Best restaurants in Balham

Looking for a restaurant in Balham? We’ve done the hard work so you don’t have to, and compiled a handy list of the best. Whatever your budget or taste, SquareMeal is here to help, giving you the lowdown on the best spots to eat in SW12.

Updated on 08 January 2020

For years, maybe centuries even, Balham was always just regarded as that pass through spot somewhere or other between Clapham and Tooting bridging the green trinity that is Clapham, Wandsworth and Tooting Commons and suspended on the southern end of the Northern line. It was even harshly labelled once as “the ugliest and most abominable of London’s unpleasing suburbs,” by Swallows and Amazons author Arthur Ransome who stayed there briefly.

And yet slowly but surely Balham has become (dare we say it) actually quite a desirable area! Acquiring its own identity when surrounded by arguably the trendiest districts south of the Thames has been no easy feat, but with the allure of lower housing costs and council tax, a selection of good schools, excellent transport links and the sprouting of independent coffee shops, bars and restaurants along its buzzy high street, Balham has gained a reputation as a family-friendly spot with a welcoming community feel.

Granted, it’s a more mature crowd than Clapham with fewer opportunities for a wild night out – but with a cinema, annual comedy festival, and Tooting Bec Lido on its doorstop, it’s certainly not short of attractions. Its restaurants also have their own unique appeal and are in many ways Balham’s best kept secret. Generally speaking they’re low-key affairs, offering unpretentious but good quality food at affordable prices. The sort of places you walk in with low expectations and leave feeling smug because you’ve uncovered a hidden gem. But fear not, whilst the lips of Balham’s residents may remain tightly sealed, we are not afraid to shout about all the top foodie hotspots SW12 has to offer. So have a browse of our list of the best restaurants in Balham and get out and explore this upcoming area of south west London before everyone else does!

Arlo

Arlo's

1 Ramsden Road, London, SW12 8QX

This neighbourhood steak joint has won plenty of praise from locals, thanks to its simple, wallet-friendly formula. Choose between either a bavette or pichana (rump cap) cut and combine it with five sauces. Healthy sides are also available.
£30 - £49
Steak
Tagine

Tagine

1 & 3 Fernlea Road, London, SW12 9RT

Behind the heavy wooden doors this little unassuming restaurant is serving up authentic Moroccan cuisine with a smile and there’s a lot more to the menu than just humble tagines! Expect generous portions at reasonable prices.
Under £30
Moroccan
Franco Manca Balham

Franco Manca Balham

53 Bedford Hill, Balham, London, SW12 9EZ

How could we possibly miss this cosy gem off the list? Balham’s version of the popular London sourdough pizzeria chain is a real hotspot with charming interiors and the option to eat outside in warmer months.
Under £30
Pizza
Italian
The Exhibit

The Exhibit

12 Balham Station Road, London, London, SW12 9SG

A long-time favourite in the area, The Exhibit is renowned for its bottomless fizz at brunch, friendly staff, alfresco tables and even a 20-seat cinema. At the weekend DJs play until 2am for anyone who’s lost on their way to Clapham.
Bars
Vintage Ale House

Vintage Ale House

3 Ramsden Road, London, SW12 8QY

The nation’s first bar dedicated to American craft beers has arrived in Balham, courtesy of Chicago brewer Goose Island Beer Company. Best of all, there’s a cracking menu of US smokehouse-style dishes to match with the beer.
Pubs
Ciullõsteria

Ciullõsteria

31 Balham High Road, London, London, SW12 9AL

Serving a traditional menu of Italian cuisine inspired by Italy's Amalfi coast, this family-run restaurant has been serving pasta- and pizza-crazed Londoners for over 20 years.
£30 - £49
Italian
Milk

Milk

20 Bedford Hill, London, SW12 9RG

A resounding hit with Balhamites, this hip café has expanded beyond its tiny corner site and doubled its capacity – though you’re still likely to queue at weekends (no bookings), especially for its infamous brunch offering.
Under £30
Megan

Megan's on the Hill

41-43 Bedford Hill, London, SW12 9EY

Outside, this mini-chain of relaxed cafés looks like a run-of-the-mill yummy-mummy’s hotspot, but to those in the know, it’s actually got some substance to it. It's certainly a popular brunch spot, but the rest of the menu also impresses.
£30 - £49
Modern European
The Grove Balham

The Grove Balham

39 Oldridge Road, Balham, London, SW12 8PN

A hidden gem tucked away from the hustle and bustle of Balham High Street, this community focused, dog friendly pub is one of Balham’s best kept secrets. Expect ‘Best of British’ dishes in a stunning Victorian setting.
£30 - £49
Gastropub
The Regent Balham

The Regent Balham

21 Chestnut Grove Balham, London, London, SW12 8JE

This is a proper pub-lover’s pub. Drop in to meet up with friends around one of the large reclaimed tables or snuggle up in a cosy booth. It’s a brilliant place for sports fans and the terrace is great in the summer.
British
Caminata

Caminata

96 Bedford Hill, London, SW12 9HR

It’s unsurprising that this neighbourhood Italian is a real hit with the locals. Friendly staff serve up quality but affordable pizza and pasta dishes as well as a selection of wholesome Mediterranean classics. Booking advisable.
£30 - £49
Pizza
Italian
Gurkha

Gurkha's Diner

1 the Boulevard, Balham High Road, On Corner of Elmfield road, London, SW17 7BW

Diners prepared to try new flavours are well-rewarded at this Nepalese restaurant: a light, unassuming little place set apart from the main thoroughfare offering authentic fare with exemplary service.
Under £30
Nepalese
The Bedford

The Bedford

77 Bedford Hill, London, London, SW12 9HD

Treated to a multi-million pound makeover in 2018, this sibling of The Latchmere and The Rosendale now has a jewel of an attraction in its chic kingfisher blue art-deco lounge. It’s a top spot for cocktails and the food's not bad either.
£30 - £49
Pubs
Pizza
Vegetarian
Vegan
Burgers
British
Bars
Gastropub

Keen to explore more of South London? Check out our guide to the best restaurants in Brixton.