Peckham locals have always been proud of the area’s brand: a melting pot of cultural vibrancy, eccentric individuals and born-and-bred Londoners keeping it real. Now that the Overground has put Peckham within striking distance of the capital’s hip young things, it also rivals Hoxton, Dalston and all those other East End upstarts as the place to hang out. What’s more, Peckham’s proximity to the outer edges of Nappy Valley has seen an influx of young families. This alchemy makes it the perfect place for new restaurants to find their feet – and here are some of the best in the borough.
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This café has gone from strength to strength since opening, gradually finding its place in the community and ploughing profits straight back into the venue, which now boasts an attractive garden area out back. Eclectic salads, huge quiches and daily homemade cakes are all worth a look-in, while burger nights from Thursday to Saturday add an extra dimension.
A five-star venue in an unassuming location, this modern Italian wows with its short menu of beautifully presented dishes that are big on flavour and technically flawless. Despite the ambition of the kitchen, Artusi retains a welcoming local feel; its smart but low-key dining room is usually filled with happy regulars.
Just down the road from Artusi is another high-quality local that wouldn’t be out of place in central London – lucky Peckham. This friendly Thai café has an informal feel, with a colour-coded paper menu, communal tables on the terrace and no bookings. The cooking is serious stuff, though, with knowledgeable attention to detail reflected in every plate.
The Gowlett serves just one thing: pizzas ‘cooked by Poles, served in Peckham’, with wafer-thin crusts and a variety of high-quality toppings. This locals’ local has a louche look, with worn-leather sofas, peeling wallpaper and wipe-clean menus, but the vibe is friendly and the decked garden out back is a nice spot in summer.
A warm-hearted and stylish addition to Peckham’s culinary scene, this labour of love was the logical next step for the couple behind it, a pair of importers of Spanish ingredients. The tapas menu deals both in the usual – tortillas, croquetas and the like – and the unusual. Our favourite: crunchy morsels of fried chicken with tangy mojo picón. Quality wines are also a plus.
This lovely atrium within Peckham’s South London Gallery is the place to while away a morning over brunch. Breakfasts to suit appetites of every dimension are the order of the day, and there are no shortcuts – even the baked beans are homemade. We recommend The Full Spanglish: eggs, chorizo, morcilla, beans, mushrooms and toast. Welcome to the neighbourhood.
Surely, you think, as you walk down Peckham’s Consort Road, there’s been some mistake? Admittedly, this unlovely residential street is not the typical place to stumble upon a gastronomic gem. But eventually you’ll see light, smell charcoal-grilled meats, and lo, you’ll have reached this Balkan restaurant that’s run with enthusiasm and passion and lets the food do the talking.
This small-plates restaurant just steps from the station entrance has proved such a hit with Peckham’s burgeoning media set that it has expanded into the adjoining premises and now boasts a proper dining room alongside its more informal communal tables. The main menu features nicely put-together dishes each showcasing two or three high-quality ingredients. The only downer is the rough-and-ready fittings, which make for terrible acoustics.
A smart, atmospheric restaurant where you wouldn’t expect it (on frenetic Peckham Rye road), this outfit is run with plenty of spirit by Peckham locals for Peckham locals. The Modern British menu changes every day, the only stalwart being crisp ‘frizzle’ chicken nuggets with spicy ‘attitude’ sauce – a perfect signature dish for the south London setting.
The term ‘restaurant’ is perhaps pushing it when it comes to Persepolis, a treasure trove of a Persian deli with a counter and smattering of tables that make up the ‘café’ at the back. But the tasty food and charming ambience make it worth a pit stop. Plus, prices are breathtakingly low. Order a large meze (£5) followed by a saffron banana split (£3.50). Believe us, you won’t need dinner.