Updated: Jul 1, 2020
Do you have a growing list of places you want to go to once lockdown life is over? I know I certainly do, so I thought I’d throw in five more you can add to your list for the eagerly anticipated post-lockdown feasting. Sidenote – If you are lucky enough to live in striking distance of Tooting (jealous!) then get yourself on a delivery app asap for some of this goodness in your own home.
Let’s get down to it, the definitive* guide to Tooting’s best places to eat.
*disclaimer: these are my favourites, so not really definitive..
1. Daddy Bao
I can’t believe just a few short years ago I hadn’t experienced the wonderful, pillow-y, softness of a bao bun. Now, on numerous menus across the capital and beyond, they have become a favourite of mine, and many others. Daddy Bao just do bao right. They have a range of small starter plates, which are great to share. Highlights are the fried chicken (obvs), ginger & garlic edamame and, my personal favourite, sweet potato chips with wasabi mayo. I could drink that wasabi mayo, honestly. Once you reach the main event, the bao course, you’re usually nearly full, but can just about squeeze in the two bao you ordered at the start of the meal, when you were much more ambitious about how much you could eat. The fillings are exquisite, from
sticky pork belly, to creamy shiitake mushroom, you will not be left dissatisfied. Finally, a note on the atmosphere, which they have got down to a tee. Low lighting, jazzy tunes and an open bar that you can sit at for your meal really gives the vibe that you are in Downtown New York and not Tooting’s Mitcham Road.
Top tip: They do an incredible fried chicken bao. I saw it once on the specials board, and now ask for it every time I go and they make it even if its not on the menu.
Find them here.
2. Dosa n Chutny
Now, as I’ve just been waxing lyrical on the atmosphere of Daddy Bao, Dosa n Chutny is on the other end of the scale completely. Canteen-style seating, metal cups and plates, and
deep aromas of South Indian spices greet you when entering. This is the definition of cheap and cheerful, however, don’t expect them to scrimp on the flavour, as you will be blown away by the feast you get served here. Share some starters, like lamb chops, onion pakoras and poppadoms with dips. Then it’s dosa time. What is a dosa I hear you ask? Well, I think it’s in-between a poppadom and a roti, but much larger (more bang for your buck, I say). You need to get stuck in and use your hands to rip off pieces before mopping up the delicious accompaniments. Once you’ve finished, hold on to your hat as when you pay the bill you might get a surprise – under a tenner a head! Rude not to come back, at that fantastic price.
Top tip: Make the most of the bargain prices by ordering lots to share between a group, then you get a chance to figure out what you like best.
Get your dosa fix here.
3. Orange Buffalo
I’ve been munching on Orange Buffalo burgers and wings for years. They first came into my life when they had a franchise at my local in Brighton, and they haven’t strayed too far from my life ever since. South London was seriously lacking an OB and when the news came in that Tooting was to be their next spot, Sam and I were like kids at Christmas (honestly, it was
actually a bit lame). I’m still to taste a better wing, buffalo sauce and blue cheese dip. If anything, the one thing we can all be thankful to have come out of lockdown, is that OB have started to deliver bottles of their sauces to your door. Life changing, and probably not doing great things for the bank account, BUT unbelievably delicious, and worth every penny. If you are a fan of fried chicken, get your hands on their Woof Woof sauce to pimp up your home cooks, and trust me, you won’t look back. No lie, we have ended up in OB Tooting on numerous occasions after going out for dinner. Just to get the goods to take home to eat the next day with hangovers. Only problem is, it never seems to last that long, usually getting demolished the minute we get home later that evening. Oops.
Top tip: You can add additional wings for just 50p a pop – why not, at that steal of a price.
Click here for elite buffalo sauce, and more.
4. Tacos and Tequila
Nestled in the heart of Tooting Broadway Market is this gem of a restaurant. You know it’s going to be a good night when you can use the sombreros hung on the walls as décor for that all important group selfie. If you go here and don’t start with a classic Margarita then
you’re doing it all wrong. Don’t even think about going for a frozen one, it just doesn’t compare. Once you’re well oiled with the lime and sugary goodness of a couple of Margs (I find they go down exceptionally quick), get yourself some nachos to share and a couple of tacos each. You only need two tacos, not three. That is learnt that from an experience of massively over ordering in the past. You don’t want to be too full, you need to be able to limber up for some shape throwing at the live music bar by the entrance to the market after. The Margs will have got you in the mood, leaving you feeling like you’ve spent the evening in a quirky Mexican cantina full of funky tunes and posi-vibes.
Top tip: Obviously go for the buttermilk fried chicken taco. That is all.
Find taco heaven here.
5. Lahore Karahi
I'm finishing this post with the South London institution that is Lahore Karahi. Much like Dosa n Chutny, it is cheap and cheerful, but the food oozes with flavour, meaning it’s a must visit on my list. The smell when you enter should be enough to sell this place to you, you get wafted with the scent of the herbs and spices that are being transformed into the traditional Pakistani cuisine that is offered. There’s a buzzy atmosphere with waiters rushing around holding platters of chicken curries and fluffy garlic naans. They are smashing the naan game, get yourself your favourite to soak up your curry sauce and dips. I’m a sucker for a peshwari naan paired with a spicy curry, winning combo if you ask me (I’m sure you didn’t ask). Should mention that a friend used to drive from Sussex just to stock up on their lamb samosas which they would store in their freezer for a rainy day. Basically, get the lamb samosas, you won’t regret it.
Top tip: It’s bring your own booze, need I say anymore, but I will. Pop to the newsagent across the road for cold beers, or Aldi next door for some vino tinto and you’re laughing at £1 per head cover charge.
Find them here.
And so we come to the end of Tooting’s finest eateries (as voted for by me). In a few months’ time I hope to hear of a mass migration to South London to try these delights as the world slowly shifts back to some sort of normality – here’s hoping.