The Best Restaurants In Deptford

London's best Vietnamese spot, Trini roti, fresh pasta, and more.
The Best Restaurants In Deptford image

photo credit: Aleksandra Boruch

From Wednesday to Saturday is when to get 100% of Deptford. That isn’t because some of the newer, or rather, more bougie restaurants and bars are open then. It’s because that’s when Deptford Market is on and buzzing. It’s where you can just as easily buy a fresh scallop as you can a vintage bust of Queen Victoria. It’s eclectic, especially on market days, and the same can be said for the eating and drinking options all around this area of south east London.


photo credit: Aleksandra Boruch



$$$$Perfect For:VegansVegetariansBrunchDrinks & A Light BiteLunch
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This colourful and quirky tropical-themed cafe on Deptford High Street is an all-day and all-night shapeshifter. On a Wednesday afternoon, prams are parked and catch-ups are had over vegan sausage-filled bagels, and banana and caramelised pecan-topped waffles. On a Friday night, dates lean in with a glass of red and a cheesy croquette between them. Isla Ray is the kind of laid-back place you can rock up to with a group of friends and get a table in the back, or in the garden if the weather’s cooperating. But the brunch dishes are good enough that dropping in alone for their spicy potato and veggie sausage ‘stack’ is tempting when you’re in the area. 

A small bakery and coffee shop right outside Deptford station, Mouse Tail Coffee serves the kind of tempting, freshly baked pastries that’ll have you demolishing a cinnamon roll in five short, doughy-cinnamon-filled minutes. You’ll find it hard to pick one thing from the display of bakes, which ranges from sourdough loaves, to ham and emmental cheese sandwiches, and coconut pain au chocolats. It’s the perfect spot to pop in for a casual one-on-one coffee and croissant catch-up, where you can peek into the kitchen and see them shaping loaves and pulling blueberry muffins out of the oven, or for a 3pm banana bread pick-me-up. It’s open until 6pm so bringing your laptop and getting work done is very much an option.

If every train station in London was next to a pink and yellow neon sign with the words, TACO KITCHEN on it, the world would probably be a better place. Taca Tacos is a cosy, little spot bringing some of that sunny, California energy to the arches of Deptford’s Market Yard. It’s quieter midweek which means you’ll be able to snag one of the four inside tables and make a mess of your chicken pibil in peace. The meats are all slow-cooked, fall-apart, and comforting, but the seats are not, making it suited to a quick taco pit stop. Come the weekend, the big shared tables outside, under twinkling fairy lights, are made for big groups and getting elbow-to-elbow with other good decision-makers who are dunking corn tortillas, wrapped in crispy cheese jackets, into the six-hour beef birria broth.

Lomond, a pocket-sized cafe in Deptford’s railway arches, is really good at the small stuff. Bagels come with the fillings of avocado and bacon, but the bacon’s got a maple glaze and an oozy fried egg’s orange yolk waterfalls over the whole thing when cut. Nothing is rushed here. It’s the kind of place where unhurried chats with the staff are had about Guinness cake (it's very good) and the playlist (also good), before helpful menu recommendations are given. Deli essentials like Torres crisps and wine are sold too, propped up against the racing green counter. On an average morning, there’ll be solo eaters, reading while slurping from turmeric-coloured mugs, and locals who have come specifically for the sujuk (Turkish sausage), all appreciating the comforting breakfast classics with a little added care.

As much as we love lunches that turn into dinner and dinners that stretch on until they turn off the lights, quick, in-and-out spots delivering dependable comfort are often what we need. M&D Japanese in Deptford fulfills this necessity. The low-key Japanese restaurant promises a good time but not a long time. Skip the sushi—this is a place for hunkering down with a bowl of rich and soothing katsu curry that has ‘afternoon nap’ or ‘I’ll sleep well tonight’ written all over it. The comforting spot, wallpapered with stock images of autumnal Japanese countryside scenes, is good for two people, but great on your own. Claim one of the squishy booths and spend a happy half hour, phone in one hand, spoon in the other.

M’arks of Deptford—a pub-ish looking spot on the corner of Deptford High Street—is a casual, take your time kind of place. Whether that’s for a buffalo wing lunch or a full-on Sunday roast. You might not expect too much from the food when a place calls itself a ‘bar and kitchen’, but the menu, which ranges from an all-day full English, to a hefty-looking steak sandwich, feels like their main focus. The prawn tacos are the kind of thing we’d happily eat a whole tray of. The spacious, dark wood and leather-filled dining room could easily fit a large group for a rowdy dinner where no one will tell you to keep it down.

A small spot in Deptford Arches, Jerk Yard is a no-nonsense jerk chicken specialist that’s one of our favourite places to get a takeaway lunch in the area. Whether it’s a salad box with jerk chicken—and a cheeky helping of fried plantain—or a smoky jerk chicken wrap that’s always better with extra chicken, it’s a satisfying meal for under a tenner. Although it’s a tight space, there are a couple of indoor tables where you can snack on a beef and cheese patty while you wait for your main meal, and an outdoor hut with enough space for a small group. During the summer months—sorry, days—it’s a great lunchtime hangout. 

