A local's guide to Peckham | IsabelleOC

A local’s guide to Peckham

Peckham has long been the butt of jokes, but as someone who was brought up in London and has lived south for a number of years, I can say it’s the nicest place I have ever lived. The rest of the world does seem to be catching up though, Vice called it the alternative to Dalston back in February and it even has a guest pavilion at this year’s Venice Biennale. This coolness has somewhat snowballed over the last few months and now Peckham on a Saturday night feels like a warped east London. It’s so cool apparently ‘Professor Green’ and Millie from Made In Chelsea have just bought a house here. Hmm.

Here’s a -by no means exhaustive- list of some of my favourite places to hang out in Peckham, it’s a mix of highbrow and lowbrow, cheap and fancy and I guess that’s why I like living here.

-Going Out

Frank’s Bar The infamous bar that could be credited for kickstarting the whole Peckham cool thing is perhaps a victim of its own success. The food and drink are great and the London skyline at sunset gets you feeling a little misty-eyed, but queues of over 40mins for the bar has kind of taken the shine off it. A second bar on top of the multistorey should have hopefully eased the waiting.

Montpelier
A great boozer when it’s empty which is increasingly hard to get, nice to go to if you’re old like me and you want a civilised drink. The food varies from fancy stuff to burgers, which are always a good bet. It’s also my number one afternoon hangout if I have to do something boring like smash out some invoices, the quiet and promise of a pint at the end helps to get on with life admin.

Gowlett

Salt of the earth boozer with a good selection of ales and -to my mind- slightly pricey pizzas. When hunger strikes and you’ve had a few pints though, they can’t be beaten!

Bussey Building
Cool club that hosts a huge variety of different nights and big-name acts. Last time I was there I got drunk and lost my keys. They also have a cafe and rooftop cinema and they host the SE London Kerb which is back this Friday.

Canavans
This notorious pool club also doubles up as a late night drinking den, it’s a pleasingly ungentrified slice of Peckham which has surprisingly good DJs nights.

-Eating Out

Cafe Viva There a lot of charming cafes round the posh bit of Peckham, this one gets my vote for being at the slightly less poncy end of the scale, plus the prices are reasonable, it has a load of charm and their breakfast baps -bacon, egg, tomato, rocket in brioche- are legendary.

Ganapati
This place is proper old-school and it has been around since before Peckham was cool. As your mum would say ‘it’s so fresh and light’, but seriously, their take on south Indian food with innovative dishes makes this a treat every time I go.

Begging Bowl
I reviewed this lovely Thai restaurant last year after it opened, the mix of dishes on offer is far above your bog-standard green pub curry.

Il Giardino
With places like Polpo upping the ante for Italian food in the capital you might overlook somewhere like Il Giardino but I’m a sucker for a family-run neighbourhood Italian with its Sardinian bent and it feels all romantic when you’re sitting inside.

-Cultural

Peckham Plex Just downstairs from Frank’s is Peckham Plex, perhaps the only place in London you can see a film for £4.99. It’s my favourite place and I got into an almighty grump when I thought it was going to be removed in the upcoming Bold Tendencies development of the site, but thankfully it’s safe for now.

South London Gallery
Quality exhibitions of contemporary art and a brilliant cafe make this a great place to meet friends or go for a weekend wander. The Spanglish breakfast with chorizo comes highly recommended.

Peckham Library
Adherence to traditional library rules might be slack -I once sat opposite a guy who was watching Dr Who on his laptop on the speakers, no joke- but go up the lift and take in the views from the bog, they’re spectacular. Who needs the Shard?

Peckham Rye
A stretch of parkland that is surprisingly big, venture to the southern end to see the Japanese gardens and mini-lake, visit the fairly decent cafe or take a few boozes and watch the sun set. It’s my favourite place for post-dinner walks and looks totally magical in the snow.

Peckham Library
Adherence to traditional library rules might be slack -I once sat opposite a guy who was watching Dr Who on his laptop on the speakers, no joke- but go up the lift and take in the views from the bog, they’re spectacular. Who needs the Shard?

Peckham Rye A stretch of parkland that is surprisingly big, venture to the southern end to see the Japanese gardens and mini-lake, visit the fairly decent cafe or take a few boozes and watch the sun set. It’s my favourite place for post-dinner walks and looks totally magical in the snow.

-Shops

Khan’s Anyone who lives in Peckham loves Khan’s Bargain Superstore, where you can buy anything from food, to hardware to shower caddies. It’s open all hours and they do some mean flatbreads. Many a dinner has been cobbled together from whatever’s on offer at Khans, check out Helen’s amazing post on what to find in Khan’s.

Persepolis Infamous Iranian shop which stocks everything Persian. I’ve only been a few times, but the spice selection is increds and the pastries/sweets are amazing.


-Further afield

Silk Road Not strictly in Peckham, but Silk Road is one of my favourite places ever. Cheap as chips Chinese which is a long way from your trad rice’n'meat’n'sauce, get the kelp, lamb skewers and pork and celery dumplings. I usually go about once a month. Expect to spend £15 max.

Kebab & Wine Also not strictly Peckham, but this kebab shop on nearby and much posher Lordship Lane is one of my favourite places. Get the lamb shish, no onion, it’s something more than just a post-boozing alcohol mop.

Is there anything I’ve missed? Leave me a comment and I’ll try it out!

[Image: Guardian]

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  • Xx

    The Sunday Painter Gallery

  • cradface

    peckham bazaar!

    the bowling green in the rye park is my jam, but i’m getting on a bit.

  • a.

    Bar Story, Peckham Springs, Peckham Refreshment Rooms

  • Anonymous

    Not everyone who lives in Peckham loves Khan’s – there’s a long-standing antagonism between the owners of Khan’s and the local West African population (who I’d argue are more local than the new influx of mostly white Peckham people!)

    Definitely worth reading up on if you’re a Peckham local.

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/maggiejones/8050705014/

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tcSXemUzoGU

  • Isabelle O’Carroll

    Thanks for commenting Lozette, I totally take your point about ‘white Peckham’. I do remember this, the young man’s mum eventually came to an agreement with the shop late last year and they apologised to her:

    http://www.demotix.com/news/1519977/khans-apology-after-peckham-boycott

  • Isabelle O’Carroll

    I like the idea of the bowling green! I am also getting on a bit.

  • Isabelle O’Carroll

    Thanks for those tips, haven’t been to the Refreshment Rooms yet but the food sounds delicious!

  • cradface

    might go this weekend, if you fancy a game.

  • James Dallison

    what is the bowling green on which you speak? (i.e don’t tell the masses)

  • James Dallison

    if playing the race card is your thing, it’s not mine, i would reply and say peckham was ‘white’ originally…but then thats not the point is it? get along people

  • Isabelle O’Carroll

    Race card? I don’t think that term has a place in this this discussion. This is was dispute between the owners of Khans and local shoppers neither of which were white.

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