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Daddy Bao

The best restaurants in Tooting

Read Time Out's list of the best restaurants to visit in Tooting

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NOVEMBER 2019: We’ve added three spots in Tooting’s chilly but trendy Broadway Market: Bordelaise (a cosy Parisian-style bistro), Brickwood (a branch of the Aussie café chain) and Plot (a counter and two communal tables). Also check out Daddy Bao (sibling of Peckham’s Mr Bao), Milk Teeth (a grown-up offshoot of Balham’s Milk) and old faves The Little Tapería (a busy neighbourhood tapas joint) and Mud (another Aussie-run brunch spot).

Tooting's renowned for its budget-priced South Asian restaurants: South Indian, Pakistani, and Sri Lankan. Other options include a Taiwanese bao joint, an atmospheric tapas bar, and an Aussie-style café.

Apollo Banana Leaf

Restaurants Brasseries Tooting

Apollo Banana Leaf offers an authentic rendering of South Indian and Sri Lankan cuisine – and is great value. Though prices have increased, they remain fantastically keen – note the cracking lunchtime deals for under a tenner. Spices are at Jaffna (north Sri Lankan) levels: a single chilli icon on the menu is to be taken seriously; more than two denote a dish for the brave. Try the rich, warmly spiced crab masala, served claws and all.

Bordelaise

Restaurants French Tooting

A cute little Parisian-style bistro snuggled into a corner of Tooting’s trendy Broadway Market, Bordelaise has bags of character to go with a menu of rustic French small plates and the odd foray to faraway lands. If you’re hungry, go for one of chargrilled rare-breed steaks with Bordelaise sauce, crispy shallots and beef-dripping fries. Try to bag one of the cute sheltered tables ‘outside’ (ie under the cover of the market). Note: cash only.

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Leonardo Tommasin

Brickwood Tooting

Restaurants Cafés Tooting

A Tooting outpost of the Aussie-style café mini-chain, Brickwood has a prime pitch within SW17’s kitsch covered market. Brunch (served until 3pm) is the main event, with standouts including The Butcher (an imaginative take on the full English) and a roster of killer sourdough toasties (the creamy, tangy four-cheese version is a must). The place is regularly rammed, but you can always try for one of public picnic tables nearby if all the official slots are taken.

Daddy Bao

Restaurants Taiwanese Tooting

A spin-off from Peckham’s popular Mr Bao, this hip Asian hangout is a dark, buzzy, atmospheric spot dedicated to fluffy Taiwanese buns and much more besides. Daddy Bao is also really cheap, great fun, super-friendly and bang-on for flavour – if you don’t believe us, try the beautiful, melting beef-brisket bao with wasabi slaw or, even better, one of the small plates (sesame-slathered aubergine with spring onions and pomegranate seeds, perhaps). Daddy’s lip-smacking cocktails and bottomless brunch also get our vote.

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Dosa n Chutny

Restaurants Indian Tooting

Done out like a Tamil truck-stop with lurid lighting, furniture the colour of Sunny Delight and movies on the flatscreen TV, this rudimentary Sri Lankan and South Indian caff is famed for its minuscule prices and superlative dosas – although you can still eat cheaply if you veer off into gravy territory. Veggie options are the standouts – the mysore masala dosa, served with spiced onion, potatoes and homemade chutneys is a winner, as are the onion uthappam and veg biryani.

Graveney & Meadow

Restaurants Tooting

A social hub in the centre of Tooting, G&M struts its stuff as a multipurpose bar, brasserie, bakery and grill, with a sprawling beer garden providing the backdrop for summertime barbecues. During the day it’s all about brunch, while evening brings a trendy menu of snacks and small plates along the lines of pulled pork and kimchi toasties or scallops with broad bean risotto. DJs spin the decks on Friday and Saturday nights, while Sunday afternoon means live jazz.

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The Little Tapería

Restaurants Spanish Tooting

The busy Little Tapería deals in homespun charm with a striking marble bar that dispenses decent cocktails. Sit near the open kitchen for a glimpse of the chefs working on cool, artistic renditions of croquetas, tortillas, albondigas and more outré ideas such as piquillo peppers stuffed with truffled beef, morcilla scotch eggs or orange and manchego cheesecake. It doesn’t take bookings and the narrow space can get packed, but there’s also a beach shack-style extension at the back for overspill.

Meza Tooting

Restaurants Lebanese Tooting

Following the huge success of its poky original branch by Tooting Bec tube station, Meza’s second branch is now the go-to for Lebanese food in Tooting Broadway. The same standards apply (welcoming service, low prices), but there’s a bit more space and you can book (essential at peak times). The menu is also much more extensive, with a vast selection of hot and cold meza, plus very decent kebabs and grills (all served with chilli sauce and pitta bread).

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Milk Teeth

Restaurants Cafés Tooting

A younger sister to Balham’s cult local hangout Milk, this deliciously retro-cool Antipodean joint is calmer and more grown-up than the original, with toned-down music and a more family-orientated vibe. Everyone comes for brunch. Try the Young Betty (a take on eggs benedict with sourdough rather than a muffin) plus a mango and lemon verbena smoothie or a slice of moist, fluffy banana bread. Breezy young Aussie staff are as warm as can be.

brunch
brunch
Guy Dimond

Mud

Restaurants Cafés Tooting

If you fancy your brekkie sunny side up, this café, staffed by proper Aussies, makes for a bright start in Tooting. Breakfast or brunch is served until 3pm and the menu is a familiar run through the classics – eggs benny, corn-fritter stacks, pancakes, granola etc. Smashed avocado is served the Australian way with feta on top, and there are plenty of cakes to go with decent Ozone coffee. It’s table service and you pay at the counter (cash only).

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Plot

Restaurants British Tooting

A counter and two communal tables in the wind-tunnel surrounds of Tooting’s Broadway Market don’t sound that inviting, but Plot wins the day with its fresh-faced, clued-up staff and punchily flavoured seasonal small plates (moist, meaty oxtail croquettes and steamed south coast shells with roast apple, sorrel bun and cider broth are typical). Plot’s line-up of properly local beers also deserves a sniff, and the night-time vibe is just magical. Be warned – we’ve noticed a hike in prices of late.    

Sea Garden & Grill

Restaurants Seafood Tooting

Keep your coat on when visiting this laidback eatery in Tooting’s chilly Broadway Market, even though Sea Garden’s pimped-up seafood classics, veggie ideas and meaty grills are guaranteed to warm the cockles. Our faves? Anything with vegetables, anything labelled surf ’n’ turf, and the dessert of the day – provided it’s the organic honey panna cotta. The walk-in counter gets rammed, but groups can book communal tables in the market corridor. It doesn’t take cards, so bring some cash with you.

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