Eat Vietnam Bar B Grill is the restaurant to go to for an unapologetically slap-up Vietnamese meal around SE8. In fact, it’s probably the restaurant to go to for a slap-up Vietnamese meal in London. The menu is vast but the quality is consistent. There’s bún and phở, but it’s the other stuff from Eat Vietnam’s grill that make it stand out. Nem nướng nha trang—a kebab-like, charcoal-grilled pork skewer with herbs and a peanut dip—is superb. And all of the meats glazed with their house sauce, from wings to baby back ribs, sing in its flavour that’s equal parts aromatic as it is rootin’ and tootin’. On weekends, the canteen-ish space is buzzing with friends and family so book ahead.

All bars part of glassy new build developments are questionable by virtue of looking like a shiny Be At One you’d find at Terminal 5. But, at Buster Mantis in Deptford, you’ll find a low-key spot under the arches that suits group gatherings that grow and grow as the night goes on. The moodily lit cocktail bar has a Jamaican influence that appears in its food as well as its drinks. Wray & Nephew features heavily, particularly in homemade punch, and their bites are all pleasant enough. It’s a cocktail with a side of salt fish fritters kind of place.

Manze’s has sat on Deptford High Street for over a century. If you’re familiar with traditional East End pie and mash shops, then you’ll recognise the green of its shopfront as much as you will its gleaming white-tiled, wooden booth interior and its glistening parsley sauce. As ever, pie, mash, and liquor is the order. And, as ever, it will more than likely require a generous dousing of vinegar, salt, and pepper. The pies are filled with minced beef and, frankly, aren’t exactly flavourful on their own. And the mash is stodgy and satisfying—as good as anything for an empty stomach in need of familiarity (and a side of London history).

You’ll quickly get where Good Vibez’s name comes from when you take one spoonful of its steaming hot, lazily tender curry goat on a dreary Wednesday lunchtime. The Caribbean spot on Deptford High Street is a favourite among locals—teenagers stop in for a quick cheesy beef patty, workers for a chat and a lunchbox heaving with rice and peas. The food is homely and flavoursome, with standouts being a fruity homemade jerk sauce and that patiently stewed curry goat. If you aren’t in a rush there’s a counter and a few tables and chairs to pitch up and dig in. It’s a basic but comfortable setup and a sofa in a takeaway is always going to be met with our approval. 

photo credit: Aleksandra Boruch

$$$$Perfect For:Takeaway

Trinidad and Tobago’s flag hangs in Chaconia’s windows—your first indication that roti should be on your order. The indication that you should (try) and get it with richly spiced curry goat will be because it’s sold out. Or, if you’re early, on recommendation from the welcoming owner and chef of this takeaway and delivery-only Trini spot in Deptford. She’ll also nudge you towards adding tart tamarind sauce, which you should get too. Chaconia is low on decorative fuss, but big on being looked after so expect huge bundles of soft, stuffed roti and doorstop slices of macaroni pie.

A meal at Viet Alley brings our blood pressure down and the bún bò huê has us gazing into the glistening broth like Narcissus. This is the kind of place where you could drop down into a seat and feel your brain switch off as cave-like black walls envelope you and rich, deep bowls of phở soothe you. Spend an undisturbed lunch hour or two sitting under the convincing fake blossom tree and people-watching through the front window—no one will hurry you along. In the evening, this BYOB Vietnamese spot in Deptford fills up with groups of friends making the most of extensive vegan menus and shareable ‘duck’ summer rolls—which are a must-order—as well as satisfying, sticky ‘pork’ ribs.

The warm glow emanating from Cafe Mama Pho is a beacon along the bleak stretch between Deptford and Surrey Quays. And its cosy, faux foliage-strewn dining room and solid Vietnamese dishes makes good on the promise of being a refuge. How long you escape for is up to you—drop in for a solo, in-and-out bowl of fragrant chicken phở, or get a spread for a leisurely dinner with friends. Whatever you do (and for however long), order the crunchy, salty chicken wings which arrive fresh out of the fryer. Just know it’s walk-in only, and a popular spot throughout the week. 

There are bowls of pasta that you skip starters for, require a napkin tucked into your collar, and contain a sauce that splatters tablecloths and passers-by. Then there are pretty plates of pasta that you chew thoughtfully between sips of wine and snatches of conversation. Marcella, an Italian restaurant in Deptford, does the latter. Spaghetti cotechino comes with polite specks of sausage and paccheri alla norma gets a light tomato sauce coat rather than a full-on winter jacket. With its white walls and dainty ceramic dishes, Marcella at its buzziest is a grown-up Mediterranean holiday. And at its quietest, a lab where genetically perfect pasta is made. It’s an ideal date night spot for food that’s bound to be prettier than your partner, and sophisticated meet-ups with discerning friends. 

If you need a slick, stylish spot that’s as good for impressing mates and dates as it is making you feel like the kind of person who orders venison loin on the reg, The Watergate is it. While the pretty European-leaning dishes add to the scene, they aren’t the reason you come here. On any given night, the moodily lit bar and small plates spot in Deptford is filled with people who want to look cool and drink grown-up cocktails. There are the “we aren’t like normal parents, we’re cool parents” types discussing Pantone paint shades over moreish salt cod croquettes. Over by the exposed brickwork, under dangly orb lights, there’s probably a date playing out. Eyes are locked over an oozing, crispy hen’s egg and chicory salad which is picked at in a way that hopefully conveys ‘stable, datable, no priors’. 

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