Stroll up Balham High Road from the tube station and you’ll find Hildreth Street, a secret south London gem. This short pedestrianised street is blossoming into a foodie’s paradise after a facelift a couple of years ago created more space for alfresco dining. A cluster of market stalls selling flowers, clothes and veg greets you at one end, while unusual shops and intriguing eateries line either side. It’s the kind of street you wish you had in your manor.
You’re bound to find posh mums and dads with pushchairs sipping lattes in the cafés – this is Balham, after all – but Hildreth Street also attracts young creative types with laptops. Perhaps because it lacks a traditional pub or cocktail bar it’s still more of a daytime location, but that’s slowly beginning to change as several businesses stretch out their opening times.
Hildreth Street shines brightest at weekends, when there are queues out the door at the popular brunch spots . ‘If you don’t want to wait, do try to get here at 9am on a Saturday or Sunday,’ one owner told us. And don’t be surprised to spend a little longer discovering the cafés and shops than you expect. Hildreth Street is a compact kind of place, but it packs in a lot more than you might realise.
A glass of something classier than you normally have at The Wine Tasting Shop. As well as selling bottles to-go, this friendly independent store has its own licensed bar and lays on live blues music on Friday nights.
A bottle of vintage ale or craft lager at We Brought Beer, which describes itself as a ‘beer and homebrew general store’. Like The Wine Tasting Shop, you can either drink in or take away.
A bowl of something satisfyingly carby washed down with a glass of hearty red at Spaghetti Bar. This cosy Italian became Hildreth Street’s newest dining spot when it opened in early November.
A slice of gluten-free chocolate fudge cake or banana and walnut loaf at H Street Deli, a charming café that opened its doors over
A grilled cheese sourdough toastie at Brickwood, a busy branch of a popular local café chain that also has outlets in nearby Clapham and Tooting.
Grab a chatty and good-value manicure at the always-popular Julie’s Nail Designs.
Have a massage or try reflexology at Feel Good Balham, a holistic therapy centre that’s located on Hildreth Street Mews, just off the main street.
Work up a sweat by taking a dynamic yoga class in 50 percent humidity at Hot Yoga South, which is also located on Hildreth Street Mews.
A hand-crafted bouquet for someone special from The Flower Sanctuary, a lovely independent florist.
Artisan food and drink items from Volker & Quinn, a fishmonger and deli that’s been described as a ‘mini Borough Market’. Visit on Saturday if you fancy sampling hand-rolled sushi at the shop’s communal dining table.
A fresh-baked loaf from Blackbird Bakery, a cute branch of a growing local chain that now has six shops across south London. It sells different loaves depending on the day of the week, so you might want to check the list on its website before you visit.
And if you only do one thing…
Nuke your hangover by ordering the signature brunch item at Milk. Named The Convict in a cheeky nod to the café’s Aussie owners, this dish is so popular it even has its own T-shirt.