A Local’s Guide To 17 Damn Good Reasons To Make A Trip To Dalston

So you’ve met up with some mates, or perhaps you’re roaming around London solo, and you’re raring to experience the best that Dalston has to offer. There’s only one problem: you don’t know where to start. Well, how convenient that you’ve stumbled across this little article that promises to solve that exact problem for you.

What follows is a by no means conclusive guide to Dalston. Instead it is a sampling of some of our favourite places all wrapped up in one handy article.

Red Hand screams cool vibes dive bar from the second you enter the place. Low lighting and banging rock tunes welcome your arrival into one of Dalston’s steadfast mainstays in the London craft beer scene.

On offer is a veritable who’s who (or what’s what?) of the craft drinks world, with one of the best draft and bottled beer and cider selections in London. There’s also a carefully curated offering of cocktails made from small batch liquors, and a diverse menu of natural wines. Food comes in the form of the legendary toastie menu. Expect gooey toasties on focaccia or baguette or thick slices of sandwich bread, with an incredible selection of gloriously melty cheeses and toppings.

And before you leave, you have to try the Tequila Verdita shot – where you chase a shot of El Jimador tequila with a blend of pineapple, mint, coriander, sorrel, lime, and jalapeno. It’s bright, zingy, just spicy enough, and sure to have even the most tequila-averse suggesting another round.

📍 Find Red Hand at 36-38 Stoke Newington Road, N16 7XJ. 

This Mexican-Latin American tapas and cocktail bar is definitely worth a visit. With super friendly staff serving super tasty food and drinks, it’s hard to come away not feeling, well, super! Inside is lovely and cosy (while still lively and buzzy), but make sure to make your way through to the garden area, filled with lovely lights and some very funky art.

📍 Find Viva! at 2 Stoke Newington Road, N16 7XN. 

This restaurant, bar, and garden, titled Untitled (oh the irony), is modelled on Andy Warhol’s Silver Factory in New York. Covered in tin foil and constantly rotating local artwork, Untitled is regularly frequented by artists and creatives, naturally.

A minimalist-influenced, but wildly creative, cocktail menu is on offer alongside select spirits and wine, all complemented by rotating food residencies. Currently cooking up his wares at Untitled is Kirk Haworth, showcasing Plates London’s approach to plant-based food, with a set menu available on the mezzanine and bar snacks at the communal table.

📍 Find Untitled at 538 Kingsland Road, E8 4AH. 

A cosy, tropical dive bar in the heart of Ridley Road Market. Enjoy a signature £7 Ginger Mojito or one of their legendary kitsch frozen piña coladas. The cocktails are cheap but delicious, the vibes are great, and the interior is wonderfully shabby chic. A top night out. 10/10. Would get caught in the rain again for those piña coladas.

📍 Find Ridley Road Market at 49 Ridley Road, E8 2NP.

Fancy yourself a whiz at puzzles and itching for an immersive experience that puts you and your skills to the test? Think you could save the world from impending nuclear doom or escape the lair of the infamous Zodiac killer? Reckon escaping from a maximum-security prison looks easy? You’ll definitely want to check out one, or all, of the escape rooms on offer at the highly-regarded Fox In A Box Escape Rooms. Three years on from opening they’ve won awards and rave reviews, and are one of the highest rated escape room experiences in London.

That creepy, futuristic fox mask also feels like the closest we’ll get to another season of Squid Game for now.

📍 Find Fox In A Box Escape Rooms at 14 Dalston Lane, London E8, 3AZ.

This community garden runs along the old Eastern Curve railway line that used to link Dalston Junction with the goods yard and the North London line. Now it’s a lovely green space dotted with wooden benches and a pavilion for events such as yoga and live music. Wholesome or what?

📍 Find Dalston Eastern Curve Garden at 13 Dalston Lane, E8 3DF.

Under an iconic cinema marquee in Dalston, that doesn’t serve a cinema, you’ll find two of Dalston’s most exciting venues. To the right you can dance, drink, and party the night away at Corrochio’s Cantina. To the left there’s the attached authentic Mexican cookery and cocktail bar, Corrochio’s.

Having taken over from Ruby’s, but keeping the spirit of the place’s late night parties, Corrochio’s Cantina offers up street food bites and delicious cocktails. Corrochio’s margaritas and agave spirit selection are the stuff of legend at this point – and for good reason. And they’re the perfect complement to a night of revelry and dancing through the night thanks to DJs on the weekends.

an image of various food and drink options from Corrochio's, a fantastic Mexican eatery in Dalston
Credit: @corrochios, via Instagram

Right next door, literally down the stairs and through the entrance opposite to Corrochio’s Cantina, is Corrochio’s. A late night cocktail bar and Mexican restaurant, it’s truly, to quote Hannah Montana, “the best of both worlds”.

It’s not just about tacos at Corrochio’s, though. It’s about exploring all that Mexican cuisine has to offer. There’s chilaquiles, gorditas, vampiros, taquitos, huaraches, and more – as well as drool-worthy seasonal specials. Equally impressive is the cocktail menu: a blend of traditional and contemporary Mexican cocktails and serves. They also boast one of the best tequila lists in Dalston, if not London, a Mexican-only beer list, and a showing of other Mexican spirits that reveal the breadth of the country’s non-agave-based output. It’s a must-go venue in London, let alone Dalston.

📍 Find Ruby’s at 76 Stoke Newington Road, N16 7XB. 

