Hidden inside this colourful courtyard you’ll find a micro-village full of independent restaurants, bars, cafés and shops.
Tucked away down a tiny side street in Seven Dials is Neal’s Yard, one of London’s prettiest streets. It’s easy to miss, but it would be unfortunate if you did. Inside this little enclave, you can get everything from pizza to pedicures… and every business is committed to sustainable and ethical commercial practices. (Header image: @anna.konczal)
Not too long ago, Neal’s Yard was used as a waste area filled with bins. So, instead of people capturing that perfect Instagram shot, you’d probably find rats. Luckily, before it was demolished, a bloke called Nicholas Saunders used his entrepreneurial skills to save the space and create the buzzing, colourful corner that it is today.
It all started with Saunders’ very own whole food store, but everyone initially thought he was mad – Neal’s Yard wasn’t even on the map! Anyway, long story short, the whole thing ended up being a huge success, and soon there wasn’t a single empty building in the yard. There’s a brilliant story about Nicholas Saunders and the beginning of Neal’s Yard here.
Here’s what you’ll find if you visit today:
Jacob the Angel
Jacob the Angel exists because the team behind much-loved London restaurants The Palomar and The Barbary thought they’d try their hand at coffee. It’s a tiny little café with only 10 seats, but the food – and obviously the coffee – is always available to takeaway. They are famous for their signature coconut cream pies, so we suggest pairing your espresso with one of these. (See also: the best coffee shops in Covent Garden.)
This humble pizza joint allows you to buy pizza by the slice but, on the other end of the spectrum, you can also get a whomping great 20″ pizza for £20. Their flavours are so diverse – for example, kimchi, porcini cream and basil or aubergine, cauliflower cheese, spinach and harissa – so you’re bound to want to mix and match. (See also: the best restaurants in Covent Garden.)
Wild Food Café
All of Wild Food Café’s food is plant-based and organic – and they are so creative with their ingredients. The menu often changes, but there’s always a kick-ass burger up for grabs, and the raw desserts—all hail the blackberry cheesecake—are to die for. (See also: the best veggie burgers in London.)
Neal’s Yard Remedies
Focused on all-natural and organic health and beauty products, Neal’s Yard Remedies was established back in 1981. It all started as a tiny little store in a corner of London that was barely on the map, and now they’re a global leader in the industry. They pride themselves on being a family business that cares deeply for the planet – all of their products are cruelty-free, certified organic and 100% ethical.
St John’s Bakery
You’ve probably seen St John’s doughnuts on Instagram – they’re basically world famous. Neal’s Yard was their first ever permanent bakery and wine bar, and remains a popular spot to grab a pastry, a fresh loaf, or a bottle of wine to enjoy over dinner.
Compagnie Des Vins Surnaturels
This gorgeous little wine bar is the perfect spot for any occasion. A sommelier will come and talk you through 400 different types of wine, and they’ll help you pick something based on your preferences. If you’re stopping for food, your choices are plentiful: there’s everything from cheese and charcuterie, to salads and spaghetti. (See also: cosy wine bars in London.)
Cassanova & Daughters
Cassanova & Daughters is another great place for a glass of wine. This one is a little further along and focuses on Italian produce. Doubling up as a Sicilian deli as well as a wine bar, you’ll find beautiful olive oils, wild oregano, pecorino, anchovies, and so much more. All run by a man who quit the circus to open up shop in London, the bar is both friendly and authentic – the perfect set-up for a summer’s evening.
And it doesn’t stop there…
There are plenty of other places inside Neal’s Yard, including quirky beauty clinics and hairdressers. You’ll find it all hidden away between Shorts Gardens and Monmouth Street (WC2H 9DP).
Also published on Medium.