North London Food & Culture

12 local reasons to be cheerful

Forget boarded-up shops, rain and Covid with these new openings, relaunches, discounts and more

So last week was a little bit doom and gloom, what with us reporting on the closures rampaging across the area, from Wahaca and Arancini to dozens of outlets along a now-boarded-up Chalk Farm Road.

So, in the spirit of compensation, here’s a dozen positive things to consider for the weekend – and beyond. And whatever happens in the world right now, we’ll always have those brisk, solitary walks on the Heath – if you can escape the crowds, of course.

The Albert by @secretartistnw5

The Albert is open again
A pub that’s not closing down? Yaaay. This backstreet Primrose Hill boozer has been shut for what has seemed like aeons. But the good news is it officially reopens today (Friday). Follow them @albertprimrose for pics of the spearmint exterior, new signage and details of what’s happening this weekend. The garden isn’t ready, however, although there are benches out front. 11 Princess Road NW1

The new Junction Garden
Speaking of pubs, NW5’s Fortess Road stalwart has completely overhauled its outside space into an all-weather Covid-friendly oasis of covered, heated wooden booths, mosaic tiling and colourful furniture. It’s a little like the The Stag on Fleet Road – but more petite. Open daily, 101 Fortess Road NW5


Junction NW5 garden
Covered garden rules. Photo: Junction Tavern

New LGBTQ bar Zodiac has moved to NW5 (for now)
As we reported a couple of weeks ago, new bars barely open these days, let alone new LGBTQ spaces. So the fact that one landed in Tufnell Park is something to be celebrated. Better still, it’s already outgrown its Junction Road venue and has this week moved temporarily to The Dome, directly above the Boston Music Room, before a final permanent home at 178 Junction Road, from December onwards. 2a Dartmouth Park Hill NW5

The new-look Map Studio Cafe
Yep, this long-running Kentish Town cafe has now been back open for a few weeks, but it may not be on everyone’s radar yet. New Covid measures include a repositioned counter by the window, new access upstairs by a front staircase and socially distanced tables. As charming as ever, methinks. And the double espresso? Eye-watering! Open 10am-5pm daily, 46 Grafton Road NW5

Get 10% off Insidestore
This week, NW5’s local independent lifestyle store are offering readers 10% off all purchases from this weekend until Xmas. Read more about their recent move to Fortess Road and some useful top tips on gifts to buy for all budgets in our feature here.

A much better path: Hawley Wharf. Photo: SE

A new stretch of towpath
The shiny canalside towpath between Kentish Town Road and Camden High Street has been open a while, but the chances are you may still not yet have strolled down it. Who knows what will happen with the mostly unoccupied new development in this Covid-age, but in the meantime, the broad new paths and pleasing, if eerily deserted, piazzas and scrubbed-up railway arches are well worth a weekend wander.

Kentish Town Fish House
We mentioned it in passing last week, but it seems to be doing a roaring trade. No lunchtime offers mind, so a small cod and chips, eat-in, is just under a tenner. Which is probably good value these days. Although the Blue Sea in Queen’s Crescent will always be our chippy daddy. Open daily, 315 Kentish Town Road NW5

50% off drinks at Tabac
How did we miss this? After passing on a rainy Tuesday this week we popped in on a whim for the wine bar’s cheeky little mid-afternoon sesh. For two short hours every weekday – 4pm-6pm – the Fortess Road hideaway offers a glass of wine at less than two quid – £1.90 to be precise. Negronis? Two for £9. Hic. Another round? Oh go on then. 16 Fortess Road NW5

Half price negronis? Bonjour, Tabac. Photo: SE

Simply Foods
Harry’s Fine Foods has had a makeover and it’s now called Simply Fine Foods. It’s the same people and same fish, meat, deli and veg products. Read our original interview with owner Harry on why he left Iran to move to England, how Kentish Town has changed over the years – and why he loves food, here.

A hipster vegan cluster
Been down Parkway recently? No, neither had we. So we were pleased to see pioneering vegan pizza joint Purezza has doubled in size, while Pizza Pilgrims have taken over the old Cote and Temple of Seitan has abandoned its canalside spot to join the gang too. Plant-based diners rejoice.

New fish on the block. Photo: SE

The Amnesty Bookshop
Well, it’s just a delight all round, isn’t it? Beautifully laid out, well-priced and all for an extremely valuable cause in this day and age. If that doesn’t make you smile, what will? Open daily, Kentish Town Road NW5

Finally, a massive thank you to Transition Kentish Town
Last weekend the group of locals aiming to make the area a happier, greener and more neighbourly place to live organised their Trail of Wellbeing. Basically this involved planting spring bulbs in community gardens around Kentish Town, from planters on the high street and the Raglan estate to the Platform 1 garden at the station. Don’t miss the two skip gardens too on Leighton Road. Get involved @tkentishtown

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The award-winning print and online title Kentishtowner was founded in 2010 and is part of London Belongs To Me, a citywide network of travel guides for locals. For more info on what we write about and why, see our About section.