenty of avocado and eggs done sunny-side-up, scrambled, boiled and poached we suggest booking a spot at 100 Hoxton where the Bloody Marys come strong and spicy. Weekends call for a visit to Clutch where hangovers come to die – think sweet potato fritters with mushroom duxelle, home cured smoked turkey bacon and poached egg or their famed wishbone waffles. While normally one of our favourite dinner destinations, Beagle’s breakfasts and brunches are just as fresh and inspired – we love the ricotta pancakes with roast plum and ivy house cream.
Best places to work
Long White Cloud is Hoxton’s busiest little café, on Hackney Road, and is perfect for popping in to grab a coffee and log onto the wifi during the week when it's calmer and quieter and you can enjoy the unique gallery of artwork. On the weekend, however it turns in the area’s number one hangover cure and you’re better off plugging in elsewhere. Try Caffe In further along the road for a more peaceful working environment.
While the area has plenty of great options it’s the cluster of Vietnamese restaurants on Kingsland Road you should be making a beeline for - spicy phos, summer rolls and baguettes are the order of the day. BunBunBun and Green Papaya are our personal recommendations but everyone has their favourites, from Sông Quê Café to Mien Tay and Viet Grill. For more simple options, the street market on Hoxton Street has some of the best jerk chicken in town and the falafel stand is equally mouth-watering.
There’s nothing more British than a traditional roast with all the trimmings and Hoxton doesn’t disappoint. Book at the Marksman on Hackney Road where you can order the likes of roast Tamworth pork belly and burnt apple, roast Hereford beef with Yorkshire pudding or a whole roast Swaledale chicken with bread sauce. Perfect after a sunny stroll along Columbia Road flower market with friends and best enjoyed with lashings of wine.
If it’s chicken every Sunday then Clutch’s herb-infused rotisserie chicken with root veg mash, buttered cabbage, honey-glazed carrots, herb stuffing garlic roast potatoes, sweet potatoes crisps and chicken jus is guaranteed to push you into perfect food-coma territory. For traditional pub roasts and pints of ale The Royal Oak on Columbia Road and Fanny Nelsons on Horatio Street are both delightful spots to spend a Sunday afternoon.
Shopping & Culture
Columbia Road is one of London’s most picturesque shopping streets, filled with quaint vintage stores, clothing boutiques, art shops bakeries and pubs – but when they actually open seems to be more pot luck that regulated trading hours. While you can guarantee the doors will be swung open Sunday-long to tempt everyone away from the bustling flower market, we find Saturdays are the best time to explore this street without the busy market making crossing the road a two-hour journey.
For beautiful art visit Nelly Duff and be sure to explore Ezra Street, just off Columbia Road, which has the city’s quaintest and friendliest little street markets.
Of course the areas main attraction is the flower market on Sundays which pulls people in from across town regardless of the weather. Bring cash and expect to leave with armfuls of tulips, roses and miniature cacti as the Essex traders banter with one-another across the road. It does get exceptionally busy here so is best enjoyed earlier in the morning or just before the market closes around 3pm when you can pick up some end-of-day bargains.
If you’ve missed out on the pleasure of food at Brawn thus far in your life, pity for you! The daily changing menu is full of culinary delights such as hogget neck, braised artichokes and puntarelle, Morecombe Bay oysters and burrata, cime di rapa, chili and bottarga. It is simply outstanding, with a wine list sourced from small growers who work sustainably, organically or bio-dynamically in the vineyard and with minimal interventions in the winery.
Of a similar ilk, yet with its own distinct style and atmosphere, is Laughing Heart. Here the wines are all natural and pair perfectly with their changing menu. We went as a trio and ordered the entire menu – which left us contently full and in raptures. Don’t skip the crab butter.
For a completely different evening dine at Bad Sports for authentic, fresh and delicious tacos and bottles of Mexican beer. Or try Morito for great tapas with its Southern-Spain crossed with Turkish and Cretan inspired food, where vegetarians are truly catered for.
White Lyan is a must-visit for any Londoner, it’s possibly the world’s most pioneering cocktail bar which dreams up wonderful creations with one eye on the science and one always focused on flavour. Although also included in our Shoreditch area guide (it’s a blurry line where one ends and the other begins) we have to mention the classic subterranean bar that is Happiness Forgets – which is technically above the Shoreditch Triangle on Hoxton Square – serving out great, simple drinks with finesse and style.
Sager + Wilde
While cocktails are in fairly short supply in Hoxton, wine reigns supreme and most of the restaurants have outstanding lists. Sager + Wilde on Hackney Road has long been one of London’s favourite wine bars and is the perfect spot to sit and sink a few glasses with snacks and friends. Equally the Laughing Heart has a phenomenal wine list which you’re welcome to come and tuck into without sitting down for the full meal, and both venues offer everything to take away – something to bear in mind for dinner parties and park picnics alike.
Not missing out on the craft beer movement, Hoxton has plenty of gentrified pubs with more ales on tap than you could conceivably drink in an evening. And no, that’s not a challenge. Check out the Birdcage, part of the Draft House group, for plenty of delicious options. For a London experience grab a pint at the Sebright Arms which boasts 10 local craft beers on cask and keg on rotation at all times.
Late Night / Party
Bad Sports may look like an innocent taqueria upstairs, but beneath street level is a different story. This dive bar serves beers, shots and wickedly fun cocktails which make 2am all the more merry. The Laughing Heart, with its delicious wines, is also open into the wee hours for bottles, glasses and deep chats. And at least you now know where to take your hangover the next day.