London’s Brixton Neighborhood Guide

  • Brixton Village's renewed wet market.

    Brixton Village's renewed wet market.

  • The cozy setting of Upstairs restaurant.

    The cozy setting of Upstairs restaurant.

  • The salmon and watercress dish.

    The salmon and watercress dish.

  • The open-air patio of Seven at Brixton.

    The open-air patio of Seven at Brixton.

  • A bartender mixes drinks at hipster-hangout Seven.

    A bartender mixes drinks at hipster-hangout Seven.

  • Federation boasts its own in-house pastry chefs.

    Federation boasts its own in-house pastry chefs.

  • Circus Brixton sells affordable artwork from local designers.

    Circus Brixton sells affordable artwork from local designers.

  • A tasting platter from Champagne + Fromage.

    A tasting platter from Champagne + Fromage.

  • Seven's Marmalady Boy, Buffalo Passion, and Ginger Beer & Basil Mojito.

    Seven's Marmalady Boy, Buffalo Passion, and Ginger Beer & Basil Mojito.

  • Federation Coffeee has an artisan roaster in a nearby market unit.

    Federation Coffeee has an artisan roaster in a nearby market unit.

  • An artisan cup of joe from Federation Coffee. Photo courtesy of Londonist

    An artisan cup of joe from Federation Coffee. Photo courtesy of Londonist

  • The entrance to Brixton Village by night.

    The entrance to Brixton Village by night.

  • Cornercopia's head chef Ian Riley lends a helping hand.

    Cornercopia's head chef Ian Riley lends a helping hand.

  • The aptly named Cornercopia's street-side venue.

    The aptly named Cornercopia's street-side venue.

  • Cornercopia's haggis croquette sources local ingredients.

    Cornercopia's haggis croquette sources local ingredients.

  • A well-loved retail store in Brixton Village.

    A well-loved retail store in Brixton Village.

  • Circus offers a selection of  vintage finds and homewares.

    Circus offers a selection of vintage finds and homewares.

  • Cheese and bubbly, what could be better?

    Cheese and bubbly, what could be better?

Click image to view full size

Five years ago you would be hard-pressed to find a London gourmand willing to venture south of the river­—but times have changed for Brixton, now the buzzing and multicultural heart of London’s foodie revolution

By Zing Tsjeng

Granville Arcade, with its labyrinthine alleyways and vaulted 1930s Art Deco ceilings, once housed a prosperous wet market that served the local Afro-Caribbean community. You could buy pretty much anything: ackee fruit from Jamaica; Alphonso mangoes from India, and vanilla pods from Madagascar. But as the decades wore on chain supermarkets invaded Brixton, leeching customers away from the market and driving many stallholders out of business. After fighting off demolition and successfully registering the Arcade as a heritage building, its owners came up with a new plan: they would offer three months of free rent to any chancers who would like to try their hand at running a stall under its historic roof.

Lured by the prospect of cheap rent, food entrepreneurs and restaurateurs rushed in to Granville Arcade, creating a lively food hub in its crooked corridors and the surrounding streets. Shaking off its 1930s moniker, the Arcade, and its environs became known as Brixton Village. Now, it’s one of the most exciting culinary destinations in the capital, drawing foodies from north and south of the river.

Some stallholders, like Franco Manca’s Giuseppe Mascoli (Unit 4, Market Row, 44-20/7738-3021), have now achieved legendary status: his sublime Neapolitan sourdough pizza has Londoners queuing round the block for a slice, and he now runs seven outlets in the capital. Other restaurants retain a cozy and rustic atmosphere: Mama Lan’s (Unit 18, Coldharbor Lane) is run by Ning Ma and her extended family, and serves handmade dumplings like those of her native Beijing.

Most of the venues are similarly small and unfussy, but bookings can be difficult. Some do not even have phone lines for reservations though many operate lively social media accounts and are more than happy to answer questions over Twitter. Don’t come here if you’re expecting the Ritz: what you’ll get is a melting pot of cuisines, cultures, and gluttony. From English charcuterie to Jamaican jerk chicken, you could easily eat your way across the globe, all without strolling further than the SW9 postcode. And if you’d like to pick up a mango, you can do that too—thanks to the thriving food scene, the historic wet market has gained a new lease of life.

Brixton Village's renewed wet market.

Brixton Village’s renewed wet market.

Share this Article