The 17 Best Restaurants Around Hackney guide image


The 17 Best Restaurants Around Hackney

The 17 best restaurants in Hackney, around London Fields, and along Hackney Road.

There are a lot of love/hate feelings around Hackney, but you can’t deny that great new restaurants have continued to open here and old-timers have continued to serve brilliant food. Here’s our guide to the best places to eat around Hackney, from Mare Street, down Hackney Road, and around Victoria Park.

N.B. We have separate guides if you’re looking to eat around Dalston, Stoke Newington, or Clapton. And if you can’t understand why there aren’t any Shoreditch restaurants here, that’s because Shoreditch is also important enough to merit its own guide.



Papi, in the ground floor of a London Fields apartment block, brings big house party energy and creative, European-leaning small plates. The menu is full of fun and nostalgic dishes, like the cheeseburger-inspired tartare with a red plastic bowl of hot fries, but also elegant plates of smoked rabbit kielbasa. This is where to go for disco balls, polaroid photos in the loo, and an extensive wine list. 

A churchyard isn’t a conventional brunch spot, but The Quarter Kitchen isn’t a conventional place. The Mexican kiosk, set among the gardens and gravestones of St John at Hackney church, slings excellent breakfast burritos, plus hearty egg, bacon, and hash brown tacos. The simple seating setup is alfresco and open to the elements. If it’s glorious out—great. Get in line with locals, order from the hatch, and find a table from which to people-watch. But if it’s grim outside, get your foil-wrapped breakfast to go.

Sometimes you’ve just got to give the people what they want. And in the case of Broadway Market’s whippet-walking residents, they want handmade udon. Koya’s location here feels like a no-brainer. That’s because it’s a tiny spot open from 10am on weekends for English breakfast udon and donburi bowls, all the way to 10.30pm with tempura and curry udon bowls, kara-age, and a load more. Given its in-and-out space, this Koya outpost isn’t as comfortable as the others, but nonetheless, it’s a very useful spot in the area.

When your gut tells you that you should go for the onglet with peppercorn sauce and chips, you listen. Just as we’d listened when it told us to come back to Cafe Cecilia for lunch, having had a black pudding breakfast there the same morning. Despite its location, in a slick new build with cool marble white interiors, there’s an unmistakable warmth about Cafe Cecilia. It’s in the fizzing green peppercorn sauce, it’s in the present and always-pleasant staff, and it’s in a menu that leads with Guinness bread and butter.

Dom’s Subs makes killer sandwiches with an Argos catalogue amount of filling. The insides range from mortadella, bresaola, and more cold cuts, to Thai ground chicken, or tenderstem broccoli with confit garlic, and other marinated vegetables. The vehicle is a freshly baked, soft but crisp sub and together, you have a handful of the best kind. There are a couple of seats inside but your best bet is to get a sandwich to take away.

Tomi’s Kitchen is a restaurant on Morning Lane making hearty West African food to eat in or takeaway. It’s an excellent spot for a quick and delicious lunch or dinner, and stopping in here for a plate of stewed beef with jollof rice, beans, and plantain is always a good idea. The suya is decent and there are other staples like efo-riro and ayamase stew too. If you’re going rice-heavy, just make sure you get a ladle of fried tomato and chilli sauce. Together they’re the perfect mix of savoury, salt, spice, and all that other stuff food programmes on Netflix talk about.

Arguably the definitive East End caf, E. Pellicci manages to juggle being both a tourist destination for those seeking a glorious, coronary-inducing fry-up (featuring both bubble and squeak and hash browns) and a stalwart for those who have been coming here for donkeys. Though probably not since it opened in 1900. If you’re looking for a more low-key experience in terms of busyness, come in the week. Although Nevio (owner, son, front of house) and his family always make sure Pellicci’s is a lively place to be.

My Neighbours The Dumplings, alert the press, specialises in dumplings, and they are absolutely what you should be spending 20-odd quid on for dinner if you’re around Victoria Park. Or a bit more if you fancy some sake too. The prawn har gau and pork and prawn siu mai are essentials: plump and packed, like a carry-on suitcase with a month’s worth of clothes inside. 

