London is a culinary capital and food tours here are becoming more and more popular. But at Free Tours By Foot we think paying upwards of £50.00 for a food tour isn’t necessarily affordable and value for money. So we’ve put together a self-guided food tour that is absolutely FREE to take – aside from the tasty treats you’ll need to purchase yourself!
Our food tour takes place in the London Borough of Islington. Within walking distance (or one tube stop) of King’s Cross, Islington is a trendy locale, with a wide variety of inhabitants – and food! Originally farm land, and later a Victorian playground with music halls and pubs, today Islington is home to people from all walks of life, and from all over the world, which makes it the ideal place to have a gastronomic tour!
[Note: This Islington food tour can be run morning and evening, but we think day time is better. Also, the market is closed on Mondays, and the first stop closed on Sundays, so do your best to go on Tuesday – Saturday if possible!
We’d also recommend doing this with at least one other person so that you don’t get too full as you go!]
Start: Angel Underground Station
Finish: The Winchester Pub
Once you EXIT ANGEL UNDERGROUND STATION, walk straight forward out of the station. On your LEFT there will be traffic lights. CROSS HERE. You will then be at the corner of LIVERPOOL ROAD and UPPER STREET. Continue AHEAD onto LIVERPOOL ROAD. On your right will be a GAP SHOP and on your left, a tiny store called ZEEBEEDEE. The road on your LEFT is CHAPEL MARKET. So cross into the Market – feel free to have a browse at the fruit and vegetable stalls, or the jewellery and clothing stands – and walk STRAIGHT THROUGH the Market until you reach a small, unassuming shop on your left: L. MENZES
Stop 1 – M. Manze – Traditional Pie & Mash or Jellied Eels [74 Chapel Market]
Manze was established in 1902 and has been serving up traditional English favourites ever since. This is one of the best places in London to experience Pie & Mash, liquor and eels! All pies are baked fresh on the day using only prime cuts of meats. The mash is also home-made as is the liquor (a kind of gravy). Jellied eels are a true historical London food – although sometimes you need a bit of bravery to try them! The eels are brought in fresh, cooked, and then allowed to set in their own juices, giving the ‘jellied’ texture.
The shop here is a time capsule, and décor is simple and historical. Also, the food is easily affordable so we’d recommend tucking into a pie with a serving of mash…and go ahead and get the jellied eels, if you dare! http://www.manze.co.uk/
IF YOU ARE DOING THIS TOUR ON A WEEKDAY BETWEEN 12:00 AND 2:00 - Leave M. Manze and get back into the Market. Turn LEFT. At the END of the Market will be a stall called SMOKIN’ ACES.
Stop 2 - Smokin’ Aces – Macaroni and Cheese with BBQ
Smokin’ Aces is a lunchtime favourite for locals in the Chapel Market area. They do American-style BBQ better than anybody else in London, and it’s likely you’ll have to queue to get to the counter and order! We recommend their stellar macaroni and cheese – an easy pleaser for everybody. But, of course, their signature BBQ is worth a try, so consider paying a very affordable £6.00 for their BBQ Box which gets you a BBQ sandwich, side of mac and cheese, cole slaw, pickles, and salad! One of the best deals in town. http://www.yelp.com/biz/smokin-aces-london
When you have finished, walk to the BOTTOM of the Market. Take the crossing across to the GAP store and walk through the ANGEL SHOPPING CENTRE. Go STRAIGHT through then CROSS THE MAIN ROAD (at the crossing to your LEFT). Walk down DUNCAN STREET then turn LEFT onto CAMDEN PASSAGE. Walk until you get to the ELK IN THE WOODS on your LEFT.
IF YOU ARE DOING THIS TOUR ON A WEEK-END OR AFTER 2:00 – Leave M. Manze and turn RIGHT. Walk to the END of the Market. Take the crossing across to the GAP store and walk through the ANGEL SHOPPING CENTRE. Go STRAIGHT through then turn LEFT on the main road. Continue down for about THREE MINUTES (passing the HILTON on your left) until you get to RADICALS & VICTUALLERS.
