South East London boasts some fantastic areas for eating out, from Greenwich to Dulwich and Camberwell to Forest Hill, so take a look through SquareMeal’s guide to the best restaurants in South East London and book your table today. Greenwich is the gem of South East London, steeped in history and boasting a wonderful ambience. Stroll through the beautiful Greenwich Park, visit the Royal Observatory and the National Maritime Museum as well as the recently reopened Cutty Sark or just soak up the charming ambience of Greenwich centre with its arty craft and antique markets. Dulwich and Forest Hill are popular residential areas amongst young professionals and both boast a real village like atmosphere.
Every one of the South East London restaurants featured in SquareMeal’s list of London’s top South East London restaurants have been tried and tested by food critics and our own customers so check out the reviews and book a table online with SquareMeal today. Each SquareMeal listing features an independent review, as well as reviews from diners, together with unique special offers such as free drinks and discounts.
£30 - £49
178 Greenwich High Road, SE10 8NN
Whether you’re chomping burgers in the bar before a film at the Picturehouse next door, or literally going the whole hog with a suckling-pig feast for 45 on the comfier mezzanine level – this modern brasserie offers a safe pair of hands in genteel SE10. Clues to the Rivington’s pedigree (owners Caprice Holdings also run The Ivy and J Sheekey; the original branch is in Shoreditch) come with a 60-strong gin list and a roll-call of British comfort food. The place-mat menu features an ‘on toast’ section (think devilled kidneys or buck rarebit) alongside the likes of a sturdy Highland venison steamed pudding, or beer-battered haddock. To match the fuss-free food, a concise wine list incorporates good-value bottles from Oregon, Lebanon and even Morocco. Weekend breakfasts, BYO Mondays and free kids’ meals also keep Greenwich folk loyal. “A perfect local restaurant for all occasions” as one reader puts it.
More about Rivington Grill Greenwich
£30 - £49
161 Bellenden Road, London, SE15 4DH
Blink and you’ll miss this narrow strip of a restaurant with its matt-black frontage, the name painted in tiny white type. Inside, pared-back, minimal surroundings allow the no-fuss Italian food to do the talking. The kitchen takes the best of the day’s produce and crafts a menu of bold simplicity, offering just three starters, three mains, and a couple of pasta dishes of either size. The list provides the perfect antidote to those tired trattorie with their dozens of ‘specials’. Because the chef uses cheaper cuts (lamb shoulder or ox heart on our visit), and concentrates on pulses and seasonal veg, prices are kept spot-on for a neighbourhood joint – though many would cross the capital for gutsy cooking of such quality. The ice cream alone is worth a detour. The all-Italian wine list needs better descriptions, though the friendly staff will make suggestions.
More about Artusi
£30 - £49
3-7 Church Road, London, SE19 2TF
“Great local food” is the prime attraction at this stylish market-based hub on the apex of Crystal Palace’s ‘triangle’ – no wonder it’s always “packed with locals” who cram in for spanking-fresh shellfish, small plates, Josper grills and funky cocktails. The dining room makes its statement with rough bare-brick walls and fixtures fashioned from reclaimed materials, plus a central communal table in the lively bar and a story-time soundtrack playing in the toilets. Start with a plate of oysters from the fish counter or tingling lemon-cured tuna tartare with ginger, jalapeño and coriander, before tackling a whole sea bass, a Devon lamb chop or a ‘naked’ burger with crisp fries and marinated carrot salad. Pleasingly rib-sticking desserts such as hazelnut and caramel cheesecake hit the spot, breakfast is a big call for early shoppers, and the wine list entices without breaking the budget. Service is “always wonderful”, says a fan.
More about The Crystal Palace Market
£30 - £49
168 Bellenden Road, London, SE15 4BW
No one can accuse this “hip” Thai canteen of resting on its laurels: in 2016, the owners repurposed the terrace as an airy all-weather space, did away with the colour-coded prices on its menu, and developed a cute children’s offering. Other than that, it’s business as usual at The Begging Bowl. A constantly changing line-up of “amazing Thai tapas” still features exhilarating flavour combos shot through with full-throttle herbs and spices: try the “piquant” little fishcakes, “sticky, umami-rich” pork belly, caramelised tiger prawns in lime leaves (“so good we ordered them twice”) or the show-stopping whole sea bass, lavishly sprinkled with slivers of green mango, deep-fried chilli, Thai shallots and toasted rice. To drink, delicious eastern-inspired cocktails complement the spice-friendly wine list. And each night, dozens of would-be diners still vie for tables in the colourful, driftwood-decorated dining room – thankfully the friendly staff are experts at waiting-list diplomacy.
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£30 - £49
157 Lordship Lane, London, SE22 8HX
This Dulwich veteran still looks the part after many years’ service and maintains its commitment to careful, seasonal sourcing. The menu is ‘blissfully free from affectations regarding provenance’, and with a farm shop next door ‘you know it’s good stuff’ – from spring chicken paired with quinoa, peas, salsify and broad beans to plaice embellished with samphire, fennel and saffron aïoli. Desserts are pure comfort (rice pudding with rhubarb, for example), or you can finish with something savoury such as Scotch woodcock. The gorgeous gilt-topped bar gets rammed with drinkers knocking back old-school cocktails, but things are more mellow in the downstairs dining room; either way, service copes well with the needs of boozy Sunday lunches and casual midweek suppers. Be warned that bills can stack up, especially with sides at £3 a pop.
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