Don’t spend all of your holiday with the crowds in Leicester Square, Piccadilly Circus and the Olympic Village. Here’s our insider guide to some lesser known diversions – north, south, east and west – where you can get to know the real Londoners
Galicia Restaurant 323 Portobello Road Westbourne Park on ● Hammersmith & City and ● Circle lines or Notting Hill Gate on the ● Circle ● District and ● Central lines
TAKE A STROLL DOWN LONDON’S FAMOUS Portobello Road to the real end, farthest from Notting Hill, where the market leaves antiques behind and becomes suffused in dub and reggae vibes. Here, in this multicultural neighbourhood, you’ll find an authentic, family-run Galician restaurant that could have been airlifted straight from Vigo. With a time-honoured calm, waiters in white shirts slide around the tables conveying perfectly cooked tapas classics such as baby squid in their own ink and chorizo in red wine.
☎+44 (0)20 8969 3539. Open for lunch and dinner Tues-Sun.
Neasden Temple 105-119 Brentfield Road Neasden, ● Jubilee line
YOU’VE BEEN TO ST PAUL’S, now try a different kind of sacred architectural wonder. Neasden’s impressive Hindu temple nestles in the north-west London suburbs but is easy to get to on the Jubilee line, making it just 20 minutes from central London. The temple’s delicate pillars of white limestone and marble were carved in India and then shipped to London, where the temple was assembled and is now a spot for devotees from around the world. Visitors are welcome, and on holy days the temple is filled with festival colour. A restaurant serves simple, authentic vegetarian Indian food.
☎+44 (0)20 8965 2651. www.mandir.org Open daily 9am-6pm.
Quecum Bar 42-44 Battersea High Street Clapham Junction on ● London Overground
THIS IS A TRULY SPECIAL VENUE in a side street near Battersea Square in south London that you’d never find by accident. It’s the home of – and possibly the only venue for – Parisian Gypsy swing jazz in London, a musical style created and popularised by the Gypsy guitarist Django Reinhardt, who lived and played in Paris in the 1930s. Flamboyant owner Sylvia Rushbrooke presides over a bar and brasserie that ooze period French charm from every corner, candlestick and bottle of wine. There’s even a hidden patio out the back for the full fragrance of a summer’s evening. This place is worth seeking out for dinner accompanied by live Gypsy jazz most nights of the week. Expect such delights as Moscow Drug Club’s 1930s cabaret sounds, and Gypsy guitar masters like Tchavolo Schmitt and Martin Limberger. You can even bring your own wine or champagne with you; corkage is £10 per bottle. Some nights are ticketed, others are free.
☎+44 (0)20 7787 2227. quecumbar.co.uk. Open daily 6pm-midnight (from 7pm Tues-Thur), food served till 10pm. No entry after 10.30pm.
Columbia Road Old Street on the ● Northern Line
COME TO THIS STREET OF TERRACE HOUSES early on a Sunday morning for the Flower Market – a feast of colour, scents and the call of the barrow boys. An East End institution, today it’s a trendy Hackney hangout and will keep you amused for hours with its cuisine and boutiques. A great place for a bacon buttie, tea and home-made cupcakes or to rummage for vintage treasures.
columbiaroad.info Market open Sundays 8am-3pm.
Foyles and Charing Cross Road 113-119 Charing Cross Road Tottenham Court Road on ● Central and ● Northern lines
LONDON’S CHARING CROSS ROAD – a haven for bookworms – is full of sepia-toned secondhand bookshops. A majestic giant of the street is Foyles, an institution on five floors with more than 200,000 books to browse, plus a popular wholefoods café, a gallery and Ray’s Jazz, with its own music stage. It’s the perfect lunchtime getaway from the bustle of Charing Cross Road below. And for those after more secluded gems, try the timeless atmosphere of Cecil Court (running off Charing Cross Road near Trafalgar Square). This pedestrian street lies only minutes from Leicester Square but has the timeless air of bygone London, enhanced by the fact that every shop on the street is an independent specialist in rare books, genre books or old maps; there is even a shop dedicated to Italian books. Without even entering the stores you can browse your way down the bargain shelves on the street.
☎+44 (0)20 7437 5660. foyles.co.uk Open Mon-Sat 9.30am-9pm, Sun 11.30am-6pm.
ART TIWANI CONTEMPORARY GALLERY
Tiwani Contemporary, which focuses on art from Africa, held its maiden exhibition, ‘The Tie that Binds Us’, in December 2011, when it showcased works by five artists of African descent. Six months on, the gallery has displayed works by Sokari Douglas Camp and collaborated with Paris-based gallery Baudoin Lebon. In June and July Tiwani will lead a series of panel discussions, screenings and live performances. 16 Little Portland Street, W1. Oxford circus on ● Central Line ☎+44 (0)20 7631 3808
FOOD 805 RESTAURANT
If you visit this Nigerian restaurant in South London you are sure to see a steady stream of its most famous dish, the Monika fish served with plantain, leaving the kitchen and heading to the tables. If fish isn’t your thing, there are also a number of traditional soups and stews on offer. 805 Old Kent Road, SE15. New Cross Gate on ● London Overgr. ☎+44 (0)20 7639 0808
FASHION OHEMA OHENE
This boutique, popular for its OH! range of footwear, also sells its own range of men’s and women’s fashion using West African textiles and prints. You can also snag a wax-cloth iPad case, notebook or a kente embroidered hot-water bottle. 63 Atlantic Road, SW9. Brixton on ● Victoria line ☎+44 (0)20 3490 9357