The redevelopment of King’s Cross is one of the most impressive re-imaginings of a district that London has ever seen. Known for its colourful history, the area’s regeneration was completed by the opening of Coal Drops Yard in late 2018, a retail and dining hub with an impressive array of exciting restaurants.
The Yard gets its name from its former role as an industrial store in the 19th-century, when eight million tonnes of coal were dropped off here every year. Fast forward a century and the 1980s saw King’s Cross gain a seedier reputation, infamous for its warehouse raves and widespread prostitution.
It’s no surprise, then, that the idea of King’s Cross as a viable destination for shopping and dining was a laughable prospect a few years back. Recently, though, the area has overhauled its image, with shops of global lifestyle brands lining the approach from King’s Cross station itself, and Granary Square and Regent’s Canal peppered with new bars and restaurants. Coal Drops Yard represents the final piece of the puzzle.
The area is home to over 50 carefully curated stores, restaurants and cafés, with some truly exciting names among the line-up. Naturally, we’re particularly enthusiastic about the Coal Drops Yard restaurants which operate on the site, ranging from Mexican taquerias to a stylish Middle Eastern. Read on for a taste of what to expect when you visit.
Coal Drops Yard Restaurants: The low-down on each one
What: A fourth site for the ever-popular Barrafina, this is one of four new openings at Coal Drops Yard from the Hart Brothers Group.
Why you should go: We’ve long been fans of Barrafina’s trademark Spanish tapas, but hate having to queue to get in. This new location boasts an outdoor terrace and a private dining room for 20, so we're happy to report that there's plenty more space to chow down on the likes of suckling pig empanadillas and ham and cheese tortillas.
Casa & Plaza Pastor
What: A sibling to Borough’s El Pastor.
Why you should go: Casa & Plaza Pastor's avocado and passionfruit Margarita's are already a hit (try them at the marble-clad bar) while the restaurant's food menu is just as tempting. Swing by here to enjoy dishes such as tuna tostadas, classic ceviches and of course, tacos filled with the likes of marinated pork shoulder or Baja fish. You can also enjoy your meal out on the partially-covered plaza, if you're in the mood for a spot of al fresco dining.
The Coal Office
What: Designer Tom Dixon has teamed up with Assaf Granit (the brains behind Jerusalem's world-famous Machneyuda) to launch The Coal Office at his new HQ.
Why you should go: This stylish Middle Eastern has received rave reviews, including a coveted SquareMeal Gold Award. Naturally, the interiors impress, while highlights from our visit included ‘ironed chicken’ served on a remarkable layer of black bulgur, carrots and dried yogurt sauce, as well as an intruiging rice pudding served with mango chutney and sour cream ice cream for dessert. Prices are punchy, but the seductively hypnotic vibe is enough to pull diners in.
What: An outdoor grill, where diners cook their own meats and fish on grills built into the table.
Why you should go: Parrillan is one of several outdoor terraces at Coal Drops Yard, but this one differs from the rest in that pretty much the entire concept is outdoors. Parrillan benefits from pleasing views over Regent's Canal and there's definitely a novelty to cooking your own mains, although we enjoyed the small plates the most on our visit – toast and aioli was refreshingly simple, while a generous portion of Iberico ham was as succulent as you'd expect.
What: The final Coal Drops Yard opening from the Hart Brothers is a sleek wine bar.
Why you should go: With an outdoor terrace for sunnier evenings (London's typically unreliable weather pending), The Drop features an all-inclusive wine list which champions the classics alongside bottles from smaller producers. Bar snacks meanwhile see a selection of cold meats and small and large sharing plates – pick between dishes such as lamb rump with courgette, smoked aubergine and pepper relish, or a pistachio and olive cake with cherry compôte for dessert.
What: The debut restaurant from Pip Lacey, former head chef at Angela Hartnett’s Murano in Mayfair.
Why you should go: Hicce (pronounced ee-che) is located above the flagship store of luxury retailer Wolf & Badger, and can be accessed through the shop itself. A menu of wood-fired dishes includes the tempting likes of yakitori chicken skewers and homemade rye bread topped with seasonal cheese and cured meats. The restaurant also boasts a cute outdoor terrace in the summertime, where you can sip on Hicce's selection of cocktails, which includes a Cucumber & Elderflower Spritz.
Vermuteria Café & Bar
What: An all-day dining spot from Wild Honey chef Anthony Demetre.
Why you should go: Vermuteria Café & Bar serves up salads, charcuterie and pastries throughout the day, while visitors in the evening can make the most of the restaurant's small plates menu, which includes crab croquettes with aioli, and burrata topped with caramelised shallots. We're also fans of the extensive drinks list, which specialises in vermouth-based cocktails. Make sure to check out the drinks-related memorabilia that lines the restaurant's walls too.
Morty & Bob's
What: A laid-back joint which specialises in grilled cheese sarnies
Why you should go: Morty & Bob's is a casual spot that's open from breakfast until dinner, serving up its signature grilled cheese sandwiches alongside other light snacks and drinks. The restaurant also serves up brunch on a daily basis, meaning you can debrief with your friends any day of the week over the likes of wild mushrooms on toast topped with a spiced fried egg, a mini bucket of parmesan and truffle fries, and a stomach-warming soup of the day served with bread.
What: Casual café dishing up sourdough sandwiches and affordable wines.
Why you should go: Similarly to Morty & Bob's, Bodega Rita's also knows a thing or two about sandwiches. It serves a range of globally-inspired sarnies alongside a selection of European wines. Pick from the likes of The Tony (salami, prosciutto, pesto, smoked cheddar, pickled chilli) or La Dolce Rita (Gorgonzola dolce, smoky tomato jam, pickled radish), while in the morning you can enjoy breakfast dishes like miso scrambled eggs or porridge with peanut butter and jam.
There’s more to King’s Cross than Coal Drops Yard. Check out where else we like to eat north of Euston Road with our list of the best restaurants in King’s Cross.