rguably South London’s most diverse neighbourhood, SE8 is changing. Its new identity is bound up in the thriving food and cafe scene, as well as the emerging shift towards all things meat and dairy free: and I should know – I’m a local. Welcome to vegan Deptford.
Firstly, the effortlessly trendy Deptford Does Art is the daytime place to head to for a vast selection of vegan teas, coffees and lighter snacks. Originally conceived as an art space, cafe and retail environment owners, husband and wife team Dan and Zuzana dialled up the vegan options on the menu when they themselves embraced a healthy eating lifestyle. Now, you can sip your iced superfood latte and treat yourself to a sweet piña colada square entirely guilt-free. All while being surrounded by a curated selection of local artists’ work, whose pieces are available to buy. Come evening, the cafe turns into a dimly lit chillout bar where you can swap chai teas for expertly and ethically crafted cocktails.Just a stone’s throw from the High Street, The Full Nelson is a compact bar and restaurant with a distinct New York vibe. Customers come from far and wide to enjoy #plantbased junk food delights such as Dagwood Corn Dog, Seitanic Wings and the Colonel Burger. Everything on offer is vegetarian with a vegan option available on request; and customers can wash it all down with a a Peanut Butter & Oreo Shake, supercharged with a shot of Bourbon if they feel so inclined.
Midway up Deptford High Street on Douglas Way is Hullabaloo offering Indian street food. The brain-child of vegetarian chef Baloo, born in Punjab, India, the menu is entirely meat-free and the flavours are unmistakably authentic Indian. This is an intimate restaurant that casually spills out onto the street and welcomes you to BYOB. We recommend the chef’s speciality tofu Goan curry, with a tomato base, mild coconut sauce and expertly tempered with mustard seeds and curry leaves. Cool your tastebuds with a reasonably priced bottle of beer and make plans to return and try something else from the diverse menu.
Around the corner you can’t fail to miss the newly developed Deptford Market Yard by Deptford Railway station. This cobbled square has been a foodie destination since it opened but recently graduated – at least, in my mind – to foodie paradise with the addition of the Deptford Bites Saturday market. Stallholders appealing to a sweet tooth include the Vegan Market Garden selling a wide variety of baked goods, Morish Jems specialising in vegan brownies to die for and Fava offering artisan vegan clean chocolates. Rowena from Morish Jems switches up her offering as the seasons change and teased that Christmas Baileys Brownies were just a few months away.If you prefer to sit down and eat something substantial and savoury, Dirty Apron is one of Deptford Market Yard’s permanent residents inhabiting a Grade II-listed arch. They offer a wonderful Tofu Scramble, served with a divine sourdough, that bursts with portobello mushrooms, avocado, peppers and onions. Sit al fresco and watch the vibrant market bustle before you, or get cosy in the intimate interior with all the action of the kitchen to entertain you. Chef and owner Suzie Pennington offers the occasional vegan nights throughout the year which should not be missed by anyone keen to expand their culinary experiences.
Finally? Honourable mentions have to go to the Amber Tea House which is the place to go for a vegan full English fry-up, Deli X for all the healthiest options to eat in or take home to cook up yourself and The Waiting Room which has just moved to larger premises and promises even more delightful plant-focused options.
Main image: Deptford Bites, Deptford Market Yard