Camberwell was once a much larger borough, encompassing Peckham and Dulwich. Now it's sandwiched between Dulwich and Denmark Hill, Peckham, and Walworth Road, which leads up to Elephant. Once a wealthy area, there are many well-preserved Georgian houses and pretty, leafy streets. The area has been run down in parts in recent years but is now seeing signs of gentrification. We embrace both old and new in our round-up of the best places to eat and drink in Camberwell.
Breakfast and brunch
If it’s a greasy spoon you’re after then look no further than the very basic Rock Steady Eddie’s or Jungle Grill Café (on Camberwell Church Street) for egg and bacon baps. For something a little more fancy pants, try the more recently opened Daily Goods for home-made granola or ham and cheese croissants.
Cute caff-cum-furniture shop Pigeon Hole Café has a recently added selection of pastries and No. 67 on Camberwell Church Street will set you up for the day with their selection of fresh juices, porridge, eggs or the 'Full Spanglish' – a full English with chorizo and morcilla.
The lunchtime deal at FM Mangal is winner at £8.50 for a plate of salad, grilled meat, fish or vegetables plus their excellent house bread and a drink. We tend to frequent the place more of an evening though (see: dinner).
Falafel and Shawarma on Camberwell Church Street always has a queue building up at lunchtime for their sizeable and excellent value falafel wraps. There’s also a chicken shawarma and meze plate option (but really, it's all about the falafel).
We've got a real soft spot for the chicken satay bánh mi from Viet Café on Denmark Hill, a long time Vietnamese caff which used to be called Café Bay, serving a range of baguettes, Vietnamese summer rolls and other dishes with rice.
The Camberwell Arms is a superb gastropub serving one of the best Sunday lunches in London (they won an Observer Food Monthly Award for it in 2015) — we love their pies and the roast chicken for two with roast potatoes, salad and aioli.
Maloko just over the road is a cosy space serving giant mugs of tea and filled crepes which are generous, good value, vegan and gluten free. We do wish they’d use a little more seasoning, though. Finally, Spice and Nice Bakery never fails to have a queue snaking onto the street at lunchtime as people queue for patties and other Caribbean treats.
The Hill Bakery and deli is now serving a selection of sandwiches to go, we've noticed recently, and Pigeon Hole, Daily Goods and No. 67 (mentioned in the breakfast section) are all prime snack spots too.
Newcomer Lumberjack replaced the House Gallery and café near St. Giles Church and seems to be doing a good trade in coffee and towering cakes supplied by local baker Cat Food Cakes. Love Walk Café near King's is also a popular spot for coffee.
A secluded, little-known spot is the Ortus Café, part of The Maudsley. The entrance is on Grove Lane and they have free Wi-Fi and good value sandwiches and salads.
Art Deli has recently opened on Coldharbour Lane selling a range of salads and sandwiches for the lunchtime crowd, plus breakfast from 7am and beer and wine in the evening until 11. This stretch of road desperately needed a decent modern caff and we hope they do well.
Zeret Kitchen remains one of the best Ethiopian/Eritrean restaurants in London, with owner Tafe serving her own recipe stews both meat and vegetarian on top of vast, bubbly injera.
Silk Road is as busy as ever serving food from Xinjiang province — the best dishes are basically all of them — try the lamb skewers, smacked cucumber, home style cabbage, everything else. A few doors down, Wuli Wuli serves a menu split between Cantonese and Sichuan dishes. The short menu of Sichuan dishes is good, but don't ignore the Cantonese as they're the best in the area by far.
Queen's by Mike and Ollie is a restaurant from a chef that started his business as a street food stall at Brockley Market on Lewisham Way. They've had a cautious start but now seem to be open for lunch and dinner more regularly, serving seasonal food with global influences.
CheeMc on Walworth Road is there for those times when you just need Korean fried chicken, or you want to smell like garlic for the foreseeable future. Read our full review here.
Finally, F M Mangal is a local legend. We love their smoke infused grilled meat skewers and their house bread which comes smeared with spices and a dipping sauce of pomegranate juice and grilled onions. They also do magnificent takeaway wraps which are massive, and just about one of the most delicious sandwiches known to woman.
Pubs and bars
The Crooked Well is popular for dinner and drinks but we've never had a consistently good meal there, preferring to pop in for a martini every now and then in their bar area.
Stormbird is the area's craft beer pub, strewn with fairy lights and with a stunning range of changing beers on tap. The Hermit’s Cave over the road has more of an old man vibe but is popular still (although we wish they’d sort out the seating) and of course, The Camberwell Arms is nearby if you'd rather have a glass of wine (they also make a good cocktail).
The Sun next to King’s College Hospital (formerly the Son and Doves) still looks oddly unfinished but is a good place for a pint if you're around that area, and it also has a beer garden for the summer.
The Tiger near Camberwell Green is popular with a younger crowd, open late until 3.30am on Fridays with live music, and The Old Dispensary seems to be attracting an ever younger clientele too. They also show sports on numerous TVs.
The Communion Bar is underneath the recently closed Angels and Gypsies (now an event space for the hotel), open late for cocktails inspired by south London (one of them has Special Brew in it).
The Bear has just reopened after a refurb, as has The Phoenix inside Denmark Hill station — a light, bright space with generously portioned food and a good fish finger sandwich, it’s really quite good for a station pub.