The best places to eat in South East London
South East London punches above its weight in many areas, not least its food scene. Sure, there’s now plenty of the bougee small plates malarkey you’re likely to find in Soho, but there’s also enough unpretentious taco joints, Sri Lankan canteens, and traditional pie and mash shops to counter the balance.
Take a walk in one of the area’s many beautiful green spaces (from Hilly Fields to Crystal Palace Park, there’s so many to choose from), and take in wonderful views of the city. Maybe it’s the lack of the tube or just something in the water, but South East London offers a community solidarity stronger than you might expect a few miles away from Big Ben.
From Kurdish kitchens to diners serving pizza, discover our must-visits for any trip to the SE postcodes: the boroughs of Southwark, Greenwich, Lewisham and Bromley.
They named themselves the Curry King, because they knew it was true… There exists no greater SE restaurant for lovers of spice. Everest Curry King has been offering Sri Lankan and South Indian classics to Lewisham locals for over 20 years, and it boggles the mind how so much flavour can come out of one restaurant. Top dishes are the fish curry, aubergine curry, vegetable kottu roti, string hoppers with their fragrant coconut gravy, and the devilled prawns and fish. We challenge you to find anywhere else you will be served this much mouthwatering food at such extraordinary value.
This Kurdish gem has had people in a tizz since it opened on Vestry road in 2016, offering breakfasts and mezze to write home about. Their newer Church Street location opened in 2019, and offers extraordinary kebabs and mezze, shawarma, kifta, vegan dumplings, and homemade baklava that’s exceptionally crisp and full of nutty sweetness. Many times, what you want from a restaurant is food as good as home cooked but that you couldn’t actually make at home, and Nandine offers just that. Lucky us.
It’s all guns blazing with disco kitsch at this Mad Men-esque diner serving top-drawer Italian food. Expect records spinning on the decks, changing specials, luxe crimson boothes and a chicken Milanese the size of your head, just the right level of crisp and juicy. Zucchini fritti are divine, and the basil aioli for dipping pizza crusts in is our top recommendation. Brunch is also served, though you might want to double up as portions are a tad on the small side there.
Open since 1985, Babur is culinary gold in SE London. With a takeaway offering elite curry classics (the dhansak, aloo gobi, and laal mass are delicious. faves) and a bricks and mortar restaurant taking things up a notch with a little set menu here and a little sauce schmear there, Babur has something for all lovers of North Indian cuisine. You can’t go wrong at either joint, and locals love this Honor Oak stalwart for very good reason.
The mere breadth of the menu at Jin Jiang is enough to take you aback. How can one establishment make hot and sour soup, fish fragrant pork, Xinjiang style cumin lamb, kung pao chicken, dry pot sichuan and classic chow mein and do it all well? And yet, here they do. The only problem you’ll encounter, then, is trying to whittle down your order.
Larry’s introduction to Peckham wasn’t all roses for locals, as it boosted beloved Brick House Bakery from the station spot. But what Choumert Rd lost in bread, it gained in schnitzel. Larry’s offers a small menu of rich and hearty fair, from homemade pasta to Lincolnshire Poacher beignets (doughnuts to you and me). All washed down with a negroni or glass of wine, it’ll do quite nicely. The perfect low-key date spot, that won’t break the bank.
Since 2014, Mr Bao have been offering SE15 residents reliably delicious Taiwanese treats in the form of soft fluffy bao buns filled with a choice of rich and tangy protein. And the restaurant is consistently packed, which is a surefire sign that they’re getting it right. Just launched is their new brunch menu, offering salmon and poached egg breakfast bao or kimchi pancakes, and a mega lychee martini that will quench the thirst alright. Go bottomless for £18 per person.
Brockley’s Rock, Brockley
There’s always a mass of people waiting at this fish and chip shop, which tells you all you need to know. Voted as one of the best in the UK, Brockley’s Rock serve certified sustainable fish (listed on the Marine Stewardship Council’s website) perfectly cooked, with a shatteringly crisp batter, and proper fat chips.
Walter’s in Dulwich opened in 2022, and its chic and laid back interior are fully supported by the food: a menu of well-priced properly good Modern British grub, from sea bass ceviche to a slow cooked beef scotch egg with rainbow pickles. Service is with a smile, and their garden (open in the summer months) is lovely. The kitchen have recently launched a brunch menu which is the ideal way to finish up a morning stroll through Dulwich Park on a weekend.
Taco Queen started life as a pop-up at Rye Wax (a community venue and record shop in Peckham), but has been at its 191 Rye Lane location for 5 years now. There is a reason people come back here again and again: from the fried chicken taco (pictured), to the vegan cauliflower or battered avocado, the food is delicious and the vibes are on point. Many will mourn favourite tacos that have been and gone, but when the menu changes, there is always something new and exciting to love. Goat barbacoa we’re looking at you.
Goddard’s of Greenwich, Greenwich
Goddard’s has been in action since the 1800s, which is to say – they know what they’re doing. At this classic pie ‘n’ mash location, you can enjoy the Cockney classic with XXX hot chilli vinegar (it’s behind the counter), for a bargainous price. The establishment opens for business at 10am, because sometimes you want pie for breakfast, and that’s okay.
Another Sri Lankan gem to be found in the hazy suburban smog of Plumstead High Street, here you’ll find classic dishes you might not have tried before: curd vadai, string hopper kottu (think Sri Lankan style stir fry, and you’re most of the way there). Don’t look past the Sri Lanka Chicken Curry, it’s peppery, spicy and the meat is properly tender. The D.S Special Devil starter includes fish, spiced chicken, mutton, fish, prawn and squid with onion, pepper, chilli and devil sauce. It’s a hearty way to begin your meal here. Prices are incredibly reasonable and portion sizes are generous.
Subscribe to our magazine
Subscribe to delicious. magazine for HALF PRICESubscribe
Join our newsletter
Packed with menu ideas, recipes, latest competitions and more...