North London boasts some exciting London areas as far as eating out is concerned so check out SquareMeal’s guide to the best restaurants in North London. Islington is a fashionable North London area, with streets full of independent boutiques, great gastro pubs and an array of restaurants. Situated close to the City and the West End, Islington has a strong cultural and arts scene too, with the legendary Almeida Theatre being found here. Stoke Newington is another exciting part of North London for eating out, with the village like ambience of Church Street always a popular choice.
North London boasts a wide and varied restaurant selection and SquareMeal has handpicked the very finest of North London’s restaurants in this helpful guide to the best restaurants in North London. However, if you can’t find what you are looking for here, why not search for other North London restaurants in Islington; Stoke Newington; or Crouch End.
Every one of the North London restaurants featured in SquaremMeal’s list of London’s top North London restaurants have been tried and tested by food critics and our own customers so check out the reviews and book a table online with SquareMeal today. Each SquareMeal listing features an independent review, as well as reviews from diners, together with unique special offers such as free drinks and discounts.
Bull & Last
£30 - £49
168 Highgate Road, London, NW5 1QS
CURRENTLY CLOSED FOR REFURBISHMENT. REOPENS AUTUMN 2019
With animal heads on its walls (nothing endangered, mind) and a bucolic finish, The Bull & Last has the feel of a country pub in the big city. The ground-floor bar can generate quite a buzz at busy times, so diners might prefer heading up the stairs to the (relative) poshness of the restaurant, where there’s more room to kick back and take in the menu.
Some appealing nourishment is on the cards, treading a line between hearty rusticity and metropolitan refinement. The charcuterie and fish boards offer sharing possibilities, or you could keep scallop ceviche all to yourself. Steak and chips or fish and chips crank up the comfort factor, with the likes of rump of English lamb with Jerusalem artichoke purée and lamb pastilla, and a dessert of black fig Tatin, revealing the culinary chops of the kitchen. London’s microbreweries get a good outing at the pumps.
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£30 - £49
9 Islington Green, N1 2XH
The latest restaurant from Jeremy King and Chris Corbin, the uber-restaurateurs who count The Wolseley, The Delaunay and Brasserie Zédel among their ranks, takes its name from Monsieur Bellanger (seller of Delaunay-Belville automobiles) and, more importantly, makes a welcome addition to chain-heavy Upper Street. A trademark interior of polished wood, oil paintings, and gold finishes gives the spacious dining room a bright bistro feel, all designed by Shayne Brady of Brady Williams.
During our pre-opening lunch, we ate from a shortened version of a menu which celebrates the brasseurs (brewers) of Alsace. Expect a selection of French classics (similar to those which have made its siblings Brasserie Zédel and Colbert famous), alongside more Eastern European-leaning dishes: tangy salad râpées was brought up to date with the addition of celeriac and beetroot alongside the typical grated carrot, while beetroot-cured salmon with horseradish was perfect in its simplicity. Other options included a hearty pâté de campagne with fig jam, soupe à la bière (yes, that’s beer soup), or the 1980s favourite, a crayfish, prawn and avocado cocktail. For the main event, grilled chicken paillard was light and will no doubt prove popular among lunchtime diners, while cod à la Grenobloise (lemon, capers and parsley) was surprisingly rich, made more so by a side of creamy spinach. Sharing seems to be encouraged: coq au Reisling and baeckeoffe (beef, pork and lamb braised in Gewürztraminer wine) are offered for two or four people, while there’s a dedicated saucisse selection inviting diners to choose from varieties including Toulouse pork and wild boar with cranberry and venison.
For pudding, expect French classics such as tarte au pommes, Crêpe Suzette à la mode and vanilla crème brûlée. We’d been tipped off to order the tarte flambée, however, which arrives paper-thin on a wooden board, smeared with sticky apple and scattered chards of caramelised nut brittle. We’re told that when Bellanger is fully open, these will be available with savoury toppings such as goats’ cheese or bacon: basically the perfect accompaniment to a glass of wine at the bar. We have every confidence that classy Bellanger will gain a strong reputation in Islington.
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£50 - £79
£30 - £49
106 Islington High Street, Camden Passage, London, N1 8EG
“One of my all-time favourites for over 25 years now!” enthuses a dedicated follower of Frederick’s – an Islington “classic” with more than four decades of honourable service under its belt. The airy interior still looks dapper, the lovely alfresco space is “one of life’s pleasures” (especially with glass of rosé in hand), and the location amid the antique shops of Camden Passage is as endearing as ever. Meanwhile, the food has moved with the times, without ever chasing fashion or sacrificing consistency: stuffed courgette flowers ‘three ways’ is a modish opener, but also keep an eye out for the likes of organic salmon tartare with avocado, sesame soy dressing and pan carasau, curried monkfish with pappardelle and sautéed cauliflower or gigot of Welsh lamb with chips. It isn’t cheap, although affordable lunch/pre-theatre deals, Saturday brunch and kids’ menus deserve a cheer. There are also some “lovely wine choices” to peruse.
