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Pancakes at Sparrow, Lewisham, one of the best places to eat in Lewisham, south east London Sparrow [Official Photo]

Where to Eat in Lewisham

Crispy, shattering fried chicken, seasonal, elegant brunch and dinner, Nigerian neighbourhood dining, and more

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Lewisham’s reputation as an area bereft of excellent restaurants is not without some basis. Its reputation as a place with plenty of interesting places to eat — well, that’s a different story. Here, as with any tight-knit community, neighbourhood dining reigns supreme: come to SE13 and/or SE4 to find one of London’s best fried chicken sandwiches, Nigerian neighbourhood dining, and modern European excellence via St. John.

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Note: Restaurants on this map are listed geographically.

Sparrow

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Perched in the shadow of Lewisham’s monolithic shopping centre, the sheer physicality of Sparrow’s location feels like a metaphor for migrating the seasonal, restrained cooking familiar to central London to SE13. Chefs and partners Terry Blake and Yohini Nandakumar are up to the task, having met at St John and done stints at The Square and Bao. Working upon a modern European canvas, inflections come from far and wide: dinner could start with cured salmon, lemon and crème fraîche before turning to massaman beef cheek curry, or tender duck breast with chilli jam and endives. Brunch is essential, with Sri Lankan appam pancakes reflecting Nandakumar’s roots, and mince on dripping toast

Pancakes at Sparrow, Lewisham, one of the best places to eat in Lewisham, south east London Sparrow [Official Photo]

Meze Mangal

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While the majority of the city’s best Turkish restaurants are clustered in North London, Meze Mangal does a sterling job south of the Thames. Adored by locals, the restaurant is dominated by a massive mangal grill turning out delicious skewers of tender quail, chicken and lamb şiş, and a wood-fired oven at the back that delivers hefty pide and crisp lahmacun sprinkled with minced lamb and fragrant coriander. Choosing from an interesting list of Turkish bottles is the only polite thing to do, and the restaurant’s regard in the annals of Lewisham gastronomy makes it essential to book ahead. 

Mixed grill at Meze Mangal, a Turkish ocakbasi and one of the best places to eat in Lewisham Meze Mangal [Official Photo]

With south-east London’s Nigerian community on its doorstep, Enish owners Olushola and Eniola Medupin draw from the country’s diversity, while acknowledging that pulling together the traditions of over 300 distinct tribes is an impossible task. Efo riro, a rich vegetable stew from western Nigeria, comforts with tender green amaranth, studded with tripe and smoked fish. Muscular beef suya and the ever-popular grilled fish — here, Atlantic croaker or tilapia — are best consumed with a peaty Nigerian Guinness in hand. 

Nigerian neighbourhood dining at Enish, one of the best places to eat in Lewisham Enish [Official Photo]

Everest Curry King Restaurant

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The A20 corridor isn’t an obvious place for an interesting meal, but hidden gems are so named for a reason. Everest Curry King is legendary among south-east Londoners for its spit-and-sawdust directness and bevy of Sri Lankan and south Indian dishes, all prepared in advance and reheated to order. Those familiar with Tooting’s finest will be on familiar ground, as delicious egg hoppers, kottu roti and mutton rolls mingle with south Indian dishes like vada and spicy drumstick curries. A smattering of Jaffna-style dishes from Sri Lanka’s northern reaches make an appearance in fish frys, and a curry of crab smothered in spices and coconut milk. 

Lamb curry and chickpea curry with white rice at Everest Curry King, one of the best places to eat in Lewisham Fowl Mouths Food/Instagram

Antonio Delicatessen

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A Lewisham institution, the former Gennaro Delicatessen passed from founders Maria and Gennaro Massiello (who founded it in 1983) to Antonio and Elena Nigro, another young Italian couple, after the former retired. Renamed for its current owners and in possession of a shiny refurb, this tiny deli is as integral to the local landscape as it’s ever been. Aside from being perhaps the only place in SE13 for good scamorza or aged parmesan, there’s a superb selection of antipasti, homemade arancini and Italian charcuterie. Service is noteworthy, even in an area known for its humour, and spending lunch with a fresh panino and Campari soda here is a wonderful thing. 

Sliced prosciutto at Antonio Delicatessen, one of the best places to eat in Lewisham Supper in the Suburbs

L'Oculto

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A wine shop-cum-tapas bar serving a lavish array of Spanish ingredients, each dish at L’Oculto is a stand-out. The establishment is a labour of love from the owners of Flavours of Spain, an import business that buys all of of its sherry, cheese, ham and cava directly from suppliers across the Iberian Peninsula. Locals pack the restaurant to sip minimal intervention wines and snack on the creations of Galician chef Irene Loreno Muñoz: standards like pan con tomate and sweet flan with sherry cream are excellent, but watch out for specials like tortilla vaga, an open tortilla of runny eggs, poached onion, sea urchin caviar and fried parsley.

Sweet flan with sherry cream at L’Oculto, one of the best places to eat in Lewisham Richard Eliott

Maggies Cafe & Restaurant

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The family caff is a magnificent thing, and few can match Maggie’s for sheer hospitality. An Irish gaff formerly run by the late matriarch Maggie Khondoker — Lewisham’s very own Peggy Mitchell — and her sons Anthony and Oliver, locals are drawn to this beloved institution for ample breakfasts during the day, and home-cooked dinners like slow-cooked lamb shank and roasts in the evening. Cups of coffee and tea are replenished within seconds; bubble and squeak is appropriately coarse; and the ever-scarcer option of tinned tomatoes is offered over fresh. Maybe don’t order an oat milk latte.

