LDNGuide

The 18 Best Restaurants In Peckham

Mouth-watering Kurdish cuisine, fluffy bao, superb suya, and much more around SE15.
The 18 Best Restaurants In Peckham image

Peckham is a lot more than Hooky Street and regenerated bits of concrete. It’s a bustling part of London that’s excellent for food and drink. From flavour-packed thali with homemade paratha, to some of London’s smokiest and sauciest jerk, plus wonderful wine bars and fiery West African barbecue, the breadth of options in SE15 is truly brilliant. The only question is—what to eat first?


THE SPOTS

photo credit: Aleksandra Boruch

Bakery/Cafe

Peckham

$$$$Perfect For:TakeawayLiterally Everyone
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As you approach Toad Bakery’s small shop front, catch a whiff of freshly baked bread and then see the glistening pastries, that Pavlovian response will kick in. Your stomach will rumble, eyes widen, and you’ll start mentally calculating just how many gooey vegan cookies and cardamom-heavy cinnamon buns you can eat in one sitting. Or how many loaves you can take home. It straddles Peckham and Camberwell, and there are a few colourful stools out front but if you can’t get a seat, take your slow-braised goat bear claw pastries to nearby Lucas Gardens instead.


This Kurdish restaurant on Rye Lane has two big glistening shawarmas on the go at all times but their menu is evenly split between meat, vegetarian, and vegan options. The chicken qozi is fantastic. It glistens with honey and lemon and the potatoes absorb all the fats and flavours to evolve into an entirely new kind of brick-like carbohydrate. The vegan mezze is also excellent. The falafel is crunchy and light, full of yellowness and a smattering of herbs, and comes with pistachio hummus and dalooja, a red pepper and pomegranate dip.


Humankind’s relationship with fire goes back a long way. Humankind’s relationship with moody, exposed brick restaurants that are perfect for feeling like a sexy grown-up is arguably slightly shorter, but just as important. Kudu Grill brings the two together and the results are entirely fantastic. We’re talking fried pigs’ tails nibbles, whole grilled lemon soles, and braai cauliflower with goat’s curd, spiced biltong, sophisticated cocktails, and—whisper it—treacle bordelaise t-bone. It’s all served in a room that feels like you’re at the boujiest of house parties.


A good paratha is something we’d walk 20 minutes for. An excellent paratha is something we’d cross the city for. Ganapati, a cosy South Indian-inspired restaurant on Holly Grove, has the latter. There’s a menu of exciting things like savoury lentil doughnuts soaked in yoghurt, poppadoms with spicy garlic pickles, and our favourite thing here: the thali. Come on a weekday afternoon and you’ll get one of the most filling, delicious lunches around for under £15. And because we are strong believers that bread is the key to happiness, make sure you try one of those flaky Kerala parathas as well.


London isn’t lacking in jerk options, but it is when it comes to the two Cs: consistency and char. JB's has no problem with either of these. The little restaurant off Peckham High Street makes a jerk full of spice, sweetness, and a welcome hit of smokiness. A portion of jerk chicken wings will set you back just £3 while on weekends their jerk pork is the thing to get. Their menu of Caribbean classics is all homemade, from patties to stews, and it’s the kind of place you can happily swing by alone or make a detour to, to pick up something ludicrously tasty.


Levan is that rare thing in London: a wine bar and European-leaning, sharing plates restaurant that actually serves plates of food big enough to share. It’s a super casual and relaxed place. The kind that makes you feel that you’re more mature, successful, and cool than you likely are. Well, that’s what it did for us anyway. Hit it for a glass of something from their excellent natural wine list, and stay until you’ve eaten everything on the menu.


Sometimes you leave your house with only one thing on your mind: food. When a satisfying, delicious meal is your top priority, head to this no-nonsense spot on Rye Lane. At Taste Of Afghan you’ll find plates of piping hot lamb kabali pilau loaded with carrots and raisins, chicken karahi in a fresh, light tomato sauce, and banjan borani—all of which should all be on your table. It’s a great place to have in your back pocket for a low-key weeknight dinner, and it’s the perfect restaurant for a group of hungry people who forgot to make a reservation on a Thursday evening.


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Forza Wine is a rooftop up on Rye Lane, and it leans more restaurant than bar. Once you see a couple happily sharing an oil-drenched panzanella in the sun, you’ll understand why. It’s all sharing plates—cauliflower fritti with aioli, mussels in a punchy ‘nduja sauce, grilled flatbread with stringy taleggio. And, as the name suggests, there’s a solid and natural-filled wine list, as well as cocktails for a tenner. You can sit inside or out, just be sure to specify when you book.


