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A red plate, piled high with a brown stew, along with Caribbean rice and peas and a finely cut slaw, on a wooden background.
A platter of Trinidadian homestyle food at Fish Wings and Tings.
Fish Wings and Tings

The Best Places to Eat in Brixton

From Eritrean, Trinidadian, Persian, and Chinese to modern British, Ghanaian, Italian, and Portuguese — SW9 is a microcosm of London’s culinary plurality

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A platter of Trinidadian homestyle food at Fish Wings and Tings.
| Fish Wings and Tings

It is impossible to talk about what might represent the best restaurants in Brixton without talking about displacement. In the year 2022, it is possible for a guy on TikTok to make a glossy highlight reel of samey restaurants that entirely omits the Black and Afro-Caribbean food cultures upon which the area’s new “restaurant scene” first violently laid its foundations.

Mr “Come with me to Brixton” probably shouldn’t have taken all that flak; a TikTok is a symptom of a wider, deliberate malaise. In an area in which the Windrush generation weaved its cultural fabric since the 1950s, aggressive policing, poor provision of housing and amenities, and resultant local anger that brought riots in the 1980s and 1990s has given way to talk of “regeneration” — once wealthy, middle-class White British people moved in. Since at least 2009, the influx of then cheap, then fashionable burger places, wine bars, and the like has brought capital both cultural and fiscal to the area, inviting landlords to raise rents and price out local businesses.

Honest Burger and Franco Manca, both now established brands with considerable financial clout and private equity backing, started in Brixton in the late 2000s — Franco Manca was a rebrand of a pizzeria that had been there since the 1980s. Black-owned businesses in the area have not been afforded comparable opportunities for growth and development, though Brixton Village’s championing of Adejoké Bakare’s Chishuru was a small counterpoint before it closed in 2022. The eviction of local delis, fishmongers, and grocers on Atlantic Road by Lambeth Council and Network Rail in 2016 is long in the local memory, and Hondo Enterprises, which pulls the strings at Brixton Village, has repeatedly and aggressively attempted to nudge out stalwarts like Nour Cash and Carry.

Brixton is far from the only area to fall victim to the milquetoast culinary homogenisation that happens when landlords become tastemakers, but it shares a deep, slow-then-fast, uncanny agony of displacement with Peckham, areas now dominated by and reshaped to cater to people who would have resisted setting foot just two or three short decades ago. So while it is now rightly acclaimed for a great culinary plurality, it bears repeating that what had to be vanquished for it to become this way was once a bedrock of its own.

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O Cantina de Portugal

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O Cantina de Portugal is a lively Portuguese tapas place offering a hearty selection of grilled pork and chicken dishes alongside a traditional assortment of seafood. With generous portions and dishes like fragrant octopus salads, garlicky grilled prawns doused in olive oil, and salted dried cod flaked over thick chips — and with and a friendly community atmosphere (it’s a particularly fun place to watch European football) — this is a great restaurant for groups who want an informal and relaxed meal. Keep an eye out for the weekend specials including the whole roasted suckling pig.

Balance

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One of the longest-established coffee shops in the area, owner Ali’s business has come on leaps and bounds with the establishment of his own coffee roastery, Perception — which now provides the beans for his cafe alongside occasional guests from the likes of nearby Assembly. A neighbourhood fixture evolving at its own speed.

Caribe'

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Keshia Sakarah’s Brixton spot offers a range of island cooking rooted in her second-generation perspective: small plates of saltfish accra, fried chicken with molasses, or doubles; a trio of roti; and either curry goat or curry chicken with rice and peas. She’s currently running a monthly supper club, Baruru, while figuring out the future of the restaurant proper: Check the website for dates and menus.

Mamalan

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A cozy cafe offering delicious northern Chinese street food and excellent value. The house-made dumplings filled with king prawn and water chestnuts, pork and Chinese leaf, and spinach and mushrooms are the stars of the show, but diners could also choose noodle soups enveloped in rich and warming broths, refreshing cold noodle salads with fresh vegetables, and sides such as smashed cucumber and seaweed.

Eat of Eden

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At Eat of Eden, spirulina, hemp, seaweed, and moss drinks pay homage to foodstuffs that Rastas have been championing since time immemorial. The interweaving of ackee, callaloo, and plantain through the menu’s curries and wraps is the hallmark, but for first-timers who aren’t sure where to begin, jump straight into the beloved, awe-inspiring platters.

Fish, Wings & Tings

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This casual Trinidadian restaurant excels at Caribbean classics and is the perfect spot to try some of Brixton’s best curried goat, hot-pepper prawns, and jerk chicken; no visit is complete without sampling the cod fritters and spicy chicken wings. Vegetarians are well-catered for with hearty pumpkin and chickpea rotis. Enjoy the Brixton community dining with house-made ginger beer or a glass of rum punch.

