A Guide to Deptford

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Rough 'n' ready Deptford has been generating some buzz recently for the quality openings that have been springing up along the High Street - but if you look closely enough, you'll see the neighbourhood has a long history of sticking its finger up at the Man and attracting renegade types south of the river. We found a tight-knit community and an epidemic of veganism in these ends, plus some of the best grub in the SE post code. Interested? The only thing to do is have it large in the big D, then.
Best for... biking and beaning
Once upon a time, bikes and cafes had nothing to do with one another. What a crazy time that was. These days, the cycle cafe is a Thing, and it’s not going away any time soon. London Velo was at the forefront of the two-wheeled revolution on London’s coffee shop scene, and they remain one of the city’s best spots if you need a caffeine fix with your bike repair.
Best for... a good and proper rummage
When Victorian furniture and porcelain knick knacks die, they go to Aladdin’s Cave for the afterlife. This topsy-turvy junkyard houses discarded homeware that spans all the way back to the 19th century - there’s all manner of things to explore, from opulent fireplaces to Nordic night tables and literally everything in between. Chairs and mannequins hang overhead, making you feel like Alice going down the rabbit hole as you stroll through its ranks of long-forgotten treasures.
Best for... community vibes
This rugged pub is a community stalwart over 34 years young. With a hostel upstairs and a strong focus on live music downstairs, it’s long been a home to lovable waifs and strays. While the pub has retained its distinctly punk vibe, the performances run the gamut from hip hop, to K Pop, to metal and other left field genres that’ll jolt your ear holes. Look out for their Cinema City night, where you can hear SE’s freakiest avant-garde/alternative acts making baffling sounds.
Best for... the meaty stuff (minus the meat)
This vegan pub puts up a tough guy front, but it’s just a big ol’ softie when it really comes down to it. From the same guys behind Deptford mainstay The Waiting Room, The Full Nelson has a similarly animal-free ethos but still serves up artery-clogging fodder that eschews any vegan cliche. The staff may look like they’d wield brass knuckles at any misbehaving patrons, but they’re really cuddly little plush pandas who will happily guide you through your meat-free feast.
Best for... getting lost
Is it a dream? A cinematic mirage? A filmic fantasy? No, Deptford Cinema is real, and we thank the gods of the big screen every day that it exists. Started by a group of volunteers a few years back - many of whom lived in the same building as the cinema - DC is still very much a community affair, completely not-for-profit and frequently hosting events outside the realm of cinema, such as activist meetings and life drawing classes. They show an eclectic mix of arthouse, foreign, and documentary films, all chosen by volunteers or literally anyone who saddles up to the cinema with a programming suggestion.
Best for... Caribbean kickbacks
The vibes are strong at this sunny little slice of Jamaican cool in the arches under Deptford rail station. It grew from one man’s dream to create a relaxed, inclusive bar that paid tribute to his own heritage and the neighbourhood’s Jamaican diaspora; now, local movers and shakers pack the place on a Saturday night, getting loose to r’n’b, soul, reggae, and the occasional live band. When patrons aren’t dutty wine-ing on the dance floor, they’re stuffing their gullets with delicious Jamaican fare and washing it down with some choice bevvies.
Best for... Italian goodness
The people behind Peckham’s best pasta joint, Artusi, have gone and birthed a little food baby on Deptford High Street called Marcella - and it’s a chubby, delicious little Italian baby. But despite its fresh facedness, this laid-back little eatery is seriously self-assured. We scoffed and scarfed plates small and large, all brimming with delightfully uncomplicated flavours. The pork jowl was sweet, salty, and crisp; the artichokes perfectly roasted; the pasta fresher than a mother. In short, this buzzy neighbourhood spot is bang on.
Best for...slurpin' on some pho
You won't find the designery interiors and fusion menus of Shoreditch's Vietnamese restaurants at this authentic Vietnamese cafe. But what you will find are steaming bowls of flagrant pho noodle soup and fresh rice bowls topped with grilled lemongrass pork. It's a popular joint - don't be surprised to find yourself sharing your table with a fellow pho slurper.
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