Neighbourhoods

Peckham

With art galleries and coffee shops galore, Peckham is the ultimate hipster hangout. Ever since Dalston got too expensive, Peckham’s star has been on the rise and it can now legitimately lay claim to the title of London’s premier hipster hangout. With Goldsmiths on one side and Camberwell Art School on the other, it was always bound to happen of course and the last few years have seen an explosion in activity from new restaurants to galleries and festivals.

You can’t become a magnet for hipsters without a late-night pool hall of course and luckily it already had Canavan’s to lure east Londoners whose only objection to leaving Dalston was the fear of missing Efes. Frank’s Cafe was what really put the area on the map though, a summer-only pop-up on the roof of a multi-storey car park that quickly became one of the hottest hangouts in town. Countless other restaurants and bars popped up after it including Forza Win, Peckham Pelican, Pedler, Mr Bao, Kudu, Coal Rooms, and even Dalston’s own Voodoo Ray’s.

There are plenty more things to do in Peckham including arts and studio space Peckham Levels; vintage gaming at The Four Quarters; and late nights at The Bussey Building.

COPELAND PARK & BUSSEY BUILDING

133 Copeland Rd, London SE15 3SN

Right in the heart of the hotspot that Peckham has become is Copeland Park, a cultural hub of events venues, restaurants and bars, small businesses and galleries. The former factory building dates back to the 19th century (us Londoners love a renovated industrial space) and began its transformation into its modern-day incarnation in 2009 after being saved from becoming a tram depot. Now, among many other things, Copeland Park is home to Copeland Gallery, the Bussey Rooftop Bar with an incredible view of the City across the river, the three-storey music venue CLF Art Cafe and Holdrons Arcade, home to micro businesses selling everything from vintage posters to vegan food.

BAR LEVAN

unit 5, 12-16 Blenheim Grove, London SE15 4QL

After closing Larry’s in Peckham, Mark Gurney and Matt Bushnell flipped the site into Bar Levan, a Parisian-inspired wine bar serving European natural wines, aperitifs, mezcals and small plates. There are lots of organic and biodynamic bottles alongside older vintages and one-offs served by the glass. The regular menu features dishes like miso devilled eggs, guinea fowl terrine, croque monsieur, beef tartare, and Basque cheesecake, and there are also spesh dinners that celebrate classic French delicacies. With a vintage sound system playing vinyl inspired by the bar’s namesake Larry Levan, the vibes are always in point too.

THE PECKHAM PELICAN

92 Peckham Road, SE15 5PY

Coffee shop, turned art gallery, turned gig venue, the Peckham Pelican does it all and the best thing? Those DIY bagels. You’ll get toasted Brick Lane bagel and you can then add as many fillings as you like, with everything from peanut butter to roasted veg, smoked salmon to goat’s cheese on the menu – the only problem you’ll have is deciding.

KUDU GRILL

57 Nunhead Ln, London SE15 3TR

Kudu Grill is part of the Kudu Collective, a small restaurant group in south London that was founded by Amy Corbin, who has hospitality in her veins and chef husband Paddy Williams. Kudu is based on braai cooking – the South African equivalent of a BBQ with food cooked over charcoals, which nods to Paddy’s South African heritage. The restaurant is a very well-designed room which reminded us of the best of NYC, with beautiful lighting, wooden panels and velvet booths. Kudu’s menu is big on grilled meats, fish and veg but you shouldn’t skip the snacks or starters either. Grilled potato bread, lardo and wild garlic, along with some of the house-made biltong is the perfect start and the beef tartar delivers big flavours, pimped up with harissa, coriander and crispy shallots. As for the braai, try the whole black bream with zhug butter roti; a huge fish that you can wrap up like tacos with the accompanying breads. Kudu Grill is a very welcome addition to the south London scene and if you live in the area, it should be at the top of your hit list.

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MONDO SANDO

Grove House Tavern, Camberwell Grove, London

Taking inspiration from the food in Miyazaki films, Redwall novels and the Beano, as well as from delis, diners and drinking dens across the world, Mondo’s sandos are stacked with eclectic ingredients and big flavours, and you can grab them at the Grove House Tavern in Camberwell. Expect the likes of The Fauxmoor (rare roast beef, shoestring fries, peppercorn sauce, sweet peppers, rocket & gravy mayo) and CTM Mate (chargrilled chicken tikka thigh, masala sauce, cucumber raita, onion salad and nigella seed & garlic naan chips), alongside sides like Mexican fries with lime & salsa roja, a new vegan Thai larb and a special roast menu.

NAÏFS

Naifs, Goldsmith Road, London

Naïfs is a hidden gem on a quiet residential street in southeast London. The Peckham neighbourhood restaurant serves up a seasonal set menu and is one of only two vegan restaurants in the Michelin Guide – impressive. It’s also very reasonable, at £30pp for four knock-out dishes, sharing style. Our tip would be to save room for their desserts – we’re still dreaming of the Naïfs chocolate mousse. 

