Best Daytime Food 2011

1= Kentish Canteen 1= Mario’s Cafe 3. Map Studio Cafe Our corner of North London, if you look carefully, is …

1= Kentish Canteen
1= Mario’s Cafe
3. Map Studio Cafe

Our corner of North London, if you look carefully, is spoilt by the sheer range of food options, from Ethiopian to Pakistani, Sicilian to Japanese. And so votes in this category covered a huge range of places, with high street stalwarts Phoenicia Food Hall and Harry’s Deli picking up a good few (the latter long overdue a feature for its excellent fish counter and butcher, not to mention their signature ‘ready to eat’ roast quail).

Other faves included Parliament Hill’s excellent Saturday Farmer’s Market, The Vine, Satuma, Mamma Mia, Tolli and The Junction (the top choice for Sunday roast). There was even a vote for Pedro’s Cafe (maybe you can illuminate us?) although none, sadly, for the rejigged Renoir or poshed-up boozer The Lion & Unicorn.


And there are 3 clear winners. In third place is the lovely Map Studio Cafe: yes, it can feel like a rickety throwback to another era, and service can be a little amateurish (and our feeling is that the coffee should really up its game) but the vibe is bohemian, there’s jazz on the turntable, and the tasty, unpretentious food is great value (and very popular with the Crimea’s influx of French families). Great breakfasts, healthy salads, melty-soft lasagne, moist carrot cake. Our suggestion? A candlelit evening service with BYO wine.

In joint first place are two very different eateries. The first is the evergreen Mario’s Cafe – a surprisingly popular choice in our minds, but perhaps a revisit to this neighbourhood Italian caff is overdue (its miniscule interior is always packed whenever we go past). Can anyone recommend a favourite dish there?

And in joint first too is the Kentish Canteen, which after only a year in operation, already feels like an NW5 institution, with its mouthwatering eggs florentine (above), seasonal salad plates, artisan breads, and brownies. Best offer of all is the £10 daytime deal (main course + glass of wine before 7pm). But be warned: it’s not one to take for granted – we passed recently on a weekday evening and it looked rather quiet. So go support it for dinner as well as daytime.

Naturally there’ll be places we’ve missed. So do us all a favour, people, and add your recommendation below…

Words: Stephen Emms

Tomorrow: Best Boozer.


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  • Alexa

    Aw my 3 favourite places too, love a little MAP cafe of an afternoon. Mario’s is a KT classic – always go for poached eggs on toast and Kentish Canteen a newbie that does the most amazing ‘Butcher’s Steak’…yum! Another favourite (although not quite KT, more Tufnell Park I guess) is the Literary Cafe on Fortess Road, gorgeous.

  • Alexa

    PS Just seen you have a ‘songs about Kentish Town’ tag….Mario’s Cafe was featured in a song by St Etienne years ago!

  • Ian

    Pedro’s is quite nice, it’s on Kentish Town Road after Pizza Express and those two 24 hour mini markets (aren’t we spoilt?). It’s the better of the greasy spoons, I prefer it to Kentish Town Cafe or Troy’s. I often have the poached eggs, always beautifully done.

    I tried the the eggs benedict at Renoir last weekend – the Hollandaise was way off – couldn’t match Kentish Canteen.

    It doesn’t need any more praise but Arancini Bros. is obviously good for daytime food – it’s opening hours don’t allow for anything else.

  • Kentishtowner

    Thanks Ian. Renoir just hasn’t really got it, eh? It’s a nice in theory…yes Arancini need no more publicity although they’re now one of the best options.

    Alexa – click on the Mario’s Cafe link to read our original feature which includes the video for the song made famous by St Etienne (in 1993 no less!) We love the butcher’s steak at Canteen too!

  • GNew

    Why haven’t we got an artisan bakers in Kentish? Help – please – we need one – especially now we have so many French!

  • Kentishtowner

    I know. Alot of readers ask this question. If we had the cash we’d open a Kentishtowner bakery dammit.

  • fiona

    Excellent top three! anything in Marios is perfect, they do something that even makes even a piece of toast special (maybe it’s heightened sensory awareness due to lack of oxygen due to lots of people in a very small space). Anyway, it’s the best place in KT.
    Please can someone describe the wizardy man on the high st (from top ten random things) to me so I can stop wondering about him?