📍 You’ll find Corrochio’s also at 76 Stoke Newington Road, N16 7XB – just pick the right left door!

The definition of a locally-invested business: all profits made at Dalston’s only rooftop bar and music venue go back into empowering young people and businesses (courtesy of Bootstrap Charity). Open seven days a week, this stunning space is host to disco brunches, cocktail classes, sunrise yoga, community-focused events and amazing nights out – all overlooking London’s skyscrapers.

They consider themselves Dalston’s best kept secret, but we’re shouting about them from the rooftops!

📍 Find Dalston Roof Park at 18 Ashwin Street, London E8 3DL. 

10. Rio Cinema

One of the few independent Art Deco cinemas in London, the Rio has been around for many, many years. It mostly shows foreign and indie films, although you might catch a mainstream movie every once in a while. The architecture is beautiful, the auditorium boasts plush red velvet seats and, of course, long red curtains reveal the screen before the movie begins. See what’s on here.

📍 Find Rio Cinema at 107 Kingsland High Street, E8 2PB.

This dim-lit bar-cum-Japanese restaurant is based on Japan’s jazzy coffee shops, and (appropriately) named after the iconic jazz album from Thelonious Monk.

Soundtracked by an impressive library of jazz records and hosting various poetry nights, book launches, and film screenings, there’s also live music nights and even the occasional Brilliant Corners house party.

For the hungry there are two set menus of amazing Japanese food to choose from. And on offer to drink is the classic-of-Dalston well-curated list of beers, cocktails, spirits (including sake and mezcal) and more.

📍 Find Brilliant Corners at 470 Kingsland Road, E8 4AE.

A huge spread of various dishes from mu, including nori fries, beef and caviar, tonkatsu, and more
Credit: Charlie McKay

The team behind Brilliant Corners recently opened their latest venue in Dalston, mu, just a few doors down.

Expect the same meticulous attention to music curation, food, and drinks, but with more of an emphasis on live performance, and a focus on fireside cooking in the a la carte food menu. Like Brilliant Corners, just with a little more grit and a little less polish. Either rock up and grab a seat at the bar to enjoy their perfectly made martinis and selection of skewers, or grab a table to get the full food experience.

📍 Find mu at 432-434 Kingsland Road, London E8 4AA.

There are over a thousand games to play inside Draught’s flagship Hackney site. Relocating in 2019 from its former Haggerston home, the grade-II listed space they find themselves in used to house a pie-and-mash shop, and it’s a charming blend of historic architectural features, and unique design.

Expect delightful cocktails, delicious food, and fantastic beer on draught to accompany your marathon board-gaming sessions. If you’re a menu planner who picks what they order before they go to a restaurant, you can do the same here with the boardgames – there’s a few to choose from though.

📍 Find Draughts Board Games Bar at 41 Kingsland High Street, E8 2JS. 

a number of plates of food from Acme Fire Cult, with a pint of beer from 40FT placed amongst them
Credit: Steve Ryan

On the one side there’s a brewery taproom, serving up some of the best, and freshest (it’s served right next to where it was brewed) local craft beer in Dalston. On the other side there’s a massive grill cooking up a plant-forward menu of hearty, savoury delights. It’s 40FT Brewery and it’s Acme Fire Cult.

While they may exist mere centimetres from each other, they do have different offerings. Those after the incredible plates of food will need to take a seat at Acme Fire Cult for the full menu, but those at 40FT do still get a handful of options to choose from. But really, the pro move? Have a meal at ACME Fire Cult then spend the evening nursing cold pints and a full belly at the 40FT taproom.

📍 Find 40FT  Brewery x ACME Fire Cult at Bootyard, Abbot Street Carpark, E8 3DP.

Supa Ya Ramen is completely inauthentic, but that’s not the aim of the place anyway. The team seeks to stretch the limits and expectations of what ramen can do and be – all without sacrificing taste.

They’re intensely creative (Salt beef & pickles ramen anyone? Cheeseburger ramen? Noodle ice cream?) and hyper-collaborative, with a constant stream of guest chefs serving up their understanding of the Supa Ya Ramen ethos. After two years of supper clubs, pop ups, residences, and meal kits, it only made sense that they’d find their permanent home in Dalston.

📍 Find Supa Ya Ramen at 499 Kingsland Road, E8 4AU.

The restless party types amongst you will know that for a night out with maximum enjoyment and minimal walking, you want a spot that transforms as the day goes on. Enter: Dalston Superstore –  chilled out by day thanks to their brunch offering, and raucous fun by night as the place turns to hedonistic clubbing. Describing itself as “East London’s notorious big queer pleasure palace,” you know if you’re here, it’s not going to be a quiet one! But it sure is going to be a hell of a lot of fun.

Find Dalston Superstore at 117 Kingsland High Street, E8 2PB. 

For a performance and events roster that’s sure to have something for even the most discerning and particularly of tastes, look no further than Evolutionary Arts Hackney.

A multi-arts space that champions performances, shows, events, and talks from established and up-and-coming talents, the line-up encompasses acts from a huge array of disciplines. The range goes from stand-up comedy performance to folk-rock concerts, from Caribbean Dancehall and Soca music nights to live conversation with cult and mainstream legends, from anarchic Pride raves to live podcast recordings, and beyond.

Check out the events on offer here.

📍 Find EartH at 11-17 Stoke Newington Road, N16 8BH.

Also published on Medium.

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