With its affluent vibe and increasingly excellent range of mid- and high-end restaurants – including a couple of London’s best – the streets around the east side of Clapham Common might not be the most obvious for bargains. But even those on a tight budget can fill up at one these great cheap eats (French, Chinese and brunch joints among them), located along one of the Northern Line’s busiest stretches.
What’s the vibe? This new-wave Antipodean café is spread over two floors and sits across the road from Clapham Common tube. It’s fashionably rough and ready, with a yard out back.
When to go Extended brunch (till 3pm) is the prime time, with a limited range of food later on.
What to eat Brunch burritos and grilled sourdough toasties are the big hitters, backed by wraps, bagels and salads.
How much? Brunch items from £8.50, toasties from £6. Be warned: add-ons may take you over budget. Also check out the Weekday Steal (grilled toastie, wrap or bagel plus salad, soup or hash nuggets for just £2.50).
What’s the vibe? By-the-slice, New York-style pizza place on the fringes of Clapham Common (housed in a former public loo, no less).
When to go Lunch, afternoon snack, dinner, post-pub pile-out… they’re open noon-midnight, so take your pick.
What to eat In true NYC fashion, a full pie is a gargantuan 20 inches, so stick to the slices. Flavours are mostly conventional – though chicken, chorizo, halloumi and oregano is a neat combo.
How much? £3.50-£5 per slice. Two should do you.
What’s the vibe? French by name, French by nature, Madeleine woos Claphamites with its delectable help-yourself viennoiseries, croissants, rustic breads, coloured macarons and more besides.
When to go It’s great for a daytime stop-off, especially in fine weather when the outside tables come into their own.
What to eat Anything that’s baked in-house, from croque monsieur and quiche to vibrant tarts and pains au chocolat. And madeleines, naturellement.
How much? A plain croissant is £1.55, quiches and savouries start at £3.45, cakes and patisserie are priced £2.40 upwards and flavoured madeleines are 80p apiece. Knock off 20p-40p per item for takeaway.
What’s the vibe? Cramped but easy-going, this is a no-bookings, cash-only, Beijing-style café – and an offshoot of the original in Brixton Village Market.
When to go Mamalan makes for a perfect pit stop, day or night (if you’re in no rush for a table).
What to eat Beijing dumplings and five-spice pork buns are great for sharing. Otherwise plump for a bowl of slow-cooked beef tang mein noodles in soup. And don’t miss the smacked cucumber salad (as popularised by Fuchsia Dunlop).
How much? Buns are £5 for two, Beijing dumplings from £5 for five, noodle soups from £8 and smacked cucumber salad is £4.
What’s the vibe? It’s probably London’s only tart-based bakery and coffee shop – serving up oven-fresh savoury and sweet combos alongside salads, Volcano coffees and raw juices.
When to go Brunch goes on till 2pm, while coffee with cake is an afternoon delight. Expect a constant stream of commuters, coffee-seekers, yummy mummies and self-employed flâneurs.
What to eat ‘Terribly tasty’ high-sided tarts such as beetroot, pea and feta plus salads, sweet slices and cakes.
How much? Most of the savoury tarts are £6-plus (£9.75 with a salad). Sweet tarts and cakes are £3.50-£4. Full brunch (veggie or otherwise) starts at £9.30.
The Mayfair branch of this small chain of seafood restaurants is handsome and cleverly designed, thanks to dark wooden furniture, greeny-grey colours, and the nifty use of wine racks to divide up the space. Most of the fish is from Devon and the south coast. Options range from oysters, whole Devon crab and Nova Scotia lobster thermidor to seared yellowfin tuna nicoise, Arbroath smokies with a freshly poached duck egg and chervil butter, lobster linguine and oven-roasted sea bass with fresh lemon thyme, olive oil and Cornish sea salt. The wine list focuses on whites, though some reds do feature, too. Beers include Viceroy India Pale Ale from Westerham Brewery, Sagres and Peroni. FishWorks' sister branch is in Marylebone.
Venue says: “Pick a fish from the counter, choose the way you like it cooked, have it filleted at your table. For 2-4 to share. Trust seafood.”