Things to do in Brixton Village
In the first of a new series devoted to discovering London's local neighbourhoods, Michèle Fajtmann lines up cool things to do in Brixton
Brixton’s days as a war-torn inner city slum are long gone. Over thirty years after the infamous riots, it has become a neighbourhood full of authenticity, diversity and creativity which can be reached in less than 10 minutes from Green Park on the Victoria Line.
A shopping mecca in the 1900s, it still enjoys the presence of beautiful Victorian buildings. The recent discovery of Van Gogh’s 1873 sojourn in a Georgian terraced house in the area, highlighted through Artangel's current installation, may attract more visitors to Brixton. But one thing is certain; the capital’s foodies have already labeled the area as one of the most vibrant and exciting food scenes in London. With the recent launch of Recipes from Brixton Village written by the Brixton Blog’s food editor, Miss South, the atmosphere in the village is electric (we are not far from Electric Lane, the first market street in London lit by electricity in the 1880s).
The two main indoor markets: Brixton Village, formerly Granville Arcade, a 1930s market arcade (entrances through Atlantic Road, Coldharbour Lane and Pope’s Road) and Market Row both offer an amazing range of cafés, restaurants, food shops and eclectic design and clothing shops. Around this area, some food shops already present in Borough Market have opened a second shop there as well. One example is Brindisa, a well-known Spanish food shop with a jamon counter which has opened a branch at 41-43 Atlantic Road. Hear about the best restaurants Brixton has to offer.
Cool things to do in Brixton
In Brixton’s main square:
The Ritzy Picturehouse
This independent art house cinema is located in a Victorian building on the main square, named Windrush Square in commemoration of the first wave of immigrants who arrived from Jamaica in 1948 at Tilbury Docks on a boat called ‘the Empire Windrush’. There is a great outdoor terrace, which is the place to be on a sunny day. Guests can share a tapas board and contemplate the bust of Sir Henry Tate on the square. Upstairs at the Ritzy is a bar with live music. In June of this year, a new African-Caribbean Heritage centre will open on the square, which will surely attract many visitors who want to learn more about this important community. This is one of Brixton's top cinemas.
In Brixton Village:
Opened by former staff of Ottolenghi and Honey & Co, this café displays its handmade cakes on a clever suspended cake stand in the window. They have great fresh juice and offer freshly-made dishes for lunch, such as empanadas with sweet potatoes, red beans and coriander. In the evening they have cocktails and live music, starring regular guest DJs.
This Japanese restaurant offers Osakan street food. They make fabulous okonomiyaki, a Japanese savoury pancake with squid or a combination of cheese and sweet corn. They are topped with Japanese mayonnaise, green seaweed and bonito flakes. They have wooden tables both inside and outside.
Rose & Thorn
This cute store was born from a collaboration between Dynasty Jewellery, who sell a range of jewellery with all sorts of butterfly motifs, and Anami & Janine, the creators of a range of vintage-inspired dresses.
In Brixton’s Market Row:
This deli/café was set up by Bridget and Giuseppe, the founders of Franco Manca, a famous pizzeria located close by. They serve a delicious range of sandwiches, freshly baked pastries and bread. The sourdough bread is amazingly crispy.
Beyond Brixton’s main square:
This restaurant is owned by Marlene and Lawrence, a charismatic couple, and is a must for those who want to explore Caribbean specialities. The food is made of fresh ingredients that can be found in the outdoor market nearby. We had a tasting for our party of 12 and it was a quintessentially Caribbean feast with dishes such as fried sweet plantains, Chicken Pelau, Frituras de Bacalao, Jamaican chickpeas, coconut and corn fritters.
Michèle Fajtmann was born in Belgium and has lived in Brussels, New York, Warsaw and London. She is a lawyer and founder of From My City, a boutique event management and advisory company that creates unique tailor-made networking experiences and events focusing on arts and culture.
‘London is ever-changing,' says Michèle, 'and it is fascinating to explore neighbourhoods that are going through rapid change. As city “curators”, we often get inspired by the unexpected and would love to give others the chance to be as excited as we are by these discoveries. All of our events are guided and animated by creative experts (writers, artists, musicians, etc.). For details of the discovery tours we offer, go to www.frommycity.com.’