NUNHEAD RESERVOIR

Nunhead Reservoir

So this one might be in Nunhead, but it’s basically Peckham and SO worth a trip. Nunhead Reservoir is a covered reservoir (not one with ducks and rowing boats), but it does have some of the best views across London – the views are so good, you’ll forget about the empty tinnies and rubbish in the park.

BLUE TIT SALON

26 Peckham Rye, SE15 4JR

Blue Tit’s Peckham branch is one of the originals, but it’s definitely no worse for wear because of its age. Having won several awards for its haircuts and super-friendly service, this is definitely the place to invest in a new barnet.

FOUR QUARTERS

187 Rye Lane, SE15 4TP

Love booze & video games? Four Quarters is for you. It’s retro vibes all round with original Tron, Outrun, Street Fighter II, Star Wars Trilogy, Asteroids, Defender, Space Invaders, Pac-Man, Point Blank and Sega Rally machines. And with local craft beers, hearty food, music, tournaments and film screenings, there’s something to keep everyone happy at Four Quarters.

FRANK'S CAFE

Rye Lane, London SE15 4ST

Frank’s is probably the only reason half of us head southhhhh of the river in the summer. Open May to September and perched 10 floors up on the top of Peckham’s multi-storey car park, Frank’s has some of the best views across London, art installations courtesy of Bold Tendencies, great grub and plenty of cocktails – the Frank’s Margarita is always a winner as is a jug of white sangria. The pink stairs may be killer but it’s worth it once you get up top.

MR BAO

293 Rye Lane, SE15 4UA

Mr Bao is a small but perfectly formed place, with fluffy buns, cocktails and lots of sides. It ticks all the boxes for a cheap, fast dinner, and whatever you do don’t miss THAT Bao S’More – melted chocolate and toasted marshmallow atop a fried bao – YUM.

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PECKHAMPLEX

95A Rye Ln, SE15 4ST

This is probably the only cinema in London where you can catch a film for under a fiver; morning, noon or night you can catch the latest movies for the bargain price of £4.99. Yes, it may look like it hasn’t changed since the 80s, but that just adds to the charm.

DKUK

Holdrons Arcade, 135a Rye Lane, London SE15 4ST

DKUK is not your typical salon by any means – but don’t worry, they still know their hair. Architect Sam Jacobs turned this salon into a gallery, removing all mirrors and replacing them with artwork. The space still has mirrors, but they aren’t meant for checking yourself out. They act as an illusion to make the space seem a bit bigger – and a play on how we are (or aren’t) seen. Next time you’re in need of a tidy-up, give this place a go.

KUDU

119 Queen's Rd, London SE15 2EZ

Located on the busy Queen’s Road, cute little spot Kudu is a must-visit. The space is very cosy, with a beautiful reclaimed wood parquet floor, warm pink walls, green leather banquettes and a bar with a few stools around the open kitchen. Their menu is short and sweet – don’t skip the Kudu bread, a fresh-out-the-oven loaf served with your choice of melted butter, the crispy fried artichokes with miso mayonnaise and the pig’s head tortellini.

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THE BEGGING BOWL

168 Bellenden Rd, London SE15 4BW

Inspired by Buddhist traditions and all the provinces of Thailand, The Begging Bowl serves up a short but varied menu featuring dishes such as smoked mackerel, pomelo, galangal and peanuts in betel leaf; deep fried whole seabass with green mango and tamarind and chilli caramel dressing; turmeric, black pepper and braised pig cheek curry; and charcoal grilled celeriac with peanut curry and pickled ginger. It’s a real local fave so it’s defo one to check out when you’re down Peckham way.

PECKHAM LEVELS

95A Rye Lane, London SE15 4TG

Peckham’s famous car park transformed into a food, drink and events destination, Peckham Levels. As well as office and studio space, the Levels is also home to street food traders including Boxwallah, Plantain Kitchen, Green Choy and 081 Pizzeria, plus the Percolate coffee shop, Dog & Bone tattoo parlour, The Scissors of Oz hair salon, and a club space called 450. There are also over 100 small businesses located across levels 1 to 4, so this car park really does have it all.

COAL ROOMS

11a Station Way, Peckham Rye Station, London, SE15 4RX

Housed in the former Peckham Rye train station ticket office, you barely have to leave the station to stumble into Coal Rooms. The seasonal a la carte menu is brimming with inventive, beautifully presented dishes that have been made using the restaurant’s bespoke coal-fired grill. At the weekend, their signature ‘Weekend Grill’ menu is a great one for lunch with mates, with plenty of sharing options such as the wood-roasted Suffolk chicken or the hogget shoulder. And they serve up an exceptional Sunday lunch, with dishes such as flame-baked tiger aubergine, wild sea bass and Tamworth pork chop – what a way to gear up for the week ahead.

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PRINCE OF PECKHAM

1 Clayton Road, Peckham, London SE15 5JA

Prince of Peckham is a boozer that takes it back to the good ol’ pub days. The kitchen is run by White Men Can’t Jerk – on Mondays, you can grab yourself nine wings in various sauces for just a tenner and you go can go bottomless on the weekend with fried chicken & waffles and bubbles.

