This guide is lovingly written by the area’s popular long-running online title Leytonstoner.
Undisputedly Leyton’s independent shopping haven, you might be surprised to learn that Francis Road has only been pedestrianised for half a decade. Now, with its fledging trees growing into maturity, and planters – maintained by community volunteers – overflowing with herbs and shrubs, it’s one of the area’s most pleasant streets for a weekend mooch (or any other time, to be honest).
Fact: it also boasts one of the highest concentrations of female business owners in London. So let’s start with a little shopping: there’s Phlox Books for a cultural edit of literary classics, new releases, hardbacks and kiddie tomes, while craft beer, wine and coffee are all on hand to sit and sip as you devour your new purchase. Next door is new bespoke jeweller and lifestyle store Karina Banks, while opposite is sustainable gifts and homewares store Venner, where everything is ethically made, from ceramics to jewellery, prints to skincare products. Further up is indie vinyl heaven Dreamhouse Records, which also brews filter coffee and a rotating roster of weekend clothing pop-ups featuring local designers.
Green-fingered residents are spoilt for choice here, too. Long-running George’s Den is the place to stock up on seasonal flowers, herbs and shrubs for the garden, while just up the street Edie Rose sells statement houseplants, dried flowers and exquisitely bold stems. Across the way, hair salon The Garden Room is on hand to sort out any wild barnets of your own.
The street also majors on all things comestible. For coffee you’re spoilt for choice, from corner café Albert & Francis to specialists Strange Brew, whose alfresco tables catch the afternoon sun. Stock up on weekend treats – from sourdough to posh crisps, ethically sourced meat and organic seasonal veg – at the two delis Marmelo and Yardarm, while just off the main drag is top tip Morny. This stunning viennoisserie won Time Out’s Best Baked Good 2021 for its Lemon Meringue Pie Wave, but equally mouth-watering (and beautifully sculpted) are its cronuts, cruffins and vegan brownies. Need a healthy lunch? Try colourful Korean diner Zaxx with its well-priced rice bowls.
Architecture fans shouldn’t miss the far western end of the road, behind which stands Leyton’s oldest building, Walnut Tree House, a timber-framed building probably dating from the 16th century. Other notable buildings nearby are the Grade II-listed Victorian Cricket Pavilion, and the idyllic churchyard-cum-nature reserve of St Mary’s, with its picturesque row of 19th century almshouses and 450-year-old bell-tower.
Thirsty now? Sink a sunny beer on the pavement terrace outside Marmelo – which has beers and wines on tap – or the hidden Tuscan-style beer garden at Yardarm, with its mature olive trees. The street’s sole actual pub is five minutes’ walk south where it meets Grove Green Road: The Northcote is an LGBTQ-friendly gem with wonderful hidden beer garden, craft beer, pizzas, burgers and lively weekly roster of events including infamous drag nights every Sunday and musical bingo on Thursdays.