Brockley maintains a slightly bohemian vibe thanks to a community of established and aspiring local artists attending nearby Goldsmiths University. It’s also been home to famous residents including Kate Bush, Spike Milligan and… Chris Tarrant, when he was so poor he lived in a minivan. While the area has been gentrifying steadily since the 1960s some long-standing food businesses remain, making for a fun mix of old and new. The local pubs tend to crop up in lists of recommendations and it’s true they’re not bad for a quick bite, but far more interesting are the established Turkish, Pakistani, and Indian owned businesses which mingle with hip newcomers, established institutions, and the always on-trend Brockley Market.Read More
10 Brilliant Restaurants to Try in Brockley
This south east London neighbourhood packs local fish and chips, a fiercely adored Pakistani restaurant, excellent Turkish ocakbasi, and one of London’s best coffee shops
Meze Mangal Restaurant
A stone’s throw from Brockley Market’s corner pitch is Meze Mangal, one of the better mangals in south East London and therefore constantly packed. As ever, the drama happens around the grill: founded by two brothers in 2000 on a mission to alter the perception of Turkish food, it’s less spinning doner, more spitting adana. The lahmacun is a cut above the norm, with a crunchy base and generously spiced lamb.
Toby Allen’s impeccably put together market has become an essential Saturday morning ritual for many locals. Its combination of hot food stalls, produce and village fete vibe make it a destination for lingering couples, local dog walkers and street food snapping influencers. The best food comes from Mike + Ollie in the form of flatbreads topped with slow-cooked meat, fish, or vegetables and plenty of interesting bits which have usually been foraged, pickled, or otherwise made exciting. Angus Denoon is now pitching up too, with his Everybody Love Love Jhal Muri Express, a riotous explosion of colour and chat, plus some of the best jhal muri in town.
Masala Wala Cafe
Masala Wala opened in 2015 with just five tables and has since grown into a Brockley institution. It was founded by Saima Thompson and her mother Nabeela Muqadiss with the aim of showing off Nabeela’s Pakistani home cooking. The small menu changes each month, featuring four homestyle curries, roti, basmati rice, and salads — everything feels light and fresh with distinct flavours. Do not miss Saima’s auntie’s hot carrot pickle if it’s on the menu — deftly spiced with sour and spicy notes which make it impossible not to eat by the spoonful.
Browns of Brockley
Ross Brown is one of London coffee’s most irreverent, reluctant ambassadors. His eponymous shop is as much pillar of the citywide landscape as it is a neighbourhood essential; Square Mile’s iconic (if “steady”) Red Brick anchors the espresso offering, while filter coffees rotate regularly. A recent refurbishment has expanded and brightened the shop, but taken away none of its personality; iced lattes are treated like cocktails with ingredients, as they should be, and sandwiches are way above the sad cafe average, with banana bread a local legend. The cafe also co-owns 10 Coulgate, the restaurant space currently inhabited by Chinese Laundry.
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Resident until 2020, Peiran Gong and Tongtong Ren’s stint in Brockley takes impetus from travel around China in the wake of the duo’s residency at the Mountgrove Bothy in Islington last year. Dishes are not fixed, but so far include drunken crayfish, kungpao chicken with girolles, and beef and tomato dumplings, with the vibe more dining room than restaurant. Salthouse Bottles is a good option for BYOB — the £40pp price tag includes corkage.
Brickfields is a bar which hosts residencies from various street food traders. Until recently Melissa Chi Mae Wong’s acclaimed Overseas Chinese Food was in the kitchen, serving pork stuffed rou jia mo, dan dan noodles, and dumplings. She’s now moved to Tooting, so Jerk Off BBQ is back with its smoking drum and very popular jerk halloumi, wings, and spicy bean burgers. There are local brews on the menu to quench the fire from Brockley Brewery, Gipsy Hill Brewery, and Peckham-based mead meddlers, Gosnells, too.
A decent local chippy is but a dream for many Londoners. Some might argue that it’s a futile endeavour trying to find great fish and chips inland, but cravings strike and must be sated. Brockley residents have a solid option in Brockley’s Rock, where traditional choices such as cod and saveloy sit alongside whitebait and calamari with sweet chilli sauce. Crisp-battered cod is cooked to steam the interior into meaty pearlescent flakes. Mushy peas and curry sauce are proper — i.e., no mint — and pickled eggs and onions are present and correct. For the health conscious there’s an option to order fish grilled instead of fried. Try to overlook this.
L'Oculto Cocina - Wine Bar -Shop
L’Oculto is one of those places that people like to keep ‘secret’ because it’s a cut above its peers in so many respects. Ana and Teresa started out as importers of food and wine, supplying unusual ingredients to chefs including Heston at The Fat Duck. They moved on to Brockley Market before hosting pop-ups and finally opened a first 25 cover restaurant which doubles as a wine shop. The produce is stellar, mainly because it’s imported directly from Spanish producers. Wines are focused on the low intervention, organic and biodynamic; plates of pulpo a la Gallega fly out of the kitchen, tender octopus gleaming underneath grassy olive oil and a rusty dusting of sweet and hot paprika. Try it with the Jose Aristegui Mencia — a light red wine which makes for a slightly less obvious but excellent pairing.
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This popular little deli and cafe bustles with customers hungry for their fix of nasi lemak — a traditional Malaysian breakfast of fragrant rice with curries such as beef rendang, egg, crunchy anchovies, peanuts, and the ever-present sambal. It’s a shame the cafe doesn’t open until 12, but the dish tastes just as satisfying at lunch. The hearty servings of roti canai — filling home cooked curries flanked by rich, chewy roti, plus the reasonable prices, have made the cafe a community favourite. The kuah kachang stands out too, with its thick, rich peanut sauce — perfect with a fresh juice or bubble tea. Cash only.
Babur is the kind of restaurant that locals will defend to their last, exasperated breath. Expect a mixture of regional cooking styles on the menu, but South Indian preparations stand out with the particular thrum of curry leaves and coconut. Babur has separated its delivery and dine-in operations into two kitchens and while the zippy simplicity of the take-out food sings, there are many who disagree and prefer the sit-down experience. Critics of this place risk being ostracised from the South East London Club.
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