THE ANGEL OAK

31 Peckham Rye, London SE15 3NX

We challenge you to find a leafier beer garden in London than The Angel Oak (formerly known as The Rye) in Peckham. Yes, this one is an ACTUAL garden with real-life grass and trees, and it’s absolutely huge. With enough picnic tables to seat half of Peckham, table tennis and a BBQ area, there is no better place to spend a sunny afternoon. Luckily they’ve also got a fully stocked bar and gastropub menu to keep you going inside if the weather isn’t cooperating.

LEVAN

12-16 Blenheim Grove, London SE15 4QL

All-day spot Levan comes from Nicholas Balfe, the man behind Salon in Brixton. It’s all about modern European food and natural wines here, with dishes like potato, chanterelle and Vacherin pies; comte fries with saffron aioli; pork and boudin noir terrines; and dark chocolate mousse with cherry sorbet. You can get a selection of five courses chosen by the kitchen too if you’re struggling to choose, which you will be because it’s the kind of menu where you want the lot. There’s an extensive selection of wine from Jura on the list alongside bottles from across Europe, and again, let the staff recommend you something because there’s a lot of good stuff to choose from.

BRICK BREWERY

209 Blenheim Grove, London SE15 4RX

Brick Brewery started out in a garden shed but its beers rapidly became so popular that it had to find a much bigger space, sharpish. Today it has a taproom in Peckham with a whopping 20 lines of both Brick’s own and guest brews. Don’t drink them all at once, kids. Brick’s brews are inspired by beers around the world, whether that’s Czech-style lagers, West Coast pales and much, much more. The brewery has its three staple beers: Pils, Pale, Rye, and then it brews a selection of seasonal and experimental beers that’ll keep just about any hophead happy.

FORZA WINE

133a Rye Ln, London SE15 4BQ

The Forza Win team has gone back to the roof with Forza Wine. The spot, on top of a renovated space on Rye Lane (complete with some epic views over Peckham), serves up an Italian small plates menu with dishes like lamb & pickled chilli flatbread, cauliflower fritti, and pork collar with wild garlic. There are plenty of drinks to go with the food, including wine, beers and frozen negronis, and there’s even a lift so you don’t have to worry about trying to make it down the stairs when you’re smashed – anyone who’s made the climb up and down to Frank’s will appreciate this.

VOODOO RAY'S

95 Kingsland High St, Dalston, London E8 2PB

Voodoo Ray’s creates thin and crispy NY-style pizza, which comes by the slice or as a whole 22-inch whopper – you can’t go wrong with The Meat Is On or the Giorgio Moroder – and they do an after-midnight spesh at the Dalston branch, which is open until 2am on Fridays and Saturdays, for when the munchies strike. Wash down one of the massive slices with a signature frozen marg.

MADE OF DOUGH

MADE OF DOUGH, Bellenden Road, London

If you’re venturing south of the river, Made of Dough is the place to go. Sourcing their ingredients from across Europe, each pizza is cooked on a real wood fire to create a chewy base – there are no tough crusts to be found here. With half-price pizzas on Mondays and wild specials every month (chocolate pizza anyone?), there’s plenty of reason to make the journey down to Peckham.

DESERTED CACTUS

135a Rye Ln, London SE15 4ST

Run by vegan influencer Esme, Deserted Cactus is a small cafe inside Holdrons Arcade that serves up hearty plant-based grub. The menu changes regularly but you can expect the likes of mac no cheese, southern fried jackfruit, three bean chilli, curry chickpeas, jerk tofu and coconut rice to make an appearance.

ARTUSI

161 Bellenden Rd, London SE15 4DH

Artusi is one of those great neighbourhood joints that either makes you happy that you’re local or jealous if you’re not. The regularly changing menu always features simple but perfectly executed Italian dishes like ‘nduja with ricotta & monks beard, chicken leg with puntarelle & parmesan aioli, gurnard with samphire & tomato, and pastas made fresh that day. Start with a negroni and follow with a glass (or several) from the Italian wine list and you’ve got a very good time on your hands.

PECKHAM CELLARS

125 Queen's Rd, London SE15 2ND

Peckham Cellars, the wine bar, bottle shop and restaurant in, er, Peckham, run by Helen Hall (who’s worked at Rovi), Luke West-Whylie (ex-Marcella and Jones Family Kitchen) and Ben McVeigh (formerly head sommelier at 28-50 Fetter Lane), with ex-Crispin chef Henry Freestone heading up the kitchen, has only been open since late 2019 but it’s already made quite the mark, winning a Michelin Bib Gourmand in the 2021 awards. As you’d expect from a wine bar, Peckham Cellars is well stocked with over 150 bottles available. There’s a particular focus on small-scale producers and their selection gets updated all the time, and if there’s something you really enjoy drinking in there are plenty of wines available to buy from the Peckham Cellars bottle shop should you want to continue the party at home. The food menu changes seasonally but always sticks to that simple style of cookery that lets the produce shine and is all about flavour rather than unnecessary bells and whistles – expect dishes like winter tomatoes & olive oil, butter beans with parmesan, burrata with pickled pears & walnuts, and mushroom & rosemary croquettes.

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