Bánh Mì Hội-An is a tiny Vietnamese cafe 30 seconds from Hackney Central that makes big, extremely satisfying bánh mì. It’s takeaway only and whichever option you go for, you’ll find that the char siu is sweet, the pork belly chunky, and the bread itself is the perfect equilibrium between soft and chewy, and crisp and flaky. There are other things on the menu too, like noodle salads and phở. Both are perfectly decent, but it’s the bánh mì you should be focused on.

This cafe, bakery, and dinnertime pasta spot is perfectly Hackney-fied. Pophams’ whitewashed space is filled with long sharing tables, beautiful ceramics in neutral tones, flowers in delicate little vases, and flickering candles. Come in the evening for delicious handmade cappellacci, and be back happily munching bacon and maple pastries come the morning.

Every Sunday the world and its dog descends on Columbia Road to have “a pahnd a pot” shouted at them while they shuffle up and down the flower market gripping a three-foot fern like a pillow on a hangover. After this, most people go to the pub, but really they should be going to Brawn. It’s a Mediterranean spot with confident and casual sharing plates. You can just as easily come for a lazy lunch with a friend and polish off a carafe alongside some oysters, ravioli, and the inevitable tiramisu order, as you can do the same with a date or your dad.

Unless you’re the kind of person who pops to the shop in a Ferrari and boils their pasta in a pot full of Voss water, then you probably don’t think of tasting menus as particularly good value. So it’s a welcome surprise to find that Casa Fofó, a casual Hackney tasting menu restaurant that draws inspiration from around the world, offers both good value and a good atmosphere. The eight courses change daily and at £65 for the whole lot, it makes for an excellent date night that’s out of the norm, at a fairly normal price.

London is really good at Italian restaurants and Campania is one of the best around. Its picturesque setting off Columbia Road and old dairy shopfront makes it seem like someone made a Campania filter, and optimised it for cobbles, candlelight, and pasta. The food here is good, particularly the pappardelle and sage butter gnudi, and it pretty much suits any intimate occasion. If you can get a booking.

In our mind Bistrotheque is one of the original ‘trendy’ Hackney restaurants, even though the pedants among us say it’s just across the border in Tower Hamlets. The fact it’s still going strong shows that they know exactly what they’re doing. And more importantly, they’re good at it. This all-white warehouse is equally lovely on a bright day, or for an evening with your better half. Food-wise it’s modern European, whatever that means, so you can get anything from posh fish and chips to steak tartare.

One of the trailblazers of small plates eating with their original Exmouth Market location, Morito has continued doing what they do best on the Hackney Road. It’s one of our favourite places to eat in London: the tapas approach means that you can keep going if you aren’t satisfied, or just have a few bits and bobs. The Spanish and North African-inspired menu changes but it’s hard to go wrong. Roast quail, seafood rice, any croquette and cheese fritters are excellent. Oh, and the roast cauliflower salad. You’ll be happy whatever. Sitting at the counter is perfect for a couple, or bring any friends or family you want to modestly impress.

A daytime butchers and nighttime restaurant, Hill & Szrok is a good little place if you get a hankering for a bit of meat. There’s a very nice atmosphere, thanks to the fact you’re all sharing one big marble island, and there are artfully hung bits of meat here and there. The menu is brief: starters like rillettes, cuts of meat like chops and rumps, and sides like buttered Jersey Royals. It’s a good place for a catch-up with friends, unless they’re vegetarian.

The definition of a gastropub has broadened in the last couple of decades. What was initially defined by lamb shank and creamy mash has grown into something else where you’ve got more chance of getting a celeriac crisp than a salt and vinegar one. The Marksman is part of this pub-not-pub thing, and it makes some seriously delicious food. This is about classic British dishes done well. Enormous pies to share, crispy skin duck breast, brown butter tarts. It’s a restaurant that looks like a pub and we are very into it.

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photo credit: Aleksandra Boruch

The 17 Best Restaurants Around Hackney guide image