Camberwell area guide

Discover great restaurants, bars, pubs and things to do in arty Camberwell

Camberwell

South-east London's Camberwell is an artistic part of town, with Camberwell College of Arts luring new talent to SE5. With this audience in mind, restaurants and bars are diverse and offer a whole lot more than the spread of chicken shops on the high street would lead you to believe. Take a trip to a refurbed pub for an unusual wine list, a new age Chinese restaurant for Xinjiang cuisine or Burgess Park for a scenic stroll.

RECOMMENDED: London by area

The best bits of Camberwell

12 great things to do on Camberwell Church Street
News

12 great things to do on Camberwell Church Street

The greatest concentration of affordable and excellent restaurants in London

Nine things you'll know if you live in Camberwell
News

Nine things you'll know if you live in Camberwell

Camberwell is every bit the creative hub its art college would have you believe

Restaurants in Camberwell

Spike + Earl
Restaurants

Spike + Earl

You’d probably expect ordering a coffee at the home of south London’s most revered roastery to be an absolute nightmare. There’ll be beans to choose, surely, then 40-odd types of milk to pick from and – oh god – brewing methods to consider. Can someone remind me what the hell a Chemex looks like? Luckily, though, the coffee geekery is kept to a bare minimum at Spike + Earl, a new café brought to you by bean-slinging social enterprise Old Spike Roastery. While you’re welcome to be more specific, the options for a cup of joe are simply ‘with milk’, ‘without’, ‘cold brew’ or ‘filter’. It makes Costa look like a pretentious hipster café – and that’s meant as a compliment. Aesthetically, though, it’s every bit the modern brunch spot. Set within a gallery-like space on the ground floor of the former Southwark Town Hall, it’s decorated with sturdy cinderblock, granite furniture and a strict monochrome colour scheme, with a smattering of potted succulents the only concession to colour. Though more substantial dishes are served after 5pm (along with cocktails and local beers), daytime is primetime, when food choices amount to a small selection of classic brunch dishes and sandwiches. The latter came in the form of a ‘Dutch crunch’ – a bun with a dry, crunchy exterior and a regularly changing line-up of fillings that are substantial for the price. That USP bread, though, can be a bit hit and miss – on one visit it was pleasingly tough and chewy, on another it was dry enough to infli

Time Out says
4 out of 5 stars
Users say
5 out of 5 stars
Theo's Pizzeria
Restaurants

Theo's Pizzeria

Sourdough pizza giant Franco Manca now has 18 restaurants across London, but one bit of the city not yet coloured in on the chain’s floury Risk board is the south-east. Perhaps looking to beat them to the punch, Theo’s is a similar set-up, dishing up Neapolitan-style sourdough pizzas and very little else. Another south-easter, 400 Rabbits, has already hopped into Crystal Palace, but Theo’s has made itself the crown pie-prince of Camberwell.  Unmissable as you walk through the door is the dome-shaped, wood-fired brick oven which ensures that the pies are done just right. Crusts are soft and chewy on top and crisp underneath, with welcome hits of bitterness from the odd charred spot. Toppings include aubergine, anchovies and various kinds of pork – and come piled high.  A little too high in some cases. A veg-heavy special of chestnut mushroom, blue cheese and leek soon turned soggy in the middle as the over-abundant greenery perspired into the base. It’s better to focus on the more straightforward stuff. The wonderfully cheesy garlic pizza bread (misleadingly labelled as ‘focaccia’ on the menu) showed that Theo’s is capable of doing great things with simple ingredients, and suggests that the £5 lunchtime panuozzo (essentially a pizza sandwich) is also worth checking out.  Pies range in price from £6.50 for the margherita to £10 for meatier options. More-than-serviceable house wines come by the 500ml or litre jug. Or partner your pie with entry-level craft offerings from Ker

Time Out says
4 out of 5 stars
Users say
5 out of 5 stars
Louie Louie
Restaurants Book online

