The debate over Peckham’s best pubs and bars will continue forever.
Peckham is the glittering jewel of south-east London, alcohol is quite nice too, so here are the best places to combine the two. Find rooftop bars, beautiful beer gardens, cocktail dens and brilliant Sunday roasts ahead.
1) Beer Rebellion
For your first stop on your Peckham pub tour, tuck into some craft beer at the essential Beer Rebellion by Queens Road station, where you’ll find over a dozen cask and keg brews on tap and even more crispy boys in the fridge. No food here, but you’re welcome to bring in some takeout from a nearby location. 129 Queens Road, SE15 2ND. More info.
2) Prince of Peckham
The cursed corner of Clayton Road has chewed up many an aspiring publican in recent years, but local hero Clemnent Ogbonnaya seems to have perfected the winning formula. There’s Caribbean-influenced comfort food from the kitchen and a lively mix of parties and events: disco yoga sessions, life drawing classes and grime’n’afrobeats nights are all on the current lineup. A proper modern community pub, then. 1 Clayton Road, SE15 5JA.
3) Frank’s Café
Head up the hot pink stairs to the roof of Peckham’s multi-storey car park and you’ll find Frank’s Café, the biggest rooftop bar in south London. Art installations from Bold Tendencies are dotted about the space, while a modest red canopy provides some shelter when drizzle threatens. Or head downstairs! Bold Tendencies, 7th-10th Floor Multi Storey Car Park, 95A Rye Ln, SE15 4ST. More info.
4) The bars at Peckham Levels
There are a range of traders who’ll happily sell you a beer at Peckham Levels’ street food market, but the centrepiece is the zhushy cocktail counter Near & Far Bar, who also have a massive glitter ball. A short, punchy cocktail from their menu will set you back about £8; alternatively, try organic wines from the West Wine Kitchen, or have a dance at one of Ghost Notes’ free gigs. More info.
5) Bar Story
A local favourite beneath the railway arches of Peckham Rye train station, with a small courtyard out front (and some informal space out back, too, if ‘standing by some bins’ gives you al fresco good vibes.) A Bar Story visit typically involves panic-buying cocktails as their 2-for-1 happy hour closes, then trying to absorb all six whisky sours with an oven-fired pizza. Now that’s living! 213 Blenheim Grove, SE15 4QL. More info.
6) Bussey Rooftop Bar
Waving distance from Frank’s is the more intimate Bussey Rooftop Bar, which sits alongside Rooftop Film Club’s open air cinema. Fifth Floor Roof, Unit B, Bussey Building, 133 Rye Lane, SE15 4ST. More info.
7) CLF Art Café (aka the Bussey Building)
A bar of sorts, but this warehouse space is much better known for its big, boisterous club nights, especially their monthly Soul Train parties. Block A, Bussey Building, 133 Rye Lane, SE15 4ST. See what’s coming up.
8) John the Unicorn
This three-storey boozer is as roomy as its name is cringey, so you can nearly always find somewhere to chill. Locally brewed bottled beers behind the bar, roasts on Sundays – you know the drill. 159 Rye Ln, SE15 4TL. More info.
9) The White Horse
This recently done-up Tudor-ish boozer is positively jumping on a weekend evening when DJs rev things up, but is pictured above at a more peaceful moment. Well-done British pub food is available from the kitchen. 20-22 Peckham Rye,
SE15 4JR. More info.
This late-night Peckham joint has had an influx of hip young sorts in recent years, as the unassuming front room has accommodated a series of inventive club nights, while the regulars still sink pints by the bar with an air of amused detachment. The spacious hall out back thankfully remains dedicated to all things pool, with ten tables to play on; the perfect place to retreat to when you’re all minimal techno’d out. 188 Rye Ln, SE15 4NF. More info.
11) Four Quarters
This late-night cocktail bar put all their internal decor budget into classic arcade games and is frankly all the better for it. You’ll also find club nights and DJs in the basement: otherwise just spend all your quarters (four for a pound) on Time Crisis and pinball. (Don’t miss the upstairs room where you can settle down for games of Goldeneye 64, Mario Kart and other nostalgic classics.) 187 Rye Lane, SE15 4TP. More info.
12) The Rye
This solidly-shiny Metropolitan pub on the corner of Peckham Rye Park boasts a roomy beer garden, reliably good pub grub and a big projector screening sport on the weekends. Personally, I like it! 31 Peckham Rye, SE15 3NX. More info.
13) The Gowlett Arms
This much-loved community pub in Peckham shut its doors temporarily at the end of 2017, but after much garment-rending from locals has come back from the dead, dishing out the same warm hospitality and delicious stonebaked pizzas as it ever did. Hooray! 62 Gowlett Road, SE15 4HY. More info.
14) The Hope
Slightly off the main drag of Peckham High Street, on the juicily named Melon Road, and you’ll find a little bit of Hope. Take the inevitable photo of their big red neon sign then head indoors to enjoy the usual Antic combo of guest ales and decent pub cooking. 3 Melon Road, SE15 5QW. More info.
15) The Victoria Inn
The only Peckham pub that’ll let you sleep over, there’s a boutique hotel upstairs at the Victoria. Locals visit for the London-brewed craft beer on tap and friendly neighbourhood vibes. 77 Choumert Road, SE15 4AR. More info.
16) The Montpelier
This fine pub on Peckham’s Choumert Road also hosts indie film screenings in their tiny back room cinema. 43 Choumert Road, SE15 4AR. More info.
17) The Clock House
Just off the East Dulwich side of Peckham Rye Park is Young’s pub The Clock House. It’s two venues in one: behind a bookcase upstairs you’ll find Blake’s Bar, a hidden snug that hosts all sorts of events, like a Monday night chess club. 196a Peckham Rye, London, SE22 9QA. More info.
18) The Herne
We’re pushing the definition of Peckham by this point, but what they hey: stop by this fine pub on the corner of Peckham Rye Park to discover a properly gorgeous beer garden, perfect for summer days. 2 Forest Hill Rd, SE22 0RR. More info.
19) The Old Nun’s Head
Admittedly we’re getting into Nunhead now, but we’ll squeeze the Old Nun on the list anyway. This great pub off Nunhead Lane hosts a rotating cast of puntastic street food traders (while defaulting to a roast on Sundays, naturally) plus an eclectic mix of events including stand-up comedy, female arm-wrestling, pub quizzes and everything in-between. 15 Nunhead Green, SE15 3QQ. More info.
Also published on Medium.