The Best Restaurants In Tooting guide image

LDNGuide

The Best Restaurants In Tooting

The best places to eat and drink in SW17.

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. But what you really need to know about Tooting is that it’s best known for being home to countless South Asian restaurants, from Sri Lankan spots serving excellent kothu roti, to old-school Pakistani curry houses. But that’s not all. You’ll also 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.

THE SPOTS

Juliets Quality Foods imageoverride image
8.7

Juliet’s Quality Foods

££££

110 Mitcham Road, London
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Juliet’s on Mitcham Road is an exposed brick blank canvas that’s yours to fill in with a coffee and a McMuffin-inspired breakfast muffin, while simultaneously eyeing up the homemade chocolate, miso, and pecan ‘nutzilla’ a toddler is nibbling on at the table next to you. Or come with a group of friends to try the changing seasonal specials and dissect the sweet details of last night’s date over The Best Cake in London. Seriously, their pistachio slice is basically a one-cake manifesto for every reason you should really be eating more yuzu icing. And you will be, because Juliets is a place you go to time and time again. Just know it’s walk-in only and during the week it’s a popular place to work.


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, 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. This place works for mates, dates, and just to satisfy that general urge we all get sometimes to eat a load of mushroom bao solo. Just us? Well, once you try this smoky-meets-fluffy shiitake situation, you’ll know exactly what we’re talking about.


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photo credit: Aleksandra Boruch

Vijaya Krishna review image
8.0

Vijaya Krishna

A homely restaurant on a bustling corner of Mitcham Road, Vijaya Krishna has been serving a truly epic masala dosai that laughs in the face of conventional plate sizes, and delightfully fiery lamb madras since 1994. This spot specialises in Keralan cooking and the warm, friendly servers will take you on a personal tour through the long menu featuring assertive pen points that mean ‘you absolutely should order this’. First stop, the chickpea-loaded chilli chana, then on to the life-affirming vegetable and coconut medley avial. You’ll have a great trip and the relaxed, simple setting lets the food do all the talking. Everyone should want Vijaya Krishna to be their local, but no matter where you’re based, that humongous masala dosai is worth travelling for.


Jaffna House review image

Jaffna House

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One of London’s most reliable Sri Lankan spots, Jaffna has been around since 1991. And after taking a seat in the homely dining room, and watching as takeaway orders fly out the door and Tooting locals drop by to pick up a cardamom-heavy kothu here and a bag of mutton rolls there, you’ll pick up on the fact that this is a place people return to. The curries are great, in particular the Jaffna special chicken curry—a rich and spicy tomato-based sauce with pieces of boneless chicken. Paired with the egg hopper, it’s a winning combination. This spot is perfect for a cosy catch-up with a few friends over mutton biriyani and fried string hoppers.


Kothu unsurprisingly serves some really amazing mutton kothu roti. Finely shredded roti, meaty, flavourful chunks of mutton, all generously topped with a layer of spring onion, this hefty portion of kothu arrives with a thick curry sauce on the side. The best part? You get to choose the spice level. Come here with a group and take one of the booths at the back or head in for a quick solo meal—we suggest a string hopper set meal while listening to a funny podcast. Just make sure you get the cheesy mutton rolls—they’re deep-fried, filled with slow-cooked lamb, and cheese. What’s not to like?


Tooting has no shortage of top-tier South Asian restaurants, but Spice Village is one of our favourites. This spacious Pakistani restaurant is a bit OTT, with samosa chaat arriving atop a cauldron filled with smoke, and mocktails presented in a top hat—with yet more smoke. But theatricals aside, the food is really great. Our go-to order is the spicy prawn karahi and pillowy, perfectly charred naan. While the space is big enough to accommodate groups, the moody lighting and velvet chairs scream date night. There’s a ‘special occasion’ energy to this place, where you’re just as likely to bring a third date as you are to celebrate a promotion. Just FYI, this is an alcohol-free restaurant.


Some days we just want a laid-back spot with reliably good food. And that’s exactly what you’ll find at Lahore Karahi, an always lively, never disappointing Pakistani spot in Tooting, which has been open since 1995. You can depend on it for excellent creamy chicken tikka masala karahi, being a place to bring friends when one of them has a new-found obsession with samosa chaat, and for family meals where plates of steaming biryani are passed around and garlic naans are fought over. As for what’s good on the lengthy menu of Pakistani and North Indian classics, the clue is in the name of the restaurant. The karahi dishes are the highlight, from the rich and spicy king prawn karahi to the zingy paneer number. The kind you’ll actually want to take home in a foil container if there are leftovers.


