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Area Guides East London

Your guide to... Hackney

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Welcome to hipster paradise.

The borough of Hackney spans quite a vast area – including Stamford Hill, Stoke Newington, Clapton, London Fields and Hackney itself. Today we’re focussing on the last part of the list: Hackney Central.

It’s a confusing area, mostly because the overground destinations of Hackney Central and Hackney Downs are basically the same place and same station. But once you’ve navigated your confusing exit from the station, there’s a world of possibilities out there and it’s full of edgy eateries, even edgier beards and cacti, obvs.

Intrigued by these eastern delights? Read on.

How do I get around?

Not yet served by tube transport, Hackney is most easily accessed via the Overground. Jump on at Highbury & Islington or come across from Stratford – there are lots of ways to work the tube network and get onto this stretch of Overground line. Hackney Downs also has National Rail links, so is regularly frequented by speedy trains from Liverpool Street.

Even better news: this part of the Overground was recently graced with the night tube – making boozy nights in E8 an absolute must.

Not a fan of train travel? Hop on one of the many local buses, which will get you to various other exciting parts of London including Shoreditch, Old Street, Clerkenwell or North towards Stoke Newington and Tottenham.

What is there to do?

Attention, fashionista. Pick up amazing vintage garms at Broadway Market, which is also home to seriously exciting street food (hello artisan cheese and gourmet brownies) and lively pubs. Truly the hipster hangout of choice.

The Hackney Empire is a must-visit to see East End pantos and eye-opening contemporary theatre exploring multiculturalism and class issues, amongst others. It’s also a seriously beautiful Grade II listed building and open for tours if you’re architecturally inclined...

For something a bit different, look no further than The Viktor Wynd Museum of Curiosities, Fine Art & Natural History (try saying that fast). Packed with all things weird and wonderful, this is the place to go to explore skulls, taxidermy, old McDonald’s toys and other eccentric treasures.

Where do I eat?

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If #avotoast is your thing, you cannot leave E8 without a visit to Palm Vaults. Okay so you may face a longer than average queue to get in (45 min wait anyone?), but it’s worth it for the Insta-worthy interior, hanging plants and edible flowers that will adorn your chosen brunch dish.

Opposite Palm Vaults is probably the most Hackney venue of all time: Dough Society. Serving solely vegan doughnuts (yep, you read that right) since January 2018, this is the new kid on the hipster block that’s worth a visit to actually taste the food (and not just take snaps of it).

Other must-try snacks include the mouth watering Dim Sum at My Neighbours The Dumplings – where the dumplings are actually hand-rolled every day by dedicated staff. Or if grilled cheesy sandwiches, 90s nostalgia and decent coffee is more your vibe, visit Pacific Social Club. Their website and Instagram give nothing away, but we’re told that they serve the best toasties in London.

And don’t forget to grab a slice (or box) of Yard Sale pizza. Long famed for their soft doughy bases and slow cooked tomato sauce, this is pizza done properly – even the garlic dip and ‘Holy F*** Hot Sauce’ taste fresh.

And the drinks?

In Hackney, it’s all about Oslo - the holy grail of drinking venues. By day, you’ll find nibbles and beers in a Nordic themed interior. By night, expect DJs and debauchery. With events including live music and disco, there’s something for everyone at Oslo, and it’s only a 2 min walk from the Overground too (aka perfect for the drunken stumble back to the night tube).

Or if you’re more into a pub vibe and don’t mind a walk, try The People’s Park Tavern for villagey vibes, top notch pints and possibly the best pub garden EVER – last summer it was even home to a mini golf course. We’re sold.

Proud Hackney-ite? Let us know your favourite hangouts!

Image credit: David Holt, Matt From London, Ewan-M

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