Haggerston is a hive of great local businesses: pubs, cafes, boutiques, bars. Anything you want, you can probably find a very cool version of it here. In fact there's so much going on that you probably need a little bit of help knowing where to start. So here it is: our very own guide to what to do, eat and drink in Haggerston.
Learn about Japanese whisky at Map Maison
The world of malted drinks is vast and mysterious, so you need an expert guide before you start exploring its amber-hued depths. Head to Map Maison, though, and this foray becomes anything but whisky business: this Haggerston bar has one of the largest collections of Japanese whiskies in London (and great selections of rum and gin besides). And with our slinky little experience, your personal guide will take you on a tour of Japan, explaining why it lends itself to producing such great drinks – apparently its topography shares several characteristics with Scotland – and helping you become an expert yourself as you taste, taste and, erm, taste some more. It's the best way to learn – promise.
Hang out in De Beauvoir Square
If you're looking for a spot to sneak away from the Haggerston hipsters, dip off Kingsland Road and make for De Beauvoir Square, a protected classically laid out garden square that's prime for picnicking. Which brings us to our next point…
Get a picnic from De Beauvoir Deli
The darling deli for locally based gourmands, De Beauvoir Deli has a cornucopia of fine produce, from Dusty Knuckle sourdough croissants to Cobble Lane-cured coppa and salami, Brindisa iberico ham, stichelton blue cheese and anything your hungry, hungry heart could fancy. Pick up some nibbly bits, or go full-blown hamper (make sure you pre-order these treasure troves stuffed with chicken liver paté and Tunworth cheese) – we know what we'd do.
Eat pizza at Sweet Thursday
When it comes to easy eating, pizza wins every time. Particularly when it comes from Sweet Thursday, which churns out frankly Neapolitan-style 'zas. There's the salsiccia (a classic with fennel sausage and broccolini), the capricciosa (mushroom, artichoke, olives), and the salame with, erm, salame. But there are salads and antipasti and pasta, too. Go wild.
Have a beer at London Fields Brewery
(image: London Fields)
If you're after an amble, you can make your way from hipster hangout London Fields towards Haggerston proper, stopping in at several fine drinking establishments as you go. Explore Broadway Market, with its shops and cafés, then call in at London Fields Brewery's taproom for fresh pints and fresher vibes.
Columbia Road Flower Market
(image: Joel Suss)
If you live in London and haven't been to Columbia Road's eponymous flower market, who even are you? Just kidding. Kinda. We promise we don't tell anyone. Thankfully after a brief hiatus dictated by coronavirus, the market is setting up its stalls once more. But things will look very different – on every Saturday for years gone by, the street has thronged with people, more squashed than a tin of sardines. Obviously that doesn't quite work with social distancing, so now there's a limit to the number of people allowed in at a time, and there's more space between stalls. Which might actually be a bit nicer in our opinion, 'cos it was getting seriously tight in there. Go on, support a local business and brighten up your poky London flat at the same time with a lovely little plant.
Get pasta, pastries and picnics from Pophams
That's a very delicious tongue twister if you say it three times as fast as you can. Pophams Bakery shot to Insta fame for its drool-worthy pastries, before branching out into equally drool-worthy pasta. Up next in its series of foods starting with 'p-a-s-t', Pophams will soon be launching pastrami. No, we made that last one up – but they have actually launched incredible picnics that it'd be rude not to eat on London Fields. Think pithiviers, a peanut butter and jelly pudding sandwich (yes, really), potted duck and pickled cucumbers. *They do also serve items that don't begin with 'p', including some seriously good wine.
Get a pie from The Marksman
No day out is complete without a stop at a proper British boozer, and The Marksman was Michelin's Pub of the Year. Oh yeah baby, it's good'un. The food is spectacular – and the pies are an absolute must. Don't go here and not get one. Yes, we will know about it, and no, we won't be friends anymore.
The Viktor Wynd Museum of Curiosities
Curioser and curioser… A trip to The Viktor Wynd Museum is a bit like taking mushrooms. You'll wonder and marvel at items you otherwise thought ordinary: McDonald's Happy Meal toys, occultists paintings, dodo bones, two-headed kittens… Yep, just boring stuff to see here. The museum has reopened, which means all these delights and more are just waiting to be explored. You'll need a whisky after this (in a good way).
You like what you see? Well, we wrote a guide to Paddington, too – and you can read it here.
(main image: Ewan Munro)