We’ve heard there’s an ongoing rivalry between Tooting locals who think Lahore Karahi is the best Pakistani restaurant in the area, and ones who back Dawat all the way. We’re undecided which takes the number one spot, but once we tried the Dawat special mixed grill, we understood why there are family divides over this place. It’s a casual, always buzzing, neighbourhood spot with groups tucking into a chicken jalfrezi, and friends fighting over the last tandoori king prawn whether it’s the weekend or a quiet Tuesday night. Ask for a round table if you’re in a small group and expect anything but a boring meal.


Being the selfless individuals we are, we’d like to volunteer to be Good Neighbour’s good neighbour. A five-minute walk from Tooting Broadway station, this place is perfect when you’re in the mood for a bit of this and a bit of that. Read: the small plates are excellent and everything on the menu has a Mediterranean feel that will go great with a spritz. Although the menu changes seasonally, our game plan here is to go with a couple of our favourite friends—a.k.a. people we can trust not to hog the fried feta with honey—and order every single one of the sharing plates. Plus, thanks to the exposed brick and buzzy counter, Good Neighbour screams big third date potential. The wine list is a real winner too.


Little Tapería is, plot twist, a little taperia. On a busy stretch of Tooting High Street, this place is a 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 around £35 per person. Yes, that’s including cocktails. Hand-feeding each other churros for dessert is highly encouraged.


Markets are our kryptonite. Put us in close proximity to vintage furniture, street food, fresh pints, and a haberdashery and we’re absolutely buzzing. You’ll find all of the above at Tooting Market, as well as plenty of little arty boutiques and our personal favourite—the old-school record shop, Dr. Vinyl. Get a caffeine kick from Brickwood Coffee to accompany your browsing, or finish your shop with something from Koi Ramen or something strong from Graveney Gin’s stall. Just be aware that if you go too heavy you will inevitably leave with some kind of ottoman and a leather jacket that looks like it’s permanently haunted by Russell Brand. Don’t say we didn’t warn you.


If you were to casually wander down Tooting High Street you might have no idea that there are a bunch of buzzing street food spots and cocktail bars tucked inside this huge hidden indoor market. Enter through a simple alleyway that opens up into a maze of good times, loud music, cold pints, and countless couples tucked in corners on folding chairs. Whether you opt for a big charcuterie board at The Tapas Room or a bowl of burrata and truffle tortelloni from Mamma Mia, the prices here tend to be very agreeable no matter which stool you decide to make your home for the evening. Plus, with all those options it’s an excellent shout for a date with someone whose full allergy profile you don’t yet know or as a last-minute option for those of us who really genuinely thought that date night was happening next week.


The best thing about being in Britain is hypothesising that you might one day run into Olivia Colman at Tesco. But the second best thing is eating a big, fat juicy roast at the pub. One of the best places to do that in Tooting is The Wheatsheaf, a cool independent neighbourhood pub where there’s no funny business, only a feelgood 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. Plus plenty of gin cocktails you can enjoy in their back garden, complete with fairy lights and a big old disco ball. See, we said it was feelgood.


Some people say you can’t beat a homemade roast. Others say that you should never wear socks with sandals. They’re both wrong. But with regards to the former, we present The Selkirk—a rustic Tooting pub which serves a truly epic roast that’s entirely worth leaving your sofa for on a Sunday. The roast British beef is the go-to move, thanks to its tender chewiness and smokiness that is the perfect match to the honey-roasted carrots and liberal serving of gravy. Every Sunday, the two-parts cosy, one-part classy dining room is filled with toddlers merrily tearing up yorkshire puddings, locals catching up over bloody marys, and at least three adorable dogs you’ll try to tempt over with the remnants of your stuffing. It’s got a proper family feel, and if you happen to be in the area during the rest of the week, it’s still worth stopping by for a pint, a nibble on delightfully slapdash hand-cut nachos, and some prime dog-watching.


Sure, we regularly refer to ourselves as HASHTAG BLESSED—insert praying hands emoji here—whenever we survive drinking two pints without suffering a hangover. But when it comes to this great Caribbean bakery on Mitcham Road, you’re 100% blessed if you happen to live nearby. Whether you swing by for a loaf of freshly baked hard dough bread or pick up some jerk chicken patties to eat on Tooting Common, we can guarantee you’ll leave with something you like. Also, the ginger sponge cake is one of the best ways you can spend £1.50 in London. And honestly, if you got a slice of the coconut cake too, we really wouldn’t blame you.


Goldfinch is one of those bars that makes everyone look really, really great. 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. 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.

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