Tucked away in the borough of Islington is north London’s most charming, middle class oasis. Our Highbury taxi driver’s guide is a comprehensive map of the best pubs, brasseries and cafes the area has to offer. What are you waiting for? Let’s get started… It’s hard to mention Highbury without first thinking of Arsenal football Club. Until recently, Highbury Stadium was one of the Premier League’s longest serving grounds (it was torn down and turned into flats in 2006). And in spite of it no longer housing the famous ‘Gunners’, the name is still synonymous with the football team in a way that will probably never change. Football fans shouldn’t panic though, as the team didn’t just pack up and leave. They relocated to the state of the art Emirates stadium just a mile or so up the road in Holloway. More on that later. Although the name has come to suggest a larger area, Highbury proper represents a slender patch of land between Canonbury and Finsbury Park. It includes the area’s largest green space (Highbury Fields), and the sleepy residential strip that is Highbury Barn. Dotted in amongst its many family homes and flats are an abundance of boutique shops, gastropubs and brasserie style restaurants. Addison Lee have been serving the people of London for well over 30 years now. And in that time we’ve learnt that our customers count on our expertise as much as our affordable reliability. That’s why, unlike some Highbury taxi firms, we’ll never charge you extra just because we’re busy. Follow our Highbury taxi driver’s guide to N1 and we guarantee we can not only get you where you need go on time, but you’ll absolutely love it when you get there.
Where to drink
Slip away from the melee of cars and buses outside Highbury & Islington station and you’ll find yourself at the lively urban oddity the Alwyne Castle. Increasingly regarded as more of a gastropub than just a bar, this great little establishment sticks out like a sore thumb if you’re willing to reject the better trodden path along Upper Street. There’s a large – if a little expensive – beer and wine menu that allows for a wide range of drinks. Outside there’s a deceptively large garden terrace that’s a favourite spot to while away an afternoon. Especially if you’re looking to avoid the crowds of lively Islington. The food is worth a mention as well. In particular their Sunday roast.
Brewhouse & Kitchen
This might be a bit of a contentious choice as it is very popular with the football crowd on match days, but don’t let that put you off. The clientele is usually really friendly and the security staff are always quick to extinguish any burgeoning problems. The Brewhouse not only make and sell their own beer on site. They also knock out a complete range of other beers you’ve almost certainly never heard of. Inside it’s all oak panelling, comfy sofas and poser chairs. Which encourages a lively and friendly atmosphere. The food is staple pub grub stuff, with burgers and pizzas high on the list.
2A Corsica St, N5 1JJ
Travel a little deeper into Highbury, further towards the Essex Road and you’ll stumble across the lovely Marquess Tavern. Part gastropub, part pub proper, part cocktail bar, this is one of those places that may not know exactly what it is, but it somehow does all three with genuine aplomb. The food menu is expansive. In that it goes way beyond what most gastropubs aim for. Nevertheless whatever it seems to aim at, it also seems to succeed at. Thankfully the pub itself remains its rustic old self, with an interior that warms the soul. Come summertime there’s a great little terrace to enjoy the sunshine on too.
32 Canonbury St, N1 2TB
Where to eat
The Pig & Butcher
We’re going to stick our necks out here – The Pig & Butcher serves not only our favourite Sunday roast in Highbury, it serves our favourite in London. Never for a moment shirking the responsibility of such a descriptive name, this little gastropub on Liverpool Road is all about the meat. Their menu changes daily and includes pork, beef and chicken from their on-site butcher. As you’d imagine here’s a big emphasis on fresh and local produce and interestingly it’s a mantra that extends to their drinks menu too. Using wine from small, family vineyards and craft ales from local breweries. If you do want to drop by for their Sunday roast, book ahead. Way, way ahead as the secret is well and truly out.
80 Liverpool Rd, N1 0QD
Fancy it ain’t but if you like Vietnamese food, there’s a strong case for this being one for the best places to go in London. Au Lac is a family run restaurant who specialise in using fresh ingredients (they even make their own soy) to create the kinds of dishes that stay with you for a long time. They specialise in the kinds of things London is beginning to take for granted (eg. Pho) but their menu isn’t just limited to dishes acclimated to western palates. Be adventurous and you will be rewarded. The restaurant looks a bit like a cafe but so do many of the best oriental restaurants in London. They also do takeaway if you’re in a hurry.
82 Highbury Park, N5 2XE
Not so much a restaurant as it is a bohemian cafe, Maison D’etre makes it onto the list on the merit of its excellent produce (also, to some extent for its outstanding name). Hugely popular with the young local set, this modestly sized cafe is exactly what Highbury Corner has been missing. Not only do they have the best cup of coffee in Highbury, they’re also well positioned to lay claim to its most delicious brunch too. All of the cakes and sandwiches are baked and prepared by the owners and they are exquisite. Usually quite busy but worth pushing your way in regardless.
154 Canonbury Rd, N1 2UP
What to do
One thing you’ll see a lot of in Highbury is Arsenal fans. Instantly recognisable by their red and white football shirts, these loyal fans flock in their thousands (60,000 including away fans) to the Emirates Stadium every match day. The stadium, which opened in 2006 is absolutely state of the art. And while it may lack some of the atmosphere of Highbury, it’s still an incredibly impressive – and comfortable – place to watch a football match. Unfortunately it’s also the most expensive football ground in England. But for the quality of football on offer, we think it’s worth it.
Hornsey Rd, N7 7AJ
The lovely thing about Highbury Fields is the way they delicately balance their proximity to Highbury & Islington tube station with their tranquil sense of isolation. All you have to do is step twenty feet away from busy Highbury Corner and suddenly you’re in a quiet green meadow, with ample room to stretch your legs or even have a lie down. Reaching across to Highbury Barn, the park features football pitches as well as basketball and tennis courts. It’s also set in the beautiful surroundings of Highbury’s old Georgian houses. You’ll never feel more sublimely middle class.
From football and parks to one of London’s most famous gig venues. Like a surprisingly large number working churches in the capital, Union Chapel opened its doors to staging music gigs and events some years ago and never looked back. A grade I listed Gothic building, the chapel has played host to some of music’s most exciting and interesting acts in the last decade (Nick Cave, Jake Bugg and Beck have all played here in the past couple of years). If there’s one thing everyone who attends a gig here says – it’s like nowhere else in the world. Check their website now, to see what’s coming up.
Union Chapel, Compton Terrace, N1 2UN