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Camberwell area guide

Discover great restaurants, bars, pubs and more in artistic Camberwell

South east London's Camberwell is an artisitc part of town, with Camberwell College of Arts luring new talent to the area. With this audience in mind, restaurants and bars are diverse to say the least 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 basement bars for colourful cocktails, Middle Eastern restaurants for a belly dance with your dinner or Burgess Park for a scenic stroll.

What are your favourite Camberwell haunts? Let us know in the comments.

Love London Awards: this year's winners

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
Restaurants

Cafe At The ORTUS Learning and Events Centre

Users say
  • 5 out of 5 stars
Rat Records
Shopping

Rat Records

The small but mighty Rat Records has been a Camberwell draw for more than 15 years. It looks unassuming from the street, but inside it stocks a large, eclectic mix: pop, rock, African music, reggae, blues, jazz and more. On Saturday mornings vinyl hunters queue up outside to get first dibs on that week’s new batch – usually 500 or more records – with in-store DJs (complete with some crappy bargain-shop flashing lights) soundtracking their browsing. Recently Rat Records has even started its own range of merchandise, so if you’ve ever wanted a t-shirt parodying Kraftwerk’s ‘The Man-Machine’ album cover with rats instead of people, now you know where to go.

Users say
  • 5 out of 5 stars
South London Gallery
Art

South London Gallery

On this site for over a century, the SLG became one of the main showcases for the emerging Young British Artists in the 1990s. Still one of the capital's foremost contemporary art venues, the gallery has exhibited work by shows by established international figures such as Gilbert & George, Anselm Kiefer and Gavin Turk. The SLG also profiles the work of younger and mid-career artists, past exhibitions include Alice Channer, Ryan Gander and Oscar Murillo and group shows bring together works by established and lesser-known British and international artists. The gallery also presents integrated education projects for children, young people and adults, and an ongoing residency programme provides opportunities for artists to stay in the SLG's artists' flat.

Time Out says
  • 4 out of 5 stars
Users say
  • 5 out of 5 stars
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
See the full results of this year's Love London Awards

Restaurants in Camberwell

Angels & Gypsies
Restaurants

Angels & Gypsies

Angels & Gypsies remains an outpost of cool in gritty Camberwell, making booking essential. Dark wooden tables, pews and chairs bearing cross motifs are arranged around a tiled horseshoe bar, with stunning stained-glass windows looming over proceedings. Atmospheric low lighting adds to the ecclesiastical vibe.

Time Out says
  • 4 out of 5 stars
Users say
  • 4 out of 5 stars
Kazakh Kyrgyz Restaurant
Restaurants

Kazakh Kyrgyz Restaurant

Kazakh Kyrgyz might not showcase Central Asian food at its very best, but eating here is quite an experience, nonetheless. The restaurant lies in the otherwise discreet Pasha boutique hotel and is accessed via a footbridge over an indoor pond. Seating ranges from benches to colourful bean-bags on the exotic carpet.

Time Out says
  • 3 out of 5 stars
Users say
  • 3 out of 5 stars
Crooked Well
Bars and pubs Book online

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.

Time Out says
  • 3 out of 5 stars
Users say
  • 5 out of 5 stars
Book online
Johansson's
Restaurants

Johansson's

What looks from the street like a run-of-the-mill sandwich shop turns out to hide a series of relaxed rooms, finishing in french windows that open on to a patio garden shaded by vines and a fig tree. The menu is as deceptively extensive as the interior, starting with weekday brunchy breakfasts, moving on to well-dressed lunchtime salads made to order, daily specials, panini, quiche, soup, and burger and chips.

Time Out says
  • 3 out of 5 stars
Users say
  • 3 out of 5 stars

Things to do in Camberwell

South London Gallery
Art

South London Gallery

On this site for over a century, the SLG became one of the main showcases for the emerging Young British Artists in the 1990s. Still one of the capital's foremost contemporary art venues, the gallery has exhibited work by Gilbert & George, Anselm Kiefer and Gavin Turk. 

Time Out says
  • 4 out of 5 stars
Users say
  • 5 out of 5 stars
Camberwell College of Arts
Art

Camberwell College of Arts

One of London's leading schools for art and design, Camberwell College of Arts attracts creative students through its doors from around the world. Members of the public can browse around free exhibitions by graduate students with all fields on display - from photography and design to the latest techniques in digital art.

Bars and pubs in Camberwell

Communion Bar
Bars and pubs

Communion Bar

Underneath the revered Angels & Gypsies tapas restaurant in Camberwell’s Church Street Hotel, this new cocktail bar looks the part, with enough backlit stained glass to get Richard Dawkins on his knees. Each table comes with a sample of the blood and body of Christ: a glass of communion wine, sickly sweet as a priest’s whispered inducement, and a wafer authentically dry as his old cassocks. 

Time Out says
  • 4 out of 5 stars
Users say
  • 4 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
  • 5 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
Bear
Bars and pubs

Bear

It’s something of a surprise to find a pub as amiable as this on what is the least appealing arm of Camberwell’s beleaguered crossroads. A former Victorian gin palace dominated by a horseshoe bar, the Bear has scrubbed up nicely and now oozes warmth, especially by candlelight. Despite this, it’s still very much a locals’ boozer, with an unusually fine selection of cast ales.

Time Out says
  • 3 out of 5 stars
Users say
  • 4 out of 5 stars

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