I'm getting to know the Stoke Newington area in the borough of Hackney in London, and I better like it. My sister and her family relocated there from San Francisco last year when my brother in law got a new job. She told her husband they would have to stay put for the next ten to 12 years, until the boys went off to college.
So, this is where I’ll be headed at least three or four times a year. If I do the math, that’s 48 visits—see why I better like it? Lucky for me this neighborhood in the northeast part of town has plenty to see and many bars and restaurants to sample. They also call it “up-and-coming,” so there’s little chance I’ll exhaust the possibilities. On my most recent trip I discovered the following gems:
London’s expensive and so are babysitters, so we stay in and cook at home for the majority of the evenings when I am there. I dropped in to London chain Oddbins, right across from the Spence Bakery (below), to pick up our accompanying wine. Two very friendly and not-hard-to-look-at guys helped me pick out a perfect red for my budget. 163 Stoke Newington Church Street, N16 0UL; +44/207-923-7722.
The Blue Legume
The day I arrived my sister took me to the Blue Legume to help me stave off jet lag (or “jet flag,” as my youngest nephew calls it). She’d learned about this popular spot from British friends she’d met in San Francisco, who, when living in London, would trek there from across town for brunch. I dug in to the Shepherd’s pie, plus five side salads. 101 Stoke Newington Church Street, N16 0UD; +44/207-923-1303.
The Spence Bakery
This bright bakery on the corner of Church Street and Woodlea Road is a daily stop for many locals. The goods are baked on-site and disappear quickly. Pain au chocolat for me. 161 Stoke Newington Church Street, N16 0UH; +44/207-249-4927; www.thespence.co.uk.
Stoke Newington is said to have one of Europe’s largest Turkish communities, and there's evidence of this in the number of kebab places on Green Lanes as you approach Newington Green—I didn’t count, but there are easily more than ten. My brother in law got a tip from a local that Beyti is one of the best. It’s affordable, so we did a family night out and feasted on chicken shish cooked over coals, with sides of rice and salad. Crayolas and paper kept the kids entertained. 113 Green Lanes, N16 9DA; +44/207-704-3165.
Stoke Newington Pub Crawl
My brother in law took the kids home after Beyti, freeing my sister up to indoctrinate me with a real pub crawl to three of her favorites: the Shakespeare (57 Allen Road, Stoke Newington, N16 8RY, +44/207-254-4190)—closest to home, friendly, easy-going vibe; the Londesborough (36 Barbauld Road, N16 0SS; +44/871-258-5256)—a gastropub with a modern sleek, dark wood look; and the Prince (59 Kynaston, N16 0EB; +44/871-258-6212)—a gastropub with a mix of old and new décor and a personable barkeep.
Laura Teusink is Travel's + Leisure's associate managing editor