South London's sprawling patchwork of parks and pubs comes alive at night thanks to its buzzing live music venues and art hubs. From neighbourhood restaurants catering to a cultured crowd to cavernous spaces keeping clubbers going through the night, this part of London is as diverse as it is delicious.
One of the original pioneers of the city’s Mexican restaurant revolution, this Borough Market taqueria is bursting with bold and boisterous flavours. Expect punchy guacamole, made-from-scratch blue and white corn tortillas and oozing quesadillas served alongside a mezcal-laced cocktail menu. It’s open for lunch and dinner every night except Sunday, while regular fiestas offer the perfect excuse to crank up the late-night Latin beats.
Serving the best kind of medicine – food and drink, of course – Damian Hirst’s arty bar and restaurant in Newport Street Gallery is just what the doctor ordered. Open until midnight from Tuesday to Saturday, you’ll find seasonal British dishes served against a modern medical interior. The dining room is decorated with pills and potions, but the only tonic you’ll have to contend with comes in a cocktail.
Serving up New York-style thin crust pizzas to hungry clubbers and bar-hoppers in Dalston and Shoreditch for years, Voodoo Ray’s first foray south of the river proves it is equally capable of soaking up one too many cocktails in Peckham, too. Classic and quirky toppings make an appearance on 22-inch pizzas (for sharing) and oversize slices (for solos) that can be enjoyed in with a frozen margarita or en route to your next destination.
Serving up a full English breakfast at 4am is the kind of masterstroke that’s kept this all-night Chelsea eatery in business for the past 20 years. With brunch favourites such as eggs Benedict and buttermilk pancakes washed down with unlimited tea and coffee refills, as well as classics including chicken kiev and caesar salad, this upmarket canteen has comfort food covered.
A mere stone's throw from citizenM London Bankside, tucked behind the Tate Modern gallery, there’s more art appreciation to be had in this old red-brick factory, which is decorated with a Pop Art mural and work from the controversial Young British Artists collective – think Tracey Emin and Gavin Turk. The eye candy continues with Glenarm Estate beef that’s aged in a Himalayan pink salt chamber and Swainson House Farm whole chicken, which is served head down, bottom up in a bucket of chips.
6.The Shrub and Shutter
Brixton’s undercover markets are lined with cafes and casual all-day eating venues. But if you want late-night libations, smart snacks and sharing menus, then head to this hidden gem that’s just minutes away from the bright lights of Electric Avenue. Regularly winning awards for their quirky cocktails – Fish & Chip Shop Margarita, anyone? – and inventive execution, the drinks menu is divided into four courses while the innovative food menu showcases the best of modern British cuisine. On Saturday, you have until 2am to sample the lot.
You haven’t had a night out in London until you’ve ventured below street level to one of the city’s revamped public conveniences. Swapping the 100-year-old water closet for carafes of wine, the owners of this white-tiled subterranean bar (it’s situated under Clapham Common tube station) serve French stables – baked Camembert, cured means, pork rillettes and duck liver pate – to discerning toilet-goers until 12:30pm Friday and Saturday, and 11:30pm Monday to Thursday.
8.Peckham Refreshment Rooms
Just minutes from south London’s iconic music venue The Bussey Building, art lovers and party people head to this intimate neighbourhood restaurant to get their evening off to a tasty start – it’s open until 11:30pm Friday and Saturday. This place is so chilled it’s hard to shake the feeling you are eating in someone’s kitchen, as friendly chefs take local produce and give it a European twist.
Bringing a taste of Australian sunshine – and coffee culture – to one of London’s busiest transport hubs, this casual café-bar is sitting pretty in Victoria’s sparkling new Nova complex. Tuck into Pacific tiger prawn and watermelon salad, barbecue lamb cutlets, chicken parmigiana and Melbourne-style cheesecake till late, and sample a selection of wines from the other side of the world while listening to an eclectic mix of music from the resident DJ and live pianist.
This stylish Manhattan-inspired brasserie has been serving a modern European menu to hungry locals long before Bermondsey Street became one of south London’s hottest dining destinations. The loft-apartment aesthetic – exposed brick walls and leather armchairs – is the perfect backdrop to a classic cocktail menu, which keeps punters happy long after the last train from nearby London Bridge has departed. Arrive before 10:30 and you can soak up some of that alcohol with the tempting brasserie menu.