Indie London: Coffee, Food, Art, and Film

When it comes to London, there is a lot of love for this city. And it is understandable, but it took me until my third trip to get the vibe. All of my trips have been work-related, but I’ve been able to squeeze in a few side activities. So, this post is an accumulation of my travels.

Where to stay: The Zedwell Picadilly Circus is a great accommodation if you want no frills but is comfortable, functional and well-priced. And the Shoreditch neighbourhood is a good blend of residential with bars, cafes, restaurants and shops within walking distance.

Transportation: Although the tube can be packed, it’s well connected and faster than by car. I recommend getting an Oyster card for accessible transit.

Coffee ☕

Old Spike – I love the vibe of this cozy little cafe in Picadilly Circus. You can grab it to go or linger, and people watch. The coffee is delicious, with a great selection from Central America and Africa. And they also roast their own beans, so take some as a souvenir. (Picadilly Circus).

All Press Espresso – I stumbled on this cafe and roastery (not on the premise) tucked away on a residential street in Shoreditch. Full of locals picking up their morning flat white, croissant or beans for the week. Stop in for a coffee and relax in the calming and cozy space. (Shoreditch).

Carhartt Coffee – I love the combination of cafe and retail space, precisely what this is. A winning combination, but the cafe team took it even further, making it feel like a local haunt. The barista was super friendly and made time for a chat: great local coffee and good company. (Near Coal’s Drop Yard).

Monocle Shop and Cafe – If you’re a lover of the magazine the Monocle, you’ll love this minimal refined Scandi-inspired cafe. Read one of the latest books while sipping your Cortado. Then pop over to the shop to pick up the magazine’s newest edition and peruse their bespoke homeware collection, books, gifts, and clothing. 

Origin Coffee at the British Library – A short walk from St. Pancreas Station, this modern and cozy cafe is a nice alternative from the chains in the area. It’s also attached to the British Library, so if you’re a local it’s a nice place to get cozy and dive into your new book. Try a filter brew and taste their top notch locally roasted coffee.

Hagen Coffee – A Danish coffee concept brought to life in London. Bringing the hygge concept to the cafe, enjoy a slow coffee either at the standing bar or sitting down. Serving an excellent assortment of coffee from around the world, be sure to check this spot out.

Restaurants 🍽️
Ramen at Bone Daddies. Photo Credit: Sidestreet Travel

Bone Daddies Soho – This ramen spot serves up really fucking good ramen, and I loved the vibe in this location. Super chill and a bit grungy because of the Chinatown location. I also got the fried chicken and miso aubergine baos paired with the Two Tribes Metro Tokyo IPA. (Chinatown).

Lina’s Store – An Italian restaurant and deli great for sharing plates or individual meals. I recommend going with a few people to try various dishes. (Coal’s Drop Yard).

Dishroom – This is one of the top-rated Indian restaurants in London. The food is on point; expect them to keep the spice. Flavourful, rich, and filling. The cocktails are epic, so ask for the best pairings with your food. Expect a line or make reservations well in advance. (Shoreditch and Coal’s Drop Yard).

The Lighterman – This is a casual fine dining spot for a sit-down meal or just drinks. The fish and chips were super tasty and a slightly more upscale version of the standard fry on the streets. (Coal’s Drop Yard).

Borough Market – A classic London institution worth the visit. Go hungry and sample the assortment of street food.

Beer & Cocktails

Spiritland King’s Cross – A is a mixed-use music space serving as a bar and cafe. Pop in for a glass of wine or coffee and relax with live music from the live DJ sets. 

Spiritland. Photo Credit: Sidestreet Travel

Brewdog – A local brewery with an excellent selection of craft beers and a tasty menu. Multiple locations throughout the city.

Art 🎨🎥

180 the Strand – I highly recommend checking out this exhibition space. They offer an incredible range of digital and analog exhibitions and are at the forefront of bringing emerging talent into the art scene. 

Tate Modern – There are so many museums to choose from, but this is a must-see if you are a modern art/architecture fan. 

National History Museum – I was so excited about the dinosaur exhibits, which were so cool to see in person. There is a cheesy section with the T-Rex, but it’s fantastic in kids’ eyes. The museum is quite massive but a lot of fun if you’re a natural history buff. If the weather is nice, take a break in the courtyard for lunch or coffee. 

Film Houses 🎞️

Picturehouse Central Cinema – You’ll find this cozy theatre in the heart of the Picadilly Circus. There are loads of restaurants and bars within walking distance, so you can always pit stop before you take in your film. It’s a great way to immerse yourself in the local arts and culture. I always try to take in a movie when travelling. 

Local Recommendations 👄

While sipping the delicious coffee from Old Spike, the barista was kind enough to give me their local recommendations. Unfortunately, I couldn’t get to their list, but it’s on my hit list for next time. But it all looked so good, and it was a great selection of cocktails and various types of Asian cuisine. 

Hongdae Pocha – Korean BBQ and street food. The recommendation is to try the soup and pancake. But I would go hungry and add the bbq too. 

Ippudo – Is an international ramen chain with roots in Japan and a representation in some of the hottest food spots in the world. Go hungry and with friends so you can share. 

Duck & Rice – A Chinese restaurant with modern vibes. Expect home cooking and comfort vibes in contemporary London aesthetics. But exploring the menu and sharing is the best way to experience the menu offering. Go for the duck. 

Pho & Bao – This restaurant focuses on Vietnamese street food. The baos look succulent, and the pho looks warming and comforting. But deep dive into the menu, so many delicious options. 

Soma – For cocktails, check out Soma for a restrained, modern aesthetic means you focus on the people and the cocktails. The cocktail scene in London is on another level, and Soma presents a selection of cocktails that makes you feel fancy AF. 

Swift Soho: Swift comes across as a playful yet serious bar for cocktails. There are multiple locations in Soho, Shoreditch, and Borough. 

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