It’s been up-and-coming forever, but it’s true: Peckham is a great place to live. A lively restaurant scene, plenty of unique and quirky bars, and a community-focused high-street full of independent shops give Peckham a real buzz. Despite growing popularity, Peckham has managed to keep its individuality, which is good news for locals and visitors alike. But since Peckham is low-key, you might not know about the very best places to eat, drink and be merry. Here’s our definitive list, revealing how the locals do it in Peckham.
Quirky cafe with seriously impressive brunch
Sure, brunch is everywhere these days, but few places can match Pedler in the taste stakes – even in central London. An easygoing, friendly indie cafe run by locals, Pedler is one of those places you can happily while away the hours within. Their signature full English is a pure joy, too – maple syrup butter, chargrilled valley bacon, and pork sausages infused with Little Birds Gin make for a seriously special fry up. Oh, and their coffee could wake the dead. No wonder it’s always packed.
Thai restaurant with sharing plates
Begging Bowl brings together so many things we love about neighbourhood restaurants: friendly, unpretentious staff, a vibrant atmosphere and, of course, fresh food. Choose five dishes per two people from the tempting menu – but good luck with keeping it down to five, because every dish looks like a big-hitter. The Northern pepper curry with guinea-fowl and cassava is a must. They don’t take bookings, but there’s a decent bar serving a wide array of cocktails at hand if you’re waiting for a table.
Versatile rooftop venue
Even though most people north of the river have never heard of it, Peckham locals are always going on about Frank’s. Visit and you’ll see why. Sprawling across the tenth floor of a multi-storey car park, Frank’s is a bar and restaurant like no other. As it’s not-for-profit, Frank’s has a real community feel to it, hosting site-specific art shows and drama, as well as serving food and drink from the popular cafe. Best of all, the rooftop is absolutely glorious in summer, when it feels like all of Peckham has gathered on the top of this car park to eat, drink and have a laugh.
Rustic Balkan restaurant with a proper charcoal oven
What do you need to be a great restaurant? Peckham Bazaar prove that all it takes is great ingredients and an open fire. Serving a wide range of Balkan food, meze-style, Peckham Bazaar has bowled over the locals with its simplicity. They pick up fresh meat, fish and vegetables from the market, and roast it over the coals. The focus is wholly on the food, so don’t expect a plush set-up, but who cares when you can have grilled squid this good? And with a menu that changes daily, there’s plenty of reasons to return, too.
Long loved by south London film buffs, PeckhamPlex has continued to offer eye-poppingly cheap cinema tickets year after year. It’s simple: every screening costs just £5, with a quid extra if you want it in 3D. Having been a part of Peckham for decades now, the PeckhamPlex has plenty of charm which more than makes up for its shabby, down-at-heel decor. It’s the kind of cinema you wish you had at the end of your street.
Arcade parlour with craft beer and U.S.-style BBQ
Peckham doesn’t really do plush. Not that it matters – The Four Quarters, a likeable no-frills video game arcade, is a great place to hang out on a Saturday afternoon and play some Pac Man. There’s a proper craft beer menu, available on draught and by the bottle, and grilled American favourites to keep hunger at bay. Videogames, food, and beer – what’s not to love?
All-day eatery inside a gallery
Feel a little bit cultured when you drop by No67 for a bite to eat – the cafe and restaurant is housed inside The South London Gallery so you can gaze at the works of contemporary artists before you tuck into a hunk of homemade banana bread. What’s on changes daily; from Saturday to Monday an espresso bar sells Allpress coffee and St John bakery donuts whilst breakfast and brunch are a popular draw throughout the week. The modern British/Mediterranean/Middle Eastern-inspired dinner menu on Wednesday and Thursday is hugely popular with locals and, with 3-courses for just £22, we can see why.
Pizzas, happy hour and sun-drenched outside area
In the summer months, the outdoor area is the main attraction of Bar Story with the grill in constant use. The rest of the time, the affordable cocktails are even more affordable during the 6-7pm happy hour, when you can get two of the same for £7. Pizzas, brunch and obviously the drinks make Bar Story a great local hangout, just by the arches of Peckham Rye station.
Cocktails. Really good cocktails.
If you really want to pretend you’re a local in Peckham, you’ll need a dose of Peckham Springs with your art school degree. Although it’s right opposite Bar Story, we’d say spend a lazy Saturday at Bar Story before heading here a bit later on for great (read: strong and cheap) cocktails but there is a gallery space too.
Club nights, comedy, theatre, dance...
A guide to Peckham wouldn’t be complete without a mention of The Bussey Building, otherwise known as The CLF Art Cafe. One of the few places non-locals would probably be able to name, there is a reason it is packed every weekend and every time it hosts a Rooftop Film Club it’s a total sell-out. The warehouse space hosts a packed programme of events – everything from DJ sets to comedy nights.