Area Guide: Brixton
Just Opened London’s Area Guides cover a combination of recently opened venues and established London favourites, to make sure you get the full lowdown on where to spend your time and hard-earned cash.
Words: Kate O’Sullivan
Brixton has long been one London’s most vibrant and multicultural eating and drinking destinations. From buzzing markets and street food to late night boozers, it’s an area that’s up early and keeps going through the night.
Here’s our selection of the best places to eat and drink in Brixton…
Best for… pretending you’re in Barcelona
Half way between Brixton and Clapham North on Acre Lane you’ll find this sunny Spanish restaurant which whips up tip-top tapas in the form of gooey croquetas, garlicky pan con tomate and a plethora of cured meats as well some more inventive combinations. There are extensive selections of sherry and wine to enjoy alongside, and it’s a lovely and relaxed space to pass some time. Even the prices are reminiscent of those in Barcelona… well, almost.
Boqueria, 192 Acre Lane, SW2 5UL
Best for… a craft beer fix
Crown & Anchor
Set between Brixton and Stockwell, this superb pub boasts around two dozen beers on tap, spanning just about every genre you can imagine. You can expect to find ale offerings from around the globe but there’s also a strong showing for breweries closer to home, including many from south London.
Perhaps most impressively — unlike many such hop-focused establishments — it is also genuinely comfortable (there are games and everything) and it does a great line in gastropub grub including particularly good Sunday roasts.
Crown & Anchor, 246 Brixton Road, SW9 6AQ
Best for… making a difference
When it comes to notorious prisons, Brixton has certainly got previous. The area in the 70s was known nationally for riots, clashes with police and crime. Just as local communities and businesses turned this around, The Clink restaurant charity hopes to turn the lives of prisoners around too.
All of the chefs and staff are inmates who are being trained to cook to a professional standard. Staff work towards a City & Guilds NVQ qualification, which means when their sentences are served they can continue with a career in restaurants and catering. There’s a strong focus on fresh, locally sourced ingredients and you get to eat in the restaurant at Her Majesty’s Prison Brixton. You can leave when you’re done, too.
The Clink, HMP Brixton, Jebb Avenue, SW2 5XF
Best for… a big breakfast
Duck Egg Cafe
Duck Egg Cafe is the stuff of hangover dreams. Tuck into a Double Duck Egg, which is a full English with two each of the top-quality ingredients and none of the grease – gooey, frisbee-sized fried eggs, sausages, bacon, sexed-up beans and all the trimmings. It might cost a bit more than some of the local greasy spoons, but it’s totally worth it: this is a different beast.
For the fresher of head, they have eggs all the usual ways and there are great vegetarian options. Plus, now that it lives in the pub across the road from its original site, you can even have a beer with it too. What more could you want on a Saturday morning?
Duck Egg Cafe, The Prince Of Wales, 467-469 Brixton Road, SW9 8HH
Best for… pints in the sun
Duke of Edinburgh
This lovely boozer is good for a pint pitstop whatever the weather, but thanks to a bumper-sized beer garden it really comes into its own when the sun is out. Surrounded by trees, it’s about as leafy as London pubs get and an abundance of benches means you have a good chance of actually getting a seat. A welcome added extra comes in the form of a residency from White Men Can’t Jerk, serving jerk chicken, patties and Caribbean-inspired pub dishes such as a curried mutton shepherd’s pie.
Duke of Edinburgh, 204 Ferndale Road, SW9 8AG
Best for…getting in while you still can
Ever fancied travelling to Italy in a shipping container? This pocket-sized Sicilian tucked away upstairs at Pop Brixton is fast becoming Brixton’s worst-kept secret. Dishes are traditional and use simple, fresh ingredients. Order a platter of street food-style small plates called schiticchio before progressing to homemade tagliatelle and chargrilled octopus, and make sure you don’t leave without trying the arancini balls stuffed with beef ragu (or mushroom and Tuma cheese for veggies).
There’s a small but very interesting list of Sicilian wines which are worth swinging by for even if you’re not eating, but then why wouldn’t you be doing that?
