Along with the fact that its nearest tube stations are at least a mile away, the four roads that converge at Crouch End’s relatively famous Clock Tower are home to enough independent shops, cinemas (there are two), butchers, bakers, and fish mongers to give this urban village an air of self-sufficiency. And though it isn’t home to Haringey’s most famous restaurants (see adjacent Green Lanes or Stroud Green Road for that), there’s more than enough here to keep you going. From one of the best baguettes around, to a chicken burger that’ll make your eyes involuntarily roll (in a good way), to a lowkey Japanese grocery store with some of north London’s finest sushi, these are our favourite things to eat and drink around Crouch End.
A CLASSIC CROUCH END COFFEE FIX
We’re not going to claim we’ve run the numbers or anything, but Crouch End might just have the highest density of quality coffee shops in north London. Though it’s this little out-of-the-way spot at the bottom of Crouch Hill that keeps us coming back for more. Whether it’s to pick up a cup of their consistently excellent Allpress coffee and something from their great range of pastries and sandwiches on our way up to the Parkland Walk, or, when indoor service is permitted, to grab a freshly made shakshuka at one of the cosy tables in their brightly decorated glasshouse out back, this is the one.
Or, if the queue’s looking too long, Coffee Circus is right next door, Velasquez & Van Wezel on Park Road take their coffee very seriously, and Kiss the Koala is a good coffee and brunch stop off near Alexandra Park.
FOR ALL YOUR WFH NECESSITIES
This small Japanese grocery store at the bottom of Muswell Hill may be on the limits of Crouch End, but that doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be a destination. There are all the frozen dumplings, sauces, sake, and Hello Panda packets you need to get you through another late night at your makeshift office, and they’ve also got a bustling team of chefs who are lowkey preparing some of the best takeaway sushi in north London. They’ve got the futomaki, uramaki, and hosomaki options you know and love, but it’s really the nigiri and sashimi options you should lead with. The yellowtail, sea bream, sea bass, and fatty tuna is always both faultless and beautifully presented.
Or, cute and casual O’s Thai Café opens at 2/3pm during the week, and Curtis Caribbean is perfect for those days when you’ve worked right through lunch, decided to take your last calls of the day whilst walking around Priory Park, noticed it’s suddenly 5pm, and definitely need a couple of festivals, some oxtail stew, and - since the day’s basically over - a bottle or two of Red Stripe.
SOMETHING FOR A BIG NIGHT IN
Tucked on a quiet corner of Tottenham Lane, close to Konk recording studios, this takeaway kitchen quietly gets on with making some of the tastiest food in this corner of London. Offering a lean menu of chaat, grill, tandoor, and classic curry options, dishes here are priced in a way that you’re always going to end up ordering one or two more things than you were planning. And that’s okay, because everything from the paneer aur subz methi korma, a rich cottage cheese and vegetable dish cooked in cashew and fenugreek sauce, through to their subtly spiced rogani lamb biryani, and moreish kale and onion bhaji taste almost as good out of the fridge the next day as they did moments after delivery.
Or, Bufala di Londra makes a 60-second pizza that’s just the right combination of blackened topping and light, chewy base, Paesan, an offshoot of the handmade pasta spot in Exmouth Market, does a line of both ready-to-eat and cook-at-home dishes, while Fish Palace is our pick of Crouch End’s fish and chip shops.
A RIDICULOUSLY JUICY CHICKEN BURGER
Despite the seafood focus at this friendly wine bar and sharing plates restaurant just near the Clock Tower, it’s their frankly enormous lockdown-era takeaway-only cajun buttermilk chicken burger with som tam and sriracha mayo that haunts our dreams. Other standout menu options include a punchy and perfectly cooked pile of garlic and ginger prawns swimming in a smoky chilli sauce that you will 100% be licking off the plate, and a lobster fennel, dill, yuzu, and lemongrass bisque that we wouldn’t think twice about ordering. There’s also a good choice of oysters (both dressed and, um, naked) as well as a great selection of wine for both drinking in and taking away.
Or, ZapZaa’s crispy chicken wings and pork belly with chilli and basil leaves are go-to orders, while Through The Woods is a small 16-seater that does a £40 set menu and many-part meal kits for those nights when you want to go on and on.
FOR ALL THINGS BREADY
When your commitment to great bread means you’re willing to spend between 15 and 30 minutes queueing in the rain, then Sourdough Sophia is for you. As the name suggests, the specialty here is baked goods, and while their baguettes and loaves are reason enough to make this a destination, you shouldn’t snooze on their (pre-order only) chocolate babka, expensive but fun specials like a pretzel croissant triangle sandwich with smoked salmon, herby shmear and apple, a Ferrero Rocher-inspired cruffin, or a 10/10 sausage roll. If you want to skip the queue, all of their baked goods are available for click and collect, however their excellent Gentleman Barista coffee is not.
Or, Dunn’s bakery is a Crouch End landmark, and their croissant is one of the best we’ve had in London, or, for those with a sweet tooth, La Gelatiera is the place to be. Their fresh, small batch, limited edition gelato flavours like honey, rosemary, and orange zest, and basil and chilli are way better than that mint choc chip lurking at the back of your freezer.