Our Angel taxi drivers are the best in London. We know this because from the first day they walk into our offices, we take the time to train and develop them to the highest possible standards – Addison Lee standards.
So, when we decided to put together this handy guide to the best eateries and watering holes N1 had to offer, we knew we could rely on that team of Angel taxi drivers for some sage advice. Whether you’re new to the area or live here full time, our concise guide offers up a really simple way to explore this exciting corner of Islington.
Perched conveniently between King’s Cross and Old Street on the Northern line and playing host to dozens of great bars, restaurants and pubs, Angel is an ideal example of how north west London has really grown and flourished over the past twenty years.
The area boasts central London in one direction, Highbury and the Essex Road in another – even trendy Shoreditch is just a short taxi ride away.
But it’s what’s right here, in Angel that we want to really focus on.
Named after a building, ‘The Angel’, the district was originally known as ‘Sheepcote’. It wasn’t until a pub called the Angel of Ascension became popular in the 1800s that the name began to slowly catch on (the pub sat on the same spot that now houses Angel tube station).
By the time the tube station opened in 1901, the name had become so embedded in the area’s identity it only seemed right the station itself follow suit. Today it’s an area alive with places to go, things to do and stuff to see.
Follow our Angel taxi driver’s guide and you can’t go wrong. Trust us, we’re Addison Lee.
Where to drink
69 Colebrooke Row
Also known as The Bar With No Name’, 69 Colebrooke Row hardly stands out. In fact, just to reach it, you’ll have to amble down the Essex Road and turn off down a seemingly dead end road before finding the entrance on a corner with… you guessed it, no name. But don’t be put off as this outstanding bar is the home of one Tony Conigliaro, or Tony C as he’s affectionately known in the industry. Often referred to as the Heston Blumenthal of the drinks world, Tony uses the bar as the testing ground for his many inventions. Expect both exciting new flavours and faithful classics. This is a truly unique cocktail bar, worth the effort to find it.
69 Colebrooke Row, N1 8AA
Slim Jims Liquor Store
If fancy cocktails aren’t your thing, and you’d rather a cold beer with a bourbon chaser then look no further than Slim Jims. Easily the best bar on Upper St (at the time of writing), this cosy little dive bar is also one of the few places locally that’s open late. The upside of which is that all the local bartenders go here to drink, making for a raucous crowd. Slim Jims is a rock ‘n’ roll bar with all the bells on. They’ve got great music, low red lighting and even a whole set of bras (donated by charitable customers) pinned to their ceiling. If you’re looking for a fun time, this is the place to be.
112 Upper St, N1 1QN
Earl of Essex
One for the real beer enthusiasts. The Earl of Essex has long been the choice of drinkers from the area who are really in the know. Emerging unexpectedly from amidst the Georgian houses that surround it, this place seems like it would belong better on busy Upper Street. Be thankful that it’s not. As it’s plenty popular already. Not only do they have their own on site brewery here. They also boast a range of eleven constantly alternating kegs of ale from all over the country. And for added visual satisfaction, they’ve a great big wooden board for you to choose them from. They’ve also got a tidy little patio out back.
25 Danbury Street, N1 8LE
Where to eat
The Narrow Boat
Don’t panic, the Narrow Boat isn’t actually a boat. It is however the only pub you’ll find this close to Angel station that sits on the waterfront. Hanging invitingly over Regent’s Canal, this place is the ideal spot for a long, lazy lunch (the best kind). The interior feels somewhere between a pub and a Dutch cafe (not that kind), with warm oak floors offset by the large screen windows. The food is exemplary, with typically gastropub sort of stuff on offer but done to a really high standard. You’d be hard pressed to find anywhere in Angel with quite so much character that also offers such delicious dishes. Open for breakfast through dinner and does a cracking Sunday roast.
119 St Peter's St, N1 8PZ
It’s hard to walk past the smart, sophisticated entrance to Fredericks without thinking you’d love to go in. The dark wooden front and tall glass windows give us a glimpse inside at people laughing, quaffing and delicately scoffing their way through course after delicious course. Once inside you quickly become enveloped by the bright and breezy feel of the place and it’s hard not to fall deeply in love with their extensive wine list. Many leave Fredericks replete but a little bit unsteady on their feet. We happen to think that’s usually the sign of an evening well spent. Just so long as you’ve got your taxi home booked and ready to go.
Camden Passage, N1 8EG
There are many good places to get breakfast in London. There are even a few which can claim to be great. Not many though are even close to being on the same level as the Breakfast Club. Now a London wide ‘chain’ (not in the dirty sense of the word), this site on Camden Passage was the team’s first foray away from their Soho HQ. And to call it a success may be something of an understatement. These guys are specialists in what makes a great brekkie. They have a bright and cheery attitude towards both their business and their customers and their food leaps from the healthy to the gluttonous in several big bacon-drizzled strides. Late sleeper? Don’t panic, they also serve lunch and dinner.
31 Islington high St, N1 8EA
What to do
The Screen on The Green
If you’re serious about cinema, and happen to be in the area, you absolutely have to visit the Screen on the Green. So named because it sits opposite Islington Green, this single screen cinema has been dutifully running some of the best films independent and mainstream Hollywood has to offer since 1913. Making it one of the oldest cinemas in Britain. Worried you might struggle to find it? Think again, this place is lit up like the fourth of July every day of the year. Bright neon lighting of the kind you just don’t see in the UK. Even if you don’t go inside, be sure to walk past it for an aesthete’s treat. Check the website to see what’s on.
83 Upper Street, N1 0NP
This one won’t be for everyone but if you happen to be into contemporary dance, then don’t miss out on a trip to Sadler’s Wells. As the self-proclaimed “world’s #1 venue for international dance”, they have shows which embrace everything from flamenco through to street dance. Amazingly, the site on which the theatre stands today (first built on 1683) has always housed some sort of creative stage. And Sadler’s Wells is the sixth such incarnation over the past three hundred and fifty years or so. So it comes with some real heritage and pedigree. Be sure to check their website to see what’s on.
Rosebery Ave, EC1R 4TN
The more astute among you will have noticed that we’ve already featured two places on Camden Passage. But because it’s such a charming little spot and we love nowhere more on a sunny day, we’re going to give it another run. The lovely thing about this little alley, tucked around the back of Angel station, is that it’s never lost its charm. Once a famous place to find antiques, it’s now filled with a diverse range of shops, cafes, pubs and restaurants. Making it a pretty unbeatable place to go if you’re looking for something specific, or even if you’re just looking to kill some time. Come at the weekends to see it in its full glory as they often host markets here.
Islington, N1 8EA