Tooting's restaurant landscape is looking fantastic, with its old-school curry houses unbowed by the creep of gentrification on the area. The COVID-19 pandemic hit its restaurant landscape harder than many areas of the city, with many smaller units in and around its markets forced to close, but those able to weather the impact forge on.Read More
15 Brilliant Tooting Restaurants
Wallet-friendly dosas and bustling Japanese restaurants rub shoulders with traditional pubs and pop-ups
Apollo Banana Leaf
If the question is posed, go for spicy at this pleasingly priced Sri Lankan stalwart. Start with the Traditional Sri Lankan and Apollo Banana Leaf Special menus, and don’t order rice, rather share a stringhopper fry or kothu. But do investigate the other menus for gems such as chicken or prawn 65, devilled mutton, and mutton fry. The aubergine curry is superb, as are most of the vegetarian dishes. Book ahead for evenings, and it’s bring-your-own beer or wine.
A wholesome, handsome boozer with a great atmosphere, thanks to a mixed clientele of old-school locals, hipsters and families, and a wide range of cask and keg beers. Have a pint and a few small plates (scallops and black pudding, duck liver parfait on sourdough toast), or sit down for modern pub classics, such as sea bream with crushed potatoes, or Hereford ribeye with handcut chips. The taxidermy-heavy interior has plenty of room for big groups and parties.
The Selkirk SW17
Appealing to a slightly older, ex-Clapham demographic, this beautifully kept Victorian pub does cracking Sunday lunches: whole roast chicken, slow-roast belly pork or lamb shoulder for three, four or more. The wine list is decent, too, and the courtyard garden a boon in summer. Booking essential for a weekend sit-down.
Dosa n Chutny
If you like formica tables and metal cups and jugs, you might enjoy this excellent value South Indian dosa café, which covers the same sort of ground as Apollo Banana Leaf — so stringhoppers, kothu, chicken 65, aubergine curry, etc — if a shade less brilliantly. The dosas are ace, though, especially stuffed masala dosa, and the podi and rava dosas. The Chettinadu curries are recommended if wanting plenty of gravy.
Also featured in:
Mirch Masala - Tooting
A top tip for North Indian/Pakistani food, loveable for its no-frills café style, iffy lavs and occasionally erratic service. Of the veg "warmers" (Mirch's name for starters), the massive, crispy nest-like onion bhajis are essential; deep-fried chilli bhajis are super spicy. Seekh kebabs and jeera chicken wings are good choices from the meat warmers. Particular karahi highlights are ginger chicken or karahi methi gosht. Home-style deigi dishes involve meat cooked on the bone, and there are weekend specials, too, including stewed lamb trotters. Bring your own booze.
Beloved of locals for aeons, this refined Southern Indian restaurant just gets better. Start with dosas or uppatham, or share vadai, bondas and/or cashew nut pakoda. Then focus on South Indian specialities, such as the Cochin prawn curry or the Alleppey lamb roast, ie: spiced dry-fried chunks of lamb. Green lamb masala is great, too. If sharing, always order a chicken 65 for the table – it's the best for miles. Tops for veggies are the Kerala tomato curry, and okra/aubergine theeyal; sides of note include the brinjal, bhindi, dhal and spinach. Parathas are a speciality: the plain is flaky and buttery but not greasy.
A well-priced Francophile's delight in semi-gentrified Broadway Market, with terrace tables and an enticing short menu divided into cold (green beans, Comté and shallot, cured Espelette sausage, home-made duck rillettes) and hot, culminating in a 200g or 400g flatiron steak.
A sibling to the original Meza at Tooting Bec, this tiny, busy Lebanese is efficient and friendly. Call for tabbouleh, moutabal, ful medames, falafel (really good), kibbeh (ditto), and terrific spatchcocked grilled whole baby chicken, and don't miss affordable Musar Jeune on the wine list.
Also featured in:
Spice Village Tooting
A huge place, beloved of locals (including native of and former MP for Tooting Sadiq Khan), and popular with families, with a North Indian and Pakistani menu very similar to those of Mirch Masala and Lahore Karahi.
The Little Taperia
Amazing pan con tomate bodes well at this buzzy bar and kitchen, where a series of small rooms lead back from a cosy front room with a marble bar. From the shortish, largely traditional tapas menu, morcilla scotch eggs, salt cod fritters, and stuffed baby squid are particularly commendable. Sherry lovers will be pleased to see manzanilla en rama on the wine list.
Also featured in:
Jaffna House Restaurant
The front section of this Sri Lankan pitstop is a café; the restaurant is in the back. It's an ace idea to pop into the café for a feast of Sri Lankan snacks: mutton rolls, mutton rotis, vadas, bondas, fish cutlets, etc. You can easily do so for a fiver.
Propietor Hamid specialises in the Pashtun cuisine of Peshawar at Namak Mandi, a borderland culinary culture that straddles Pakistani and Afghan traditions. Karahis, served on the bone and heavy with ginger, tomato, and chilli, are best preceded by chaplis that hum with coriander seed and beef fat, and large groups can pre-order for saji, a whole lamb cooked over fire.
The Lone Fisherman
Christopher Smith’s market stall serves a homestyle Jamaican cuisine of fried fish escovitch; oysters fanged with either Scotch bonnet and lime, or garlic and pepper sauces; patties; and city dishes like salt beef on coco bread with Jamaican hot sauce. He’s also developed a new line in crepes in recent months, and is partial to delivering weekend specials of dumplings, jerk chicken, or smoked mackerel fritters.
Mangé des Îles
One of few dedicatedly Mauritian restaurants in the capital, Mangé des Îles runs the complex gamut of the island’s cuisine, touched by Indian, Chinese, and French rule and indentured labour. So expect fluffed, butter-yellow dal puri; octopus vindaille (here, vindaye), the cousin of Goan-Portuguese vin d’alho; stir-fried noodles and soups; and biryanis of all stripes.
Juliet’s Quality Foods
The former sibling of Balham’s well-established, widely-praised Milk, which prides itself on high-end speciality coffee and genuinely inventive, Antipodean-inflected cookery. Besting its nearest Tooting rival Mud on innovation and quality, Juliet’s can serve up the likes of sourdough waffles with cascara jelly; hash browns snowed under with Lincolnshire Poacher cheese; and smoked trout eggs Benedict with espresso hollandaise.