Eat, drink & shop: Upper Street

Upper Street was one of my first local London finds after I moved to the city 4 years ago. It, and the surrounding area of Angel and Islington, was on my bus route from my first flat in Leyton to my first job in Barbican, and when I went through it I would look at all the colourful shops and restaurants and make a mental note of all the places I wanted to visit.


Fast forward four years, and I’m now very familiar with the area. I’ve already written about the Camden Passage and I want to do a little post on Essex Road, running parallel to Upper Street, too.


Upper Street is a pretty long street, and full of things to do, shop and eat throughout its entire length. It connects two tube stations, Angel and Highbury & Islington, and I’d say it takes about 20-25 minutes to walk the whole way – that’s if you don’t stop along the way to visit the many shops, pubs or restaurants you’ll pass on your way. Which can be pretty hard…



My favourite place to eat on Upper Street is a little pub called The Library at the Highbury & Islington end. They have an incredibly lovely atmosphere, really good music on the speakers and very tasty Thai food on their menu. I love it when pubs serve Thai – it’s basically my two favourite things coming together! They have great deals on weeknights too where you can get a starter and a main for about a tenner – definitely worth a visit!


Another place I like, but have sadly only visited once (so far!), is a Mediterranean restaurant called Pera at number 170. They have a really big menu doing anything from breakfasts to little dishes and sharing platters. They also have a really good vegetarian list for all of you other veggies out there! They have an amazing looking vegetarian meze platter including halloumi, falafel and shakshuka amongst other things – perfect if you want to try a bit of everything!


There’s also a lot of restaurants I keep walking past and really want to visit but haven’t had a chance to do so yet. There’s La Farola for Spanish tapas, Isarn for even more Thai food or Chinese Laundry for 1980s inspired Chinese grub.


After all of this food, you’re probably going to be craving dessert, right? My favourite place, unless maybe it’s really bleak and rainy, is the Udderlicious ice cream parlour at number 187. They do so many different yummy options and you even get to vote on what you want to see in their freezer each month. I’ve just voted for Mojito Sorbet – fingers crossed!


If you’re not really feeling the ice cream, there are so many other places you could try too! Belle Époque Patisserie serves cakes and other baked goods, Artisan Gluten Free Bakery fills all your gluten-free needs and Romeo’s is the answer if you’re trying to avoid sugar as everything there is made without it.



Upper Street has a lot of both traditional and more modern pubs to choose from, and my absolute favourite one is the Nags Head at the Angel end of the street. It’s the perfect, no frills pub: it’s always lively but you can usually still find a seat, they play really good music, but not too loud and they sell a variety of drinks for reasonable (well, for London…) prices. It’s a great place to start the night in or just have a catch up with a friend.


Other good options are The Vineyard (they have boardgames!) or the aforementioned The Library which also hosts an array of small blues and jazz gigs every now an then too.


If you’re looking for more of a bar rather than a pub, don’t be worried – there’s lots of choice for you too. Slim Jim’s Liquor Store has got you sorted for, well, liquor and rock’n’roll, Hoxley and Porter for jazz and more or less civilised wine drinking or Lucky Voice for your very own karaoke booth antics. Take your pick!


When it comes to shopping, Upper Street can be a bit on the expensive side, but it does host an impressive array of both established smaller brands as well as independent boutiques. If you’re on a budget (like I often am!), there are also a few charity shops dotted around – and we all know that areas like these are amazing for finding gems for a friction of their original price! So they are definitely worth a visit too.


If you’re looking for clothes, and didn’t find anything from those charity shops, you might want to try Wild Swans at number 152. They are a Scandinavian fashion, homeware and beauty store, and I’m pretty much in love with most of the things that they stock – especially the homeware section! Another similar clothing store would be Brora which stocks luxury cashmere and clothing from Scotland – everything looks so soft!


My personal favourite shop on Upper Street is, however, a gift shop called Gill Wing Gifts. As mentioned in my Exmouth Market post, I love gift shops, and am a sucker for anything a bit colourful and quirky. Gill Wing Gifts have everything from small homeware bits to tiny little toys or novelty sandwich cases – the sky’s the limit!


Other shops you might enjoy are Adventures in Furniture for – you guessed it – furniture, Malin + Goetz for natural cosmetics and After Noah for toys and vintage furniture.


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