Remember the one where Del Boy bought an old derelict car park, bought a load of ‘Dulox’ paint down the pub, and painted everything neon pink and yellow? ‘It’s a creative space Rodders. The colours get the juices flowing. And we’ve built a crazy-golf course out of old cereal boxes. Lovely jubbly’.
Wait. No. That isn’t a long lost Only Fools and Horses script. That’s Peckham today. But, that’s also unfair. Peckham is a lot more than Hooky Street and regenerated bits of concrete. It’s a simultaneously bustling and quaint part of London that’s excellent for food and drink. From neighbourhood spots to, well, big old car parks, these are the places to eat and drink around SE15.
Levan is that rare thing in London: a wine-bar and sharing plates restaurant that actually serves plates of food big enough to share. It’s a super casual and relaxed place. The kind that makes you feel that you’re more mature, successful, and cool than you likely are. Well, that’s what it did for us anyway. Hit it for a glass of something from their excellent natural wine list, and stay until you’ve eaten everything on the menu.
Persepolis isn’t your average London corner shop, though you could be mistaken for thinking so from the outside. This luminous yellow Persian deli will brighten your mood even on the most dire London day. At the back of the shop is a BYOB cafe space serving delicious vegetarian mezze at amazingly low prices. It’s perfect for a drop-in lunch, but you’ll probably want to book for dinner because this place is no secret.
Sophisticated without being overly slick, Kudu is an excellent South African inspired restaurant for a classy-ish dinner or brunch. It’s one of those ‘I want the whole menu’ type places, but whatever you do, don’t miss out on the bread with bacon butter (or alternatively shrimp). It’s mind boggling. Thought hijacking. If it were a person, we’d probably send it an overly eager text on a Friday night.
Coal Rooms is a train station restaurant. Not in that it serves week-old sausage rolls and spitefully priced Ribena, but in that it’s attached to Peckham Rye station. Any closer and you’d tap out to pay the bill here. This is a very good thing if you’re coming or going and need somewhere both reliable and tasty. Or if you’re looking for one of the best cheesy crumpets ever. Or a ten out of ten roast chicken on a Sunday.
If you’re looking for good value cocktails in London, then you’re probably (regrettably) familiar with the Woo Woo from Wetherspoons. But, if you’re looking for good value cocktails that actually taste good, then you should be coming to Two Hundred. This little bar down Rye Lane is an excellent date or catch-up spot, and it’s made all the more inviting when cocktails are a fiver from 5-8pm.
Please sir, I want some more. Is this what the Begging Bowl was named after? Probably not. Is it completely and utterly fitting? Yes. Peckham’s go-to Thai spot is one of the best in London, and everyone should be coming here. But also please don’t, because we want that pomelo salad and braised pork soup all to ourselves. We recommend coming with a little crowd, so you can order a bit of everything.
Depending on your stride and/or obsession with letting a song finish before you go in somewhere, Brick House is about 30 steps away from Peckham Rye station. This bakery and coffee bar is a little on the small side, but it’s the perfect place to pretend to do some work and get a quick refuel in the morning or afternoon. If you fancy yourself as an amateur sleuth, you’ve probably already guessed that things on bread, between bread, or that are just simply bread, are well worth ordering.
Candlelight isn’t, for the most part, ideal living or working conditions. A candlelit bath, yes. A candlelit batch of washing and ironing, no. Peckham Bazaar, however, thrives in candlelight. It’s a postcard of a neighbourhood restaurant. Intimate, a bit out of the way, and it’s got a red phone box outside it. This place serves some lovely Mediterranean food from it’s charcoal grill - like octopus with white taramasalata, or quail with tagine. And the atmosphere is as relaxed and slow burning as the candles on your table.
The Montpelier is a stumble from Peckham Rye meaning it’s the ideal pub for a swift one after coming back from work, or a swift one before getting on the train. There’s a decent outside space if it’s that kind of day, or plenty of booths and comfy seats inside. At the back there’s also a cinema room for independent, arthouse numbers, though you could get a 60 minute feature of a Goldsmiths student plucking their nose hair to the sound of someone gargling mouthwash as well.
Remember the good tests at school? Ones where you were very confident (or had a bottle of water with some very interesting and useful ingredients). Going to Mr. Bao is a bit like having one of those tests. You cross things off the menu, and, because pretty much everything here is tasty and nice, it’s quite hard to fail. The baos are great, especially the mushroom and chicken ones, while the small plates are almost all consistent crowd pleasers as well.
Artusi is the Italian neighbourhood restaurant of your dreams. Minus the cobbled street exterior and thirty degree heat. It’s a cosy, casual, you’ll-end-up-coming-here-once-a-week, type place. The menu changes constantly, but expect things like dreamily ripe bull’s heart tomatoes with nice things, a ragu and other pastas, and simply done meat and fish with vegetables. Put simply, this is a very nice restaurant.
We remember when you’d go to car parks to park your car. Novel, isn’t it? To be fair to Peckham Levels, enormous-behemoth-mega-club aside, this creative space is the best use of a big derelict space. Anything but luxury flats. Anything. Levels is ideal if you’re with a big group who all want different things. There are a load of different food stalls, from fried chicken to vegan-only, and a couple of different bars and spaces depending on how rowdy you want to get.
Peckham Springs is another big, outdoor group spot that’s perfect for when people want to drink, but appetites range from ‘meh’ to ‘we are preconditioned to hunt’. Bear in mind, it’s only open Thursday to Sunday, but when it is, there’s a few different food stalls to choose from. And it’s only two minutes from Peckham Rye station.
A stalwart of the trendy Peckham restaurant scene, Pedler is an ideal place with mates. It’s a sharing-type spot, with a mix of Mediterranean and American influences, things like fried chicken with polenta, or salmon and chilli ceviche. It also has an excellent cocktail list, which goes some way to explaining its lively (but still relaxed) atmosphere.
Every area needs a go-to casual pizza restaurant. Made of Dough is Peckham’s. It’s a short and sweet menu, and a margherita comes in at a very reasonable £7. If it wasn’t for a certain pizzeria in Camberwell, this might be the best pizza south of the river. As it is, it’s an excellent spot for a casual, tasty meal, with the possibility of a boozy milkshake.