Heading to Hampstead Heath for a picnic? Of course you are — why wouldn't you, with those views over London. The good news is that you don't need to lug a picnic basket from home. The local area has plenty of places where you can pick up food and drink close to the Heath, whether you're approaching from Gospel Oak and Kentish Town, Hampstead Village, Highgate, or Golders Green.
Delis, bakeries and cake shops
British bakery Euphorium's Hampstead branch knows its Heath-bound audience very well, and provides picnic-friendly food accordingly. As you'd expect, it always has fresh loaves and baguettes in stock, and an excellent range of cakes, cookies, tarts, danishes and croissants. But it goes beyond your average bakery, teetering over into deli territory with ready prepared rolls, sandwiches, ciabattas and salads. An extra thumbs up for the fact that left over food at the end of the day is either donated to food bank or used for animal feed, rather than ending up in the bin.
Bagels are the speciality at Jewish deli Roni's, but delicious, freshly baked bread and cakes are on the menu too. The signature pastry is Rogalach, a sweet and salty danish dough topped with chocolate spread.
La Crêperie in Hampstead is a bit of an institution, with people lining up in the streets to tuck into the freshly made crepes and galettes served from the tiny stall outside the King William IV pub. We challenge you not to have polished the lot off before you've got anywhere near the Heath.
Italian restaurant Carluccio's also has deli sections in several branches, including the Hampstead one. Here you'll find Italian breads, cakes and biscuits, along with oils, vinegars, and various breadsticks, dips and jarred antipasti. Oh, and wine.
If you're not adverse to a chain, French bakeries Paul and Le Pain Quotidien, and artisan bread bakery Gail's all have a presence in Hampstead village, with other branches of Gail's in nearby Belsize Park and two in Highgate. Stock up on fresh bread, pastries, salads, takeaway coffee and more.
If you're willing to work up your appetite with a bit of a walk from the Heath, the north end of Golders Green is home to Daniel's Bagel Bakery, a kosher bakery selling breads, rolls, sandwiches and cakes, as well as Delisserie, a New York deli & grill which offer 10% off for takeaway orders. Carmelli Bakery is another traditional Jewish shop and bakery in the area.
Oddono's is known for its fresh gelato — the pistachio comes particularly well recommended. The Hampstead branch on Flask Walk throws out a distinctly Italian vibe, and makes new batches daily. Further north, Bella del Gelato in Golders Green rotates its 100+ flavours, plus offers frozen yoghurt, milkshakes and sundaes.
Now, it's unlikely that any of these concoctions will make it to the Heath in one piece, but if you're after some shade after a long day in the sun, head to Tinseltown. The American style diner does some sundaes and shakes of epic proportions, including the Nutella Heaven, and while you can get milkshakes and individual ice cream scoops to take away, we recommend staying seated throughout if you're going for a sundae.
Hampstead is home to a sizeable M&S food store, as well as a Tesco Express, while there's another in Highgate on Swain's Lane, over near the Men's Bathing Pond.
Other than the supermarkets listed above, the immediate vicinity of the Heath doesn't offer many options for picking up a tipple or two. Your best bet is to head to Kentish Town where you'll find Clapton Craft, Caps and Taps and Camden Town Brewery. Between them, they'll have all your beer needs covered.
If it's more of a post-picnic pint you're after, this area is AWASH with pubs. Rather than telling you about them all, allow us to direct you to our pubs database, where you'll be able to browse by area. For this excursion, we recommend making a start on Hampstead, Highgate, and Kentish Town. If you manage all of them in one day, we doth our caps to you (and maybe you should check yourself in to A&E).
On the Heath
There are a couple of park cafes on the heath itself, serving a respectable range of sandwiches, cakes, breakfasts and the like. English Heritage property Kenwood House has two cafes, both managed by Searcy's. The Heath is famously home to the Spaniards Inn, a historic pub which claims to have links to Dick Turpin. More importantly, it serves up posh pub grub in the form of roasts, fish and chips, burgers and the like, with one heck of a beer garden to boot.
- Where to buy food for a picnic in Regent's Park
- Where to barbecue in London parks (sorry — no barbecues allowed on Hampstead Heath)
- London's best ice cream
- London's best gelato
- London's best beer gardens
- Where to eat and drink in Hampstead
- Where to eat and drink in Golders Green
Know of anywhere else for picking up food and drink in the vicinity of Hampstead Heath? Let us know in the comments.