It may have fewer beards than Hoxton, and fewer startups than Shoreditch, but Brixton holds the crown as the most consistently cool neighbourhood in London. It’s one of the only villages outside of central London where you can eat authentic food from all around the world, and it’s got an energy all its own. From casual market spots to container restaurants and ‘proper’ eating establishments, the very best places to eat and drink are collected in this guide. So shave off that beard, jump on the Viccy line, and come hang with the actual cool kids.
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 in Brixton market (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.
“Kooky” is a great word and the best way to describe Shrub and Shutter. This is a bar-come-restaurant where you will start your evening choosing from Brixton’s most extensive menu of cocktails. Weird and wonderful doesn’t begin to define the range of drinks on offer - some come with meat, and others are based on popular Netflix shows. However, the food is just plain wonderful. It’s a seasonal European menu at £36 for six courses, and we say grab a few mates, grab a table, work your way through both menus, and make a night of it.
You’re going to be at Canova Hall because you’re the idiot that planned a night out in Brixton with a few mates, but forgot to make a plan. This watering hole lives in a converted department store and is pretty impressive on the inside. The food is not the best in Brixton, but the pizzas and pastas will keep your crew in check if you forgot to book somewhere for dinner 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’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.
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 and fairly authentic 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 in need of a snack, 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.
Need a date spot in Brixton that does some nice cocktails and some good enough nibbles? Three Eight Four is that spot. The small plates will not blow you away, but it’s a great little spot for a few cheeky cocktails nonetheless.
Mamalan popped up in Dalston back in the day leading to some north of the river folks to believe that it was a chain. It was not. And in another devastating blow, both Mamalan locations are in South London. The one in Brixton Market is where to get your noodle soup fix when you are finally over ramen, or were never really all that into ramen. The dumplings are good too, but the mama hot wings are a better side option.
We’ll keep this simple. Other Side Fried Chicken makes one of the best chicken sandwiches (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, and taste similar to the feeling you get when you walk away from an exploding helicopter in slo-mo.
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 - even if you’ve travelled from Crouch End, they’ll make you feel like you’re part of the neighbourhood. Order the creme caramel for dessert.
DDG is by far the prettiest restaurant at Pop, and it has some of the tastiest Chinese food in the area. Their thing is roast Cantonese-style meats with rice. The manager gave us an epic eye roll when we mentioned the roast duck at Four Seasons in Chinatown but to be fair, DDG’s version is pretty damn good - get it with some greens and rice, and definitely get the prawn toast, which is over the top delicious. They have a large booth if you’re rolling deep and want to order a bunch of things, and a cosy bar in case you want to dine solo.
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’s great for hanging out with a pint, but it can also be about as intimate as a Friday night at Jamm. Head upstairs to Donostia Social Club, where you can grab a seat at their long counter and order classy little plates of Basque tapas, like the ones you imagined yourself eating in San Sebastian, except in a south London shipping container. It’s informal, fun, and grabbing a glass of cava here is infinitely classier than downing vodka cranberries with mingers at 1am.
KaoSarn serves satisfying and authentic 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.
Federation Coffee is where you go when you want good coffee close to Brixton Market. It’s cosy without being pokey, and it’s always full of people hanging out and doing things like conversing and making eye contact with other humans (they don’t have wi-fi). The food’s good, in a casual avocado and eggs kind of way - try the ricotta and salmon on toast, which is a nice change from the usual rotation of brunch dishes.
If you live in Brixton, chances are that you’ve probably walked past this cafe half a dozen times without even noticing it. It’s a cosy and low key spot that does brilliant breakfasts, and even though it looks like literally any other cafe from the outside, all of the food’s of a high standard. You can get a great Eggs Florentine and Bloody Marys at the weekends, and they have super fresh, light salads, and falafel wraps during the week.