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Shortlist: 8 Must-Try Balham Restaurants That Locals Love!

Balham places a strong emphasis on community and this sense of community is definitely reflected in the way restaurants in Balham choose to operate. The eateries here are more than just food – they’re packed with experiences and ooze London charm.

Whether you are in Balham for the Hildreth Street Market, in the surrounding area of Wandsworth, or are just looking to immerse yourself in Balham’s impressive cultural scene; the streets of Balham are packed with restaurants for you to choose from.

As we know this part of London well, we’ve made things a little easier for you by putting together a list of our favorite Balham restaurants – expect a variety of cuisines­ and many exciting community events!

Chef plating food
Photo for illustrative purposes only: Unsplash+

The Eight Best Balham Restaurants For Food, Fun & Entertainment

1. Balham Bowls Club: The Best Pub in Balham

Just around the corner from Balham Station, Balham Bowls Club (or BBC as its known) is the perfect place in Balham for a sense of nostalgia and down-to-earth vibes. The labyrinth-like floor plan, the vintage décor, and the smell of craft beer and real ale as soon as you walk in, will make you fall in love with this Balham institution. With its lush beer garden, community-orientated restaurant, and two bars, this iconic Balham pub is a fun place to spend an afternoon or evening.

The most talked about item on the bar menu is definitely the homemade, enormous sausage roll. But we recommend heading over to the restaurant and trying the perfectly cooked lamb fillet with its refreshing tzatziki sauce and the creamy pea risotto. This may be a pub, but they can certainly turn on the style in the kitchen.

Join them for a quiz night every second Tuesday of the month in the upstairs 1950s ballroom hosted by an amazing quiz master or come back again on Sundays with your family or dog (yes this place is dog friendly!)for a glorious roast in the garden – it’s probably the best Sunday roast in London. The Sunday menu is an elevated take on that English classic, so expect melt-in-your-mouth pork belly, roasted potatoes cooked in duck fat, as well as a surprising number of vegan options.

Join the BBC bar any day of the week from 4 pm to 11pm and don’t forget to partake in the occasional karaoke night with the famous Fran!

If you’re looking for good times and even better food, the BBC is one of the best Balham restaurants for you!

Address: 7-9 Ramsden Rd, London

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2. Bucci: The Best Italian Restaurant in Balham

Balham’s oldest and brightest. This eatery serves the most authentic Italian cuisine in Balham, so trust us, you won’t be disappointed.

Bucci’s interior is very old-school Italian with dark wood furniture and a plethora of framed pictures on the wall. We suggest starting off with a glass of Prosecco, followed by some prosciutto and melon.

For the main course, the spaghetti carbonara is a popular choice. The pasta is al dente and the carbonara sauce is creamy, but not too heavy. Another notable item is the cannelloni. Filled with the most perfectly seasoned minced beef, drowning in bechamel sauce, and then topped with an obligatory cheese crust. But be careful while ordering because the food portions are huge! And after you’ve licked your plate clean, the servers may even bring you some limoncello on the house. Service like that is always going to be a hit with us.

Bucci is not only the best Italian restaurant in Balham, it is also easy on the wallet as we’ve found their dishes to be very affordable. So, you don’t have to break the bank in order to taste impeccable Italian cuisine – that’s why Bucci is such a favorite amongst locals.

They are closed on Mondays, but open from 5pm-10pm on Tuesdays-Fridays, 12:30 pm-3pm on Saturdays, and 5 pm-10:30 pm on Sundays.

Address: 195 Balham High Rd, London

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3. The Exhibit: The Community Mainstay of Balham

This is the entertainment hub of Balham. if you are looking for a place to party or just have a good time, The Exhibit is the way to go. It’s a restaurant, a bar, a comedy club, and an art studio all at once. This is a place with a lot of personality, and you’re going to feel that as soon as you walk through the doors.

Every Tuesday night is quiz night, and every Wednesday night is a comedy night with Suzie Pierce and guests. Not a comedy fan? No worries, they also have a life drawing class every Wednesday, while every Friday, the resident DJs bang out the tunes until 2 am. On some Sundays, there is even a brunch where you learn life drawing – talk about unique.

The Exhibit also offers bottomless brunches for £29.50, and a cocktail masterclass with the head bartender where you can learn to mix, shake, and stir your drinks. This is a place where you can never get bored.

