Although East Oxford is only a short walk from central Oxford over Magdalen bridge, it is a world apart. While Oxford may seem like a dusty old don steeped in centuries of tradition fussing about dress code and behaviour, East Oxford is like an errant globe-trotting gap-year student.
There are three main roads to East Oxford: Iffley Road, Cowley Road and St Clements. Cowley Road is the centre.
Restaurants & cafes
On Cowley Road you can find: Atomic Burger (hamburgers etc.), Nando’s (chicken mainly), Chinese (‘Rice Box’, ‘The Red Star Noodle Bar’, ‘Jin Jin’), Greek (‘The Greek Taverna’), Indian (‘Milakas’), Italian (‘La Cucina’, ‘Il Principe’, ‘Pizzeria Trattoria’), Jamaican (‘Hi Lo’), Japanese (‘Taburu’ & ‘Sushi Corner’), Lebanese (‘Pomegranate’), Moroccan (‘La Kesh’), Mexican (‘Big Ron’s Mexican Cantina’), Nepalese (‘Yeti’), Spanish (‘The Kazbar’), Syrian (‘The Pickled Walnut’) among others. Tucked down Manzel Way you can find the Restore Garden Cafe for good food and a little peace.
On St Clement’s there is Moya, a Slovakian restaurant which comes highly recommended by my Palestinian friend.
On Magdalen Road you can find Ollie’s Thai and The Magdalen Arms which has won several awards for its, mainly British, food. The Magdalen Arms also has a flea market on the first Saturday morning of every month, for some reason. The Magic Cafe is a wholefood cafe
On Iffley Road you can find a fish and chip takeaway called ‘Fish and Chips’ which also does deep fried mars bars. A very friendly place.
In Rose Hill you can find the Polish Kitchen which does delicious bigos and placeki.
Food Shops & Delis
The Cowley Road is the only place I know where you can pick up jackfruit, rambutan, gigantes, imam biyaldi, aubergine antipasti, goat meat, mochi and baklava within a ten-minute walk. And there is much much more…
You can find ‘El Houma’ the North African Souk, Butchers and lots of Halal butchers, Eastern Foods, Korean ‘Seoul Plaza’, ‘Millefeuille’ French Patisserie, the Farmers’ Market on Saturdays, Uhuru (Cowley Road) and Wild Honey (Magdalen Road) Health Foods, Lebanese Deli, ‘Maroc’ Moroccan foods and tableware, Oriental Food Store, two Polish Skleps, ‘Baltic Foods’ Russian deli and ‘Fig and Olive’ Syrian deli.
Antiques – St Clement’s Antiques (St Clements) Specializes in 17th and 18th century furniture.
Ballroom Emporium – (The Plain) sells vintage clothing and hires out ball dresses, prom dresses and black tie.
Comic shop – Inky Fingers
Charity shops – Lots on Cowley Road and St Clements, great places to find English language books for any level or interest.
Games Shop – Specialist board game shop.
Music Box – Small specialist music shop.
Sylvesters – (Magdalen Road) Hardware store which has practically everything you could ever want, and a lot of things you’d probably never want, for the home.
Pharmacies, Sainsbury’s, Tesco & Co-op supermarkets, Honest Stationers and bike shops can all be found on the Cowley Road.
Pubs (my recommended)
The Fir Tree (Iffley Road)
The Star (Rectory Road)
The Port Mahon (St Clements)
The Half Moon (The Plain)
The Rusty Bicycle (Magdalen Road)
The Isis (towpath on the way to Iffley village)
Things to do
Cinema – The Ultimate Cinema is an independent cinema on Cowley Road.
Catweazle Club – Open-mic nights every Thursday, music, poetry, performance.
Theatre – The Pegasus (Magdalen Road) – theatre, dance, comedy and baby disco.
Live music – The 02 Academy (Cowley Road)- various bands, comedy; The Half Moon (The Plain) – live music on Sunday nights in a cosy pub
Walks – The Iffley Nature Reserve is off the Iffley Road, down Jackdaw Lane; the Angel and Greyhound Meadow can be accessed through Boulter Street off St Clements. You can walk along the tow path into town or towards Iffley village.
You can practice meditation with the Tibetan Buddhists at Thrangu House on Magdalen Road every Tuesday evening.
South Parks hosts a food festival once a year and various circuses during the summer.
The Cowley Road Carnival is in early July, it’s always worth a visit but it does get crowded.