Franzina Trattoria, Pop Brixton, 49 Brixton Station Road, SW9 8PQ
Best for…wraps and margaritas
If you’re after burritos stuffed to bursting then you’re in the right place. There are loads of fillings to choose from (including fish and vegetarian) and whatever you go for, the wraps are bulging, messy and offer a range of heat from the pathetic Dead, Say No More right up to F**k Off Now That’s Hot. It wouldn’t be Mexican without margaritas, which come buy-one-get-one-free during happy hours (Tues-Fri,
It wouldn’t be Mexican without margaritas, which come buy-one-get-one-free during happy hours (Tues-Fri, 5-7pm), and you’ll also find a selection of Mexican beer by the bottle. All the burritos can come as Quesadillas, tacos or enchiladas, too.
Jalisco Brixton Village, 48 Coldharbour Lane, SW9 8PR
Best for… a slice that’s right
Made of Dough
Brixton has long been a go-to destination for perfect pizza, with queues round the block a regular feature at the original Franco Manca when it opened almost a decade ago. Sadly it’s not quite what it used to be, but happily, a new contender for London’s crust crown has arrived in Pop Brixton.
As well as great ingredients (including mozzarella that is driven over from Campania twice a week) the key to Made of Dough’s awesomeness lies in a 60-hour fermentation process that creates a supremely chewy, slightly tangy sourdough base.
Made of Dough, Pop Brixton, 49 Brixton Station Road, SW9 8PQ
Brixton is well known for its Caribbean culture and there’s no shortage of restaurants turning out jerk chicken, roti and rice and peas. While longtimers Negril and the brilliantly named Fish, Wings & Tings are enduringly popular, our favourite is newer arrival Mama’s Jerk in Pop Brixton thanks to its reliably juicy, spicy and smoky meat. Options range from traditional wings to more creative interpretations such as a burger in a coconut bun.
Mama’s Jerk, 49 Brixton Station Road, SW9 8PQ
Best for… counter dining
You can book, but you’re better off chancing a walk-in for a seat at the bar, which puts you right in the heart of the culinary action. And there really is plenty of action: the menu here is almost constantly changing but always full of interesting and inventive dishes. Think grilled asparagus with cured egg yolk and parmesan or crab with peanuts and pickled cabbage.
Wine buffs will be just as interested in the drink as the food, with a quirky list that majors on natural wines and staff who are more than happy to arrange matches.
Naughty Piglets, 28 Brixton Water Lane, SW2 1PE
Best for…beers and flicks
The Ritzy cinema is the heart of Brixton, and often the gob too. When Lady Thatcher died its listings board proclaimed: ‘Margaret Thatcher is Dead. LOL’ and when Brixton-born David Bowie died the memorial party was held out front with people using it as a meeting point and loo stop.
The drinks are well-priced for a cinema bar and with a patio and simple food menu, it’s become a destination in its own right. Plus, you can have a pint of decent beer and watch Wonder Woman on a big screen, what more do you want?
The Ritzy Picturehouse, Windrush Square, 469 Brixton Road, SW2 1JG
Best for… a tasting menu
Chef-owner Nicholas Balfe whips up a storm of flavours from hyper-seasonal produce at this Brixton Market restaurant. Upstairs you can enjoy the full tasting menu experience, featuring dishes such as cured mackerel with elderflower and salted celery or chicken with peas, lettuce and anchovy. Downstairs is all about clever cocktails and bar snacks. Prepare to get close to your neighbours, it’s rather cosy.
Salon, 18 Market Row, SW9 8LD
Best for… cocktails and bites
The Shrub and Shutter
There’s no denying that this Coldharbour Lane cocktail bar is one of Brixton’s most gentrified joints, but there’s also no knocking the creative liquid assemblies on offer along with seasonal small plates. A coconut Old Fashioned and a salted caramel Sazerac are among the regularly changing line-up, but whatever you choose, expect bold flavours, theatrical serves and the kind of presentation that makes Instagramming essential.
The Shrub and Shutter, 336 Coldharbour Lane, SW9 8QH
Best for… a taste of Africa
Zoe’s Ghana Kitchen
Following a number of street food stalls and residencies, Zoe Adjonyoh brought her vibrant Ghanaian cooking to one of Pop Brixton’s shipping containers. Choose from dishes such as jollof spiced chicken, grilled lamb cutlets with peanut sauce and red bean stew, and definitely order okra tempura fries along with some puff puff doughnuts to finish. It’s a delicious journey through the unique food of West Africa, and as it quite rightly says on the waiters’ shirts: it’s Ghana be tasty.
Zoe’s Ghana Kitchen, Pop Brixton, 49 Brixton Station Road, SW9 8PQ