When I moved to East Dulwich, it felt like a world away from the rest of London. It would take many hours to see friends in the west and the commute to work would take even longer. So my resolution was to just never leave the area. It’s worked out really nicely, it turns out, as East Dulwich has some of the best eating spots in London.
Obviously, there’s more than a handful of pubs to get started. There’s the EDT (the East Dulwich Tavern, and a personal favourite) to get you started, then The Palmerston and The Great Exhibition for the best roasts, The Actress for a pint and a pizza, The Lordship for cocktails, and that’s just the boozers. Which is quite a considerable amount considering they’re all pretty much based along the same road, Lordship Lane. But among the pubs and expensive homeware stores, are some delectable eateries, from brunches to lunches to fancy dinners. Here are some firm favourites.
This cafe / wellness / co-working emporium is a central hub in East Dulwich. You can come here for your morning yoga session in the wellness area, sip on an oat flat white afterwards, head upstairs for a quiet few minutes of tapping at your laptop and then mosey back on down for lunch.
This yuppy haven is decorated with lush green plants from top to toe and you’re always heartily welcomed by the people who work here. Grab a table and dine on this healthy seasonal plant-based menu. The kitchen puts a unique Sri Lankan twist on the dishes, from potato dahl with red lentils, creamy potatoes, turmeric and mustard seeds to grilled cheese toasties with rocket, almond and wild garlic pesto.
If you’re coming here for breakfast then sample some of the homemade passionfruit jam – it’s lip-smackingly good (you can buy some to take home for a fiver). Dogs are welcome (resident dachshund Wolfy leads the way) and on Fridays to Sundays laptops are banned – so leave your brain-frazzling device at home. If you’re stopping by on Fridays, join the community meditation sessions at 12pm. They’re free and afterwards you can indulge in a deliciously decadent chocolate brownie. What’s not to love?
20-22 Lordship Lane, SE22
Dogs are welcome – resident dachshund Wolfy leads the way
If brunch is your thing, there’s no better place for it than at Spinach. This chilled oasis in East Dulwich goes well beyond poached eggs (though they do those too). There’s sweet potato shakshuka with sriracha butter and pickled onions or sweetcorn fritters served with avocado, tzatziki and tomato salsa. And of course, there are lattes, cappuccinos and flat whites coming out of your ears – but try a Bloody Mary for some extra punch.
Come here for a sunny breakfast outside on one of their tables and wrap up in a blanket that they provide. You can also make a cosy home inside, for breakfast lunch or dinner. There are no bookings during the day, but make sure to book for your evening meal. And if you’re having a party, they have a private room upstairs that can seat up to 25 people.
“Signoria” in Italian means lordship, which is a subtle nod to this eatery’s placement on East Dulwich’s Lordship Lane. This restaurant may be tiny, but its tribute to Italian food is mega. There’s a small larder of foods that you can take home with you, from different-shaped pastas, rich tomato sauces and decadent chocolate spreads. But buying fresh is best, and there’s lots to choose from.
It’s all about eating the classics here. Try pappardelle al ragù or porchetta, slow-roasted pork with salad and mash for mains, followed by tiramisu or panna cotta for dessert. You can also purchase fresh focaccia sandwiches with an array of veggie and meaty middles. Take your plate and pop out the back into a small courtyard, take an alfresco seat on the pavement or plonk yourself inside.
Feeling hungover? The eccentric brothers who run this joint also serve the best fruit smoothies in the land, which will course through your veins and leave you feeling much brighter.
53 Lordship Lane, SE22
It's all about eating the classics here.
You simply can’t walk past Kartuli without wanting to walk in. The Georgian restaurant is painted in rich, deep greens and decorated with bountiful lush plants, hanging lamps, ceramic pots and vintage ornaments to make it look like a veritable oasis on Lordship Lane.