Louie Louie

Like the rock ’n’ roll rebel anthem it shares a name with, Louie Louie – sat halfway along staunchly ungentrified Walworth Road – is a maverick. Located among an Iceland, bookies and payday loan shops, it stands defiant with white tables, angular wine glasses and flat whites, serving up small plates and cocktails to a soundtrack of vinyl until 1am on weekends. It’s the bigger, bolder spin-off of community café Fowlds, down the road towards Camberwell in a working furniture upholsterer’s. The Tel Aviv-born guest-chef-in-residence Oded Oren (fresh from a pop-up last year at Bethnal Green’s Oval Space) specialises in veg-based plates complemented by charcoal-cooked meats and seafood. A headily tangy fermented feta with a glug of olive oil and big florets of wild oregano set the bar high. Zingy bream and hake kebabs could’ve been crispier, but fresh rocket and spicy Libyan chraime sauce rounded it off well. Nutty roasted freekeh had a little bite, and worked great with the other dishes, though there could’ve been a few more of the deliciously buttery jerusalem artichokes in there. But these are minor gripes: ingredients were at peak freshness, and the predominantly Israeli and Middle Eastern plates had some well-executed, not-at-all-naff fusion touches. The smooth, raw texture of a citrusy sashimi sea bass struck a balance with just the right amount of herby tabbouleh salad – and was animated with a few hunks of red chilli and a generous squeeze of lime. The melty five-hour bra

Time Out says
4 out of 5 stars
Users say
4 out of 5 stars
Book online
Silk Road
Restaurants

Silk Road

A pioneer of London’s trend for branching out into regional Chinese cuisines, Silk Road quietly churns out favourites from the north-west frontier province of Xinjiang. Dishes can be fiery, but are also balanced with a plethora of spices, a legacy from the Silk Road that ran through the desert area, transporting treasures from east and west. The cuisine of Xinjiang’s Turkic Uighur Muslims, the area’s largest minority, exhibits many of the hearty traditional standbys found around Central Asia – notably kebabs and dumplings – but with a bold Chinese influence, bringing a spiciness and vibrancy its counterparts elsewhere can lack. Silk Road’s short menu includes Sichuan-style dishes – perhaps an influence of the ethnic Han owners – but skip past these dishes to focus on the Xinjiang specialities. Small, fatty pieces of lamb crusted with ground cumin, chilli and salt and grilled on a skewer are an example. Dumplings – filled with meat or vegetables – are typical northern China staples, although here lamb dominates instead of pork. It would be a shame not to try a few. What attracts most people to Silk Road is the noodle and stew menu. Our favourite was the ‘medium chicken’, a wonderfully rich star anise-and-chilli-flavoured broth bobbing with pieces of bird on the bone, plus potatoes. When you near the bottom of the serving bowl, and are approaching fullness, your waiter will bring a heaped pile of superb handmade noodles to dump into the aromatic broth and soak up the rest of

Time Out says
3 out of 5 stars
Users say
5 out of 5 stars
See more restaurants in camberwell

Things to do in Camberwell

Camberwell College of Arts
Art

Camberwell College of Arts

Members of the public can browse free exhibitions by graduate students 

Blue Elephant Theatre
Theatre

Blue Elephant Theatre

This little theatre thinks big

Users say
5 out of 5 stars

Bars and pubs in Camberwell

Stormbird
Bars and pubs

Stormbird

It’s easy to miss Stormbird. While Camberwell has become a hive of trendy pubs either doubling as bike shops or serving pricey animal organs cooked in interesting ways, this unassuming local keeps things simple. It has chairs to sit on, the toilets are absolutely fine and the music’s quiet (if it’s playing at all). That’s why Stormbird is a rare delight. It’s a relaxed, no-nonsense beer-lovers pub, with more than a dozen craft lagers and ales on tap and nearly 100 different bottles behind the bar. The decor’s sleek and tasteful; not too hipster, not too ‘old man’. Beers can be ordered by the third-pint, served as a trio on a wooden paddle. But best of all, there’s no kitchen. That doesn’t mean going home hungry, though; anyone’s welcome to bring along a Caravaggio’s pizza from nearby or enjoy a falafel wrap from next door with their pale ale. No wonder nobody wants to leave at kicking-out time.

