hether you’re either a local or an occasional Archway visitor, you’ll undoubtedly remember how difficult N19’s actual town centre was to use, with its busy roads, and swirling traffic.
But the good news – if you haven’t been for a while – is that the change to the road layout has been completed, resulting in a shiny new pedestrianized space by the tube.
So now you don’t have to cross three roads to get to the parade of shops in the centre. And there’s lots going on, too. Look out for Crudough, a new sourdough pizza bar with prosecco on tap; Ally’s Kitchen, whose garden is a great place to take a laptop on a sunny morning; Resurrection Boutique for vintage clothes, accessories and jewellery and Second Chance charity shop (all sorts of delights for the thrifty).
And Archway Market – which, disclaimer alert, I founded twelve years ago – takes place every Saturday morning, and has now relocated from Holloway Road, with its mix of farmer’s market, books and curiosities. Navigator Square, formerly Archway Close N19
My top tip: Aladdin’s CaveW
hen a cafe is named Aladdin’s, you might expect a genie on the logo, but this one has an actual den full of treasures behind it.
Genghis Koch opened Aladdin’s Cave in 1994 as a furniture and junk shop specialising in clearance and refurbishment with the odd antique. Last year he decided he wanted somewhere cosy for his customers to sit and feel welcome, and so the shop front morphed into a little cafe with gorgeous chairs, fancy lamps and interesting objects everywhere, all of which are for sale.
It continues to function as a furniture shop with desks, lighting and such-like from all eras on sale, but now there’s a wider selection of vintage, collectables and upcycled pieces.
The cafe itself has much to recommend it. Although the menu is limited, with a choice of things ‘on toast’, salads and soup, our lunch was tasty and generous. The goat’s cheese salad was abundant with fresh, dressed leaves and walnuts, the halloumi and chutney ciabatta came with a mountain of crisps, and there was also a pretty display of cakes to choose from, for those with sugary needs.
The coffee is from Algie roasters, triple certified as Fair Trade, Organic and part of the Rainforest Alliance. And in a properly no-nonsense sized cup for £2.50, it’s a bargain. There may be a real-life genie’s lamp out the back, because returning alone a week later, I got my three wishes for the perfect cafe-with-my-laptop experience: ace coffee, well-functioning Wi-Fi and of course the chance to buy a vintage glass elephant. Open daily, 1 Hazelville Road N19