For food, the menu is very American diner style. The most popular items on the brunch/lunch menu are the eggs benedict and the buttermilk chicken burger. But let’s be honest, you don’t go to The Exhibit for just the food; you go there for the experience. There is also a very good plant-based burger on the menu for our vegan and vegetarian friends.

For the dinner menu, the spicy jackfruit tacos are quite unconventional but magnificent. And before we forget, you can turn your dinner bottomless as well for an additional £22. There is ample seating inside each of the three floors, and there’s even outside seating on the patio.

The Exhibit is open from 4pm-12am on Wednesdays and Thursdays, 4pm-2am on Fridays, 12pm-2am on Saturdays, and 12pm-10pm on Sundays.

Address: 12 Balham Station Rd, London  

Eggs benedict breakfast
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4. Brickwood Coffee & Bread: The Best Breakfast in Balham

If you are strolling around Hildreth Street, don’t forget to check-out Brickwood for the best breakfast in Balham. Brickwood is an absolute hit with coffee connoisseurs, and no wonder too. They get their coffee from Origin Coffee Roasters, a sustainably sourced, specialty coffee brand.

Be sure to visit early in the day because there can be long queues, especially at the weekend. They can quickly run out of their heavenly banana bread – which has a delectable blueberry compote, vanilla mascarpone, and pistachios – pretty quickly too­­. At least you always know a place is worth visiting when items sell out fast. Another sweet breakfast item well worth trying is the Blueberry Buttermilk Pancakes which consists of vanilla mascarpone, summer berry compote, maple syrup and omega seeds.

And if you are not a sweet breakfast type of person, we recommend trying their smashed avocado. It’s basically, you guessed it, a smashed avocado on freshly baked sourdough bread sprinkled with Himalayan chili salt – and you can add a poached egg for a little extra.

As an added bonus, Brickwood has one of the most vegan friendly menus in Balham too. Most food items are actually vegetarian or vegan, but can be made carnivorous with add-ons.

This laid-back café with its modern interior and sage green palate is open from 7:30 am Monday-Friday, and 8 am at the weekends.

Address: 11 Hildreth St, London

Berry pancakes display
Photo for illustrative purposes only: Aliyeva

5. Balham Social: The Best Indian Restaurant in Balham

This up-scale Indian restaurant is a welcome addition to Balham and is not your stereotypical Indian curry house. The décor is chic and Insta-worthy and you will always catch people trying to find the perfect spot, which tends to be under the ceiling adorned with pink flowers, so they can grab the best picture.

If it’s your first time visiting then try the Dahi Puri- it’s loads of flavour in your mouth; spicy, tangy with a crispy shell. The Laal Maas is a spicy Rajasthani Lamb Curry that will blow your socks off too. The lamb is marinated in a bunch of spices and is cooked to perfection – each bite makes you want to break out into a song.

A fantastic vegan option is the Chana Masala. It has spicy chickpeas, onions, and tomatoes. The chickpeas are soft, but not mushy, and the dish itself is very refreshing and quite filling.

Balham Social also has one of the best espresso martinis we’ve ever tried. It may not be the best pairing with spicy food, but it is utterly delicious and worth ordering.

At the time of writing Balham Social didn’t have a wide selection of desserts, just two options, the Gulab Jamun and Chocolate Fondant. We suggest trying the Gulab Jamun to complete the Indian food experience. The Gulab Jamun are dense (as they should be) and drenched in golden-sugary syrup that looks and tastes otherworldly.  

It gets even better as Balham Social holds a music night every Saturday! You can get your Instagram pictures under the flower covered ceiling every day from 4pm-11:30pm on Mondays, and 12pm-11:30pm every other day. This may just be the best Indian restaurant in London.

Address: 2, Station Parade, Balham High Rd

Indian food display
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6. 1910: The Best Mexican Restaurant in Balham

Named after the year of the Mexican Revolution, 1910 is an ode to the owners’ Mexican ancestry. This restaurant has amazing, authentic Mexican food and a variety of tequila infused drinks. The ambiance is warm and inviting with reggaeton music playing in the background and a tempting selection of mezcal proudly displayed behind the bar.

Authentic Mexican food has fresh, in-season ingredients and that’s exactly what you’ll get here. It is simple; it is spicy, and 1910’s menu is all of this and more.

Starting with the guacamole and chips, the chips are salty, crispy, and the guacamole is just *chef’s kiss*. The tacos are obviously fantastic, but the baja fish tacos are the real standout. The mild flavour of the fish, with the spiciness of the chipotle aioli and the tanginess of the lemon dressing, will make you shout Viva la Revolucion!

