Flanked by Peckham, Lewisham, Bermondsey, and Deptford, New Cross is home to Goldsmiths, one of south east London’s largest universities, and the area is known for some decent pubs and bars as well as its incredible music and arts heritage. But it’s the food culture that’s currently most exciting. The gateway to the Old Kent Road — one of south east London’s best dining destinations — most New Cross restaurants and cafes line the main roads which make up the A2, from Kent to central London, and they’re predominantly independent. Apart from a Dominos, a Subway, and a Pizza Hut which is technically on the Lewisham border with an SE4 postcode, New Cross is almost completely bereft of large chains. In their place, a clutch of standout restaurants are rooted in Caribbean, West African, Latinx, Chinese, Korean, and Central European cuisines.Read More
The Best Restaurants in New Cross
The south east London neighbourhood is home to outstanding Jamaican jerk, deft Korean cooking, and a coveted Igbo speciality
Hong Kong City
Once home to the Crown & Anchor pub, Hong Kong City occupies a large corner site towards the Peckham end of New Cross Road. With a huge open-plan dining room, the restaurant offers an all you can eat menu, with food cooked fresh and brought to the table, but although fine, it should be swerved in favour of the lengthy a la carte menu filled with genuinely exciting dishes. In addition to takeaway staples such as sweet and sour pork, lemon chicken, special fried rice, et al. expect the likes of braised abalone with sea cucumber; soft pork knuckle contrasted by the crunch of jelly fish slivers; a pearl of steamed king scallop with XO sauce; fried eels with a sticky honey sauce; gelatinous hotpot with braised fish lips and duck’s feet; and, best of all, salt and pepper pigs’ intestines. A decent dim sum selection is also served until 5pm.
Alaowerri Restaurant specialises in isi ewu, a traditional Nigerian dish of slow-cooked goat head. Here, the tender meat is spiced with ehu seeds and chilli, complete with potash and utazi leaves which lend a slight bitterness, garnished with thick rings of raw white onion. Naturally, it’s a must-try alongside other West African classics such as nkwobi featuring spiced, boneless cow foot with a slightly sweet sauce; beef suya flecked with peanut kuli kuli; and jollof rice with fried fish and plantain. Consider visiting in a decent sized group to sample as much of the menu as possible. Alternatively, takeaway is offered, but bear in mind the isi ewu can take up to an hour to prepare, so should be ordered in advance.
Jade’s Jerk has become a south east London institution over the years, particularly well-loved for its competitively priced Caribbean food and warm, friendly service. The restaurant’s jerk pork is certainly of note, both well cooked and generously seasoned, but the fried fish, chickpea stew, patties, and mutton soup are what really set Jade’s Jerk apart from the local competition.
Smokey Jerkey’s meats tend to command long queues, even before opening. Oxtail, curry goat, and stewed chicken have been added to the menu, but the three jerk meats are the main draw. Large hunks of lamb, pork, and chicken are slowly smoked over hickory on a custom-made furnace, with far more focus on smokiness than many local venues. The lamb is easily the best option, whose fat is particularly complemented by the smoke, marinated in cayenne chilli rather than Scotch bonnet, but it’s also quick to sell out. If that’s the case, the pork and chicken are also great (or order a mix of all three), embellished with a kiss of jerk sauce, or scorpion pepper sauce for added heat.
Delicias Colombianas @ La Placita Mall
Set back from New Cross Road, La Placita Mall is a tiny indoor market lined with Latinx businesses. At the back of the room, Delicias Colombianas serves a range of classics to be taken away or eaten at one of the tables that line the room with its flickering strip lighting. Along with the loud music and the food served, the space is completely transportive. In some ways it is fondly reminiscent of the Elephant & Castle shopping centre of the mid 1990s, but could also be anywhere in the world other than south-east London. A good taste of the lengthy menu is offered by the Picada Colombiana for two or four people, though additional must-tries include greaseless, deftly fried papas rellenas; shredded beef empanadas; maduros aborrajados, comprising a ball of deep fried yellow plantain and stringy cheese; and arepa with soft, hot chorizo that’s delicately spiced and has taut skin with a snap to rival the city’s best hot dogs.