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£30 - £49
130 Regent's Park Road, London, NW1 8XL
Odette’s has been a fixture in Primrose Hill since the year north London boy Rod Stewart reached number one with ‘Da Ya Think I’m Sexy?’ That was 1978. Run since 2008 by Welsh chef-patron Bryn Williams, the place remains a shining northern star. It’s a place of balance. From coherent, smart decor to cooking that is satisfyingly modern, the enterprise is far, far more than a humble neighbourhood restaurant. Carte and tasting menus show what Bryn is all about – intelligent combinations, judicious sourcing (plenty of Welsh ingredients) and full-on flavours. Glazed pork cheek comes with apple and lobster bisque in a dynamite little surf & turf combo, with main-course loin of venison in the company of cavolo nero, celeriac and pear. There’s impressive technical skill on show, right up to dessert of lemon curd Arctic roll. The pretty little garden out back and fashionable kitchen table add to Odette’s broad appeal.
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£30 - £49
344 Upper Street, London, N1 0PD
Wedged between two inconsequential outlets, Tom Oldroyd’s first solo venture after leaving Polpo is tiny and easily missed on chain-heavy Upper Street. But its diminutive size produces a convivial buzz – as does the open-plan layout and the draw of seasonal, modern European sharing plates. The food fills the minute tables: golden, crunchy smoked pork belly and pea croquetas are a must, soothed with truffle mayonnaise; chilli coriander prawns (a special) arrive shell-on: fortunate, given the piquant juices lurking within. Larger offerings include crab tagliarini dotted with succulent white flesh, sitting on a brown crab rouille that made us want to lick the plate. For dessert, salty pistachios and fresh raspberries cut through a decadent chocolate mousse, and a sweet, white-peach Bellini from the refined cocktail list also does the job. Oldroyd is surely set to become integral to Islington’s dining scene. Whether you can bag a table is another matter.
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St John's Tavern
£30 - £49
91 Junction Road, London, N19 5QU
The good folk at the strapping St John’s Tavern make no bones about their dedication to the food side of the operation – this is a pub of the gastro variety, with a retro finish, where the triumvirate of rustic tucker, cracking real ales and European wines keeps the punters happy. The Victorian-era space with its generous proportions is ideal for hosting both casual drinkers and full-on diners; shabby-chic decor confirms the everyman appeal. The kitchen’s repertoire, listed on blackboard menus, is grounded in British cooking, yet looks to the European mainland for further inspiration. Provenance is an evident watchword. Kick off with grilled herring with pickled tomato, or a classic fish soup, and then dive into English rose veal chop with wild mushrooms, or lemon sole with a Mediterranean spin. Puds have the same Brit/Euro mash-up, and Sunday lunch will warm your cockles – especially if you sit by the open fire.
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The Drapers Arms
£30 - £49
44 Barnsbury Street, London, N1 1ER
It may look gentrified, but The Drapers Arms is a lively place, with the ground-floor bar humming like a good ’un when the locals flock in. The Georgian building’s fine features have been left well alone, which makes for spaces of generous proportions and classic design. To drink, there are real ales at the bar and a wine list offering glass and carafe options. Head upstairs to the serene dining room to escape the hubbub (assuming it’s not booked for a private party). A patio garden provides another alternative in summer. The kitchen satisfies with its mix of modern comfort food, such as the house cheeseburger, but is equally happy knocking up duck breast with roasted black plums, or packing guinea fowl, bacon and mushrooms into a pie. To finish, gingerbread pudding competes with Neal’s Yard Dairy cheeses with crab apple jelly (is it OK to have both?).
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£50 - £79
15 Westland Place, London, N1 7LP
Jamie Oliver’s good-hearted ‘non-profit’ concept Fifteen hit the City Road area in 2002, long before the luxury developers arrived. The restaurant has changed a great deal since then, and now resembles a French bistro rather than the funky trattoria of old – although the bentwood chairs, gilt-framed pictures, studded upholstery and cheesy playlist seem at odds with the kitchen’s bright contemporary approach. Fifteen’s annual intake of apprentices is clearly learning well: our verdant broccoli soup with Beenleigh Blue and lovage oil was an upbeat version of a hoary classic; smoked cod’s roe with radishes and spelt crackers was simple and effective; and there’s guinea fowl pie with pickled walnuts for those who fancy something gutsily traditional. By contrast, the five-course ‘chef’s choice’ showcases trendier dishes – think ‘Dorset crab, courgette, wild fennel, crème fraîche and cobnut’ or ‘English strawberry, goats’ milk ice cream, elderflower, spring herbs’. Gin’s the thing at the friendly all comers’ bar.
