So far in our area guides to Hackney’s neighbourhoods, we’ve covered the somewhat gritty areas like Dalston and Haggerston. What you may not realise is that everyone’s favourite Shoreditch is actually part of the borough of Hackney. This week, we paid a visit to Hoxton. It may not yet have achieved the hipster renown of big sister Shoreditch, but it’s well on its way. Compared to some of the areas we’ve covered previously, Hoxton is pretty big. It’s also chock-full of cool restaurants, cafes, shops and more. Inevitably, we’ll only scratch the surface with this article. Nonetheless, here are a few of our favourite things to do in Hoxton.
What to See
Hoxton has captured the attention of some high profile artists. There are three artists in particular that have worked in this area:
Hackney-based street artist, Stik, has left his unmistakable mark on the bricks below Hoxton Station. The mural is partially obstructed by construction work at the moment, but the top half of the stick man is still visible. Another Stik figure can be found on the front of an unassuming building on Rivington Street, opposite Cargo.
Speaking of Cargo, this may be the only bar in London where you can drink with a view of a Banksy (although don’t quote us on that). Banksy’s Designated Graffiti Area is one of only a handful of the artist’s London works that is still intact. The bar intends to keep it that way, which is why the stencil is covered by a two-inch thick sheet of plexiglass.
Rivington Street seems to be a popular place among street artists: French artist Thierry Noir has also made his mark here. There are several of his signature profiles scattered on this street.
While we’re on the topic of street art, we came across some unusual markings on both sides of Kingsland Road by a Hoxton railway bridge. Despite some frantic searching, we’re stumped as to what it is. If you know anything about it, please let us know in the comments.
If the weather is good, grab a picnic and find yourself a spot on one of Hoxton’s park squares. Hoxton Garden is a community garden with plenty of shady spots to sit. If you’ve got a green thumb, get in on the action and help grow flowers, vegetables and other plants.
Where to Shop
Created by four sisters as a tribute to their nan, AIDA is a gorgeous store stocking a fantastic edit of independent brands. Stocking menswear, womenswear and homeware, you can easily spend a long time browsing this shop. Plus, there’s an artisan coffee bar to boot!
Just next door to AIDA is the House of Hackney, and this may just top the list of the prettiest shops in London. The shop is the brainchild of a husband-and-wife team who created the line to fill their need for creative prints. You’ll find all manner of printed wallpaper, stationery, clothes and furnishings in the shop.
One of London’s quirkier shops, Hoxton Street Monster Supplies is the city’s premier supplier of ‘quality goods for monsters of every kind’. Sink your teeth into a petrified mouse or stock up on children’s tinned fears. All profits from the shop go to the Ministry of Stories, a volunteer organisation that teaches creative writing to children.
Another great shop with a good cause is Alive and Kicking, a tiny shopfront full of colourfully decorated leather footballs. The balls are manufactured in Ghana, Kenya and Zambia, where the social enterprise has created over 1000 ethical jobs. Alive and Kicking works with health educators to teach young people across Africa about HIV/AIDS and malaria.
Budding artists will love GreatArt, an 800 square metre art supply superstore along Kingsland Road. The shop stocks thousands of products and canvas sold by the metre.
Where to Have Coffee
No.one is a cosy coffee shop and bar set in what used to be station office for Shoreditch station, originally housed inside this building. With great drinks and an in-house bakery, it’s the perfect place to catch up with friends or get down to work.
Created by the same collective, Dream Bags Jaguar Shoes brews equally good coffee just up the street from No.one. The unusual name comes from the storefront, still bearing the signs of the wholesalers that occupied the building in the 1980s. Inside though, you’ll find a creatively decorated cafe, serving artisan coffee and stonebaked pizza by the metre.
Admittedly, we may be spilling out a little into Shoreditch with this one, but Black Opium may just be one of the best coffee shops in this area, so we’re running with it. With gorgeous coffee brews and a secret 15-table jazz bar downstairs, this shop is worth seeking out, day or night.
Where to Eat
The stretch of Kingsland Road that runs through Hoxton is a mecca for Vietnamese food in London. It has even gained the nickname of ‘the pho mile’. Song Que Cafe is the key player here, with some saying that it serves the best pho outside Vietnam. It’s not exactly a date spot, with paper tablecloths and lime green walls, so if you’re looking for something a bit more trendy, try BunBunBun next door, or Viet Grill a couple blocks down the road.
If you’re feeling particularly adventurous, head to Hoxton Street for some pie & mash with a side of jellied eels. F Cooke is one of London’s oldest pie and mash shops and is currently run by the 4th generation of the Cooke family. You wouldn’t call it instagrammable food, but then again this shop predates Instagram by 148 years.
Another meal that’s not for the faint of heart is the Hot Wings Challenge at Red Dog Saloon. This fiery basket of wings has a finishing rate of only 5%. If you make it, get ready to have your picture on the Wall of Fame.
If it’s a special occasion you’re celebrating, splash for a meal at the Clove Club. Set in the old Shoreditch Town Hall, this high-end restaurant serves modern British tasting menus and is listed at number 26 on the list of the World’s 50 Best Restaurants.
Where to Drink
The perfect place to watch day transition into night, Translate Cafe Bar is a relaxed venue with high ceilings and leather couches to sink into. The well-priced drinks and music policy of ‘greatest tunes of the last 6o years’ make this a great place to chill. It’s especially popular with young people and travellers staying at the attached Dictionary Hostel.
Another venue scoring major points for cosy atmosphere is Hoxton Cabin. The bar hosts music events, open mic nights and exhibitions in an atmosphere as welcoming as your own living room.
We mentioned it earlier, but Cargo is one of Shoreditch’s hottest places to go out. With a street-art adorned tiki bar and multi-room club, this vibrant club keeps the party going from 5 pm all the way until 3 am.
Did we miss your favourite shop, bar or restaurant in Hoxton? Let us know in the comments. Plus we think you’d love our weekly emails showcasing the best events and places to go to in London. Sign up below!