Croydon restaurants, breakfasts, lunches, pubs, bars, cafés and more.
Welcome to a new series exploring London’s food and drink offerings, one area at a time. We eventually plan to cover the whole of the capital, but that’s quite a big task. If you have any recommendations for us in your area, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Croydon might not possess the enviable reputation of some of the other, more foodie London boroughs but there’s always been a lot of good stuff happening in food and drink. Current examples include at least two microbreweries (The Cronx and Clarence & Fredricks), a food festival (The South End Food Festival), and a growing community gardening movement with an urban vineyard being discussed.
Note: Croydon is one of the most populous and sprawling boroughs of London, and so to try and keep things simple we've stuck to establishments that are reasonably close to Croydon’s two biggest railway stations: West Croydon and East Croydon. Basically, stuff that's within the town of Croydon, not the extended area that constitutes the borough.
If you were to poll Croydon’s foodies about the ‘coolest’ place to head to, Matthew’s Yard would make a lot of people's list. Located in a little alcove just off Surrey Street market, it’s a music space, coffee shop, bar, art gallery, flexible workspace and a whole load of other things, all combined into one ever-evolving destination. As for breakfast, it plays host to pop-up brekkie kitchen Rise 'n Shine which offers a breakfast special from Monday to Friday (7am-2pm). The Clocktower Café has a heartening selection of fairtrade teas and coffees, along with impressive surroundings full of art, books, live music and culture. Blue Mountain Café is a small and friendly artisan coffee chain that originated in East Dulwich but has lately arrived in Croydon. Their south London roots proudly show through in a range of Caribbean choices along with more obvious options. As you might expect, the espresso ain’t bad either.
Street food forms part of Croydon’s lunchtime offering, with Surrey Street Market — which dates back to 1237 — featuring a fair few food—to-go options among its produce stalls. On Thursdays, Ruskin Square’s World Food Market brings an array of global cuisines to East Croydon, from 11am until 3pm. The cafés mentioned above, as well as Croydon’s array of well-priced Indian and Caribbean offerings are also good lunch shouts.
Croydon has plenty of very good Indian options. London Road’s Chennai Dosa serves traditional south Indian food with a particular focus on the dosa — a type of south Indian pancake — and the selection is immense. Jalalis also deserves a special mention. It’s a bit of a trek from East Croydon station but the salmon tikka is truly the stuff of legend, and as its a takeaway, you don’t even have to bother getting there.
West Croydon is rich in West Indian and Afrocarribean cuisine, with Whitehorse Lane’s Tasty Jerk Center a clear cut above the rest — despite its lacklustre appearance.
For European cuisine, try Brasserie Vacherin, a traditional brasserie in the French style led by chef Malcolm John, a name we hope and suspect we might be hearing more of in the near future. Elsewhere, Galicia is one of the best spots for tapas and Galician food that you’ll find anywhere in town — the kind of place that expats traverse the city to find. And Bagatti’s has been delighting Croydonites with cibo Italiano for as long as we can remember — 24 years and counting — and the spaghetti carbonara is magnificent.
Something special — fine dining
Albert’s Table is the only place in Croydon with a Michelin Star and is doing a pretty good job of bringing people into the town on this basis alone — supposedly all part of chef/owner Joby Wells’s plan. Expect fine dining British food of central London quality but at a noticeably cheaper price.
As a spot well-suited to both eating and drinking, the people behind The Glamorgan would probably prefer you not describe them as a gastropub but it feels appropriate to do so. After all, most pubs don’t offer the likes of red deer medallions or have a wine menu spanning several pages. It comes complete with an indoor barbecue as well as space for live music. Another good call is the decidedly charming Treehouse. It boasts a fairy-lit space as well as a food selection that goes far beyond pub grub — think pan-fried sea bass in Champagne sauce and a selection of well priced (and well-weighted) steaks.
Surrey Street’s Dog & Bull is a grade II listed pub with an excellent beer garden. It also boasts a mighty selection of beers and has a pizza oven, smoker and barbecue. The Green Dragon champions local beers, has high ceilings, dragon motifs and a slightly eccentric and inviting atmosphere. The cosy Oval Tavern is much beloved for its loyal community, lovely beer garden and live jazz on Sundays — plus its own ale and cider festivals. The venerable Royal Standard can be found hidden away under a flyover and adjacent to a rather large and rather grey car park. Don’t let the surroundings put you off — this is a charming pub with a great selection of drinks and an elegant interior. It also has a strategically-positioned beer garden on the opposite side of the road, which although a little strange looking, is wonderful in summer. Also deserving of a mention is the somewhat niche The Ship. Visit on weekends for loud hard rock or heavy metal-themed fun, economically priced drinks and the odd live performance (though this seems to be less common of late).
Lounge bar Half & Half has a pretty lively calendar that includes lots of wine, beer and spirits tastings, as well as a comprehensive (and rapidly evolving) drinks selection. Recent arrival Ponte Nuovo (also under a flyover) focuses on Italian-style food, vermouth and sparkling wine. South End’s cocktail-centric — if dubiously named — Bar Txt has already made a name for itself as a low-tempo and upmarket alternative to the more noisy clubs on the High Street. In the same area, The Edge is something of a bar-pub hybrid that comes with a healthy selection of live music (including jam nights), plus more choice of wines than you might expect and a sizeable beer garden to boot.
Park Street’s Bad Apple is a relatively new arrival to Croydon's late night scene, but as the brainchild of the people behind the (now legendary and sadly defunct) Black Sheep Bar, it fits in just nicely. Music heavy, and with a rather well stocked bar, the interior is full of the kind of furniture that looks like it was lifted from the set of an unreleased Alice in Wonderland remake. You could very easily walk past the unassuming Soulful Cellar if not for the often large lines of would-be punters. It’s also open until 4am, with soul, jazz and funk making up the musical agenda. You need to be 25 or over, mind. Occupying the site of the old Overton’s brewery malt houses, The Granaries is another late night Croydon institution that focuses on black and urban music spaced out over what they describe as ‘three clubs in one’. Over 22s only, this place stays open until 4am on many nights. Find a late night curryhouse for sustaining suppers.
By Jack Oughton