If I could sum up my teenage years in one location, it would be Camden. It's rebellious fashion scene and fairly cheap food market meant that it was a haven for an East London girl who just didn't fit in with the streets of Whitechapel. From age 15-20, I was virtually unrecognisable as the laidback, cheery person I am today (although my parents will still argue that I'm a rebel without a cause!) I spent most of my time hacking off my hair, listening to Secondhand Serenade and whatever other alternative group was circulating on emo Myspace. And of course, wandering around Camden Lock without a penny to my name.
Camden is still as spirited as I remember it but has since polished some of its rough edges (no thanks to gentrification), primarily with the introduction of Kerb. A rotation of pop-up food stalls set up residence to create a hub of tantalising flavours. The quasi-Chinese and Mexican takeaways still exist, but they're being given a run for their money with new, authentic cuisine for a globally aware audience. Rather than spending most of my time in the lock, I decided to circumnavigate the streets leading up to Chalk Farm. I'm pleased to say that it wasn't short on cheap eats either!
Marine Ices has been serving authentic gelato to the Camden crowds since 1931. It’s since gotten a face lift but the pistachio flavour is still a favourite that tastes creamy and rich. I paid £2.40 for one generous scoop.
61 Chalk Farm Rd
If like me, you hoard books and buy them at an exponential pace, then vintage bookshops are your friend. This little shop is tucked away from the hustle and bustle of the lock and provides a peaceful little haven- all the better to brown the rows of rare and vintage books they stock indoors! Tomes with faded pages and dented corners lined the walls of this tiny space and nothing fills me with more joy than knowing a book was appreciated by someone before me. I even managed to find an old translation of The Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam for £4.00 which has been on my wish list for years.
38 Harmood St
In need of a perfect Instagram picture? Look no further than Kelly Street. This lane of boldly coloured houses and not very many visitors is bound to get you the perfect street style shot.
I couldn’t go to Camden and not try out the newest viral food craze: halloumi fries! After trying these, I put a twist on the ingredients and made a chaat version for my family on Eid (you can find that here). I did think £6.00 was a little bit pricey for a small portion of halloumi but admittedly they were delicious and I could probably drink pomegranate molasses all day long.
Pamban Chai & Coffee House
I made a pit stop at Pam Ban after hearing rave reviews about their selection of teas. As a chai house within one of the largest warehouses, Pamban does stand out with its modest industrial interior. Their rose chai was great but what I loved most was their gudh (jaggery) milkshake- one to recreate for the blog, perhaps?
Chalk Farm Road
Alright, this one is a bit of a cheat. It’s more near Euston but technically lies in the Borough of Camden so we can allow it, right? I have been wanting to go here for months but have always been put off by the queues that everyone seems to show on their Instagram stories. I braved a 5pm line of punters and have to say, I wasn’t let down when I finally got into this tiny hole on the wall! Roti King has been around for years but its recent facelift and cheap (but still delicious) menu has garnered attention from foodies everywhere. After what seemed like the longest walk of my life, I was ready to knock myself out on carbs and ordered the staple roti canai with nasi lemak, lamb murtabak, chai and Malaysian white coffee all for around £28.00 between two people. It was well worth the wait.
40 Doric Way