A stone’s throw from Brixton’s underground station is Brixton Village Market. The covered market is home to a throng of cafes and restaurants serving a range of cuisines from cutesy cupcakes to artisan pizzas. But it hasn’t always been like this.
There has been much debate about the gentrification of Brixton and while the trendy hoards have moved in you can’t help but wonder what local tenants must think and wonder what has happened to some of the previous store holders. But, in truth, there were many units left empty and as the recession was starting to set-in in 2008, Brixton Market was suffering. However, as an area, Brixton was beginning to shake is unjustifiably bad reputation and house prices were beginning to creep up to the levels nearby neighbourhoods had been enjoying.
Encouraged by the changing tides of the public’s perception of Brixton, the market owners enticed entrepreneurs to set up shop, licensing hours were extended and not before long, the Granville Arcade was rebranded as Brixton Village. A wealth of restaurants and cafes moved in and with them came increased rental prices matched by young professionals willing to part with cash. This step change in Brixton Market’s marketing priorities came at the same time the newly refurbished Victoria Line was complete linking Brixton to central London via the fastest and most efficient of the London Underground lines. The result was a Brixton that was now desirable, fashionable and cool.
As someone who loves their food, Brixton Village is a brilliant place with a great variety of restaurants to choose from. It is such a treat to peruse the menus and guestimate the waiting times of the queues of people waiting to get a table in tiny window fronted units. The queues are even longer on warm sunny evenings. But as winter is fast approaching, it is slightly easier to get a spot, especially if you are willing to sit outside with a fleece blanket wrapped around your shoulders.
There are lots on offer and plenty for vegetarians. El Panzon (Mexican), Kaosarn (Thai) and Elephant (Pakistani) to name but a few are all fantastic eateries that are not only great value for money but also have fantastic options for vegetarians. A particularly lovely meal I had recently was a baked aubergine dish at Brixton Village Grill (Portuguese). When my friends suggested we visit a Portuguese restaurant, I was worried the vegetarian choice might be pretty limiting, but I was really impressed with what I ate. There is also a great vegan cafe, Express Cafe, located on Market Row. It should also be mentioned that while many of the restaurants do offer alcohol, most allow BYO drinks with a corkage fee.
So, if you’re in London stuck for what to eat, I would highly recommend heading south to Brixton as the variety and quality of the food on offer is simply outstanding as well as being fantastic value for money.