This guide is lovingly written by the area’s popular long-running online title Leytonstoner.
Here the legacy of the 2012 Olympics is in evidence, from sports-focused Drapers’ Field and the iconic Leyton sign (just by Orient Way) to the High Road’s brightly painted central parade. Stretching right up to Baker’s Arms, where Leyton meets Walthamstow, This eclectic thoroughfare reflects the area’s multicultural identity. Home to imposing scrubbed-up Victorian buildings – of which the library is an extremely useful co-workspace if you’re a freelancer – it’s also worth exploring the Edwardian splendour of Coronation Gardens, a relaxing park with bandstand, pond, captivatingly colourful flowerbeds and a maze that kids love. Don’t miss the statue of Laurie Cunningham, Britain’s first black footballer to play for England at senior level: the towering 9200-capacity stadium behind has been the home ground of Leyton Orient since 1937.
Some awesome shops, cafes and restaurants pepper the road, from charismatic butcher’s Meatlove, which sells the finest beef, lamb and chicken in the area, to old-school deli Palmeira, not only stocked with imported Portuguese deli items, but with ice-cold pints of Super Bock beer to wash down a light lunch in its café-bar. Cyclists will make a beeline for Bike Shack, just off the main road, while Carnival has become a local institution for cards, gifts and household items, and quirkily-named tailor No-One Famous is on hand for alterations.
How about a pub crawl? Easy-peasy: start at the Leyton Star, the laidback sister pub to Leytonstone’s Heathcote & Star, with more of an emphasis on sports and decent burgers (tip: hide away at the wooden all-weather booths in the garden). Then pass the tube station – timing it right to observe a stunning sunset – towards the Leyton Technical, housed in the majesty of the Grade II-listed Italianate Town Hall: beneath its characterful historic rooms are soe spooky subterranean (and allegedly haunted) toilets. A ten-minute walk north is the Coach & Horses, a rebooted Victorian corner boozer with sunny garden that dishes up some of the area’s best Sunday roasts in its elegant dining room; while a little further still is the Lion & Key, a modern hotel and bar with terrace built on the site of one of Leyton’s most historic pubs, some believe dating back to 1300.
Hungry? Figo is a capacious new all-day Italian café, deli and trattoria with sweltering sun-trap terrace (tip: its buzzy weekend brunch is as good as its all-day pizzas and slow-cooked ragu). Directly opposite is Turkish grill Anatolia, whose secret rear garden feels a million miles from noisy Leyton High Road. Another must is long-running cult Scottish-owned Deeney’s, home to London-famous haggis toasties, as well as excellent espresso, wine and beer: pause outside for a second to admire artist Camille Walala’s eye-catching mural lighting up the whole parade. And finally, a few minutes further up the street, BYOB destination Masala India is a must for fans of tiffin boxes: our tip is to sit in the covered, heated garden and tuck into one of the chef’s signature curries, whether it’s the moreish chicken shashlik or butter-soft king prawn salan.