The restaurant and wine shop was set up by two friends from university in an old David Greig supermarket. Their aim is to show off Georgian hospitality through beautifully cooked and presented classic Georgian dishes. Georgia is considered the birthplace of wine – and wine is an important focus here. Expect beans, dumplings, slow-cooked beef, charcoaled pork and plentiful vegetarian alternatives. Wash it down with Georgian wine that’s produced in Qvevri, large clay vessels buried in the ground in cellars.
Lunch: Saturdays and Sundays 12-2pm
Dinner: Monday – Thursday 6-10pm; Friday – Saturday 6-10pm; Sunday 5-9pm
65 Lordship Lane, SE22 8EP
5. The Little Blue Brick
This cute veggie cafe is hidden around a quiet residential corner. You’ll see a signpost for it on Lordship Lane, but if you bypass that, it’s like you’ve stumbled upon a secret. The cafe is covered in the glossy blue bricks of the old dairy that used to be inside. There aren’t many covers here so you might want to book.
The menu is packed full with brunch options and it is honestly one of the best veggie brunches you’ll find (I see you rolling your eyes, you meat eaters, but it’s true). The homemade beans and ketchup, veggie sausage, eggs, toast and fresh slices of avo will have you raring for the day ahead.
For a stylish way to spend your evening, splash out at Yamamomo. The contemporary Japanese restaurant dishes up the most succulent izakaya style plates and sushi. From octopus and scallop nigiri to eel and white tuna sashimi, the seafood choice is excellent. Take things up a notch with truffle tofu and soft shell crab rolls.
It’s also all about the cocktails here too. Sip on a Royal Dynasty, which is vodka infused with elderflower blossom, shaken with rose jam, vanilla, aloe vera and longan juice, then topped with rosé champagne and homemade strawberry sorbet. See, we told you the cocktails are good.
Monday – Thursday 5-10pm; Friday – Saturday 1-10:30pm; Saturday 1-10:30pm; Sunday 1-9:30pm
72 Lordship Lane, SE22 8HF
7. Luca’s Kitchen and Bakery
After you’ve finished spending a house deposit on North Cross Road on that eye-wateringly expensive dress, hat, and colourful throw you didn’t know you needed, find solace at Luca’s. This cute little independent bakery and cafe serves up fresh bread, cakes and pastries everyday alongside specialty fresh coffee.
Lunch here is very relaxing, even thought there are reams and reams of menu pages to get through. Once you’ve got over the stress of choice, there’s plenty to keep your tastebuds satisfied. Dive into sausage and kimchi toasties, spinach and mozzarella arancini, or a classic BLT burger.
35 North Cross Road, SE22 9ET
When you want a traditional Indian meal out, Memsaab should be your go-to. Curries, masalas and biryanis are packed full of fresh ingredients and all the flavour. Prawn puri is always a popular dish here and a good dollop of onion bhajis too. So order your favourites and then just sit back and relax and let the plates come out the kitchen straight to your table. Wash it all down with a Singha beer for the most authentic flavours from start to finish.
9. Yard Sale
If you’re looking for the best pizza in Great Britain (and we are not exaggerating), then you’ve come to the right place. Yard Sale pizzas are the cheesiest, most flavourful slices of thin dough you will ever come across. It’s mainly here for delivery but there are a few seats inside for those that don’t have a home to go to.
The East Dulwich restaurant is actually one of nine shops from Yard Sale, which serve up handmade pizzas. Each pizza comes with slow-cooked tomato sauce and Fior di Latte mozzarella. You can opt for some tasty veggie options such as garlic-roasted aubergine with parmesan crumb and basil or go full meat feast with fennel sausage, marinated Italian broccoli and chilli flakes.
Monday-Thursday 4-10pm; Friday – Saturday 12-10.30pm; Sunday 12pm-10pm
39 Lordship Lane, SE22 8EW
It's the kind of place you'd take your mum for dinner when she visits town.
Monday–Friday 11am-12am; Saturday 10am-12am; Sunday 12pm-10.30pm
157 Lordship Lane, SE22 8HX