Time Out says
5 out of 5 stars
Users say
5 out of 5 stars
Crooked Well
Bars and pubs

Crooked Well

It’s a good sign if you’re waiting for a pal in a restaurant for half an hour, with only the menu to read – and the more you look at it, the more interesting it gets. The Crooked Well gets a resounding thumbs up for this, and for the friendly and attentive service to the solo customer. This much-refurbished pub, then gastropub, now bar-restaurant is under new ownership, and, boy, are they trying to make an impression. The elegantly reworked dining space has a whiff of the modern Edwardian about it. Tall, upholstered bar chairs perched on Mediterranean ceramic tiles at the wide wooden bar encourage lingering over an aspirational collection of gins and whiskies – cocktails are a special feature of the drinks list, which includes a well-priced selection of less commonplace wines. The British-with-a-twist menu mixes updated gastropub staples with more exotic game and fish dishes. Starters were a tad disappointing: ‘crisp polenta’ chips were less than crisp, with the polenta more mushy than grainy. Sliced pork belly rolled into whirls with tuna crème fraîche was tooth-coatingly dry. We skipped the rabbit and bacon pie (£22.50 for two) in favour of a tender duck leg partnered winningly with tomato and saffron aioli, chorizo, chickpeas and butter beans. The chargrilled William Rose rib-eye steak was flavoursome and perfectly cooked, served with Café de Paris butter (herby, spicy) and roasted tomatoes – though the chips were disappointing. The cheese selection was tempting, but

Time Out says
3 out of 5 stars
Users say
5 out of 5 stars
Camberwell Arms
Bars and pubs Book online

Camberwell Arms

This well-proportioned Victorian boozer has been revamped by the team that produced Waterloo’s Anchor & Hope and Stockwell’s Canton Arms – both of them excellent gastropubs. The de rigueur open kitchen has arrived with huge charcoal grill, and there’s a dining area at the back of the ground floor.

Time Out says
3 out of 5 stars
Users say
4 out of 5 stars
Book online
Hermit's Cave
Bars and pubs

Hermit's Cave

This friendly cabin of an Irish pub has been the haunt of Camberwell’s more cultured art students since Leonardo’s time, it seems. Prices are still cheap, the regulars still include old locals who’ve been skulking around in SE5 since Macmillan told them they’d never had it so good, and the decor is still largely made up of pre-war drinks advertising (‘Good Old Murphy’s!’) and contemporary photography.

Time Out says
3 out of 5 stars
Users say
4 out of 5 stars
See more bars and pubs in Camberwell

Hotels in Camberwell

Church Street Hotel

Church Street Hotel

An attractive and original family-run hotel near Camberwell Green

Check prices
Lyndhurst Rooms

Lyndhurst Rooms

Just a 10 minutes walk to transport links Denmark Hill and Peckham Rye

Check prices
See more hotels in Camberwell

The perfect weekend in Camberwell

See: South London Gallery
Art

See: South London Gallery

One of the capital's foremost contemporary art venues

Time Out says
4 out of 5 stars
Users say
5 out of 5 stars
Sip: Daily Goods
Restaurants

Sip: Daily Goods

A light, airy little box of a coffee shop 

Time Out says
4 out of 5 stars
Users say
5 out of 5 stars
Shop: Rat Records
Shopping

Shop: Rat Records

This small but mighty spot has been a Camberwell draw for more than 15 years

Users say
5 out of 5 stars
Chill: Burgess Park
Attractions

Chill: Burgess Park

All you need to know about Burgess Park is that it allows barbecues (in designated areas)...

Users say
5 out of 5 stars