So you’ve met up with some mates, or perhaps you’re roaming around London solo, and you’re raring to experience the best that Dalston has to offer. There’s only one problem: you don’t know how to pick where to go. Well, how convenient that you’ve stumbled across this little article that promises to solve that exact problem for you.
What follows is a by no means conclusive guide to Dalston. Instead it is a sampling of some of our favourite places all wrapped up in one handy article.
Red Hand screams cool vibes dive bar from the second you enter the place. Low lighting and banging rock tunes welcome your arrival into one of Dalston’s steadfast mainstays in the London craft beer scene. On offer is a veritable who’s who (or what’s what?) of the craft drinks world, with one of the best draft and bottled beer and cider selections in London. There’s also a carefully curated offering of cocktails made from small batch liquors, and a diverse menu of natural wines. Food comes in the form of the legendary toastie menu, recently revamped by Rebecca Grace Lever of Devil’s Kitchen. Expect gooey toasties on focaccia or baguette or thick slices of sandwich bread, with ingredients such as Coulommiers and strawberry jalapeno sauce, or Brie de Meaux and spring veg ratatouille, served with paired crisp flavours.
And before you leave, you have to try the Tequila Verdita shot – where you chase a shot of El Jimador tequila with a a blend of pineapple, mint, coriander, sorrel, lime, and jalapeno. It’s bright, zingy, just spicy enough, and sure to have even the most tequila-averse suggesting another round.
Find it at 36-38 Stoke Newington Road, N16 7XJ.
This Mexican-Latin American tapas and cocktail bar is definitely worth a visit. With super friendly staff serving super tasty food and drinks, it’s hard to come away not feeling, well, super! Inside is lovely and cosy (while still lively and buzzy), but make sure to make your way through to the adorable garden area, filled with lovely lights and some very funky art.
Find it at 2 Stoke Newington Road, N16 7XN.
This restaurant, bar, and garden, titled Untitled (oh the irony), is modelled on Andy Warhol’s Silver Factory in New York. Covered in tin foil and constantly rotating local artwork, Untitled is regularly frequented by artists and creatives, naturally. A minimalist-influenced, but wildly creative, cocktail menu is on offer alongside select spirits and wine, all complemented by evolving food residencies. Currently cooking up his wares at Untitled is Kirk Haworth, showcasing Plates London’s approach to plant-based food, with a set menu available on the mezzanine and bar snacks at the communal table.
Find it at 538 Kingsland Road, E8 4AH.
A cosy, tropical dive bar in the heart of Ridley Road Market. Enjoy a signature £7 Ginger Mojito or one of their legendary kitsch frozen piña coladas. When you get hungry there’s delicious Taiwanese dumplings on offer from Double Standard Dumplings. We’re talking crispy skirted dumplings with a ginger and spring-onion pork filling, and jet-black mapo-tofu filled offerings. There’s also plenty of sides on offer to round out the experience in the colourful, party atmosphere. The cocktails are cheap but delicious, the vibes are great, and the interior is wonderfully shabby chic. A top night out. 10/10. Would get caught in the rain again.
Find it at 49 Ridley Road, E8 2NP.
Fancy yourself a whiz at puzzles and itching for an immersive experience that puts you and your skills to the test? Think you could save the world from impending nuclear doom and disarm a bomb? Or escape the lair of the infamous Zodiac killer after being kidnapped? Reckon escaping from a maximum-security prison looks easy? You’ll definitely want to check out one, or all, of the escape rooms on offer at the highly-regarded Fox In A Box Escape Rooms. Three years on from opening they’ve won awards and rave reviews, and are one of the highest rated escape room experiences in London. That creepy, futuristic fox mask also feels like the closest we’ll get to another season of Squid Game for now.
Find it at 14 Dalston Lane, London E8, 3AZ.
This community garden runs along the old Eastern Curve railway line that used to link Dalston Junction with the goods yard and the North London line. Now it’s a lovely green space dotted with wooden benches and a pavilion for events such as yoga and live music. Wholesome or what?
Find it at 13 Dalston Lane, E8 3DF.
Under an iconic cinema marquee in Dalston, that doesn’t serve a cinema, and usually doesn’t describe the venues it resides above, you’ve got two of Dalston’s most exciting venues. To the right you can dance, drink, and party at Ruby’s. To the left there’s an authentic Mexican cookery and cocktail bar.
Ruby’s is a once secret, now wildly popular underground drinking den, providing good drinks, live jazz, and impeccable vibes. Housed in what was originally a Chinese takeaway called Ruby House 3, and colloquially known as ‘that place under the cinema sign,’ the 60s style of this wonderfully quirky cocktail bar gives the place tons of character. Packed with antiques and vintage drinks paraphernalia, the place is full of surprises once you’ve made your way down the entry stairs.
Right next door to the entrance of Ruby’s you’ll find one of the most best, and newest, Mexican places in Dalston, Corrochio’s. A late night cocktail bar and Mexican restaurant, it’s truly, to quote Hannah Montana, the best of both worlds. It’s not just about tacos and burritos at Corrochio’s, though It’s about exploring all that Mexican cuisine has to offer. There’s chilaquiles and gorditas on their Saturday brunch menu, and vampiros, taquitos, huaraches, and more on their a la carte menu. Equally impressive is the cocktail menu: a blend of traditional and contemporary Mexican cocktails and serves. They also boast one of the best tequila lists in Dalston, if not London, a Mexican-only beer list, and a showing of other Mexican spirits that reveal the breadth of the country’s non-agave-based output.
