London Area Guide: Dalston

Heard of Dalston? Of course you have. It’s the new East London hot spot that’s attracting people from across the capital as a result of its rustic aesthetic and quirky charm. With an ecstatic nightlife, great house shares, fantastic places to eat and drink, great boutique clothes stores and much more, here’s why all the cool kids are donning their snap-backs and heading east to Dalston.



Just like much of Zone 2 London, Dalston, found in the East London borough of Hackney, started its life as one of four small market villages in the Parish of Hackney. Interesting fact: in the Middle Ages, Dalston was home to a leper hospital. How times have changed.

During the industrial revolution, Dalston grew and grew until one day it was simply a part of the multicultural, bustling hodge-podge that we now call London. With immigration from Jamaica, Vietnam, Poland and Turkey, Dalston’s cultural and social make-up is pretty diverse, and this makes it all the more interesting place to find a flat share.

Food and Drink

Glance out of Dalston Junction onto Kingsland Road and you might not think that there’s much to offer in the food and drink department. Wrong. Have a wander up and down Dalston and you’ll see a thousand and one cool little eateries to entice you and your mates off the street.


Everybody likes a good burger, and they don’t come much better than those served up at Advisory. We recommend the beer battered onion rings. Oh, and if you’re away before midday, they do a stunning eggs benedict on a bagel.


With a large Turkish population, it wouldn’t be right to go out for food in Dalston and ignore the plethora of proper kebab restaurants. One of the best is Mangal Ocakbasi – their kebabs sizzle like none other.


For something a little bit more conventional, Floyd’s, in a corner of Shacklewell Lane of Kingsland Road is a gem. With plenty of wholesome authentic, unpretentious food (as well as an extensive cocktail list!), there’s no better place for a cosy first date or family dinner.


A short wander over towards the pleasant Newington Green will find you at the doors of Tina, We Salute You, a cool little white-walled coffee house that has a regular rotation of local artwork. Hip. For those nights where you don’t quite want to go ‘out-out’, but you do want to go ‘out’, Birthdays is right there waiting for you to step inside. With a great selection of beers, ciders, spirits and cocktails, you can’t really go wrong, and when you feel like a boogie, shimmy downstairs to the small venue in the basement and party until your heart’s content.


Once you’ve a had a couple in Birthday’s, you might have changed your mind about that early-to-bed idea you started your night out with. For all the heads out there, stumble merrily down Kingsland Road to Dance Tunnel.


One of London’s best small club venues for left-field house and techno, and rocking an ear-shattering Funktion One soundsystem, this hidden gem is the place to be until 4 in the morning every weekend. Oh, and Forward on Thursday nights are particularly good, too.

If you’ve more of a ‘live music’ sensibility, have a wonder around to corner to Passing Clouds, an independently owned music venue by the people, for the people. Featuring fantastic evenings of cosmic jazz, swing dancing, live poetry readings and African jam nights, spend your money on the door and take a seat in one of the bean bag upstairs to soak in your surroundings before heading downstairs for a raucous night.


Where to live in Dalston

Here’s the deal with Dalston. If you don’t want to be awake until 5am at the weekends, don’t live within a 5-minute walk of Kingsland Road. With punters smoking outside the clubs and bars until early in the morning, you’ll never get to sleep.


However, the area does have a high number of urban cool points following the redevelopment of Dalston Junction and a serious amount of gentrification around the build-up of the 2012 London Olympics, so anything of Kingsland Road or towards Newington Green is worth your time. Of course, if you do want to be right in the middle of things, all the bars have 2 or 3 floors of flats above them, so take your pick.

Famous for…

  • Birthplace of general cool guy Idris Elba (Luther, The Wire).
  • Fassett Square is the inspiration for EastEnders Albert Square.
  • The first bomb of World War I was dropped on Nevil Road in Stoke Newington.


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