Amongst the quesadillas, the chorizo quesadillas are a pleasant surprise. The combination of chorizo, cheese and salsa verde is unique, yet mesmerizing.

Now let’s talk about the drinks, ‘Tommy’s Margarita’ with the addition of agave syrup makes the drink taste ten times better than a regular margarita with Cointreau. You can add some jalapeno or some coriander in the drink if you want, to give it a little kick. If you enjoy fruity and summery drinks, try the pepino fresco with the watermelon tequila.

The staff goes all out on Mexican holidays such as the Day of the Dead, Independence Day, and the Revolution Day, so it’s well worth heading to 1910 on those dates in particular.

You can indulgence in delightful Mexican food from 5pm-11pm on Monday-Thursday, 5pm-11:30pm on Fridays, 1pm-12:30pm on Saturdays, and 1pm-10:30pm on Sundays. Simply put, this is easily one of the best restaurants in Balham.

Address: 3 Ramsden Rd, London

Mexican food display
Photo for illustrative purposes only: Castillo Ramirez

7. Chez Bruce: Dining Michelin Star Style

A high-end French restaurant, Chez Bruce opened its doors in 1995 and has earned itself a Michelin Star under the leadership of Bruce Poole. The interior of this restaurant is minimalist and ensures the food remains the focus of attention throughout, and mean you can’t get distracted by the surrounding hoopla. Now, Chez Bruce is technically in Wandsworth Common, but Balham locals don’t like to talk about that….

They may have a Michelin Star but the menu isn’t pretentious and thankfully doesn’t require you to be proficient in French. The head sommelier, Victor Barre, is extremely charming and knowledgeable too, so pick his brain for the best wine to go with your food.

They will start you off with complementary parmesan crackers, and then there are several tempting choices on the menu for the three-course meal.

For starters, the lobster and scallop ravioli in the slightly umami tasting bisque sauce is absolutely divine. For the main course, there are plenty of delicious options, but we think you need to try the Chateaubriand. The meat is delicate and served with a glass of red, suggested by the sommelier, making for a perfect meal. And last, for dessert, you can’t go wrong with a crème brûlée at a Michelin Star restaurant!

Chez Bruce is open from 12pm-2pm for lunch, and 6pm-9:30pm for dinner on Tuesdays-Sunday. This isn’t just one of the best restaurants in Balham, but one of the best in London, so a reservation is required. However you can do that online by going to their website.

Address: 2 Bellevue Rd, London

Chef adding drizzle to fine dining plate
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8. Firefly Bar and Thai Kitchen – Excellent Thai Cuisine & Craft Beers

Whenever we want to try something new food wise, Thai food is always first on our list. And if you are on that same journey, maybe you should try Firefly!

This establishment looks like any regular gastropub when you first walk in, but as you pass the bar, there is a cozy little dining area where the best Thai food in Balham is served.

The chicken satay, in particular, goes great with their wide selection of craft beers.Tthe green curry has an exquisite coconut flavour and has Thai aubergines. You can make that curry vegan by requesting soy meat.

And you can’t leave this Thai restaurant without trying their noodles. The pad Thai, with the rice noodles and egg, bean sprouts, spring onions and ground peanuts, is as good as it can get. The tom yum noodles, suspended in a magical, flavourful broth, will put you in a food coma too.

Aside from the food, Firefly has an interesting selection of cocktails. Such as the ‘Berried Alive’ vodka cocktail and the ‘Pornstar Martini’ which is on tap and just keeps flowing. They also show major sporting events on the big screen here, so if you’re looking for good food and drinks, alongside sport, this is one of the best Balham restaurants for you.

This underrated gem is a strange combination of craft beers, sporting events, and authentic Thai cuisine – but that’s exactly why it’s worth visiting. Their kitchen is open from 5pm-10pm on Mondays-Wednesdays, and 12pm-10pm on Thursdays to Sundays. 

Address: Station Parade, Balham High Rd, London

Thai food display
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The Best Balham Restaurants: Our Final Thoughts

Balham might not be as famous as its surrounding suburbs, but when it comes to entertainment and food, we think Balham outshines these areas.

While Balham retains its Victoria charm, the restaurants in Balham bring this suburb into the 21st century. We hope that we have shown you how incredible Balham and its eateries are and that you will eagerly visit any one of these establishments if you find yourself in Balham!

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