Black Bear Burger

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The Brixton branch of Black Bear — which also has a unit in Shoreditch — wins not just for its excellent burgers, but for a lockdown side project that is now a full-fledged breakfast menu from Thursdays to Sundays, bringing sausage, cheese, and onion patties and hash browns to the party.

This gem of a restaurant has been a Brixton stalwart for decades, serving classic Eritrean dishes. Asmara is a great place for groups thanks to the large mixed platters (meat or vegan) that never fail to impress: Small heaps of fragrant chicken, sour and spicy lentils, and shredded mustard greens are piled onto tangy injera bread. With welcoming staff and an entertaining coffee and popcorn ceremony to end the meal, this easygoing spot makes customers feel at home.

Kurisu Omakase

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Chris Restrepo’s parents own Ichiban Sushi, serving carefully made sushi since 1999. Restrepo takes that tradition and filters it through the version of Brixton he knows as an omakase, which he has labelled “yoroppa-mae” for its deployment of European ingredients. He might smoke tuna, or cure and dry-age hamachi; or he might put CBD caviar on top of mackerel. One of the most singular sushi experiences in the city.

El Rancho De Lalo

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El Rancho del Lalo was one of the few Colombian restaurants in the arcade predating its regeneration, before a rise in rent forced it to move behind Brixton Town Hall. But its excellence is undimmed: this is a place where empanadas are dense as bricks, stuffed to bursting with strands of spiced pork and fried to order so the casing satisfyingly cracks and spills out its contents. An excellent rendition of the Colombian national dish bandeja paisa comes as an enormous platter of meat and protein, including standout crispy chicharron and kidney bean stew. The gentrification continues apace, but El Rancho still outflanks units in its former home selling food at twice the price.

True Flavours Caribbean Cuisine

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Acre Lane, that oft-ignored stretch of road between Clapham and Brixton, contains a few noteworthy spots — among them Khamsa for Algerian and newcomer Mikos for a rare sighting of gyros south of the river. The standout is True Flavours, a relatively new (by Jamaican standards, at less than 10 years old) takeaway joint that is permanently busy whether people are inside or not. Residents in the know will phone ahead for chef Junior’s cooking, since the warm rack in the back is not for patties but a catalogue of takeaway orders. Oxtail, jerk chicken, fried chicken, fried fish, brown stew chicken — each is likely to run out after a canny phone order is placed, but there will always be another tempting option or a small wait for a fresh batch to be made in the well-seasoned cooking pots. The most popular item by far is the pepper steak, charred and singing with thyme, slow-cooked until the meat breaks down, served with rice and peas and “jerk pasta,” a massive opportunity missed by a certain celebrity chef.

Naughty Piglets

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This buzzy, intimate bistro is tucked away from the frenzy of central Brixton on a quiet residential street. It is perfect for those seeking atmosphere: Naughty Piglets is all about relaxed dining in a beautiful space. The menu is small but eclectic, featuring standout dishes like pork belly with Korean spices, devon crab with pickled cabbage, and tender asparagus with cured egg yolk. The wine list is exceptional, and someone is always on hand to suggest pairings.

Maremma

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Much violence has been done to ingredients in the name of Humble Tuscan Cookery in U.K. restaurants, but this paean to the region’s coastal hinterland and beaches carries off the tribute act with some aplomb. It’s unassuming, unmessed-with cookery — pairing mozzarella with asparagus and serving cured beef next to radish — but has the confidence needed to deliver.

O Cantina de Portugal

O Cantina de Portugal is a lively Portuguese tapas place offering a hearty selection of grilled pork and chicken dishes alongside a traditional assortment of seafood. With generous portions and dishes like fragrant octopus salads, garlicky grilled prawns doused in olive oil, and salted dried cod flaked over thick chips — and with and a friendly community atmosphere (it’s a particularly fun place to watch European football) — this is a great restaurant for groups who want an informal and relaxed meal. Keep an eye out for the weekend specials including the whole roasted suckling pig.

Balance

One of the longest-established coffee shops in the area, owner Ali’s business has come on leaps and bounds with the establishment of his own coffee roastery, Perception — which now provides the beans for his cafe alongside occasional guests from the likes of nearby Assembly. A neighbourhood fixture evolving at its own speed.

Caribe'

Keshia Sakarah’s Brixton spot offers a range of island cooking rooted in her second-generation perspective: small plates of saltfish accra, fried chicken with molasses, or doubles; a trio of roti; and either curry goat or curry chicken with rice and peas. She’s currently running a monthly supper club, Baruru, while figuring out the future of the restaurant proper: Check the website for dates and menus.

