Londoners are busy. We don’t spend as much time as we should exploring, but in this new feature series, we plan to give you an epic area guide to as many tube stations as we can… telling you the best places to eat, drink, shop, and play that are no further than five minutes away.
Today we’re looking at Southgate on the Piccadilly Line.
To some, Southgate is a suburban paradise. To others, it is the one place in north London where fun comes to die.
The parks are plentiful (and green), as are the nail salons and cookie-cutter eateries. KFC and McDonalds came decades ago, and are not going anywhere. Pizza Express made a home here before I was born, and even our local Wimpy branch managed to cling on well into the 21st century until its recent, tragic closing.
This is a world of constancy – you can disappear for years and return to find the only change is that the word “ombre” has replaced that of “highlights” on a billboard outside “Sassy Hair Salon” and that there are no more shootings at The Fox – presumably because local gangs became so crushingly bored with the place they either fell into a deep, unrelenting depression or moved on.
The Fox is now a family pub that does discos on a Friday. Final countdown will be played three times in total. It’s main competitor in the nightlife department is Ye Olde Cherry Tree down Alderman’s Hill – and it’s a low-lit and old-mannish as it sounds. The rest is all noise – and reek of stale lager and spray tan.
Presumably you didn’t mean to end up here. I don’t think anyone does. But you might as well stay and explore, you curious urban wanderer, you.
With it’s circular, kind of 1920’s modernist space age thing going on, Southgate tube station is pretty much the hippest thing about the place. It was designed by a man called Holden a long time ago and won awards for looking a bit like a UFO if you squint at it from a distance. Far out, man.
Other architectural wonders to behold are The Southgate Club, which is a building made out of bricks and that puts on wonderful swarays like “Simply come trancing” and “Beyonce tribute act night”. It actually sounds quite fun.
Carry on down that main road and you’ll find the towering behemoth that is our 24-hour ASDA. Designed to look like something between a vast and ugly white tent and a mall reminiscent of certain post-apocalyptic zombie flicks, it will make you think deep and clever thoughts about hopelessness, capitalism, and the modern world. That, or else furnish you with a vast array of tasty frozen goods.
Presumably, you are bored already. This means that it must be time to go and buy things that you don’t need. There are a number of charity shops on the main road, all of which can stock all the pointless stuff people give away when they decide it’s time to reinvent themselves with new pointless stuff. My haul includes a Top Gun catsuit, a disappointing album by the Stone Roses who I’d confused with Stone Temple Pilots, and a multitude of cat themed lighters.
There’s also a fancy dress shop called Rodwins behind the station, where you can try on wigs and buy capsules you can suck on so it looks like there’s blood dripping down your chin when it’s actually saliva – the latter being a helpful antidote to the area’s endemic cat-calling problem.
And if you’re really at a loss for something to do, there’s always The Priory, which is about ten feet from the station towards Palmers Green, and has housed many a beleaguered celebrity. Sit outside and wait for someone famous to arrive looking exhausted and under extreme emotional duress. Ask if you can take a selfie with them. As the glossies insist, intrusive behaviour of this ilk is totally OK.
There is a lot of cheap houmous to be had in Southgate, from one of the many small grocery stores around. There is also a decent chippy next to The Southgate Club, aptly named Fish and Chips. Failing this, there’s always the Greggs opposite.
We hope you found our guide instructive, and found ample things to do. We now recommend you leave.