Waltham Forest food: Best restaurants in this year’s Borough of Culture – Evening Standard

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Forget Mayfair, Soho and Shoreditch, because there’s only one London area on the lips of culture lovers this week – Waltham Forest.

The district on the eastern fringes of the city has been named as London’s first Borough of Culture, with a programme of festivities set to show off the area’s cultural flare over the next 12 months.

It’s not only in the realms of music, art, theatre and literature where Waltham Forest residents get creative – the borough is also home to some superb places to eat.

From vegan curry spots to historic pie and mash shops, we’ve picked out the restaurants, cafes, and pubs you need to try.

Yard Sale Pizza

Yard Sale Pizza began as a pizza oven in founder Johnnie Tate’s Hackney back garden. Now the outfit is delighting Londoners with stone baked pizzas across two locations in Waltham Forest (Leytonstone and Walthamstow), and another two further afield. It’s even gathered something of a celebrity following, with Macaulay Culkin attending one of its opening parties and musician Loyle Carner recently collaborating on a pizza recipe. Offerings range from the Holy Pepperoni made with London-based Cobble Lane pepperoni, to the vegan Herb Your Enthusiasm, topped with grilled artichokes, kalamata olives, red onions and salsa verde.

E11, E17, yardsalepizza.com

Deeney’s Cafe

Any Scots looking for a wee taste of home should head to Deeney’s Cafe in Leyton. While there are no deep fried Mars bars to be found, this Waltham Forest spot is home to the hangover-tackling haggis toastie. Yes, that’s the Scottish delicacy crumbled onto slices of sourdough, and heated with oozing cheddar, caramelised onion, mustard and rocket. It’s so battle-ready, they’ve even named it the Macbeth. You can also pick up this delight at Broadway Market in London Fields at Deeney’s Saturday street food stall.

330 High Road Leyton, E10 5PW, deeneys.com


As the vegan train only gains more momentum in the capital, Waltham Forest isn’t one to miss out on the ride. Walthamstow is set to be home to the first permanent site for one of the capital’s most popular vegan street food stops. SpiceBox is currently hosting a pop-up at organic spot Hornbeam Cafe, but will open its first restaurant elsewhere on Hoe Street at the end of January. The menu features the likes of a hot and spicy jackfruit jalfrezi with green peppers and onions, a cooler, creamier cashew and coconut korma with seasonal veggies, and SpiceBox’s award-winning tarka dhal.  

58 Hoe Street, E17 4PG, eatspicebox.co.uk


Gokyuzu started life 20 years ago as a one-shop sensation, the jewel in the crown of Green Lanes’s impressive cohort of Turkish restaurants. In 2015, the family-run Harringay hotspot opened its second restaurant in Chingford, and has since added Walthamstow and Finchley sites to its roster. You’ll come for the succulent, charcoal grilled kebabs, but find yourself piling the table with pide (Turkish pizza), and specialities including a sarma kuzu beyti of marinated minced lamb wrapped in lavash bread and cheese.

E4, E17, gokyuzurestaurant.co.uk

L Manze

If you’re not in the mood for a Ruby Murray, then spend your bees and honey on a traditional East End serving of pie and mash at L Manze on Walthamstow High Street. This historic cafe specialises in pie, mash and liquor – parsley sauce, no alcohol involved – as well as jellied eels. The shop, which has been open continuously since 1929, is such an integral part of Walthamstow’s history that the building was even granted Grade II-listed status by Heritage England in 2013.  

76 High Street, E17 1DB

Queen’s Arms

Hunkering down in a pub for a proper Sunday roast is one of Britain’s greatest culinary joys, and the Queen’s Arms knows how to deliver them. Rounding off the week with lunch in this Walthamstow food pub means the pickings of Galloway rump of beef with horseradish and Yorkshires, chicken with pork and herb stuffing or slow roast pork belly with crackling and apple sauce.

42 Orford Road, E17 9NJ, queensarms-e17.co.uk

Leyton Technical

Meanwhile, Leyton Technical, the Leyton pub housed in the former town hall, is catering to vegetarian roast lovers with aplomb. Sundays see the popular spot serve up a roasted vegetable strudel – or Wellington, for traditionalists – with a roasted pepper sauce. What’s more, you get to enjoy it amid the Leyton Technical’s unique surroundings: the pub’s former life has left behind mosaic floors, high ceilings and chandeliers.

265 High Road Leyton, E10 5QN, leytontechnical.com

Rhythm Kitchen

Swap Waltham Forest for the West Indies at Rhythm Kitchen, where founder Delroy Dixon cooks up Caribbean food inspired by his mum’s old family recipes. Alongside curry goat, braised oxtail and saltfish fritters, jerk is the top priority. Grab it in the form of chicken wings with sweet and tangy glazes, as a whole jerked fish of the day or spicing up an entire chicken. You can enjoy it with Rhythm Kitchen’s impressive line-up of more than 60 rums from around the world.

257 Hoe Street, E17 9PT, rhythmkitchen.co

Sodo Pizza Cafe

Sodo does so well with sourdough that it named itself after it. This Walthamstow pizza spot (with three further locations in Hackney) makes all its bases from the tangy tasting bread, cooking them at more than 450 degrees to keep them light and airy. Curiously named features on the menu include the John Bon Chovy with anchovies, olives, capers, chilli and fresh parsley, and the hot and fiery Wicker Man with nduja and scotch bonnet chilli honey. Eat in, and you can also enjoy Sodo’s selection of natural wine and craft beer.

21 Hatherley Mews, E17 4QP, sodopizza.co.uk