From West African brilliance in Brixton to East African excellence in Islington, and lots more in between.Less
Chuku’s is a Nigerian restaurant in Tottenham that will make your jolly little mouth troopers—formal title: taste receptor cells, thank you GCSE biology—very happy. The red pepper zing of the moi moi makes it the ultimate dinnertime entrance snack. The suya rub on the prawns and meatballs is a masterclass in steady spice and nuttiness. And the caramel kuli kuli chicken is the kind of crunchy peanut surprise that will make you say ‘hello poultry legend’ out loud.
Few restaurants have both food and feeling that makes you feel all warm and fuzzy inside, but there’s no doubt that Kaieteur Kitchen does. Owner and head chef Faye Gomes’ cooking and neighbourly hospitality will have you coming back to the excellent Guyanese restaurant in Elephant and Castle again and again. Staple dishes like oxtail and curry chicken are delicious enough, but it’s the specials you want to look out for.
There is something so innately satisfying about sitting in front of the tiny open kitchen at Chishuru that we could easily spend hours here. And we have. Hour upon hour dipping fluffy waina in a lip-tingling squash sauce, eating a barbecued cauliflower with a peanut sauce that is the texture party everyone should want an invite to, and quietly hoping that the head chef, Adejoké Bakare, might let us live here if we continue to flutter our eyelashes in her direction.
Tatale doesn’t have a single thing on its menu that we wouldn’t order again. And we’ve tried everything on the menu, from the spicy chichinga buttermilk fried chicken wings, to the mashed rice and creamy groundnut soup that’s more comforting than a bedtime story. There isn’t a single dud coming out of the kitchen of this pan-African restaurant in Southwark. It’s relaxed and inviting, with more cushions than you probably need, and huge plants all around.
You don’t go to JB’s for frilly service or a fancy environment. You go for one thing and one thing only, and that is the food. The best jerk spot in Peckham is an in-and-out kind of place, even though its portions are never anything less than generous. A jerk chicken meal here is enough to silence even the most persistent of monologue deliverers—the char is present, the marinade spiced and fruity, and the plantain a satisfyingly sweet accompaniment.
Wolkite’s godin tibs—sizzling lamb ribs with crisply rendered fat—is superb. Especially with a few spoonfuls of spicy awaze sauce and a cold bottle of St. George lager. In fact, it’s this combination that has got us through a few years of paying to enjoy distinctly less fantastic stuff at Arsenal’s Emirates Stadium that’s a hop and a skip away from Wolkite. The Ethiopian restaurant is a true great little place making generous and delicious food that insists on big groups tearing at its injera.
We have no idea how the lobster tails at Trap Kitchen got so large and in charge. Presumably they’re hitting the gym twice a day and squat the juicy bang bang prawns in their spare time. The seafood at this slick and rum slushie-serving restaurant in Balham tends to be supersized and super satisfying. From mac ‘n’ cheese and barbecue chicken wings to those lobster tails, the food here arrives on a foil-covered tray that has convinced us Rihanna’s ‘shine bright like a diamond’ has many readings.
The Somali lamb shank from Brothers Cafe doesn’t need much help falling off the bone. Its proximity to the Tottenham Hotspur stadium means that collapsing is in its DNA, but the vital point of difference between these two things in N17 is that the dish at Brothers is actually worth travelling for. The lamb and rice are both fragrantly spiced, mixing star anise, turmeric, and cinnamon with melt-in-your-mouth fat.
And the award for the London restaurant with the best name goes to… well, you can probably guess. Fish, Wings & Tings is a 'does what it says on the tin' situation down in Brixton Village. The fish is of the salty fritter variety, the juicy wings come smothered in a sweet tamarind jerk sauce, and the ‘tings’ include huge portions of curried goat and a potent guava rum punch. It’s a one-stop serotonin hit with casual service, reggae tunes, and bright multicoloured benches.
Sharing is caring and there’s no doubt you’ll be doing lots of that when you eat at Zeret Kitchen. The Ethiopian favourite in Camberwell has excellent options for vegans, vegetarians, and meat eaters alike. Warming shuro wot (roasted and blended chickpeas in a hot berbere sauce) and awaze tibs (lamb chunks marinated in peppers and berbere sauce) are regular orders from our side, but whatever combination you get, you’re bound to enjoy tearing and scooping with their excellent injera.