Peckham: A Diverse And Culturally Vibrant Foodie Neighbourhood

Wednesday, 19 January 2022

If you want to explore the capital through food, then Peckham in south east London is where you need to be. It’s a vibrant and culturally diverse foodie neighbourhood.

A bustling place where residents are passionate about their local community, it has politically inspired murals, a huge immigrant population, and food from all over the world.

Walking the High Street, Rye Lane, you’ll not only hear people speaking a variety of languages, but you’ll also see an entire lane devoted to fresh fruits, vegetables, meat, fish, and spices that you’d never usually spot on your weekly shop.

Known as “Little Africa” to some, it’s where you’ll see people from all walks of life living, working, thriving, sharing, and eating together.

Ready to discover some treasures?

Peckham sits just south of London Bridge, with trains departing from London Bridge station multiple times an hour for a quick ten-minute journey to Peckham Rye station.

Or if you fancy something slower, hop on a bus, it takes about 30 minutes from central London.

On departing Peckham Rye station, make a right and walk toward Cravings La Carreta, an authentic Mexican and South American street café serving all the standard Mexican dishes.

Feast on some delicious comforts like burritos, quesadillas, and tacos. Or try something a little less known such as a sweet corn cachapas pancake with chicken, shredded beef, or vegetables.

Prefer to start your day with something a little lighter? Grab a cappuccino and whatever delicious homemade cake is on offer at a French café called Petitou on Choumert Road.

Sit outside amongst the mature trees listening to local artists and students discuss politics while scanning through the daily newspapers.

Continuing your food odyssey

When you’re caffeinated up, you have two options: continue up Choumert Road to Bellenden Road for shopping, or head back towards Rye Lane for an art exhibition at the Bussey Building and Copeland Park.

If shopping is the answer, you’ll adore the Bellenden Road boutiques. A little fancier than Rye Lane with handsome Victorian townhouses, you’ll find expensive Scandi chic boutiques like FORM SE15 or D.A.Y. and gourmet foodie havens like the General Store with fancy cheese, chocolates, and wine.

But if edgy is what you want, you can’t get any better than heading back to Rye Lane and visiting the Bussey Building and Copeland Park.

Once a factory that made cricket bats, its basement was used as an air raid shelter during World War II, it now hosts around 60 freelance studios where local artists, textile makers, and potters regularly show their work.

For curated exhibitions, there’s Seen Fifteen with contemporary photography or Copeland Gallery hired by local artists who have something to say – it’s not a gallery where you won’t see flowers or still life fruit paintings.

There are many options within the building for a spot of lunch. Mike’s Peckham is where they make 48-hour slowly fermented pizza dough in a Roma-style.

Pizza is sold by the slice with unique flavor combinations like roasted delica pumpkin, roasted pepper, ricotta, and pickled chili.

Around the corner at Oi spaghetti + tiramisù, they make some delicious and affordable pasta dishes with a modern twist like their avocado and anchovy pasta, or bacon and kale all washed down with biodynamic organic wine.

Travelling around the world with your taste buds

But we’d also recommend heading back to Rye Lane going up to Peckham High Street and discover something a little different, places where menus vary by the hour and seating doesn’t exist.

Places like Obalende Suya Express where they make traditional Nigerian suya. Suya is fire-grilled meat, like lamb, chicken, beef or goat served with fried plantain, tomato, and jollof rice.

Sidenote: it's spicy and takeaway only and you’ll have to find a park bench or stand outside people watching while you enjoy this local favourite.

Chinese dumplings, souvlaki wraps, Afghani curry, and Korean baos are all close by too – you really can travel the world on this street.

For a post-lunch drink, there are traditional English pubs like the White Horse – but even there they don’t serve traditional pub grub. Instead, you’ll find a Babber middle eastern kitchen with daily mezze selection.

A drink, anyone?

But for one of London’s best city views, it’s got to be Frank’s Café for a pitcher of cocktails. Frank’s Café is a bar on the sixth floor of a derelict multistory car park and, on a clear night, you can see all the way to St Paul’s Cathedral.

A family place, it’s where during the summer you’ll see toddlers running around while their parents point out London landmarks to their friends.

After a couple of drinks, there’s a slew of restaurants to choose from for dinner. Fancy Kurdish, South African, Indian curry, Italian, or Modern British? It’s all within walking distance too.

Or you could try an absolute local favourite, The Begging Bowl on Bellenden Road. A Thai tapas restaurant, its head chef experiments with Thai flavours creating traditional dishes like papaya salad, but with a modern twist.

The whole seabass with green mango, physalis, roasted rice, tamarind, and chili dressing is a real showstopper and the fermented cabbage is sweet, salty, and acidic all in one bite.

Vegans can enjoy the charcoal-grilled celeriac in a creamy peanut sauce served on a banana leaf, it’s so soft and delicious that even a meat-eater wouldn’t object.

Then after dinner, it might be time to head back to Peckham Rye Station to get a train back to London Bridge.

Or maybe you’ll decide to stay, ending with a nightcap and checking into a room at the Victoria Inn and doing it all again tomorrow.

Who could blame you?