Migue’s Latin Burger Van
A south London mini chain, Migue’s has a permanent burger van outside La Placita Mall, though the opening hours tend to be unreliable. The menu here is fairly vast yet the Latin burgers are the key focus, while the hot dogs are unsurprisingly popular and also worth ordering. Both the con todo burger and hotdog are complete with fried onions, melted mozzarella, crisps, and pineapple sauce. It’s a sensory overload guaranteed to divide opinion, but it’s an absolute must-try for that reason alone.
Calabar Kitchen 1
The term ‘nostalgia’ is often thrown around by Nigerians when discussing the transportive food served at Calabar Kitchen. First opened in 1996, Calabar Kitchen was one of the very few Nigerian restaurants in London at the time, having garnered a loyal fan base, renowned for classic dishes such as deep brown hot pepper soup with goat meat, fried tilapia with bell peppers and fried plantain, and generous portions of beef suya or jollof rice.
The Rosemary Organic Hungarian Restaurant
One of London’s very few Hungarian restaurants, The Rosemary has a particular focus on organic, sustainable produce. Inside, the space is welcoming — homely, even — with crockery homemade by owner Mihaly Herczeg, an abundance of houseplants, and an aquaponics system which enables The Rosemary to grow organic plants indoors without soil and manual watering. There’s plenty of comfort to be found in traditional Hungarian dishes such as goulash served in a cauldron, creamy chicken paprikash with nokedli, and cabbage leaves stuffed with minced beef and rice; plus confit goose with red cabbage, and lecsó, a humming tomato and pepper vegetable stew.
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Cummin Up Caribbean Takeaway & Caterers
While the jerk meats aren’t necessarily New Cross Road’s most celebrated, the menu at Cummin’ Up offers plenty of variety. With other branches in Lewisham and Brighton, Cummin’ Up has been serving Caribbean staples for 30 years, and service is particularly quick. Standouts include curry goat enriched by bone marrow that seeps into the glossy sauce during its slow cook; oxtail with creamy butterbeans which add to the dish in both taste and texture; or viscid stewed cow foot. Best washed down with one of the fridge’s many Caribbean soft drinks, from peanut punch to soursop juice.
Specialising in Lebanese cuisine, highlights from the extensive menu include charcoal grilled meats such as chicken shish laced with garlic, served over vermicelli rice; cucumber yoghurt salad with dried mint; falafel; hummus Beiruti with chilli, parsley and lemon juice; and pumpkin kibe, comprising marbles of pumpkin, cracked wheat, spinach, onion, and chickpea plunged into seething hot oil. A selection of meal deals are also served, including a main (shawarma, kofta, grilled halloumi, or chicken wings) with falafel, stuffed vine leaves, hummus, tabbouleh, and batata harra.
Just off New Cross Road, on Clifton Rise, Rose’s Kitchen has a few seats, but is more of a takeaway operation. In addition to classics such as oxtail, brown stew chicken, and jerk chicken, the counter is lined with hits such as Rose’s Kitchen’s particularly special curry goat with its rich sauce; plus fried salt fish, red bream, and snapper. Liver and kidney are also served, alongside a good drinks selection and an especially strong line-up of sweet treats: bammy, coconut drops, potato pudding, rock cake, tamarind ball, banana cake.
Mez Mangal Turkish Cuisine London
Not to be confused with Meze Mangal on Lewisham Way, Mez Mangal on New Cross Road is a large restaurant with outdoor dining options. With a particularly strong focus on grilled meats, Mez Mangal’s Turkish menu begins with a fair selection of hot and cold meze, but dishes from the grill are the main draw here. Marinated quails are grilled whole and served with rice and salad, as are entire chickens cooked and served on the bone. Sarma beyti is a particular standout, with minced beef or lamb grilled and wrapped with lavash bread, while the Mez Mangal lamb special is ideal for the indecisive, comprising grilled quail, heavily charred lamb chops, cop shish, Adana kebab, chicken wings, and lamb ribs. Best paired with a bottle of traditional Yakut or Cankaya wine.
Paranhodu Korean Restaurant
A tiny restaurant between Goldsmith’s and Lewisham station, Paranhodu excels with a concise menu of superlative, inexpensive Korean food. Kimchi made in-house; crispy Korean fried chicken with sweet chilli or soy sauce; bulgogi heady with garlic, ginger, and soy; seafood and spring onion pancake – it’s all here. Perhaps best of all, the dolsot bibimbap is served in a hot stone mortar, combining tangles of tender pork, rice, courgette, carrot, and an egg yolk crowned with sesame, mixed at the table and demanding to be anointed with gochujang.
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