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Blue Jay. Photo: Emma Holmqvist Deacon
Blue Jay. Photo: Emma Holmqvist Deacon

Places

Eat and shop indie-style in David Bowie’s Brixton

David Bowie’s birthplace of Brixton now attracts a gentle influx of independent businesses offering anything from Edwardian clothes to London-brewed craft beer and food cooked with global ingredients from the local market.

David Bowie, or David Robert Jones as he was called originally, left south London at the age of six, yet he’ll always be remembered as a “Brixton boy” by locals. “When the news broke that Bowie had died, everyone came out on to the streets,” said Kate Richards, who runs sustainable fashion store The Keep Boutique in Brixton Village. “Many partied late into the night to pay tribute; the sense of community here is very strong.”

The ethnically diverse area, with its predominantly African and Caribbean community, has changed drastically since the Starman was born there in 1947, and even more so in recent years. Like many areas at the fringes of central London, Brixton is “gentrifying.” Today, most of the ubiquitous British highstreet contenders line Brixton Road (Topshop, Argos, Marks & Spencer), but a healthy crop of independent businesses have also sprung up, mostly within Brixton Village and Market Row, two arcade-style markets brimming with eateries and shops offering anything from African textiles and kitchenware, to salt fish and vintage clothing. The nearby Pop Brixton houses a growing number of food stalls and bars, while the “old” Brixton still thrives in Electric Avenue’s outdoor market.

The young and hip from south London and beyond descend on the area at weekends. Many come to sample the variety of international dishes; Brixton is now mentioned in the same breath as Borough Market, London’s original foodie destination. New restaurants and shops pop up as quickly as others vanish – herein, a cherry picking of Brixton’s diverse offering.

Blue Jay at Cornercopia

Blue Jay at Cornercopia exemplifies much of Brixton’s new homespun food culture. Every dish is prepared singlehandedly by chef and owner Sherri Dymond, who only uses local and seasonal ingredients. She refuses to have her style of cooking pigeonholed and hates waste, so don’t be surprised if Asian cuisine is served one day and British fare the next.

Blue Jay at Cornercopia

Unit 65, Brixton Village, London

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Salon. Photo: Emma Holmqvist Deacon

Salon

Salon has many strings to its hip but relaxed bow. The coffee is good and there is enough London-brewed craft beer to satisfy the most avid connoisseur. Salon’s intimate upstairs restaurant, which is open for lunch and dinner, serves international dishes cooked according to its strict “seasonal and inventive” guidelines.

Salon

18 Market Row, London

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Nanban. Photo: Emma Holmqvist Deacon

Nanban

Pan-Asian restaurant Nanban is the culinary brainchild of chef Tim Anderson. Japanese classics such as ramen and karaage feature on the menu, but the global flavors of Brixton Market also figure. The beers have been developed exclusively for Nanban by different breweries (you’ll notice hints of miso and yuzu in some).

Nanban

426 Coldharbour Lane, London

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Champagne + Fromage. Photo: Emma Holmqvist Deacon

Champagne + Fromage

Pint-size bistro with a rustic French vibe. Serves tartines and charcuterie boards with parmesan ice cream to follow. The Champagne list is extensive, while the shop offers some 30 different cheeses as well as jam, honey and various types of meat products sourced from small French suppliers.

Champagne + Fromage

Unit 10-11, Brixton Village, London

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The Keep Boutique. Photo: Emma Holmqvist Deacon

The Keep Boutique

A contemporary fashion store with sustainable credentials, The Keep Boutique has become a destination for discerning consumers with an aversion to fast fashion. Maska, Goodone and Lowie count among the independent clothing labels on offer, while Matt & Natt provides accessories crafted from cruelty-free, “vegan” leather. There is also a good choice of surprisingly affordable jewelry, courtesy of names such as Hiro + Wolf, Zoe Morton and Sidai Designs.

The Keep Boutique

Unit 32/33, Brixton Village, Coldharbour Lane, London

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Leftovers. Photo: Emma Holmqvist Deacon

Leftovers

Enchanting shop selling true vintage finds predating the 1950s. Owner Margot Waggoner handpicks each garment with meticulous care. On our last visit, Edwardian jackets and embroidered 19th century silk capes hung next to antique long johns and peasant cotton shirts. Add to that a diverse range of accessories, including a selection of embroidered textile purses created in sewing class by French schoolgirls circa 1940.

Leftovers

Unit 71, Brixton Village, London

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Ritzy cinema. Photo: Emma Holmqvist Deacon

Ritzy cinema (and bar/café)

Cult cinema with a laidback, creative atmosphere (a rarity in London today), Ritzy shows art house films as well the odd blockbuster across its five screens. The casually cozy ground floor bar and café welcome even those without a film to catch.

Ritzy cinema (and bar/café)

Coldharbour Lane, London

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Sovereign Loss

The speakeasy Sovereign Loss landed in Brixton at the tail end of 2014. The Art Deco-style bar is known for its vermouth laced cocktails but also offers different varieties of champagne and locally brewed beer. Perched above the Prince of Wales pub, it has its own side entrance marked “Trade”.

Sovereign Loss

469 Brixton Road, London

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