Camden Town area guide: food and drink, the market and the music scene
- Credit: Archant
Your guide to all the things to do in Camden Town, including the best restaurants, shops, pubs, live music venues and Camden Lock Market. PLUS our guide to property in the area
Welcome to Camden Town!
Students, tourists and music fans flock to Camden Town for its rental property, markets and alternative heritage. Despite rising prices, Camden Town remains popular with students and creative types, although more and more City workers are moving here for its prime location with plenty to do on your doorstep at the weekends.
Camden’s early development was centred on Victorian industry with homes springing up around the railways and canal that were built through the heart of the area. The area’s association with art and culture began not long after that with the emergence of the Camden Town Group of painters living and working in the area before the First World War. Such artists as Walter Sickert, Spencer Gore and Harold Gilman painted images of modern urban life.
Goldschmidt & Howland says… “Camden Town has a great atmosphere, varied architecture and still very reasonably priced. It is surrounded by some of north London’s most desirable areas and is well located for easy access to the open green space of Regent’s Park, the fast evolving King’s Cross and the West End.”
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Shopping and culture
Camden is synonymous with its market, which is actually a series of six adjoining markets. The original Camden Lock market started in a former timber yard in the early 1970s. This early market now extends to cover Buck Street, Stables, Lock village and an indoor market in the Electric Ballroom. All are now major tourist destinations, crammed with rock t-shirts, street food and souvenirs but it’s still a go-to spot for those of an alternative bent.
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There are also vintage clothing and home ware gems to be found if you’re not in the market for a Nirvana hoodie and a piercing.
Best for vintage… Planet Bazaar, based in one of the arches at Stables Market, sells an eclectic hand picked selection of vintage lighting and furniture dating from the 1950s to the present. Modfather will kit out aspiring mods, rockers, etc. in new versions of retro threads.
Best for foodies… Food shoppers should head to Parkway Greens, an old school grocery complete with brown paper bags. Celebrity chef Yotam Ottolenghi has been known to pop in to stock up on supplies.
Best for a cup of coffee… Pay a visit to longstanding favourite the Camden Coffee Shop on Delancey Street. A world away from newfangled hipster coffee roasters, the shop has been selling beans on the premises since 1978.
Camden has a historic reputation as a centre of the music scene. While there may not be much in the way of new happenings in the area nowadays, drinkers can hark back to the glory days of Britpop at the Good Mixer, which acted as a social club for members of Blur and their record label Food, alongside lesser known acts like Menswear and Shampoo. The Dublin Castle round the corner is open later and still puts on indie gigs in its back room. The Camden Roundhouse is a leading venue for a range of cultural events, spanning everything from circus performances, theatre and comedy to big name music acts.
Best for metalheads… Once the favoured drinking spot of Irish rock band The Pogues, The Devonshire Arms is Camden’s most venerable punk, metal and rock ‘n’ roll pubs, with gigs and DJ nights all through the week. No yuppies allowed.
Best for jazz fans… There are also several jazz venues in the area. The Jazz Café on Parkway is the best known but Green Note also puts on folk, jazz, country, roots and bluegrass gigs in more intimate surroundings. It is also serves vegetarian food.
Food and Drink
Head to the fabled Gilgamesh in the Stables, for pan-Asian dining with a bar and nightclub attached. For the thirsty, The Black Heart promises a heady mix of beer, booze and bands, whilst their alcoholic slush puppy machines appeal to the inner child. You can catch Josie Long’s comedy stand up Lost Treasures of the Black Heart every first Thursday of the month.
Best for a sugar hit… with their hybrid sourdough base and ingenious topping combinations (apricot and lavender, anyone?), it’s no wonder Crosstown Doughnuts has gained a cult following. Fans of their sweet treats can rejoice as they’ve recently opened a branch in the Stables. The Blues Kitchen serves a mix of American BBQ classics and Cajun comfort food against a suitably Americana-kitsch backdrop before turning into a jumping bar with two live music performances a night.
Best for vegetarians… the Camden outpost of Soho veggie mecca Mildreds is based out of an 18th century townhouse on Lexington street serving solid veggie fare in an informal atmosphere. There’s a takeaway salad and soup bar at lunch and come evening a tasty cocktail menu.
Best for vegans… Nectar Café based at the re-located Triyoga studio serves vegetarian – often vegan and raw – dishes, fresh juices, salads and coffee for a healthy start to the day. Raw vegan institution InSpiral Lounge is changing management, as its founders Dom and Bella move on to focus on their nutrition brand. It’s still going to be a vegan café, just under a different name, so watch this space.
Best for a pint… Craft beer hounds should head to BrewDog to sup on the Scottish brewery’s star beers, along with a rotating cast of guest brews.
Goldschmidt & Howland says… “Camden caters for all types of date nights! Whether chatting and drinking in the relaxed environment of The Edinboro Castle, to the buzzing energy of The Hawley Arms, followed by live jazz music at The Jazz Café. For after work drinks or a night out Grand Union, Shaka Zulu or Gilgamesh are always fun.”
Sports and leisure
Following Triyoga’s relocation to Camden Town from Primrose Hill north London yoga fiends can be spotted heading to an Ashtanga, barre or pilates class.
Best for cycling… the path along Regent’s Canal provides some of the most scenic cycling in the city and runs right through Camden Town. There are Santander bike hire stands at strategic locations, or you can go to Giant Camden for expert advice and high quality gear. The shop has a performance road room and a whole area dedicated to equipment for women, and owner Nick Freilich has forty years of experience in the saddle under his lycra belt.
Things to do with children
The Pirate Castle offers a range of sporty activities for all ages, including sessions in kayaking, canoeing and narrow boating on the canal. Evening youth clubs are hosted for 8 to 17 year-olds and cost £2 for two hours.
Goldschmidt & Howland says… “The Roundhouse always has many great acts for the family to watch, otherwise a leisurely walk on Primrose Hill is always lovely.”
Primary and secondary schools
Camden Town Hawley Infant School is a small mixed school for children aged between 3 and 7 and has been rated ‘Good’ by Ofsted. The same rating goes to Our Lady Roman Catholic Primary School, a small religious school. North Bridge House offers primary and secondary fee paying education and has been rated ‘Outstanding’ by Ofsted. The Camden School for Girls is a popular girls’ state secondary school, also rated ‘Outstanding’.
Camden Town is in zone 2 and is served by the Northern line. London Overground station Camden Road is also nearby while numerous buses run between the area and central and north London.
Camden Town is in the London Borough of Camden in the parliamentary constituency of Holborn & St Pancras. It’s in the NW1 and NW5 postcodes. Council tax for Band A properties will set you back £945, whilst mid-range homes in Band D will pay £1,418 and high-end homes in Band H will have to stump up £2,836.
Development of the area began in the late 18th century and continued through the Victorian era, accompanied by growing industry and infrastructure, including the Regent’s Canal in 1816. As a result there are several terraces from the era. The grandest street in Camden Town is Gloucester Crescent, once a popular street with high profile art and literature types immortalised in Love, Nina it is now the home of wealthy financial types. Meanwhile students flock to flatshares in ex-local authority properties and period conversions.
Two bedroom flat - £661,270
Terraced house - £1,400,998
Semi detached - £1,767,750
Detached - £2,070,718
In Partnership with Goldschmidt and Howland
Goldschmidt & Howland Camden, 114-118 Parkway, Camden, NW1 7AN, 020 7043 4433