Stop 2 alt. – Radicals & Victuallers – Mustard Macaroni and Cheese [59 Upper Street]
New on the Islington scene is Radicals & Victuallers, a pub that serves up American-inspired food in a comfy atmosphere, well stocked with board games! So grab a game, take a seat, and order up a snack. Our recommendation here is the macaroni and cheese, given a true British twist, its’ special ingredient is classic English mustard. http://www.radicalsandvictuallers.co.uk/
When you come out of R&V turn RIGHT. Walk along with the MAIN ROAD ON YOUR LEFT. When you reach the CROSSING with BYRON BURGER on the corner of CHARLTON PLACE, CROSS and head down CHARLTON. Turn RIGHT onto CAMDEN PASSAGE and WALK DOWN until the ELK IN THE WOODS is on your RIGHT.
Stop 3 – The Elk in the Woods – Drinks [37-39 Camden Passage]
Give your tummy a bit of a rest at The Elk in the Woods, a classic British pub. The décor here is a bit eclectic, giving the pub a unique and cozy atmosphere. Maybe you want to have a cider, traditional British beer, a bottle of ale – or maybe a cocktail! The Elk in the Woods has it all. Their cocktail menu in particular is impressive, with unique creations such as The Bourbon Growler (with bacon-smoked bourbon!), Tea Martini (with earl grey tea) and the Rosemary Passage (A classic British gin and tonic with rosemary ice cubes). http://www.the-elk-in-the-woods.co.uk/
Come out of the Elk in the Woods and go LEFT down CAMDEN PASSAGE. At the end of the passage CROSS TO ISLINGTON GREEN. Keep ISLINGTON GREEN on your left until you can turn LEFT onto ISLINGTON GREEN PASSAGE (past Waterstones Books). When you get to the main road – UPPER STREET- turn RIGHT. Continue down until you to get to PIX BAR.
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Stop 4 – Pix Pintxos – Basque-Style Nibbles [330 Upper Street]
Straight forward here at this Spanish-style eaterie. Named after the wooden skewers that runs through all of their snacks, pintxos specialises in Basque-country bar food. Everything is laid out for you to see, grab, and eat! Take as many – or as few – dishes as you’d like and most of them range between £1.95 and £2.95 per skewer. Meat eaters and vegetarians are catered for here and we’d also suggest a glass of some of the best cava in town to accompany your nibbles! http://www.pix-bar.com/islington.html
Leave Pix and turn RIGHT onto UPPER STREET. Walk until you see GALLIPOLI CAFÉ/BISTRO on your LEFT. Carefully CROSS THE ROAD and enter.
Stop 5 – Gallipoli Café & Bistro – Meze [102 Upper Street]
Gallipoli became so popular here in Islington that they’ve actually opened a further TWO venues on the same road! Here you’ll have a selection of some of the tastiest Turkish food in town. Here you have the option of tasting small samples of their meze delights, paired with fresh bread. Here, again, you have the option of ordering small portions of your choosing – maybe only sampling two or three…or if you’re still hungry, many more! Finish your snacks with a classic Turkish mint-tea to aid in digestion and clear your palate for your final stop. http://www.gallipolicafe.co.uk/
Come out of Gallipoli onto UPPER STREET and turn RIGHT. Continue walking until you get to VIVO on your RIGHT.
Stop 6 - Vivo Bakery Café Bar – Dessert [57 – 58 Upper Street]
Vivo is a modern take on buffet style foods and their desserts not only look incredible, they taste amazing! The menu may change occasionally but you can always count on classics like tiramisu, lemon meringue pie, and a large array of pastries. Cheap cocktails are on offer here, and there is also a secret roof garden to take advantage of if you’re having your tour on a sunny day! (Which does sometimes happen here..!) http://www.vivotaste.com/
If after you’ve finished, you’d like to have a cheeky drink…come out of Vivo and turn RIGHT. Walk down UPPER STREET until you get to the large junction with CITY ROAD. Cross OVER UPPER STREET and walk down CITY ROAD (keeping City Road on your RIGHT). In 1 minute, you will come to TORRENS STREET on your left, and there on the corner is the BREWHOUSE & KITCHEN.
Optional Stop 7 – Brewhouse & Kitchen [Torrens Street]
These people know their beer! Craft beer is a huge trend in London right now, and this is the place to experience some of the best in town. Staff here are experts in England’s favourite drink, and each type served comes in a distinctive glass that enhances the flavour/experience of your drink. Pure British drinks alongside a wide variety of bottles of international beers and a smart little cocktail list means there’s always a drink here for everybody!
For more restaurant suggestions in the neighborhood, check out Time Out London's list.