Find Ruby’s at 76 Stoke Newington Road, N16 7XB.
Find Corrochio’s also at 76 Stoke Newington Road, N16 7XB. Just pick the right left door!
Currently closed, but re-opening June 2, 2022, Dalston Roof Park All profits made at Dalston’s only rooftop bar and music venue go back into empowering young people and businesses (courtesy of Bootstrap Charity). Open seven days a week, this stunning space is host to disco brunches, cocktail classes, sunrise-yoga, community-focused events and amazing nights out – all overlooking London’s skyscrapers. Off the back of their incredibly successful summer residency from cult Dalston pizza slingers, Gordo’s, they’re sure to be packed full every night for a spirited night in the sky.
Find it at 18 Ashwin Street, London E8 3DL.
10. Rio Cinema
One of the few independent Art Deco cinemas in London, the Rio has been around for many, many years. It mostly shows foreign and indie films, although you might catch a mainstream movie every once in a while. The architecture is beautiful, the auditorium boasts plush red velvet seats and, of course, long red curtains reveal the screen before the movie begins. See what’s on here.
Find it at 107 Kingsland High Street, E8 2PB.
This dim-lit bar-cum-Japanese restaurant is based on Japan’s jazzy coffee shops, and (appropriately) named after the iconic jazz album from Theolonious Monk. Soundtracked by an impressive library of jazz records and hosting various poetry nights, book launches, and film screenings, there’s also live music nights and even the occasional Brilliant Corners house party. For the hungry there are two set menus of amazing Japanese food to choose from. And on offer to drink is the classic-of-Dalston well-curated list of beers, cocktails, spirits (including sake and mezcal) and more.
The team behind Brilliant Corners also recently opened the latest music venue in Dalston, mu, just a few doors down. Expect the same meticulous attention to music curation, food, and drinks, but with more of an emphasis on live performance, and a focus on fireside cooking in the a la carte food menu. Like Brilliant Corners, just with a little more grit and a little less polish.
Find Brilliant Corners at 470 Kingsland Road, E8 4AE.
Find mu at 432-434 Kingsland Road, London E8 4AA.
13. Draughts Board Games Bar
There are over one thousand games to play inside Draught’s flgaship Hackney site. Relocating in 2019 from its former Haggerston home, the grade-II listed space they find themselves in used to house a pie-and-mash shop, and the site is a charming blend of historic architectural features, and unique design. Expect delightful cocktails, delicious food, and fantastic beer on draught to accompany your marathon board-gaming sessions. If you’re a menu planner who picks what they order before they go to a restaurant, you can do the same here with the boardgames – there’s a few to choose from though.
Find it at 41 Kingsland High Street, E8 2JS.
On the one side there’s a brewery taproom, serving up some of the best, and freshest (it’s served right next to where it was brewed) local craft beer in Dalston. On the other side there’s a massive grill cooking up a plant-forward menu of hearty, savoury delights. It’s 40FT Brewery and it’s Acme Fire Cult. While they may exist mere centimetres from each other, they do have different offerings. Those after the incredible plates of food will need to take a seat at Acme Fire Cult for the full menu, but those at 40FT do still get a handful of options to choose from. But really, the pro move? Have a meal at ACME Fire Cult then spend the evening nursing cold pints and your full belly at the 40FT taproom.
Find it at Bootyard, Abbot Street Carpark, E8 3DP.
Supa Ya Ramen is completely inauthentic, but that’s not the aim of the place anyway. The team seeks to stretch the limits and expectations of what ramen can do and be – all without sacrificing taste. They’re intensely creative (Salt beef & pickles ramen anyone? Cheeseburger ramen? Noodle ice cream?) and hyper-collaborative, with a constant stream of guest chefs serving up their understanding of the Supa Ya Ramen ethos. After two years of supper clubs, pop ups, residences, and meal kits, it only made sense that they’d find their permanent home in Dalston.
Find it at 499 Kingsland Road, E8 4AU.
The restless party types amongst you will know that for a night out with maximum enjoyment and minimal walking, you want a spot that transforms as the day goes on. Enter: Dalston Superstore – chilled out by day, and rowdy by night. You’ll find all that and more at Dalston Superstore, which offers brunch by day, and hedonistic clubbing by night. Describing itself as “East London’s notorious big queer pleasure palace,” you know if you’re here, it’s not going to be a quiet one! But it sure is going to be a hell of a lot of fun.
Find it at 117 Kingsland High Street, E8 2PB.
For a performance and events roster that’s sure to have something for even the most discerning and particularly of tastes, look no further than Evolutionary Arts Hackney. A multi-arts space that champions performances, shows, events, and talks from established and up-and-coming talents, the line-up encompasses acts from a huge array of disciplines. The range goes from stand-up comedy performance to folk-rock concerts, from Caribbean Dancehall and Soca music nights to live conversation with cult and mainstream legends, from anarchic Pride raves to live podcast recordings, and beyond.
Check out the events on offer here.
Find it at 11-17 Stoke Newington Road, N16 8BH.
Also published on Medium.