Sure, it's still hard to resist the jerk chicken, but Brixton's got a lot more to offer in terms of culinary excellence than it used to. Join the queue for Franco Manca's original outlet, tuck into an excellent Honest Burger or watch the south London world drift by from behind a Federation Coffee. Got a better idea? Share it with us in the comments below, or send us a tweet.
With its top-notch, UK-sourced (when possible) ingredients, speedy and friendly service, and rapid turnover, the original Brixton branch of Franco Manca remains, for our money, the best pizza joint in London. Both indoor and outdoor seating overlooks the bustling market arcade. Here you can sate a craving for genuine, Neapolitan-style pizza, with a flavourful slow-rise sourdough crust and a variety of traditional and innovative toppings.
Don’t be alarmed if this tiny burger joint is packed when you arrive – simply give the friendly, efficient staff your number to key into their iPads and wait for them to text you when a space is free (you can follow your queue status online too). That will give you time to pop off for an aperitif in one of Brixton Village/Market Row’s numerous other buzzing businesses, or to grab a carryout from the off-licence, listen to street music (there’s always something going on in Brixton Village) and generally soak up the atmosphere in these covered streets.
There’s no shortage of well-priced eateries in Brixton Village Market, but KaoSarn is one of the biggest crowd-pullers. The place is regularly packed inside and out with a mix of stalwart Brixtonites of all ages, and young hipsters soaking up the Market’s vibe – and it deserves to be busy. The food is not only cheap, but bursting with authentic Thai flavours. As at many of the surrounding dining venues, the decor is basic, with mismatched furniture and much of the seating ‘outside’, spanning both sides of a corner site at the edge of the market.
It’s a good thing Casa Morita’s menu is so brief – the potent cocktails don’t do much for your reading comprehension. Like the food, they’re tasty and remarkably cheap (just £5 for a smoky mezcal margarita). The bargain prices suit the setting, even if this is no longer any old indoor market thanks to the arrival of a plethora of interesting eateries over the past few years. Taco appetisers used good, chewy corn tortillas; the version with chicken mole was a little dry, but it packed a decent chocolate hit.
Cheap eats abound in Brixton Village Market these days, and Okan delivers on this front. Specialising in the Osaka street-food staple, okonomiyaki, the menu may be small, but it’s perfectly rounded – fried noodles, edamame, a little grilled aubergine and the all-important Osaka-yaki, all included. As the name suggests (okonomi means ‘as you like it’), you can put pretty much anything into your batter mix, but pork, squid or kimchi are popular choices.
Situated on a corner spot in Granville Arcade, Fish, Wings & Tings is a great place to check out some lesser-known Caribbean treats, beyond the Jamaican norm. Despite its short, to-the-point menu, this laid-back café does a good job of persuading you to indulge in a little more adventurousness in the Caribbean culinary department. Trinidadian chef Brian Danclair might suggest changing your beer order from Red Stripe (Jamaican) to Carib (Trini), for instance.
People come to this attractive corner spot inside Brixton Market’s covered arcade to work on their computers, eavesdrop, watch the world go by, or chat with friends. Grab a perch with a view on to the market if you can. But be warned: this isn’t a spacious venue, and it’s very popular. All Federation food is made right here, with sweet and savoury baked goods to the fore. Not complicated, but not expensive.
Koi might be the word for carp in Japanese, but as any sushi master will know there’s more than one way to fillet a fish, so here it means something completely different. The owners of this street stall in Brixton are convinced the UK is about to fall head over heels for the Japanese version of noodles in soup, so they named their stall ‘in love’. But that’s enough carping on about names, let's talk noodles.
Brixton Village Market (formerly Granville Arcade) has become a prime dining destination thanks to the many cafés and restaurants that have opened among the fruit and veg, household goods and bric-a-brac stalls. Decor at Etta's is simple: white walls, plain wooden tables and more tables ‘outside’ in the covered market. The short but appealing menu of fish and shellfish dishes runs from cod and chips to lobster, and includes succulent, fresh-grilled shell-on prawns, and crispy, deep-fried whitebait. There’s a couple of vegetarian dishes too.
This no-bookings, cash-only Chinese café is an offshoot, a second branch of the original in Brixton Village Market. It’s typical of a new wave of restaurant entrepreneurs who have moved from running a supper club to setting up premises with little experience or capital, spread the word by social media, and built up a loyal following. The experience gained at the first branch has paid off.
The Blues Kitchen Brixton
This Brixton branch - on Acre Lane - is one of three Blues Kitchens in London. The others are in Camden and Shoreditch. Each follows the same theme - food of a southern American bent served to a soundtrack of live music. And while the music of the moniker does play more than a small part on the music programme, it's not all about the blues. Expect, too, swing, soul, bluegrass, Motown and themed nights - including a popular Halloween gig. There's usually something on every night of the week. The food menu takes in classic Deep South dishes, with New Orleans gumbo, catfish jambalaya, Texan brisket, St Louis pork rib and a creole bean burger. Canadian lobster, burger specials and jerk chicken salads also feature.
"Quench your midweek thirst with our new two-for-one offer on cocktails every Wednesday!"