Mamalan

A cozy cafe offering delicious northern Chinese street food and excellent value. The house-made dumplings filled with king prawn and water chestnuts, pork and Chinese leaf, and spinach and mushrooms are the stars of the show, but diners could also choose noodle soups enveloped in rich and warming broths, refreshing cold noodle salads with fresh vegetables, and sides such as smashed cucumber and seaweed.

Eat of Eden

At Eat of Eden, spirulina, hemp, seaweed, and moss drinks pay homage to foodstuffs that Rastas have been championing since time immemorial. The interweaving of ackee, callaloo, and plantain through the menu’s curries and wraps is the hallmark, but for first-timers who aren’t sure where to begin, jump straight into the beloved, awe-inspiring platters.

Fish, Wings & Tings

This casual Trinidadian restaurant excels at Caribbean classics and is the perfect spot to try some of Brixton’s best curried goat, hot-pepper prawns, and jerk chicken; no visit is complete without sampling the cod fritters and spicy chicken wings. Vegetarians are well-catered for with hearty pumpkin and chickpea rotis. Enjoy the Brixton community dining with house-made ginger beer or a glass of rum punch.

Black Bear Burger

The Brixton branch of Black Bear — which also has a unit in Shoreditch — wins not just for its excellent burgers, but for a lockdown side project that is now a full-fledged breakfast menu from Thursdays to Sundays, bringing sausage, cheese, and onion patties and hash browns to the party.

Asmara

This gem of a restaurant has been a Brixton stalwart for decades, serving classic Eritrean dishes. Asmara is a great place for groups thanks to the large mixed platters (meat or vegan) that never fail to impress: Small heaps of fragrant chicken, sour and spicy lentils, and shredded mustard greens are piled onto tangy injera bread. With welcoming staff and an entertaining coffee and popcorn ceremony to end the meal, this easygoing spot makes customers feel at home.

Kurisu Omakase

Chris Restrepo’s parents own Ichiban Sushi, serving carefully made sushi since 1999. Restrepo takes that tradition and filters it through the version of Brixton he knows as an omakase, which he has labelled “yoroppa-mae” for its deployment of European ingredients. He might smoke tuna, or cure and dry-age hamachi; or he might put CBD caviar on top of mackerel. One of the most singular sushi experiences in the city.

El Rancho De Lalo

El Rancho del Lalo was one of the few Colombian restaurants in the arcade predating its regeneration, before a rise in rent forced it to move behind Brixton Town Hall. But its excellence is undimmed: this is a place where empanadas are dense as bricks, stuffed to bursting with strands of spiced pork and fried to order so the casing satisfyingly cracks and spills out its contents. An excellent rendition of the Colombian national dish bandeja paisa comes as an enormous platter of meat and protein, including standout crispy chicharron and kidney bean stew. The gentrification continues apace, but El Rancho still outflanks units in its former home selling food at twice the price.

True Flavours Caribbean Cuisine

Acre Lane, that oft-ignored stretch of road between Clapham and Brixton, contains a few noteworthy spots — among them Khamsa for Algerian and newcomer Mikos for a rare sighting of gyros south of the river. The standout is True Flavours, a relatively new (by Jamaican standards, at less than 10 years old) takeaway joint that is permanently busy whether people are inside or not. Residents in the know will phone ahead for chef Junior’s cooking, since the warm rack in the back is not for patties but a catalogue of takeaway orders. Oxtail, jerk chicken, fried chicken, fried fish, brown stew chicken — each is likely to run out after a canny phone order is placed, but there will always be another tempting option or a small wait for a fresh batch to be made in the well-seasoned cooking pots. The most popular item by far is the pepper steak, charred and singing with thyme, slow-cooked until the meat breaks down, served with rice and peas and “jerk pasta,” a massive opportunity missed by a certain celebrity chef.

Naughty Piglets

This buzzy, intimate bistro is tucked away from the frenzy of central Brixton on a quiet residential street. It is perfect for those seeking atmosphere: Naughty Piglets is all about relaxed dining in a beautiful space. The menu is small but eclectic, featuring standout dishes like pork belly with Korean spices, devon crab with pickled cabbage, and tender asparagus with cured egg yolk. The wine list is exceptional, and someone is always on hand to suggest pairings.

Maremma

Much violence has been done to ingredients in the name of Humble Tuscan Cookery in U.K. restaurants, but this paean to the region’s coastal hinterland and beaches carries off the tribute act with some aplomb. It’s unassuming, unmessed-with cookery — pairing mozzarella with asparagus and serving cured beef next to radish — but has the confidence needed to deliver.

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