Persepolis isn’t your average London corner shop, though you could be mistaken for thinking so from the outside. This luminous yellow Persian deli will brighten your mood even on the most dire London day. It’s got a BYOB cafe space serving delicious vegetarian mezze at amazingly low prices. It’s perfect for a drop-in lunch, but you’ll probably want to book for dinner because this place is no secret.


Some foods open up parts of your brain you didn’t even realise were there. They react with your tastebuds and tango with your receptors in eye-opening and, in the case of Alhaji’s yaji, eye-watering ways. Their homemade yaji (a spice mix of chilli, peanut, ginger, and garlic that varies from the hands that make it) is one of these foods. It covers their freshly grilled suya—you can choose from lamb, beef (get the tozo), or chicken—and it’s the reason you likely find a new found appreciation for raw tomato and white onion. Both offset the fiery spice and savouriness that comes as standard from this melt-in-your-mouth Nigerian barbecue takeaway spot.


Sometimes queues are a sign that a place is very good and sometimes a queue is just a sign that you did some drunk online shopping and now need to wait 45 minutes for the Zara returns desk. But in the case of Yemanes, it’s definitely the former. A family-run North African stall just off Rye Lane, they specialise in speedy and deeply satisfying wraps. The fillings—think falafel, fresh salad, and tender lamb shawarma—are great, but it’s the wraps themselves that really make this place a must-try lunch spot. They cook each wrap fresh for every customer and it’s delightfully chewy and thick. Yemanes is permanently busy but the wait is worth it, and if you’re really feeling bold you can fight it out for one of their few little pavement tables.


Zionly Manna is a takeaway and dine-in spot inside Peckham’s Rye Lane Market with a changing daily selection of deliciously fresh African and Caribbean-inspired curries and stews, alongside staples like rotis, rice and peas, and dumplings—all of which are vegan. Individual options are available, but £20 will get you a bulging platter of Ital-inspired goodness, including everything that’s on that day, four dumplings, and one of their delicious handmade juices (sorrel and cranberry is our favourite).


There’s a special (and unhinged) kind of pleasure in backing yourself on the spice front at Tiwa ‘N’ Tiwa. The West African grill restaurant packs a punch. Their suya, though not freshly grilled, has absolutely no problem in letting you know its presence while their beef ayamase has the kind of slow burning chilli hum that’s more than welcome as the temperature outside drops. You can sit inside with a beer or get everything to takeaway.


081 Pizzeria makes some very, very good pizza. We’re talking thick, chewy crusts, rich sweet tomato sauce, and toppings that include things like fried aubergine slow-cooked in a tomato sauce, and mushrooms with smoked mozzarella and truffle oil. Located inside Peckham Levels, this is a solid option in the area, and if you look at the menu and are torn between two of the 12-inch pizzas, just get them both. We’ve done the research and can confirm they taste just as good cold as they do freshly baked.


Remember the good tests at school? Ones where you were very confident (or had a bottle of water with some very interesting and useful ingredients). Going to Mr Bao is a bit like having one of those tests. You cross things off the menu, and, because pretty much everything here is tasty and nice, it’s quite hard to fail. The baos are great, especially the mushroom and chicken ones, while the small plates are almost all consistent crowd-pleasers as well.


Please sir, I want some more. Is this what the Begging Bowl was named after? Probably not. Is it completely and utterly fitting? Yes. Peckham’s go-to Thai spot is one of the best in London, and everyone should be coming here. But also please don’t, because we want that pomelo salad and braised pork soup all to ourselves. We recommend coming with a little crowd, so you can order a bit of everything.


Candlelight isn’t, for the most part, ideal for living or working conditions. A candlelit bath, yes. A candlelit batch of washing and ironing, no. Peckham Bazaar, however, thrives in candlelight. It’s a postcard of a neighbourhood restaurant. Intimate, a bit out of the way, and it’s got a red phone box outside it. This place serves some lovely Mediterranean food from its charcoal grill—like octopus with white taramasalata, or quail with tagine. And the atmosphere is as relaxed and slow-burning as the candles on your table.


Artusi is the Italian neighbourhood restaurant of your dreams. It’s a cosy, casual, you’ll-end-up-coming-here-once-a-week, type place. The menu changes constantly, but expect things like dreamily ripe bull’s heart tomatoes with nice things, a ragu and other pastas, and simply done meat and fish with vegetables. Put simply, this is a very good restaurant.


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