LDNGuide

The Best Restaurants In Brixton

From wickedly flavourful West African fare, to smoky and saucy jerk, to Japanese hand rolls and natural wine bars. Here's where to eat in Brixton.

Brixton gets plenty of richly deserved restaurant credit. But it’s also an area of London that needs its heritage and restaurants to be protected and preserved. From brilliant neighbourhood Caribbean and Columbian restaurants, to a masterclass in flavours from one of the city’s best West African restaurants, to natural wine hangouts and Japanese hand rolls. Brixton is a mix of the old and new that represents every side of London.

THE SPOTS

It’s rare that a soup changes your life. That’s what we thought anyway, until it happened to us on a stormy Tuesday night. Fine. It wasn’t stormy. We’re being dramatic. But, the point is that Chishuru’s groundnut and spiced peanut butter soup is so warming, so tasty, that a little theatrics are in order. Ever since first eating at the West African restaurant in Brixton Market, we’ve caught ourselves daydreaming. About the spiced hibiscus in the fried milk dessert, the peanut ice cream that comes with their caramelised baobab mousse or, say, the glorious spice factor of the goat shoulder smeared in ayamase sauce. Chishuru might be tiny and have a small menu, but it leaves a big impact.


If you’re heading to Brixton specifically to find Caribbean food, Fish, Wings and Tings is a good place to start. As you’d expect, the vibes are chill and the food is solid. Jerk chicken, curried goat and salt fish fritters are all on the menu, with deliciously sweet mango sauce served with all dishes. And on a warm sunny day, there is nothing better than finding a spot on the outside benches with a few of your mates, ordering some food and cocktails, and just hanging out.


Booking Salon as a dinner destination for you and your mates will instantly earn you a seat at the cool kids’ table. This affordable casual fine dining spot on Brixton's Market Row (with a heavy emphasis on the casual) is knocking out some of London’s best seasonal cuisine, even if it is hard to nail down. It’s a bit British, a bit Italian, a bit French, a bit Japanese, and a lot eccentric. Don’t worry though - there’s nothing too funky going on that you will give cause for alarm or even heavy eye rolls, there’s just some straight up great food, and an equally great wine list.


Londoners are so accustomed to queuing that when we see one we think nothing of it. Some queues tell a story though, and the one that snakes out the door of Healthy Eaters every day is one of them. This homely Caribbean restaurant on Electric Avenue is a local favourite for obvious reasons. It feels a little bit like a home away from home: you can see everyone cooking up huge batches of curried goat or jerk sauce in the back, trays of freshly baked patties come out like clockwork, and generous portions of lunch or dinner are brought to you on a plate for just £7 if you decide to eat in. There’s downstairs seating as well as a few tables upstairs if you want do that, and, if not, you can walk out with a bulging plastic container.


photo credit: Charlie McKay

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8.2

Temaki

££££

Seaweed is the ultimate vehicle for rice. At Temaki it’s also the perfect vehicle for some BBQ ell  that we would ghost a BBQ chicken wing for. We truly mean that. And yes, we are as shocked as you. Honestly, the affordable temaki here is so good that we no longer accept handshakes, just otoro handed over from their chef. A sleek, minimalist restaurant hidden in Brixton Market, this is the kind of low-key, counter-only spot that you desperately want to drag that person you’re seeing to just so they know that you’re very, very - once more for luck - very cool.


Are you a sucker for fairy lights and linguine vongole? Yes? Same. Chances are you’ll be into Bellefields in Brixton. A casual five-minute walk from all of the hustle and bustle of the station, this Mediterranean spot’s secluded cobblestone courtyard is prime date night material. The trees are covered in fairy lights, the wine is served with a smile, and the £11 grilled octopus is a one-way ticket to a place we like to call Pretending We’re Not In London. Inside you’ll also find a lovely set-up of green banquette seating and plenty of Matisse motifs to keep your catch-up or low-key birthday dinner feeling classy. None of the food here will have you writing love letters to a burrata, but it is all reliably affordable and, importantly, satisfying.


Sarap’s signature slow-roasted pork makes you smile. The rest of the menu includes affordable fried chicken wings, fried spring rolls, and charred aubergine rice bowls (not fried) but that £12.50 crispy pork belly—packed full of lemongrass, chilli, garlic, and ginger—is the one. It’s served with a side of spiced coconut vinegar, rice, and iconic noughties tunes. A teeny-tiny restaurant inside Brixton Market, it feels like the perfect private kitchen to turn any pity party into a night of affordable pints, big laughs, and plenty of zingy atchara. Because, when in doubt, fermented papaya will get you far.

Please note, Sarap BAon is temporarily closed.


When a restaurant takes you to a different place it’s usually a good thing. Unless that place is a rollercoaster. Or an underpass at 1am in the morning. El Rancho De Lalo doesn’t do that though. Instead it takes you to a place full of wonderful Colombian hospitality. The food at this spot that recently moved to behind the Electric is delicious. Their lunch deal consisting of a changing soup, choice of meat with rice and plantain, drink, and a banana is undoubtedly the tastiest deal in London. In every sense of the word.


