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Balham bars and pubs

Read Time Out's list of the best bars and pubs to visit in Balham

balhambowlsclub gm015.jpg
© Gemma Day

Just down the road from rowdy Clapham, Balham offers a more laidback – although still lively – array of bars and pubs. Balham Bowls Club offers a cosy bar and good Sunday lunches, while there's comedy and quiz fun to be at the Bedford. Here are Time Out's picks...


Cheap eats in south London

Apollo Banana Leaf
© Britta Jaschinski
Restaurants, Brasseries

Apollo Banana Leaf

icon-location-pin Tooting

Sri Lankan restaurant

Disco lights twinkle round the door, cheap wall art depicts idyllic mountain scenes, but it’s the cooking that attracts devotees of fiery food to this modest Tooting eaterie. Prices are divertingly low: especially when you factor-in the BYO policy. Street food snacks (‘short eats’) include croquette-like mutton rolls (with clove-spiked meat fillings). Follow them with rich, warmly spiced crab masala – claws and all. Worth getting messy for.

Unlicensed: no corkage charge.

Meal for two with soft drinks and service: around £20.

Time Out says
Things to do

Borough Market

icon-location-pin Borough Market

Food market

If you’re happy eating on the hoof, Borough Market is one of the best places in London to find a lunch for around a fiver from Mon-Sat. Highlights include the Brindisa stall, Kappacasein toasted cheese sandwiches, and many more. The market exists in skeleton form from Monday to Wednesday, so pop along in the latter half of the week for the full experience. If you want to miss the crowds, a morning visit is advisable.

Takeaway meal per head: around £5-£7.

Spit & Roast, Brockley Market
© Toby Allen
Shopping, Markets and fairs

Brockley Market

icon-location-pin Brockley

Saturday produce market

This friendly market in Lewisham College car park is a great place to grab a bite as you do your weekly grocery shop. A regular gang of star-studded street food vendors includes Spit & Roast with deep-fried buttermilk chicken baps, Mike & Ollie with Lebanese-style flatbread wraps, Fleischmob serving Austrian schnitzel, plus juicy beef patties in glazed buns from Mother Flipper.

From £4.50-£7.50 per dish.

Shopping, Markets and fairs

Brixton Village Market

icon-location-pin Brixton

Covered market

Brixton Village Market – formerly called Granville Arcade – has become a centre for many excellent start-up cafés including Kaosarn, Elephant, Honest Burgers, Okan and Federation Coffee among others.

Meal for two: around £20-£35.

Restaurants, Vietnamese

Café East

icon-location-pin Surrey Quays

Vietnamese café

Tucked in a corner of the Surrey Quays Shopping Centre car park, Café East rewards intrepid diners who manage to find it. Inside, the sparsely furnished room has big square tables packed with happily guzzling South-east Asian customers. The menu is an edited-down list, each dish portrayed in an adjoining colour pic. Try the herby summer rolls and the beautifully flavoured pho noodle soup. Prices are low, making this an ideal place for groups to enjoy a veritable Vietnamese banquet. Unlicensed; no alcohol allowed.

Meal for two with soft drinks and service: around £25.

Time Out says
Restaurants, Lebanese


icon-location-pin Balham


This Balham restaurant may look suspiciously like a building site – all bright lights, rough-hewed woods and huge metal scaffolding poles (a deliberate design element) – but Balham’s Beyrouths, which serves the food of Beirut, Lebanon, is surprisingly polished. Friendly, efficient staff dish out a roll-call of crowd-pleasers: from well-made houmous (garnished with virgin olive oil and fresh pomegranate seeds) to juicy pieces of grilled lamb and deliciously smoky baba ganoush. Portion sizes are decent.

Meal for two with drinks and service: around £30.

Time Out says
Restaurants, Fast food outlets

Chicken Shop

icon-location-pin Tooting

Chicken grill

Tooting’s long been a place for great Indian food, but Chicken Shop is its first really stylish bar and grill. No prizes for guessing what they serve, but they do a simple thing very well indeed. No bookings: arrive off-peak if you don’t want to wait at the tiny bar.

Meal for two with drinks and service: around £40.

Time Out says
Restaurants, Indian

Dosa n Chutny

icon-location-pin Tooting

South Indian and Sri Lankan café

Classic South Indian breakfast and snack dishes are beautifully rendered at this basically furnished Tooting café. Rarely have we seen such a perfect dosai: crisp on the outside, moist and rice-fragrant on the inside, served with rich sweet sambar (spicy lentil dip). Most of these meals cost under £3. The non-veg options are OK – mutton and chicken, mostly – but meat-free food is the star.

Meal for two with soft drinks and service: around £18.

Time Out says
Restaurants, Ethiopian

Kitfo House

icon-location-pin Vauxhall

Eritrean and Thai café

This little licensed caff in Vauxhall serves fry-ups for breakfast, then a Thai menu for lunch. But it’s in the evening that it comes into its own as an Eritrean restaurant. More than 30 Eritrean dishes are produced, ranging from dorho (spicy chicken stew) to kitfo (finely chopped rare beef seasoned in ghee with herbs and paprika). We recommend the ‘special platters’, which feature a dazzling variety of dishes from the à la carte. Just one special platter feeds two people easily. To finish, try the Eritrean coffee ceremony at £7 for two people.

Meal for two with drinks and service: around £30.

Time Out says
Restaurants, Snack bars

Mama Lan

icon-location-pin Clapham

Chinese café

This no-bookings, cash-only Chinese café in Clapham is an offshoot of the original in Brixton Village Market. The seating may be cramped, and you might have to queue, but the food is consistently good. Try the pork buns, which look like meat-filled muffins, or a generous portion of spicy chicken ban mein noodles. And leave room if you can for some smacked cucumber: a new classic.

Meal for two with drinks and service: around £22.

Time Out says

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