Head into the deepest depths of south London and there you shall find Sutton. We say 'deepest depths', but Sutton station is, in reality, only a 30 minute train from Victoria.
OK, Sutton itself is not regarded as a foodie hotspot, but don't let that stop the hungry and curious amongst you from visiting.
A caveat: we've kept our recommendations to the more easily accessible areas of Sutton, spots within a reasonable distance of Sutton train station, plus the nearby areas of Carshalton and Cheam.
We can't really think of anything to compare with Sutton’s TazZa Coffee. Independent and reasonably priced (often better than the chain alternatives further up high street), it's a great spot for a light, caffeine infused breakfast.
Food options include a selection of sandwiches, paninis, pastries and cakes (many of which are handmade). It's also worth knowing that they're doing good things for Sutton; hosting community projects, business breakfasts, kids' storytimes and the like. The staff are pretty friendly too.
As for Cheam's Feedwell Cafe; the name may say it all. Mightily proportioned, weapons grade fry-ups at extremely attractive prices. Fancy decor, there is not, Michelin-starred it is not, but Feedwell's not trying to be anything it isn't. It knows what it does, and it does this well: namely early morning food comas and full strength cups of tea. Aside from the rather English all-day breakfast options, there are a few 'continental' offerings such as spag bol and lasagne. They're also well known for a pretty impressive chilli con carne.
Brasserie Vacherin is the brainchild of chef Malcolm John — a man who's doing plenty of exciting things with food in south London. Vacherin is a brasserie in the traditional style (in terms of both food and decor). Think casual, but with an air of culinary finesse (because as we know, the French do not take their food casually).
It's slick, but not too slick; 'central west London Parisian', minus the central west London prices. And there's an outdoor terrace — which is only ever a good thing (except when it's cold).
Ever eaten at a restaurant within the walls of a category B prison? At The Clink Restaurant At HMP High Down you can... and you don't even have to break the law to do it. Staffed by prisoners working towards City & Guilds NVQs in Hospitality, it serves Modern European cuisine and is relatively economical too. A three-course meal costs around £25 per head.
From outside, UNO Tapas comes across a bit 'estate agent', but when you get inside you might be pleasantly surprised. As family run outfit, a quick stroll from Sutton station, UNO serves Spanish (aka 'original style') tapas.
You're probably familiar with tapas but it's quite likely you'll find some things on the menu you've never tasted before (think aubergine chips with rosemary honey and chorizo cooked in cider). There's also a similarly formidable drinks menu, heavy on the extensive (Spanish) wine menu including an admirable selection of sherries.
Over two decades, Haweli Of Belmont has been part of Belmont's furniture; a family run operation, the Chowdhury family serve dishes from India and the South Asian region, and also offer a takeaway service (for those deterred by the brief trip to Belmont).
Though not the cheapest prices for Sutton, there's a pretty massive food menu with plenty of vegetarian options, and they're an easy walk from Belmont station. The Sunday buffet is an economical option with a decent choice.
Those looking more for street food, or the Trinidadian olfactory experience could drop into Roti Masters in Sutton’s Saint Nicholas Centre. Here you'll find pattis, plantains and similar such Caribbean delights. It feels like a caterer who set up a restaurant — which is essentially what it is. Ever tried a Guinness punch? Now's the time.
Pubs and bars
There are plenty of reliable pubs within the borough of Sutton. In Sutton itself there's the Cock & Bull (a Fuller's establishment), in Wallington there's The Wallington Arms, and Cheam's Ye Olde Red Lion. That said, Sutton's ample pubs and restaurants seem to come at the expense of its bar and club scene. As you'd imagine, the chains have found a place here, with an All Bar One and Slug & Lettuce proving dependable (if unexciting) places for wine and cocktail.
One boozer place in Carshalton is worth talking about in more detail. Someone once called The Hope a 'superpub' and this is a pretty good description. An impressive list of The Hope's accolades includes CAMRA Croydon & Sutton Pub of the Year 2012,13,14 AND 15.
A rare example of a successful, independent pub — a group of locals clubbed together to purchase the lease back in 2010 — it's known for numerous themed beer festivals, and for covering both traditional cask ale and craft beer plus 'proper cider' (and perry). And it's just five minutes' walk from Carshalton station.
The decor is… advantageous. In the summer you can lounge in the garden and enjoy music provided by locals who bring their musical instruments down for an session in the garden. In the winter, huddle around the fireplace with your nearest and dearest for much the same thing.
EBB & Flow is a relatively new arrival to Sutton; located on the high street and part of a very small chain of Marston's-owned bars that exist only in Southampton and Solihull (we're wondering if alliteration is part of their location strategy). A slick café bar that is more bar than café, the menu is reasonably priced, kid friendly, mostly American inspired and very heavy on the burgers. As for drinks, there are smoothies and quite a lot of cocktails though they seem to be slacking a little on the beer. EBB & Flow tends to be very popular with shoppers, the breakfast crowd and occasionally hosts live music.
Not particularly grumpy, and with no moles in site, The Grumpy Mole Cheam occupies the site of what used to be The Bell Inn. It's retained much of its former 'pubness' (atmosphere) while severely upping its game on the food and drink offering. As for prices, it can be a tad expensive, though the portions can also be generous, which goes some way to evening things out.
On the main part 'The Mole' serves a mix of British (gastro) pub classics, but with a few wildcards, such as some Pan Asian inspired dishes. There's also steak on the stone (in which you decide how long your steak should cook for - just don't touch the stone). Also worth a mention is a particularly impressive bar menu (afternoons only) which pushes the definition of bar 'snacks' to its limits. And they also do traditional afternoon tea.
Overlooking Wallington Green, and with its open kitchen, The Dukes Head is actually a hotel (but you mustn't let that stop you going for a drinks and/or food). The menu consists of ever changing, mostly accessible traditional British food (and excellent seafood including prawns, fishcakes and crab) with a few 'gastro tweaks/additions'.
Asides from a selection of Young's beers, there's an impressive amount of choice on the wines and a few cocktails to boot. There's also a lovely garden, made more lovely in the summer months.