Naughty Piglets is a brilliant neighbourhood restaurant that anyone would be chuffed to have open down the road from them. They do little sharing plates of creative French food, paired with natural wines, and it’s the sort of food that will both impress a date and make your mouth happy. We love its intimate atmosphere and genuinely friendly service, and even if you’ve crossed London to get here, they’ll make you feel like you’re part of the neighbourhood. Order the creme caramel for dessert.


photo credit: Giulia Verdinelli

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Okan

££££

If you like big portions of tasty yakisoba and small prices, you’ll like Okan in Brixton Village. This Osaka-style Japanese spot doesn’t have a lot of seating, but what it lacks in space it makes up for in pork belly okonomiyaki, thick yaki udon, and their excellent signature king prawn and squid yakisoba. Everything here is under a tenner and comes with a proper serving of bonita fish flakes, seaweed flakes, and Japanese mayonnaise, so it’s perfect for a quick sit down situation or to takeaway. If you’re able to grab a table here in the evening, get involved in the sides and their plum wine too, and enjoy the buzz of the open kitchen.


Beb’s is a homely Indian restaurant that serves an excellent range of curries, including some Goan specialities, in a caf-like room with red gingham tablecloths and all. Whether you’re eating in or taking away, friendliness and comfort is the number one priority. Rose tea will be offered as you wait, complimentary cassava cake will come out, and the distinct feeling that maybe, just maybe, you would like to be adopted by this lovely couple will occur. The food will also make you feel all warm and fuzzy: lamb xacuti is rich and spiced, and even if you’re just popping in for some samosas, they too are expertly made. Needless to say: the big BYOB sign is also very welcoming.


If you’re planning on being around the main strip in Brixton, your first idea probably won’t be to hike all the way up Brixton Hill to this straightforward Caribbean spot. It’s worth it though. And not only for the menu of comfort food classics like saltfish fritters and jerk chicken with rice and peas, but also for its calm terrace, which can easily handle large groups.


We’re entirely on board with the sentiment of this cool coffee spot on Brixton Hill, and pretty much everything else about it. As well as your classic pastries, sandwiches, and bacon baps, this place has excellent coffee and one of the cutest, hidden gardens in London. Inside you’ll find a sort of modern lumberjack dream, with lots of oak, plants, and the smell of fresh coffee beans. Just be warned, although it’s a great spot for a catch up or getting some work done, they close at 4pm in the week.


Eat of Eden has one of the largest patio areas at Brixton Village, makes purely vegan food, and serves the largest single person combo platters we’ve ever seen. Seriously, this thing is huge. It does come in at a hefty £16.95, but it’s really good. You can choose eight items from an extensive list, but you’d be making a mistake if you didn’t get the pumpkin and sweet potato curry, the fried dumplings, and the seaweed fritters, and you’ll probably be taking a lot of it home with you. If you want something smaller (and cheaper) they also serve meals with a curry/stew, a grain and a side for around £12, plus wraps.


You might miss Santafereno if you weren’t looking out for it. But you should look for it, and then stop in for some decent Colombian food. Yes, it is a bit basic inside: yes, the music’s a bit loud, yes, the telenovelas on the TV in the corner are a bit distracting if you’re trying to talk to someone - but it’s also kind of great for all the same reasons. The mains may seem a bit on the pricey side, but good luck getting through an entire plate of meat or rice. Do what the locals do and take home half of the lunch deal in a box and a blue plastic bag. Also, if you’re out in Brixton and need something quick to keep you going, the pastel de yuca (cassava cake stuffed with beef, rice and peas) or the empanadas are the best value and most tasty £1.20 snack you will get in south London.


We’ll keep this simple. Other Side Fried Chicken makes one of the best chicken burgers in town, and you should definitely consider getting one if you’re at Pop Brixton. Even if you’re not in Brixton, you might consider jumping on the tube to get in on some crunchy, juicy chicken action. The buffalo and signature honey butter burgers are both ridiculous.


KaoSarn serves satisfying Thai food from a small cafe in Brixton Arcade. We like to hit it up when we get cravings for comforting South East Asian food, and it’s also good for an afternoon pick-me-up. The moo ping pork skewers are a winner, and make sure the minced chicken larb salad is in your order too.


Franzina Trattoria is a tiny authentic Sicilian restaurant hiding in plain sight in a shipping container in Pop Brixton. You need to come with at least one other person, but come as a foursome and you can try a number of their starters. They’re all a bit more interesting than the usual ‘burrata, bruschetta, caprese’ fare you find at Italian restaurants these days. But what you’re really here for is the homemade tagliatelle, specifically the the black squid ink, which is sensational.


If you like tapas, then you’ll like Boqueria, which does Spanish food that you could confidently feed to your mate from Barcelona. Except maybe don’t literally do that, as they’ll probably slap you if you try. All of the standard dishes like tortilla and calamari are proper and perfect for a casual hang with a couple of Estrellas, though you can kick it up a notch for an occasion, as they have dishes like suckling pig and killer seafood specials on the menu as well.


Pop Brixton is a mini shipping container village that’s a great place to hang out for food and drinks with a few friends. This complex of shipping containers is full of street food vendors (serving up everything from jerk chicken, to pizza that gives back to the homeless for every one bought), cocktail bars, and mini-restaurants (doing bits from raclette to tapas). It’s a fun and easy plan for anyone in need of one during the week or at the weekend. Especially if you’re in a group full of different tastes.

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