£30 - £49
64 Parkway, NW1 7AH
Grilling is the name of the game here and all the fiery action is on show as chefs skilfully handle the tandoor, sigri and tawa before your eyes. But that’s not to say this is a rough-and-ready sort of place, not a bit of it. Namaasté Kitchen has creamy leather banquettes, designer light fittings, and even a couple of chef’s tables – in other words, it’s a pin-sharp modern Indian restaurant. The menu reaches well beyond the curry-house favourites, with chukandari venison cooked in the tandoor (flavoured with beetroot and fennel), followed by Goan sea bass served with dhokla, or a Dorset crab vindaloo. Spicing is well judged throughout and everything looks rather splendid on the plate. To finish, mango brûlée is a contemporary fusion that wins the day. The wine list has a decent global spread, including options under £20.
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68-70 Golders Green Road, London, NW11 8LN
North London has its fair share of Turkish restaurants, but few can compete with the venerable institution that is Likya in Golders Green – a brilliant, bustling and casual rendezvous dealing in highly acclaimed kebabs. A meal here always starts with a basket of freshly baked bread served with spicy salsa and sour yoghurt dip, before you’re invited to dive into the extensive roll call of ocakbasi classics. Alongside the aforementioned kebabs (lamb, chicken and a veggie option), you’ll find mezze nibbles such as grilled kofte, stuffed vine leaves and falafel, plus aubergine moussaka and the obligatory sticky baklava for dessert. Bottles of wine start at a very purse-friendly £14.50, but everything takes a back seat to the food. Our advice? Book ahead – Likya’s regulars will happily cross town for these meaty skewers.
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£30 - £49
782 Holloway Road, London, N19 3JH
Named after the iconic Fiat Cinquecento, this personally run “Italian local” is old school, tiny and full of character. Despite cramped conditions and limited lunchtime opening hours, it's still in demand thanks to first-rate regional cooking, with deftly made pastas always high on the agenda – perhaps tagliatelle with clams and bottarga (cured mullet roe), strozzapreti with slow-cooked beef ragù or ravioli stuffed with Italian sausage and spinach. Main courses such as baked rabbit in porcini sauce with sautéed potatoes or char-grilled whole sea bream with Belgian endive and green sauce might leave you feeling stuffed, but it’s worth saving room for some tiramisu or the coppa 500 (poached quince and raisins in caramel and cinnamon, served with hazelnut ice cream and chocolate sauce). Old-fashioned service adds to the atmosphere, and the thoughtful wine list is a rewarding trek through Italy's regional vineyards.
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£30 - £49
63-69 Canonbury Road, London, N1 2DG
Part of a wee gang of three covering N1 and EC2 (The Pig & Butcher and The Princess of Shoreditch being the other two), the Smokehouse is a gastropub through and through. It doesn’t open until 5pm Monday to Friday, yet despite the lack of daytime hours it is definitely a pub, with a stonking range of beers by draught and bottle – including a great showing from London. There’s a highly serviceable European-based wine list too. Rustic-chic is the order of the day when it comes to the decor, with plenty of wood and a verdant patio garden. But although you’ll find hearty smoky dishes on the menu to match, the food is actually rather refined, with the kitchen producing foie gras ganache with peaches and granola alongside the Highland cow-burger with Korean pulled pork, or smoked lamb shoulder with polenta. We also found a genuine passion for provenance here.
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£30 - £49
300-302 St Paul's Road, London, N1 2LH
“Always packed to the gills, Trullo hits the mark every time”, declaims a fan of this much-loved Islington spot. Everyone adores its lively (sometimes noisy) atmosphere, eager-to-please staff, calming contemporary interiors and a helpfully annotated regional wine list – not forgetting the “idiosyncratic Italian menu”. The “sublime” handmade pasta (perhaps pappardelle with exquisitely rich beef shin ragù, or ravioli of summer squash and sweet onions) is just the start. Also expect plates of wood pigeon with black figs and cobnut salad, baked skate wing with braised hispi cabbage and brown crab or char-grilled Dorset lamb rump with borlotti beans, datterini tomatoes and anchovy – “perfectly executed” dishes of top-drawer seasonal ingredients. To finish, we’re sold on the decadent chocolate tart and the regional Italian cheeses (Rocchetta Ubriaco) with matching wines. Be warned: this place is addictive.
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Black Axe Mangal
156 Canonbury Road, London, N1 2UP
When you take a hipster who’s spent 10 years working at St John Bread & Wine, a pop-up restaurant, a Copenhagen nightclub and a swish version of Turkish kebabbery, the result is bound to be pretty cool. Lee Tiernan and his wife Kate have created their own selection of ‘kebabs, beers and other tasty junk’. Forget pitta: instead you’ll find imaginative plates such as salty smoked cod roe and crisps, followed by plump mussels with deliciously fatty bacon and zingy chilli. A plate of meaty kids’ offal is a delight, gloriously balanced by a side of hispi cabbage. We greedily followed this with Chinese-spiced Adana of lambs' tongues (a revelation), which arrived with lashings of sauce that we dutifully mopped up with homemade flatbread. Drinks are equally good (including a cocktail list from Ryan ‘Mr Lyan’ Chetiyawardana): a Lagerita does the trick, counterbalancing the spice, but giving an extra Tequila kick.
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