There are some great date ideas in Islington. With some of the finest bars and restaurants in all of North London—nay, all of London—and the perfect place to head if you’re ready to impress on this special first date. The district has some of the capital’s trendiest and most eclectic establishments on offer, and all within an easy walking distance! Islington has a rich history, and its posh-meets-street vibe is a magnet for creative types.
Those who have called Islington home include Gillian Anderson, George Orwell, Lily Allen, Daniel Defoe… oh, and just about half the cast of Eastenders, or so it seems. What’s more, Highbury & Islington Station is a mere seven-minute tube ride from Oxford Circus.
Islington is cool in the old-school sense: touched with a smidgen of hippie-ness but without the accompanying commercialism of some other parts of the capital. So whether the two of you are in the mood for a cracking cocktail or a delicious dinner, the borough will have something for you amid its chic thoroughfare (think Upper Street) and more down-to-earth spots (think Chapel Market and Caledonian Road, which locals affectionately refer to as The Cally.
1. Laki Kane
144–145 Upper St, N1 1QY
What better way to kick off our list than with a luxurious tiki paradise? ‘Laki Kane’ is Polynesian for lucky person—and lucky you’ll feel when you enter this gorgeous Islington bar and restaurant, a quintessential escape from city life. Laki Kane is all about exotic rum-based cocktails and Pan-Asian cuisine, and even has its very own Spiced Dry Rum Club, where they make their own spirits through an intriguing redistillation process, and host specialist masterclasses for those in the mood for a date with a difference. Or if your date’s got something of a sweet tooth, why not indulge them in some chocolate pairing?
However you choose to spend your time in this little idyll, Laki Kane has a vast array of delectable beverages on offer, concocted with the world’s finest rums and sugar cane syrups, sourced from far-flung lands, as well as theatrical live entertainment and exquisite decor. The sun’s always shining in Laki Kane, and good times are never far away. In the romantic ambience of the Pacific with your date, you’ll truly feel within touching distance of paradise.
2. The Chapel Bar
29 Penton St, N1 9PX
The Chapel Bar is a charming little hideaway renowned for its contemporary saloon, ingeniously blending its decor with the building’s original olde-worlde interiors, as well as for its spacious terrace, tailor-made for some summertime romancing over a saucy cocktail or three.
Did someone say “bottomless brunch”? Whether you’re looking for a wholesome daytime rendezvous or a place to start off an epic all-day flirtathon, The Chapel Bar’s Bottomless Brunch from 12 to 4.30 marries the restaurant’s renowned two-course Arenella menu with unlimited prosecco, Aperol spritz, white wine spritzer, elderflower spritz and the house reds, whites and rosés… for two hours straight! Now if that’s not the perfect way to let your hair down and seriously get to know this fine new beau or belle of yours, we don’t know what is.
Whether you’re after evening cocktails al fresco or a full dining experience sampling some of the finest fare in all of Islington, The Chapel Bar is renowned for its awesome atmosphere, completed with large open-plan spaces and dedicated dancefloor to boot!
3. The Narrowboat
119 St Peter’s St, N1 8PZ
This venue is a gem of a place. Sitting right on the waterways of Regent’s Canal, The Narrowboat is a beautiful Bri’ish boozer serving up cask ales, moreish cocktails and delicious seasonal dishes comprising locally sourced ingredients, ideal for filling a gap if you get a little peckish as your evening creeps unnoticed into hour number five. Tucked away from the hustle and bustle of Angel’s Upper Street and the only pub directly on Regent’s Canal in the borough, The Narrowboat makes for a memorable first date idea in relaxed surroundings with friendly, welcoming staff. Make sure to grab a balcony table overlooking the Thames if you can!
4. The Islington Town House
13 Liverpool Rd, N1 0RW
Spread over an impressive three storeys, The Islington Town House is oft hailed as one of the greatest pubs in all of Islington. With eclectic interiors and an extensive list of irresistible beverages, the Town House is quintessentially English, a quaint maze of nooks and crannies, plenty of intimate little spaces in which you can enjoy some uninterrupted first date magic. Each room in the Town House has its own distinct atmosphere, so even within the pub you can explore and soak up different vibes without having to leave the building! And with an expertly curated range of both New and Old World wines on offer, The Islington Town House makes for a warm and homely escape with a worldly twist.
5. Barrio Angel
45 Essex Rd, N1 2SF
There’s never a dull moment in Barrio Angel. With eye-popping decor and party-pumping DJ sets, this is the place to be in Islington if you and your beau or belle are after a first date with a bit of a kick. Barrio Angel marries Brazilian street culture with the spirit of community, and serves up mouthwatering cocktails to match—2-4-1 caipirinhas and £3 tacos, anyone?
Barrio Angel’s happy hour (or Amigo Hour, as they call it) runs Wednesdays and Thursdays till 9 and Fridays till 7—and it’s one heck of a party, let us tell you! There’s an abundance of 2-4-1 house cocktails: mojito, Tommy’s margarita, Dark ’n’ Stormy… we could go on. Plus the bar’s favourite cocktails are 2-4-1 on set nights: piña colada on Wednesdays, paloma on Thursdays and caipirinha on Fridays. Your taste buds won’t know what’s hit them!
Bustling somewhere between multicoloured umbrellas, tropical plants and luminescent, the allure of Barrio Angel is potent and undeniable—and makes for a seriously intoxicating first date idea.
Not finding what you want in Islington? Why not check out some great date ideas in Clerkenwell.
If you would like the opportunity to be introduced to someone new in London, then contact the friendly matchmakers at Drawing Down the Moon Matchmaking today.