The best restaurants in Peckham
Just off hip and happening Bellenden Road, this easy-going café is a favourite with well-to-do locals, including those with pushchairs. Sit in the courtyard garden or in the back room by the open kitchen and tuck into extended breakfasts, eclectic salads, homemade cakes and suchlike. Also bookmark its self-styled burger nights (Thursdays to Saturdays), which come with sundaes and craft beers.
Low-key and minimalist, this honest-to-goodness Italian is just about the most perfect local restaurant you could imagine: cool without being pretentious; brilliant value despite its sky-high quality; and with a concise, market-led chalkboard menu of big-flavoured, technically flawless seasonal dishes. Think January King cabbage with bagna cáuda and breadcrumbs, cotechino with salsify and lentils or lamb shoulder with salsa verde and pea shoots.
Serving refined modern British cooking in downtown Peckham, this ace eatery attached to the Assembly Point gallery is bang-on when it comes to delivering seasonal small plates such as hake with kohlrabi and sea aster or venison with plums and celeriac. Canny sourcing, good shopping, culinary know-how and stupendous flavours are the keys to the kitchen’s success. A triumph.
Once a boozer, this brick-walled space is now Madame Babette’s pride and joy – a neighbourhood restaurant with a Gallic vibe, chandeliers in the front room and Bermondsey beers on tap. The blackboard menu goes big on diverse French-accented sharing boards, but you can also expect individual ‘plates’ such as cumin-spiced lamb with flatbread and harissa. Weekend brunch is a hot local ticket too.
Now happily embedded in Peckham Rye, this former street-food outfit serves up classic Vietnamese dishes in a modest, neutrally decorated, plywood-clad setting. Classics such as summer rolls, pho and noodle salads share billing with more unusual ideas including the house special: bánh khot pancakes filled with prawns, topped with spring onion and sprinkled with shrimp dust. BB’s Vietnamese cocktails are fab too.
Tapas-style sharing is the deal at this hip Thai café – a Peckham favourite with an all-weather outdoor space and an exhilarating menu of dishes far beyond your usual pad Thai clichés. Expect obscure street-food options such as fermented fish with coconut cream relish alongside more Westernised seasonal ideas (salt-baked celeriac with bergamot and chilli nam jim sauce, for example).
A smoky small-plates joint occupying Peckham Rye’s old station ticket office, the Coal Rooms is driven by a kitchen that likes ramping up its UK-meets-US flavours. Whether you’re here for Saturday brunch, Sunday lunch or any-day dinner, expect the unexpected: anyone for bone marrow and Marmite bread-and-butter pudding with wagyu salami? The dining room is not just super-cool, it’s also reassuringly calm by Peckham standards.
Born out of a rooftop pizzeria pop-up, Forza Win now offers cheek-by-jowl Italian-style dining in an old Peckham warehouse with scruffy walls and a plywood bathroom. Portions might seem measly, but the food itself is splendid: bowls of whipped butter beans; clams with porcini broth; pappardelle topped with wild garlic flowers; caramel chocolate pot (with or without sea salt).
Brace yourself: this weirdly named Nunhead spot specialises in pizzas and craft beers. The former are made with organic sourdough and topped inventively – think chipotle-rolled goat’s cheese with rhubarb and piquillo peppers, or courgette and radish with pumpkin seeds and basil pistou. Also snap up banging specials such as the vegan combo involving cashew cream and smoked tofu. Beers include elite names like Burning Sky.
Destination neighbourhood dining in Peckham – that’s the schtick at Kudu, a good-looking restaurant specialising in South African-inspired small plates. It may be named after a species of antelope, but don’t come here expecting exotic decor: instead, the dining room has the vibe of a sleek, vintage lounge bar, while the kitchen shows its rainbow nation allegiances with several dishes arriving in traditional cast-iron skillets.
The upbeat Peckham sibling of Brixton’s celebrated Salon, Levan is a local delight with a modernist menu that ticks all our boxes. Top picks? The mushroom tempura, the soft mellow boudin noir with a tamarind-cured egg yolk, and the addictive comté cheese fries with saffron aioli. Weekend brunch does the business, staff are ace, and the whole place is fun, fun, fun. We love it… and you will too.
A trendy street food stall that’s gone permanent, this cool pizza joint comes with a moody lick of paint and a stylish marble bar – although it’s all about the blistered Neapolitan-style specialities that are pulled out of the oven. Our top pick is the version strewn with lamb merguez sausage (from Flock & Herd across the road), red onion, cavolo nero and rosemary – a sure-fire Peckham classic.
Blanca Rowe (aka Miss Tapas) started out importing Spanish provisions, so it was only natural that she should follow this up with a warm-hearted and stylish tapas restaurant. Her menu features all the usual suspects (tortillas, croquetas etc), but there are also more unusual ideas. Our favourite: crunchy morsels of fried chicken with tangy mojo picón. Weekend brunch and quality wines too.
Venue says A stylish and welcoming tapas bar that mixes authentic Andalusian dishes and an interesting wine and sherry selection. Brunch now available!
Zeitgeist or no, this Taiwanese spot is a tip-top contender that brings a slice of Soho to SE15 with its fluffy steamed bao buns, small plates and cocktails. The classic Mr Bao (pork, pickle and peanut powder) is both larger and cheaper than its uptown rivals (but just as good), and we also like the extended list of vegan offerings such as the ginger-braised tofu bao.
Originally a part-time pan-Balkan pop-up, this spruced-up joint is now a gastronomic gem on unlovely Consort Road. ‘Eastern Mediterranean charcoal-grilled goodness’ is the promise, and judging by the smells wafting down the street, this place delivers in spades. Smoky flavours loom large, from marinated quail with chickpea and apricot tagine to whole turbot with saffron-infused couscous. The whole caboodle is run with real enthusiasm.
A stylishly shabby-chic restaurant where you wouldn’t expect to find one (on the frenetic Peckham Rye road), this outfit is cheerily run by Peckham locals for Peckham locals. The menu (we’ll call it modern British) changes every day, although you can always expect the crisp ‘frizzle’ chicken nuggets with spiced grits and ‘attitude’ sauce – a perfect signature dish for the south London setting.
Proudly located within Persepolis – Peckham’s Persian delicatessen – this colourful, crowded and charmingly bonkers café is a shoo-in for local veggies. Meze and wraps form the bedrock, but the menu plunders Iran, the Levant and North Africa for inspiration (adding some local tweaks along the way). To finish, go for the hot paklava meltdown or the divine turkish delight sundae. Drink Afghan green tea.
An impeccably hip drop-in selling seriously delicious pizzas sliced from 22-inch New York-style whoppers, Voodoo Rays is known for its long hours, gigantic portions and downright kooky menu. Carnivores might fancy Porky’s or The Meat is On, but there are also plenty of takers for the Vegan Queen (artichoke hearts, green olives, red onion etc) and the 10-inch brunch pie topped with wild mushrooms and cherry tomatoes on a soy yoghurt base.
Originally opened in 1927, burned down during the Peckham riots in 1985, rebuilt and reopened in 1990, this branch of Manze’s pie and mash shop is run along similar lines to its older brother on Tower Bridge Road. Its pies are some of the best in town, the liquor is perfect, and the endlessly churned mash is just soooo smooth.
Located down a dingy cobbled alleyway opposite Peckham Rye station, Yadas is a ramshackle Kurdish joint with zero interest in PR but a huge talent for producing honest, flavourful food. Its shish kebabs, shawarma and kubba (lamb-stuffed rice balls) are all grand but do save room for a qawarma lamb wrap with cheese and pickles. It also does Irn Bru shisha, if you’re interested.
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