Right, Madre, pack your sunhat ‘cause we’re going Dora. (Yeah, we just referenced Dora the Explorer. And what? #noshame). Let’s meet at Hackney Central overground and we’ll go from there. The plan is to roam free: if you let yourself wander, you’ll find loadsa little independent out-the-way places you’ve never noticed before. We’ve been round the block a few times by now so you want a short cut, read on for our guide to the local food and drink scene (which, by the way, is popping off).
First things first, let’s peek in at the Quarter Store. This is their new permanent home – they first launched in lockdown out of the Casa de Madre before moving on. We’ve had real empty nest syndrome since then (Quarter Store: we miss u!). Luckily they’re literally 2 minutes round the corner so we can pop by whenever we like.
New to the hood is Lodestar Coffee, a speciality coffee place soon to open near Hackney Downs. Our sources tell us that they’re using beans by London-based Elsewhere Coffee Roasters, so we’re expecting some delicious brews when those doors finally open.
If you’re walking past London Fields, make a point of stopping in at the E5 Bakehouse – it’s best place to loaf around. Adjoined is the Millhouse Shop (FYI, this is THE spot to pick up gifts on the go– we’re talking ceramics, Babara Hepworth-esque chopping boards & bread-making gear). They’ve got Agua in the fridge too. But remember, they’re shut for summer hols between 2nd-15th August. There is also Charles Artisan Bread on Lower Clapton Road which is an exceptional artisan micro-bakery.
Just over the canal is Lanark Coffee which sells the legendary Dom’s Subs. A five-minute walk from the Columbia Road Flower Market, they do great coffee and their ‘kimcheese’ toasties make a banging lunch – of course we’re gonna love anything with kimchi in it. Pair with an Agua de Madre for the ultimate fermented food feast.
Further west you’ll find the Towpath Café looking out over Regent’s Canal. This is an if-you-know-you-know kinda place. A heard-it-on-the-grapevine kinda place. It’s right up our street (eh-hem, towpath), serving fairly-priced, simple, seasonal produce.
Or else let’s head into the heart of the (b)east. Walk down the canal until you hit Victoria Park - from there it’s not far to Fish Island. This part of town’s changing every day… and one change we’re particularly excited to see is the opening of Tuck Shop. This little grocery store’s a nod to the grocery shops of old that didn’t pack literally everything in plastic.
Outside of East London, there are loads more great spots we recommend checking out - when you’re in Farringdon, Bodega Rita’s serves up some delicious New York style subs while you’re on the go. They stock Agua de Madre in their fridges, plus there’s a great global deli selection to glance over while you’re waiting.
Vauxhall’s Black Salt Bistro is another favourite of ours. This vegan café serves a brilliant range of vegan plates. Plus they’ll be stocking Agua de Madre from September. Yippee! It’s casual dining ‘till 3pm most days – perfect for lunch.
If you’re in South West London, Park Road Kitchen is a rotisserie and deli right by Battersea Park where you can also pick up Agua de Madre in the fridges. Notes is another favourite, with locations across London, offering single-origin speciality coffee plus craft beers and wines.
Any other top tips for the Madre, she’d love to hear your suggestions.