Tooting holds many important accolades. Their outdoor lido is the biggest in the UK, they have the largest Chicken Cottage in Europe, and importantly, it’s home to many cute dogs. Seriously, we once saw a long-haired dachshund here with such soft, shiny fur that it made us question whether we should quit hairdressers and find a groomer instead. But what you really need to know about Tooting is that you’ll find a bar with a truly winning negroni, a date-ready tapas spot, plus London’s best brunch and best bao on its high street. Onwards for the best things to eat, drink, and dog-watch over in SW17.
Start Your Day With This Smoked Pumpkin Omelette
A sample of ridiculous statements we’ve made at Juliets: I reckon that when Elvis Presley cried tears of joy they tasted like this homemade chipotle ketchup. If I ever won the Euromillions I would literally just bribe the chefs until one of them would eventually crack and give me the yuzu pistachio icing recipe. Do you think if I named my firstborn Juliet, they’d give me free portions of the smoked pumpkin omelette? Yes, in case you can’t tell, this lowkey café on Mitcham Road is one of - if not the - best brunch spots in the whole of London. Despite being a casual exposed brick kind of place, you should never underestimate the food here. The flavour combinations are wildy good, the ingredients are top-notch, and this omelette is smokey but still super fresh, with a big dose of WAKE UP HUN from the lemon salmoriglio. Just remember, they’re walk-in only and those spicy shrimp patty buns bring the crowds, so mentally prepare yourself for the fact that there might be a queue.
Or if you’re lucky enough to live in the area, pick-up some freshly-baked hard dough bread from Mixed Blessings Bakery. An order of ginger sponge cake for later is also highly encouraged.
A Proper SW17 Date Night ft. Jamon
The Little Taperia is, plot twist, a little taperia. On the busy stretch of Tooting High Street, this place is a picture-perfect south London date spot. Although some of the bigger dishes can lean on the side of slap-dash homemade fare, it’s a great place for a round of sangria, a little candlelit romance, and a lot of jamon. Like, a lot of jamon. The jamon y queso tabla mixta selection is especially good and the best part is you can easily have a serious feast here for £35 per person. Yes, that’s including cocktails. Hand-feeding each other churros for dessert is highly encouraged.
Or make your way to Good Neighbour, a small plates restaurant that screams big third date potential. Get the fried feta with honey. We repeat, get the fried feta with honey.
Try London's Best Bao
Daddy Bao is the paternal presence we all need in our lives. All our dads gave us is abandonment issues and a deep-rooted scepticism of mechanics. Kidding, we’re 100% kidding. But anyway, alternatively, this place will give you some of the best bao in the whole of London and a plum wine negroni to boot. A little Taiwanese spot on the busy stretch of high street near Tooting Broadway Station, you’ll find things like pork dumplings, sesame aubergine, chicken poppers, and importantly, their winning shiitake mushroom bao on their menu. This place works for mates, dates, and just to satisfy that general urge we all get sometimes to eat a shit load of mushroom bao solo. Just us? Well, trust us, once you try this smokey-meets-fluffy shiitake situation, you’ll know exactly what we’re talking about.
Get Your Sunday Roast On
The best part about being British is hypothesising that you might one day run into Olivia Colman down the pub. But the second best thing is eating a big, fat juicy roast at the pub. The place to do that in Tooting is The Wheatsheaf, a cool independent neighbourhood pub where there’s no funny business, only a feel-good atmosphere, cold pints, and a gravy-covered roast that makes us want to ghost Bisto granules forever. If you’re looking to go all out, the three meat roast with an extra yorkie order is where it’s at. Throughout the rest of the week you’ll find chorizo-packed small plates, quality pizzas, and tarted up versions of pub classics on their all-day menu, not to mention plenty of gin cocktails you can enjoy in their back garden that’s complete with fairy lights and a big old disco ball. See, we said it was feel-good.
Or if you can get a reservation, give The Selkirk a try. Another independent neighbourhood pub with proper food, their Sunday bookings tend to disappear quick.
A Nice Garden, Great Negroni Situation
Goldfinch is one of those bars that makes everyone look really, really great. You know what we mean right? Maybe it’s the light, maybe it’s the 10/10 negronis, or maybe it’s the ever forgiving moody lighting, but everyone here always looks like they’re living in a filter called something like xxx_BrooklynSexy_xxx. The smiles are big, the drinks are strong, and the atmosphere is cool without teetering into that we-exclusively-play-Arcade-Fire pretentious energy that you’ll find at several other bars across London. But outside of the atmosphere, this neighbourhood bar has a couple of other huge selling points, including their cute back garden situation and the sophisticated, first-rate cocktails. If the sun’s out, definitely get involved in the frozés - vermouth, strawberry, rosé, brainfreeze - and fight for a bench out in the garden. It’ll be worth it.
Or if you’re fan of literary-based puns and heavy-duty margaritas, head to Tequila Mockingbird. The cocktails aren’t quite as good as the ones at Goldfinch, but it’ll work for a back-up boozy beverage.