Since Franco Manco opened its first pizzeria in Brixton Market in 2008, the team has championed slow-rising sourdough pizza and well-sourced seasonal ingredients from small suppliers. Now the company has dozens of sites across the UK, including this relative newcomer to Tooting Market, which is houses in a double-height stall. All dough is made fresh on site, specials change daily, and prices start at just £5.20, making it a great spot for groups or a family meal out. An all-Italian wine list is filled with bottles from Piedmont, Abruzzo and Sicily, from vineyards that follow organic or biodynamic processes.
With sites in Elephant & Castle, Herne Hill, Brixton and now Tooting, Koi Ramen is the place to head to for a traditional Japanese experience. This petite ramen bar serves a neat selection of Asian dishes, such as chicken gyoza and matcha ice-cream in an informal setting. We love the sound of 12-hour hakata-style tonkotsu, served with fresh egg noodles, 10-hour slow-cooked pork belly slices, black kikurage mushrooms, sliced spring onions and nitamago soy sauce-marinated eggs.
V Belly serves delicious vegan, plant-based cuisine. An inventive menu starts off with smaller dishes such as ‘shroom bombs’ (wild mushroom arancini with creamy cashew and garlic dip) before moving onto ‘Belly Thumpers’ such as a very convincing ‘Fillet o’ Phish’ (beer battered celeriac with cheez, iceberg, gherkin, mayo and a glazed bun) and a tasty ‘Vebab’ (a spiced seitan kebab wrap with pickled cabbage, salad, chilli and garlic sauce). If you eat a plant-based diet – or are keen to try meat replacements such as seitan – this is a great place to start.
Poptata’s first site was in a makeshift gazebo on Portobello Road Market in summer 2015. Its loaded chips – all served with a variety of sauces and toppings – quickly grew in popularity, popping up at festivals all over the country. At the team’s site in Tooting Market, the kitchen cuts its chips by hands and fries them twice at different temperatures to create a crunchy exterior and fluffy, well-flavoured interior. A range of signature dips and sauces include parmesan and pink garlic mayo; smashed avocado, halloumi and mild spicy sauce; and ‘Portobello’ – French sweet mustard mixed with caramelised onions.
Unwined is a pair of quirky wine bars in Tooting and Waterloo. Featuring a large selection of wine from female winemakers, this is a great place to try a glass of bottle of red, white, pink or orange wine, many of which are vegan and made sustainably. Feeling peckish? Small plates on offer include the likes of burrata with Tuscan olive oil and sourdough; a selection of fennel salami, Monmouthshire air-dried bresaola, lamb & lemon merguez salami, and Monmouthshire air-dried coppa with pickles and bread; and a cheese board. Keep an eye out for its regular tasting events.
Graveney Gin Bar
In a corner of Tooting Market, you’ll find a nano bar and shop looked after by local distillery Graveney Gin. G&Ts start from £6 and include the tonic and garnish of your choice. If you’re a large group and all fancy drinking the same gin, the team’s ‘Drink in Bottle’ gives you a bottle of gin and unlimited tonic for £58. Gin-based cocktails on offer include martinis, negronis, French 75s and espresso martinis.
Green Choy is all about Korean fusion cuisine. With a focus on sustainability, the team – which has kitchens in Tooting Market and Peckham Levels – serves the likes of crispy tofu bibimbap with steamed rice, homemade pickle vegetables, kimchi and a fried egg; a bulgogi mushroom burger with pickles and mayo; a tiger prawn and scallop burger; and Korean fried chicken and waffles. A large cocktail list includes plenty of soju, a Korean spirit. We like the sound of the soju, cucumber and mint mojito.
Meza is a popular lunchtime spot that sells tasty Lebanese dishes. Centred round a huge grill, the team specialises on charred meat such as shawarma and spicy lamb sausages, and freshly made, crispy falafel. Alongside wraps and salad boxes, sides such as halloumi, hummus, grilled aubergine and moutabal – a delicious aubergine and tahini dip – keep things fresh. We love the sound of the beetroot falafel salad box, which comes with shredded veg, pickles and a choice of sauces.
For excellent cold-pressed juices and vegan dishes, Get Juiced is the place to visit. A really popular spot with locals, the juice bar was opened by owner Leon in 2014. Serving cold-pressed juices, salads, vegan cakes and juice cleanses, everything is made to order. When it comes to juices, we love the ‘Lean & Green’, a juice filled with spinach, kale, celery, cucumber, ginger and key lime. Come weekend brunch, the menu features the likes of acai breakfast bowls, avocado and buckwheat pancakes and raw ‘snickers’ bars.
Ding Ding Kitchen
This Hong Kong street-food stall is a favourite with Tooting locals and was one of SL’s top spots when we went on a recent tour around the market. Dedicated to Hong Kong cuisine, the team likes to make its dishes slightly different by adding a British twist – think its bestseller, the ‘Pud-ding-dings’: roasted crispy duck, horseradish and crème fraiche served in a mini Yorkshire pudding. Elsewhere, the same moreish crispy duck comes in a wrap, in a fried noodle salad and in a curry rice salad bowl.
This Australian-style café has sites in Tooting, Balham, Clapham and Streatham. The team serves quality coffee, brunch and offers full table service on a first come, first served basis. When it comes to food, we love the sound of the ‘Native’ (pan-fried mushrooms, spinach and pine nuts with a poached egg and ricotta on toast) and the toasted brioche with caramelised banana, maple bacon, strawberries and compote. In a corner of the colourful market, this popular spot is also open every Friday and Saturday night for beers, cocktails and private parties.
21-23 Tooting High Street, Tooting, SW17 0SN