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Five Restaurants to Try This Weekend

Including Colombian food in Elephant and Castle, jerk pork in Crystal Palace, or first-rate jamón ibérico in Bermondsey

Jamon Iberico at Bar Tozino on Maltby Street
Bar Tozino/Facebook

Aroma de Cafe

Aroma de Cafe is lost without a tip-off — under a concrete overhang of flats on the Elephant and Castle roundabout. But under the Tiendas del Sur sign (it’s an arcade) find this Colombian cantina — full of locals bent over big bowls of sopa and gone somewhere deep. Depending on the time of day, the rhythm changes, but mid-afternoon this is a workers’ cafe, here for sancocho de gallina (hen, potatoes and casava), mondongo (slowly gelatinised tripe) or frijoles (kidney beans) in a bowl with a side of lime; some ox tongue if it’s on. This is the kind of food to fall asleep on but there’s also snacks to go: corn-yellow empanadas with a crust like the earth’s surface; papas relllenas or deep fried potato fritters stuffed with spiced beef. Get them with ají picante, a cool looking very hot sauce. Oh, and soursop juice. Start missing the bus more often. Open daytime weekdays and weekends. —Virginia Hartley
Newington Butts, SE1 6SF

Tasty Jerk

While they battle it out on the pitch, the title of which London football club is blessed with the best food options goes unclaimed. Arsenal with Xi’an Impression and Piebury Corner are in with a good shout, whereas QPR unfortunately lost the matchday institution of A. Cooke’s pie and mash shop on Golborne Road. The real winner however would be Crystal Palace, who have the best jerk in London right in the shadow of Selhurst Park. To track it down, follow the smoke: in peak hours the inside is blackened with the soot and char of barbecued meat as huge drums are open and shut in a rhythm that merely suggests the amount of technique that goes into making truly great jerk. Chicken is always a solid option, with a balanced, complex heat from the rub and skin that shatters like crackling, but it’s the belly pork that is the revelation — crisp and soft with fat like chicharron and the sweetness of char siu. A jerk meal will contain vital extras: stodgy rice and peas with meat gravy on top to give respite, coleslaw to cool down, and sweet, searing hot sauce that showcases the fruit and tear-inducing power of the scotch bonnet. Although there are a few desultory stools, Tasty Jerk is mainly takeaway and very known in Thornton Heath’s Caribbean community so expect a queue on match days and any other peak times. —Jonathan Nunn
88 Whitehorse Lane, SE25 6RQ

Thīmā by Farang

Sebby Holmes’s Thai-insprie feasts at Farang (on the site of what used to be San Daniele on Highbury Park) have won him hordes of fans. Some of them, though, live on the other side of London, and don’t relish the prospect of an hour on the Overground in a heatwave. Luckily for them, there’s now Thīmā - a Farang spin-off in Fulham’s new Market Hall. The menu’s compressed but it hits the same moreish notes as the original: native seafood (grilled scallops served smoking in the shell), heat (peach, pineapple and sweet basil massaman curry), crunch (fried chicken with burnt chilli dipping sauce). Ticking all three boxes are the drunken, salt-crusted tiger-prawn noodles, caramelised in a roti pan and humming with half a dozen cloves of garlic. —Emma Hughes

Bar Tozino

This bar, located under the arches on Maltby Street, is perhaps the most dedicated London purveyor of jamón ibérico de bellota. Vintage and provenance are the focus of the cured meat, which is everywhere, hanging from the ceiling. Every plate is carved to order. One of many fine pit stops on Maltby Street whose Saturday food market ought to feature on any serious food lover’s London bucket list. —Adam Coghlan
Lassco Ropewalk, Maltby Street, SE1 3PA

The Latchmere

Pre-theatre dining usually lends its prefix to place as well as time: unconscionably priced food and drink often lurks behind the curtain. It’s refreshing, then, to find an hospitable, unfussy and clever pub and restaurant underneath one of London’s best fringe theatres, just down Battersea Park Road. The fourth wall might be broken more frequently than culinary boundaries, but dishes like a chorizo scotch egg with honking smoked garlic aioli, pea and mint tortellini and confit duck leg with braised gem are the work of a confident kitchen putting serious business before show business. The pre-theatre menu is daily changing and serious value (two courses for £15 or three for £18): just the ticket whether or not diners are heading up to the gods. —James Hansen
503 Battersea Park Rd, SW11 3BW


72 Highbury Park, , England N5 2XE 020 7226 1609 Visit Website

The Latchmere

503 Battersea Park Road, , England SW11 3BW 020 7223 3549 Visit Website

Bar Tozino

Maltby Street, , England SE1 3PA Visit Website