Best restaurants near Sadler’s Wells Theatre
By Helen Wright
It’s not often I get to write about my own neighbourhood but, hey, I’ve been doing the research for the last 11 years so at least you can trust me when I say I know my stuff. One of my favourite things about living in Islington is the choice of pubs, cafes and restaurants. If you’re lucky enough to be heading this way to see a show, I’ve put together a list of the six best restaurants near Sadler’s Wells for a pre (or post) theatre dinner.
On this list of Sadler’s Wells restaurants, I’ve picked my favourite six places to grab a bite if you’re heading to the theatre (but they’re also excellent choices if you’re just in Islington and want some great food). I have tried to cover a range of tastes and budgets, so there is something here to suit everyone.
Best Restaurants near Sadlers Wells
The Little Viet Kitchen
Chapel Market, roughly a ten-minute walk from Sadler’s Wells, looks kind of ropey on first impression. But, hidden alongside a random selection of budget chain stores is one of my favourite restaurants in London. The Little Viet Kitchen is the cutest little place and it serves the best Vietnamese food in London. What started life as a pop-up supper club, is chef, Thuy Pham’s, take on Vietnamese street food – or, some might say, serving up small plates of heaven. Choose from perfectly seasoned Sticky Lamb Chops (£14) to Aromatic Chicken Pho (£16.50). Better still; fill the table with sharing bowls of Vietnamese chorizo (£4.50), sweet tamarind tiger prawns (£9.50) and veggie dumplings, dipped in the luscious, house chilli soy sauce (£7.50). The food and atmosphere here rules supreme, but the cocktail menu is also sensational. My favourite is the LVL Gimlet – lemongrass, gin, lime and star anise (£9). The perfect choice for a quick, yet not rushed, meal before you take your seats for the show. Enjoy!
2 Chapel Market, N1 9EZ
The atmosphere in Paesan is always buzzing. This family-style Italian restaurant holds a special place in my heart as it was the last place we dined before I gave birth to my daughter, Isobel, just 12 hours later (no reflection on the food). I could devour the entire menu, but my favourite has to be the ragu di manzo (pappardelle with slow roasted beef shin, £16). Better yet, going pre-theatre is the best time, because if you’re there too late, they’ve always sold out! The scialatielli all’ arrabbiata (£17) is also fantastic. Start with a plate of the fresh and creamy burrata (£6), served over crispy homemade bread. When it’s warm, sit outside on the front terrace for a touch of extra romance.
2 Exmouth Market, EC1R 4PX
Okay, this pick of the restaurants near Sadler’s Wells is actually a pub, but it has an extensive selection of craft ale and beer and a superb food menu. The Exmouth Arms is less than five minutes from the theatre, making it perfect for food and drinks before and after the show. The Sunday roast lunch (£16) is exemplary, but it’s so huge, it might make you snoozy. The weekday menu has some remarkably un-pub-like options, such as vegan green curry (£10) and chicken schnitzel with warm potato salad (£12). If you don’t want to go for anything big, the buttermilk fried chicken dipped in Korean hot sauce is the must-have bar snack (£6.50). For a classic British pub, this place can also mix a mean cocktail. If you fancy a cheeky drink after the final curtain, the Trinidad Highball (Amaro di Angostura Liqueur, Angostura bitters, ginger ale & lime, £9), will blow your ballet shoes off.
23 Exmouth Market, EC1R 4QL
You are certainly not short of restaurants near Sadler’s Wells
A less fancy option, but if you just want to grab a quick bite near Sadler’s Wells, this should fit the bill. This hipster pizza place started life at a street food market, with two brothers serving slices from the back of a van. Six restaurants later and Pizza Pilgrims was named one of the must-eat places to eat pizza in the world. What else is there to say? It’s perfect pizza! My pick: the Bufala D.O.P Margherita. Bite into the perfect balance of salty dough, sweet tomato sauce, creamy Mozzarella di Bufala DOP & aromatic basil (£10).
15 Exmouth Market, EC1R 4QD
This is the furthest away of all my recommendations for restaurants near Sadler’s Wells, but worth the extra walk. Even if you don’t fancy walking off your dinner (it’s a 15 minute stroll), you can jump on the number 38 bus right outside, which stops directly in front of Sadler’s Wells in just five minutes. This is another tiny restaurant, but it has a lovely, London feel about it and an inspired menu. You’ll find the unassuming entrance just off Camden passage, near Islington Green. Tom Oldroyd, former Chef Director of the Polpo Group, opened this independent eatery to offer a ‘relaxed service and delicious food to locals and visitors alike,’ and it doesn’t disappoint. The daily changing menu, focusing on seasonal British ingredients can include delights such as roast skrei cod (£17.50) and rare breed porchetta with salsa verde (£18). If you’re headed to a weekday matinee at Sadler’s Wells, take advantage of the £10 lunch menu – it’s an absolute steal!
344 Upper Street, N1 0PD
Okay, okay… my foodie friends have criticised me for including the chain restaurant, Bill’s, on this list, but I think it deserves a mention and here’s why: I love it. But that’s not the only reason: Sure, it’s part of a large chain, but it’s also the perfect pre-theatre restaurant near Sadlers Wells. This Bill’s has a large dining room and offers a varied menu. Plus, it’s only a five-minute walk from the theatre. Mains are reasonably-priced (Halloumi burger and fries, £10.95) and they often have great mid-week deals.
If you’re heading to Sadler’s Wells with kids, it’s fair to say you might not fancy somewhere dimly lit and intimate. The good news is, you don’t have to end up in McDonalds – Bill’s has a brilliant kids menu (two courses £5.95) and the restaurant is really family friendly. If you’re visiting in December, the Bill’s in Islington is beautifully decorated and festive during the Christmas period. With or without kids, it’s the perfect match for a night watching The Nutcracker.
9 White Lion St, N1 9PD
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