For this piece we've defined Clapham as roughly within the circle of Clapham North station, Landor Road and King's Avenue on one side and Clapham South and Wandsworth Road stations to the north and west.
Breakfasts and coffee
Clapham's not short of a good coffee shop, but miles above most is the small Doctor Espresso Mama V's, under one of the Overground station railway arches. There's a small amount of indoor seating, some covered tables outside and a selection of baked snacks — croissants, great brownies, little pistachio pastries — along with a hot brunch menu at weekends.
Brickwood, the other side of Clapham, also does a good coffee and food menu. It's Australian and New Zealand-influenced, therefore heavy on smashed avocado.
It's worth going a bit off the beaten track of Clapham High Street for lunch. Just on the edge of the Old Town, you can pick up deli snacks and cured meat sandwiches from M. Moen & Sons, which make for a great desk lunch and an even better picnic lunch on the common across the road.
La Petite Bretagne on Clapham Park Road does sweet pancakes stuffed with combinations of fresh fruit, niche jam and a lot of chocolate. If you feel like your limit's one crepe a day, make it one from the savoury section — all of them gluten free — with bacon, gherkins, cheese and potato. Basically a more portable fondue.
Pubs, gastropubs and bars
For Sunday lunch and pub dinners The Abbeville and The Stonhouse do the best gastropub food in Clapham, though others have them beaten on outside space. Such as The Landor pub, for instance, which is large enough to have something for all pub-goers with a good Sunday roast, live sports, a beer garden, pool tables, sofas and a small theatre upstairs.
Cellar SW4 is a wine shop and bar from the same people that run D Vine Cellars on Landor Road. Like its older brother venue, Cellar has a big range of beers, as well as their carefully-chosen organic wines and a better menu of bar snacks. On Venn Street, closer to the common, Barsito's wine and tapas bar is small, relaxed and always busy — expect to jostle for a perch at the counter, or to have your plates of bread and chorizo standing around one of the upturned barrels. They offer vegan tapas menus too. We like toilet-turned-wine bar and charcuterie WC too.
Clapham mixes the seriously mainstream with the quiet and secluded, the loud and brash side by side with the relaxed and intimate.
Right by Clapham Common, Joe Public does excellent California-style pizzas either in their entirety or by the slice, for a more rapid pre-night out dinner.
There are two key offerings on the Chinese food front in Clapham: Mamalan is famous for its dim sum and noodle soups, or On Cafe has carved out the very specific niche of Chinese dim sum bar meets French patisserie, doing frilly, pretty desserts and BYO drinks.
Robin Gill's been brandishing his Midas touch in other parts of London now as well, but his string of restaurants started in Clapham and are still going strong. The loveliest of the two is The Dairy (hold tight, we'll get to that later) but Counter Culture is also worth a visit with its small, sharing plates and counter-seating only space attached to The Dairy.
You can eat well from the curry menu at Caribbean caff Roti Joupa for £5 or less, but for the best of its food, hit the side dish section. That's where you'll find the macaroni pie and the pholourie — spiced, fried doughballs and chutney — all £1.50 a portion. It's also where you'll find the king of the menu, the Hot Double: two flatbreads forming a pocket, filled with chickpea curry and fiercely hot sauce, close to being a meal in themselves and £1.50 each.
There are two ways to go at Trinity. Choose between the downstairs restaurant with its white tablecloths, fine dining and Michelin-starred food, or the upstairs restaurant with a sharing plates menu and, in theory, a more informal feel. To be honest, informality's not their strength in either venue. But it's a nice, calm spot in Clapham's loud, busy dining scene.
The Dairy's the second piece of Robin Gill's SW4 double act, and, for our money, the best — offering sharing plates in a simple, wooden and raw-brick, slightly shabby and very friendly bistro. Great for anything from anniversary dates to big, rowdy group lunches to your mother's birthday dinner.