Dalston oozes with coolness. There has always been a great deal of nightlife in Dalston, and since the Olympics, Dalston, as well as the rest of Hackney, has become a hub for hipster hideouts. We’ve done a round-up of the best things to do in Dalston.
What to See in Dalston
Dalston Eastern Curve Garden provides a bit of green space in one of London’s most built-up areas. The garden is filled with plants that are wildlife-friendly, including lots of flowers to support butterflies and bees. There are also raised beds for growing herbs and vegetables, which are used in the on-site cafe. Sit and enjoy the flowers and fairy lights with a cup of tea in this little corner of nature. If you want to get involved long-term, you can even apply to be a volunteer gardener starting in the spring.
With over 150 stalls and a range of products, Ridley Road Market is the best place in Dalston to pick up some bargains. The market has been here since the late 1880s and is one of the most vibrant in East London. The culturally rich history of Ridley Road has led to a great mix of available produce at the market. Enjoy the reggae music playing and explore the colourful fabric stalls and exotic fruits and vegetables on offer.
Where to have a coffee in Dalston
Keep walking down Kingsland Road and you’ll soon find you’ve left Dalston and have arrived in Haggerston. It’s worth the trip if you’re after one of the best artisan coffees in East London. Curio Cabal serves locally roasted Square Mile espresso and a wide range of Chash Fine Teas. There’s also a delicious brunch menu which is well worth trying out. On sunny days there’s a garden to sit and enjoy your coffee, or you can sit inside on one of the sleek wooden tables decorated with cactus friends.
OK, so the focus here isn’t coffee: it’s pickling. However, at Little Duck the Picklery there are some intriguing drinks on offer which are crafted from scratch daily. These include seasonal offerings such as drinking vinegars and infused kombuchas. If you’re not feeling quite that adventurous, the coffee (unfermented) is also some of the best in Dalston. Enjoy these drinks alongside breakfast or brunch and take a seat at the kitchen table while you watch the picklers pickle. If you’ve been inspired by the drinking vinegars or pickles, there are workshops to learn the skills yourself.
Where to Eat in Dalston
Arancini Brothers is a small restaurant owned by Big Dave and Little Dave, who serve up incredible homemade risotto balls. They’re not much to look at but these crispy coated balls of risotto are absolutely delicious. Unbelievably, they’re also vegan and gluten-free. These little balls are definitely a big rival to the mighty chicken nugget.
Sometimes you just need a good burger and a beer. Luckily, Dalston’s Beer and Burger is just the place. Their brilliant burgers wash down well with one of the beers on their 12 rotating taps. There are also over 300 bottles and cans to choose from, so you’re sure to find one you’ve never heard of to try. There are also some great offers to be had. On Tuesdays, bring a mate and they’ll get their burger for free; or on the third Wednesday of each month, you can test out 4 amazing beers for a tenner. Perhaps the most unique aspect of Beer and Burger is their running club, which takes place on the first Saturday of each month. You’ll be motivated to keep going on this 10k run because there’s a beer on them at the finish line.
Where to Shop in Dalston
We love Prick! We’re not being rude: this is London’s first cacti and succulent specialist. The boutique is full of prickly friends for you to take home and is one of the most insta-worthy shops in Dalston. Gynele Leon quit her job in fraud analytics to open this shop which sells around 150 types of cacti. There’s even an adoption service where you can pick up a prickle in need of a new home.
Just along the road from Dalston Junction station is an emporium of all sorts, H J Aris. Watch out for the figurine at the front of the shops, he gave me quite a jump! Parasols and suitcases hang from the ceiling and there’s an array of antiques crammed into every nook and cranny. The curiosities to discover in here will keep you busy for at least an hour or so, and if you ask, you might even be able to play the piano. The best part? Plop onto one of the sofas and enjoy a fantastic cup of tea while surrounded by some of the most extraordinary objects in Dalston.
Where to Drink in Dalston
Newcomers Wine Bar is the obvious choice for wine drinkers. They stock over 250 European wines for you to sip on at their stunning bar or to take away with you. Their focus is on artisanal wines from sustainable producers, so no need to feel guilty about having a few glasses… or bottles. What’s available by the glass changes daily, depending on what they feel like pouring and what you feel like drinking, so you’ll get to be a connoisseur in no time. Alternatively, Weino Bib focuses on bag-in-box wine which reduces the carbon footprint of wine by up to 80%. Their suppliers are chosen carefully for their environmentally mindful modes of production. They also have a minimal packaging deli where you can bring your own containers to fill up with all your essentials.
If cocktails are more your speed, step through the phone box door of The Speakeasy on Dalston Lane. The cocktail menu includes all the classics as well as some house specials, one of which is a gin and rosemary concoction that is sure satisfy your senses. As well as cocktails and intriguing decor, there is also a selection of delicious tapas for when you start to feel a bit peckish.
We hope you’ve discovered something new to do in Dalston. Watch out for the KOMPAS team’s top tips for other areas of Hackney. On Thursday, we’ll be coming to you with a guide to Stoke Newington. Meanwhile, check out our post about where to go in Hackney Wick, or read our interview with James about why Haggerston is his favourite place in London.