Okay, a confession: Streatham High Road was once voted Britain’s worst and most polluted high street. Granted, that vote was the result of a Radio 4 poll, and whilst I’ve got big love for the 4 (shout out to my man Melvyn Bragg), its broader demographic probably isn’t that keen on south London high streets dotted with chicken shops and Asian supermarkets. But also that was way back in 2002, and London changes so fast that vast chunks of it are unrecognisable after five years, never mind 15.
There are still a fair few chicken shops, but now they’ve been joined by a clutch of new bars and vibey restaurants, serving the sprinkling of new residents priced out of nearby Tooting, Balham and Clapham. Where else can you find Moorish, West African and Indian restaurants – three in a row – with Chinese, Vietnamese, Lebanese, Japanese, Spanish and good old cor-blimey-would-ya-buleeve-it British grub just a bit further down? Or a sourdough-only bakehouse wedged between Chicken Cottage and a plumbers’ merchant? Streatham is in that glorious middle stage of poshing up: the sprouts are there, but it’s still very much down-to-earth and ‘real’, whatever that means. So ignore the pollsters and the haters and visit a slice of south London on the up.
The King of Breakfasts – free range scrambled eggs with chorizo and smoked salmon – from cute Spanish place Café Barcelona.
Crisp-skinned hake and sweet-braised artichoke from awesome British restaurant Hood.
Hong Kong-style sweet and sour chicken with the booze of your choice at BYO joint Mrs Wong’s Chinese Restaurant.
Dim sum or spicy black bean chicken at local fave Rice Republic.
Delish vegetarian and vegan grub from Wholemeal Café, just around the corner on (the aptly named) Shrubbery Road.
Smoked, peppered mackerel on toasted sourdough from popular, buzzy café Boyce Da Roca.
A pint of lovely, warm British ale at The Bull, which pours London brews from Meantime and Camden Town.
More pints in historic boozer Pratts and Payne, a Time Out Love London award-winner last year.
A stonking cortado in the ultra-stylish Brooks & Gao coffee shop, up near Streatham Hill station.
Stroll across Streatham Common. With fewer rugby gits than Clapham Common, it also contains a cute formal garden, the Rookery.
Make like Torvill and Dean (or fall flat on your arse) at Streatham Ice and Leisure Centre: London’s only Olympic-sized skating rink.
New and secondhand vinyl from local emporium Turnstyle Records. The entrance has an original turnstile from the first Crystal Palace football ground.
Megadrive, Game Boy and SNES classics from Retro Game Base – it’s a gaming geek’s Valhalla.
Awesome sourdough bread to impress your flatmates, from Elephant Bakehouse.
And if you only do one thing…
Get your bad self down to Hideaway for quality live music (mostly soul, funk and swing) in a friendly, decidedly unstuffy venue. Yes, even on jazz nights.