Sandwiched in between Dalston to the north and Hoxton to the south, Haggerston’s borders are open to interpretation. This tiny Hackney neighbourhood is at its best on a Saturday morning when the canal waters sparkle in the sunshine and the smells of breakfast fry-ups and wood-fired pizza fill the air. If you’re unfamiliar with the area, we’ve got you covered: here’s our selection of where to eat, drink and what to do in Haggerston.
What to Do
Start off your day of exploring Haggerston with a walk along Regent’s Canal. Watch the local narrowboat residents having breakfast on their decks, and stop by one of the cafes along the waterside for a cuppa. The canalside is also a lovely place for a bike ride – there are city bike docks at several points along this stretch of the water.
Alongside the canal towards Bethnal Green, you’ll notice the imposing silhouettes of the gasometer frames, a remnant of Haggerston Gasworks, which operated in this area in the late 1800s. The gargantuan frames once stored supplies of natural gas for the area. Although not in Haggerston, it seems fitting to include the pair of gasometers in the area guide, as they are prominent in the skyline here.
Back on Kingsland Road, you’ll find another unusual addition to the skyline: the Suleymaniye Mosque, built in 1999, is an unusual example of modern Ottoman-style architecture. Love it or hate it, this structure is certainly notable for its unique style.
Speaking of unusual sights, Haggerston is famously home to the world’s most infamous Tesco Express. The inconspicuous grocery store by Haggerston overground station attracted the attention of national media outlets when Hackney residents started a blog chronicling the expired bags of spinach, sweets in the veg section and broken freezers. If you’re into that kind of thing, pay a visit to ‘Britain’s worst Tesco’.
Haggerston is a street art hotspot, with murals scattered around Kingsland Road and its side streets. One of the most impressive pieces in this area is the mural on the building of the By the Bridge Cafe. The image by Belgian-Hong Kongese artist, Caratoes, has really brought this stretch of Kingsland Road to life.
Where to Shop
Haggerston is such a small area that there isn’t a huge number of independent shops to feature. Broadway Market, a 10-minute walk away, is a better bet (look out for our guide to Broadway market, coming out later this week). That said, we did find a couple of hidden gems.
First off, The Centre for Better Health, a bakery that doubles as a bike shop (or bikery). This amazing social enterprise promotes healthy lifestyles, while also providing trainee placements to adults recovering from mental illness. Pick up a loaf of bread, a new bike or both!
Opposite Haggerston overground station is a different kind of shop, housed within SHEDlondon. Apart from being a cafe, bar, photography studio and co-working space (as if that wasn’t enough), SHEDlondon is also home to a shop selling a range of photography books, magazines and art prints. It’s worth checking out if you’ve got an eye for design.
If art is what you’re after, definitely pay a visit to The Archivist’s Gallery. This small gallery hosts exhibitions, but also sells a great selection of art prints.
Where to Eat
For weekend brunch, there’s really only one obvious choice in Haggerston: The Barge House. This canalside restaurant specialises in ‘Breakfast in Bread’. Exactly what it sounds like, this is anything from a Full English to mushrooms with vegan cheese – inside a hollowed-out loaf of sourdough.
If the weather isn’t accommodating, there are few places in London cosier than Draughts. Under railway arch 337 sits London’s first board game cafe. Bring some friends, choose from over 900 board games, and spend the afternoon. There’s a selection of drinks, as well as sharing boards to keep the hanger from setting in when that first hotel gets built on Boardwalk…
Want something a little more substantial? Look no further than Berber & Q in the next door arch. This grill house does smokey meats and flavourful veggie dishes, taking inspiration from Middle Eastern Berber cuisine.
Where to Drink
Apart from your usual selection of pubs (honourable mentions to The Talbot and The Duke of Wellington, both lovely gastropubs), there are two watering holes in Haggerston worth mentioning.
The first is MAP Maison. Hidden behind a wall of greenery is a homey cocktail bar with comfortable couches and free-flowing drinks. Worth a special mention is the theatrical ‘Kanji in the Evening’ cocktail, made with Japanese whiskey, pomegranate and smoke.
The second bar is one that you may have a little more difficulty getting into. Opposite the mosque on Kingsland Road, you’d probably pass unsuspectingly by the derelict facade of an out of business pub. The Kings Head, though, is very much alive as a private members club. Members have free rein of the building into the early hours of the morning. That is as long as they adhere to a long list of rules, including a ban on photography. We got the inside scoop from Haggerston resident and member of the club, James, a few months back:
It looks like a total shithole but you go in and it’s beautiful. There’s tonnes and tonnes of taxidermy in there. Apparently, they take dead animals from London Zoo – which die naturally. That’s incredible. There’s a club in the basement, and different rooms… There’s a butterfly room with hundreds of butterflies pinned to the wall.
Did we miss anything out? If you know the best places to eat and go in Haggerston, let us know in the comments below. Plus, don’t forget to check out our KOMPAS Stories interview with a Haggerston local.[mc4wp_form id=”1182″]