The up-and-coming South London area is popular for a number of reasons, from its boozy curry houses to its exceptional markets. If you fancy a day out south of the river, here are eight of the best things to do in Tooting.
Tuck into some brunch at MUD Cafe
Located on Mitcham Rd, this cute Aussie-style café is known by locals for its exceptional coffee, brunch menu and freshly-made sandwiches. The menu offers traditional brunch dishes including the likes of avocado, bacon, pancakes, and fresh sourdough bread from the Blackbird Bakery. Overall the vibe is quintessentially Aussie, incredibly laid back, so if you’re looking for a chilled weekend lunch spot, make sure you don’t miss this gem.
Get snap happy at Tooting Bec Lido
Probably one of the most Instagrammable places in South London, Tooting Bec Lido boasts bright traditional-style changing rooms and a fantastic open air swimming pool. If you’re a keen swimmer be sure to pay this spot a visit, especially because it’s the largest pool in the UK (by surface area) at 91.5 metres, which is almost twice the length of an Olympic-size competition pool!
Play retro games at Tooting Tram & Social
If you’re visiting Tooting Tram Social on a Sunday after 5pm, prepare to be taken back in time. The buzzing venue boasts a retro-themed evening every weekend, with a selection of old-school video games, a vinyl takeover and table football matches, amongst many other retro activities. Prepare to be transported back to your childhood and soak up the nostalgia.
Explore the area’s famous markets
Tooting is home to two of the best markets in the city; Broadway Market and Tooting Market, both located just a stone’s throw away from one another. The bustling markets are packed full of food stalls, coffee shops, bars and shops that sell everything you could wish for from old-school vinyl records to comic books. Tooting Market even boasts a tiny distillery of local gin, known as Gaveney Gin, which offers tasting sessions as well as the history of the brand. The famous markets also offer an incredible selection of street food and cuisines from around the world including Chinese, Japanese, Caribbean and American.
Sample Sri Lankan cuisine at Apollo Banana Leaf
Tooting is best known for its budget-priced South Asian restaurants, particularly South Indian, Pakistani, and Sri Lankan. One of the most popular in Tooting is Apollo Banana Leaf, a South Indian and Sri Lankan fusion restaurant that operates a BYOB policy, perfect if you’re looking to save the pennies until payday. Its basic high-street exterior may not scream fine dining but the delicious food has won the hearts of locals.
Satisfy your urge for chicken
Fried chicken lovers rejoice; Tooting is home to the biggest Chicken Cottage in Europe (and quite possible the world). If you love nothing better than sinking your teeth into a box full of crunchy chicken (especially after a night out in South London) make sure you check out this poultry hot-spot. While the well-known chain is in other areas of London and the UK there’s something special about visiting the largest one on offer.
Browse craft beer at Craft Tooting
Run by residents of Tooting for locals, the shop sells beer from large and small breweries as well as specially selected local brewers. The tiny unit, located in Broadway Market, stacks row upon row of craft beer for punters to pick up, buy and try for themselves. Craft Tooting has a very stripped-back feel to it, simply focusing on great quality beer.
Pack a picnic for Tooting Common
If you fancy some fresh air, take a stroll over to Tooting Common. The green space is made up of two areas: Tooting Bec Common (the northern and eastern part of the commons) and Tooting Graveney Common (the southern and western part of the commons). Interestingly for film fanatics, the two commons were featured in the award-winning British independent film Common People in 2013. While the area is known for its bustling markets and shops, Tooting Common offers the perfect escape. Its land even dates back to medieval origins – even more of a reason to check out this South London park.