Another annual community jamboree hits town this weekend, so if you couldn’t get enough of the rather excellent Alma Street Fair, why not pop down to Kentish Town/Gospel Oak’s most colourful stretch this Saturday?
And if the prospect of world food, kids’ rides, games and the X-Factor-style Camden Has Talent isn’t enough of a draw, here are a load of reasons why you should still pay this corner of NW5 a visit:
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12 top unmissable tips for a visit to QC
Twice-weekly street market In the last year it’s got so much better. Really. And this weekend’s festie should see the best range of stalls yet: Moroccan olives and oils, Zahra nuts, Larry’s artisan bread (don’t worry, Dylan’s is still around for cheaper loaves), Birdy & Tiger coffee, the fish man and superior streetfood, including South East Asian pho experts Mama Khoo, Taste of Jamaica, Tried & Waffled, Neriman Hog Roast, Mr Sausage, The Falafel Guy and Outside Indian, our favourite budget wrap specialists.
Iconic History We’ve banged on about it forever, but QC – one of the oldest street markets in the capital – is also the unheralded home of so many brands, from Sainsbury’s supermarkets to Patak’s curry. Oh, and Bikram Yoga, who currently run the scary Fierce Grace class.
Frank’s Superstore The most useful grocery store in NW5. Cash-only, with queues most times of day, it’s an Aladdin’s cave of useful stuff, from bags of things (dates, walnuts, apricots) at about a quid, to heaving shelves of spices, posh chocolate (Green & Blacks £1.30) and meats and cheeses. Hungover? Try a thick-sliced cheddar bap from the deli counter, a snip at 70p. 62-66 Queen’s Crescent
Donna’s flowers Still the best-value blooms in the postcode. Big-headed hydrangeas currently a fiver (in Camden Garden Centre a similar offering was £17.50 last week), and huge tubs of flowering butterfly lavender at £6. Sunflowers? Yours for £2.50. And Donna’s so friendly too.
Jack’s fruit ‘n’ veg Don’t be fooled, it’s as posh a range as any “farmer’s market”: in fact, this long-running daily fruit ‘n’ veg set-up is seasonal to a tee, as it should be, with a huge range of bargainous summer fruit, English tomatoes, broad beans and more. Other places to go for a well-priced mango or bowl of avocados are Al-Habiib, Fruit Express, Abdallah (also a halal butcher’s) and Banadir Gate.
Moderna’s Kathy and her husband have owned this dry-cleaner for 30 years. A quality service with attractively old-school interior, and if you peer closely at the wall, don’t miss an Elvis clock to die for. 70 Queen’s Crescent
Efe Ocakbasi We rate their chicken shish kebabs for lunch very highly: pleasingly chargrilled tender breast, fresh salad, a wrap cooked while you wait. And it’s BYO if you want to eat in with a bottle of summat flash. 98 Queen’s Crescent
Simpson’s Cycles This family run affair just onto Malden Road (114) has been around for decades, but late last year reduced their operation to a smaller outlet at the same spot.
Antiques market He kickstarted the antiques market last year at the street’s eastern end, with his highly rummage-able new shop (open all week too). And now vintage guru Matt Townsend launches a new corner emporium on Saturday 2 with soon-to-land coffee concession. Yay.
Blue Sea fish shop We love ’em (who doesn’t?) but have had mixed experiences over the years; best to visit on market day when they are super busy and set up cute alfresco seating with a lunch deal of about a fiver. 143 Queen’s Crescent
76 Queen’s Crescent Architect-designed, this stylish building doubles up as both doctor’s surgery and the New Space Gallery. Another modern new(ish)comer is the library opposite: light and airy, with facilities for mums and kids, as well as free WiFi. Plus they stock back issues of the Kentishtowner.
The Bluebell If the sole remaining market corner boozer, the Robert Peel, doesn’t appeal, a hundred metres north of the market (past the old cinema) is this revamped craft beer pub, where the selection on draft and in bottles, and friendly, unpretentious service is probably the best in the area. Ours is a Bitter & Twisted. 166 Malden Road
Queen’s Crescent Festival takes place this Saturday from 12-6pm. The market runs twice-weekly, on Thursdays and Saturdays between 9-3pm.