Affectionately known by residents as ‘Stokey’, Stoke Newington is one of the finest examples of a rough-around-the-edges but quickly gentrifying, delightfully hipster East London neighbourhood. The action here pretty much revolves around two main roads: Stoke Newington High Street, and Church Street. Walking along one of these bustling roads, you’re sure to stumble upon some of Hackney’s best restaurants, cafes, bars and shops. Whether you’re after a day of relaxed vintage shopping or a wild night out on a budget, there’s something for everyone in Stoke Newington.
What to See
First things first, you’ll need to work up an appetite for all the food you’ll be trying later on. A walk in Abney Park Cemetery is just the ticket. A romantic walk through the cemetery may seem like a strange idea, but put your preconceptions aside for your visit to one of London’s Magnificent Seven. Abney Park Cemetery is more of a wilderness park full of beautiful old memorials, dog walkers, and the occasional squirrel on a tombstone.
If cemeteries aren’t really your thing, the nearby Clissold Park is a more lively affair. Watch young people performing tricks in the skatepark, take the kids to the playground, or take a stroll around the grounds of the Grade II-listed Clissold House.
On the Eastern edge of the park, you’ll find St Mary’s Old Church. The only surviving Elizabethan Church in London, this building has now been converted into an arts and community centre. Stop in for a daytime gig (featuring tea) or a workshop on decluttering the mind. Meanwhile, the church itself has moved just across the street to St Mary’s New Church, a stunning 13th-century building designed by Sir George Gilbert Scott.
For art fans, Stoke Newington is one of the few remaining places in London where you can still see an original Banksy piece. Although the legendary artist’s satirical portrait of the Royal Family was partially painted over by the council in 2009, it was salvaged just in time and the main part of the mural is still visible.
Where to Shop
Stoke Newington is one of the best places in London to go shopping. With an abundance of local, independent shops scattered along Church Street, there’s something to suit everyone. Valentine’s Day has come and gone, but that’s no reason not treat a loved one or even yourself to a beautiful bouquet. Stoke Newington is chock-full of gorgeous florists. Our favourites are Botanique and the Green Room Cafe.
If your sweetheart would prefer a bouquet of chocolate lollipops to red roses, head to Slab and Tipple. This shop sells all manner of chocolates and sweet treats to make the heart melt and the teeth rot. While you’re there, treat yourself to a homemade hot chocolate topped with mini-marshmallows from the shop.
Enough with the gifts. How about something for yourself? Stop in at HUB to give your wardrobe a refresh. HUB stocks labels such as YMC, Dr Martens, as well as their in-house brand, Allsea.
Stoke Newington has some amazing places to shop for all things vintage – from Mint Vintage for some vintage threads to the old secondhand bookshop on Church Street, there are some great finds to be had. But one of the best-hidden gems of vintage shopping in Stokey is Retro Hub N16 on Marton Road. Stocking a range of vintage and reclaimed furniture, as well as curiosities from around the world, there are some bargains to be found here.
If you’re enjoying the vintage shopping, drop in at Pictures & Light next. Although also specialising in vintage pieces, this shop couldn’t be more different to Retro Hub N16. You won’t need to do much digging here: the three owners have curated a beautiful collection of vintage bric-a-brac, as well as a complimentary selection of contemporary pieces to choose from.
Where to Have Coffee
No self-respecting Londoner steps foot into an unknown neighbourhood without knowing where they’ll be getting their flat white fix. Despite being quite the hipster haven, there isn’t actually a particularly broad selection of artisanal coffee in Stoke Newington. Your best bets are Sapid Coffee or Esters. Sapid is a cosy spot on Church Street, with ambient lighting and, in true London coffeeshop form, a bike on the wall. Esters, meanwhile, is tucked away from the main road amidst residential houses. They do a mean brunch and a great cup of coffee.
The Good Egg also deserves a mention; though not technically a coffee shop, this breakfast specialist will make you a pretty great cup of coffee to go. Or why not sit down and enjoy it alongside a skillet of shakshuka? People come from far and wide to sample The Good Egg’s Jewish-inspired breakfast dishes.
Where to Eat
Now that you’ve worked up an appetite, where’s the best place to eat in Stoke Newington, you ask? The good news is you’ve got options. The bad news is you may find you have too many. Let me help narrow it down for you. For a perfect burger, Stokey Bears is your best bet. Pair a cheeseburger with a pint of cold ale and you’ve got a winning combination.
If your go-to comfort food is fish rather than meat, Sutton & Sons is known across the city as serving some of the best fish and chips in London. Prefer to do your own cooking? Just across the street from the white-tiled chip shop are the fishmongers of the same name.
One of Stoke Newington’s odder restaurants is Aziziye. Walking up to it, you’ll be struck by the grand towers and elaborate coloured tiles. The building was originally built as a cinema that showed martial arts films and softcore porn. In 1983, it was converted into a mosque by the UK Turkish Islamic Association. At the front of the mosque, you’ll find a traditional Turkish restaurant serving delicious kebabs, as well as a Halal butcher shop. There’s another option for Turkish food in Stokey, but be warned: it’s not for the faint of heart. The signature dish at Testi is lamb testicles, marinated and grilled. Plus, they’re open until 1 AM too, so feel free to gather some mates and some liquid courage before taking the leap.
What to Drink
Speaking of liquid courage, Stoke Newington is home to some of the best bars in Hackney. If it’s beer you’re after, try a pint of Krusovice, a Czech Pilsner that’s a rarity in London, at the Yucatan. Why does a Stokey pub serving Czech beer have a Mexican name? We’re not quite sure. Speaking of pubs though, ones not to be missed include the Jolly Butchers and the Three Crowns.
On a warm day, there’s no better place for a drink than Ryan’s N16. This family-owned bar has been around for nearly 25 years. Its star feature is the beer garden at the back of the building – the perfect place to enjoy an ale from their wide selection. On a Sunday, pair your beer with a one of a selection of roast meats.
We hear you: you want cocktails. A door down from Stokey Bears you’ll find Original Sin, a basement cocktail bar with low lighting, ambient music and creative drinks. This is where you’ll want to go if you’re on a date. At £8.50 per cocktail, this is where Stokey’s location deep in East London pays off.
Needless to say, this list has only skimmed the surface of what Stoke Newington has to offer. It should, however, get you off to a good start when planning a day out in Stokey, where you’re sure to discover plenty more gems. Think we missed something important out? Let us know in the comments. And while you’re in the area, why not drop by Dalston? We’ve got you covered there too.