Full English Breakfast at Maggie’s, a Lewisham cafe and one of the best places to eat in Lewisham Munchies

Sparrow

Pancakes at Sparrow, Lewisham, one of the best places to eat in Lewisham, south east London Sparrow [Official Photo]

Perched in the shadow of Lewisham’s monolithic shopping centre, the sheer physicality of Sparrow’s location feels like a metaphor for migrating the seasonal, restrained cooking familiar to central London to SE13. Chefs and partners Terry Blake and Yohini Nandakumar are up to the task, having met at St John and done stints at The Square and Bao. Working upon a modern European canvas, inflections come from far and wide: dinner could start with cured salmon, lemon and crème fraîche before turning to massaman beef cheek curry, or tender duck breast with chilli jam and endives. Brunch is essential, with Sri Lankan appam pancakes reflecting Nandakumar’s roots, and mince on dripping toast

Pancakes at Sparrow, Lewisham, one of the best places to eat in Lewisham, south east London Sparrow [Official Photo]

Meze Mangal

Mixed grill at Meze Mangal, a Turkish ocakbasi and one of the best places to eat in Lewisham Meze Mangal [Official Photo]

While the majority of the city’s best Turkish restaurants are clustered in North London, Meze Mangal does a sterling job south of the Thames. Adored by locals, the restaurant is dominated by a massive mangal grill turning out delicious skewers of tender quail, chicken and lamb şiş, and a wood-fired oven at the back that delivers hefty pide and crisp lahmacun sprinkled with minced lamb and fragrant coriander. Choosing from an interesting list of Turkish bottles is the only polite thing to do, and the restaurant’s regard in the annals of Lewisham gastronomy makes it essential to book ahead. 

Mixed grill at Meze Mangal, a Turkish ocakbasi and one of the best places to eat in Lewisham Meze Mangal [Official Photo]

Enish

Nigerian neighbourhood dining at Enish, one of the best places to eat in Lewisham Enish [Official Photo]

With south-east London’s Nigerian community on its doorstep, Enish owners Olushola and Eniola Medupin draw from the country’s diversity, while acknowledging that pulling together the traditions of over 300 distinct tribes is an impossible task. Efo riro, a rich vegetable stew from western Nigeria, comforts with tender green amaranth, studded with tripe and smoked fish. Muscular beef suya and the ever-popular grilled fish — here, Atlantic croaker or tilapia — are best consumed with a peaty Nigerian Guinness in hand. 

Nigerian neighbourhood dining at Enish, one of the best places to eat in Lewisham Enish [Official Photo]

Everest Curry King Restaurant

Lamb curry and chickpea curry with white rice at Everest Curry King, one of the best places to eat in Lewisham Fowl Mouths Food/Instagram

The A20 corridor isn’t an obvious place for an interesting meal, but hidden gems are so named for a reason. Everest Curry King is legendary among south-east Londoners for its spit-and-sawdust directness and bevy of Sri Lankan and south Indian dishes, all prepared in advance and reheated to order. Those familiar with Tooting’s finest will be on familiar ground, as delicious egg hoppers, kottu roti and mutton rolls mingle with south Indian dishes like vada and spicy drumstick curries. A smattering of Jaffna-style dishes from Sri Lanka’s northern reaches make an appearance in fish frys, and a curry of crab smothered in spices and coconut milk. 

Lamb curry and chickpea curry with white rice at Everest Curry King, one of the best places to eat in Lewisham Fowl Mouths Food/Instagram

Antonio Delicatessen

Sliced prosciutto at Antonio Delicatessen, one of the best places to eat in Lewisham Supper in the Suburbs

A Lewisham institution, the former Gennaro Delicatessen passed from founders Maria and Gennaro Massiello (who founded it in 1983) to Antonio and Elena Nigro, another young Italian couple, after the former retired. Renamed for its current owners and in possession of a shiny refurb, this tiny deli is as integral to the local landscape as it’s ever been. Aside from being perhaps the only place in SE13 for good scamorza or aged parmesan, there’s a superb selection of antipasti, homemade arancini and Italian charcuterie. Service is noteworthy, even in an area known for its humour, and spending lunch with a fresh panino and Campari soda here is a wonderful thing. 

Sliced prosciutto at Antonio Delicatessen, one of the best places to eat in Lewisham Supper in the Suburbs

L'Oculto

Sweet flan with sherry cream at L’Oculto, one of the best places to eat in Lewisham Richard Eliott

A wine shop-cum-tapas bar serving a lavish array of Spanish ingredients, each dish at L’Oculto is a stand-out. The establishment is a labour of love from the owners of Flavours of Spain, an import business that buys all of of its sherry, cheese, ham and cava directly from suppliers across the Iberian Peninsula. Locals pack the restaurant to sip minimal intervention wines and snack on the creations of Galician chef Irene Loreno Muñoz: standards like pan con tomate and sweet flan with sherry cream are excellent, but watch out for specials like tortilla vaga, an open tortilla of runny eggs, poached onion, sea urchin caviar and fried parsley.

Sweet flan with sherry cream at L’Oculto, one of the best places to eat in Lewisham Richard Eliott

Maggies Cafe & Restaurant

Full English Breakfast at Maggie’s, a Lewisham cafe and one of the best places to eat in Lewisham Munchies

The family caff is a magnificent thing, and few can match Maggie’s for sheer hospitality. An Irish gaff formerly run by the late matriarch Maggie Khondoker — Lewisham’s very own Peggy Mitchell — and her sons Anthony and Oliver, locals are drawn to this beloved institution for ample breakfasts during the day, and home-cooked dinners like slow-cooked lamb shank and roasts in the evening. Cups of coffee and tea are replenished within seconds; bubble and squeak is appropriately coarse; and the ever-scarcer option of tinned tomatoes is offered over fresh. Maybe don’t order an oat milk latte.

Full English Breakfast at Maggie’s, a Lewisham cafe and one of the best places to eat in Lewisham Munchies

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