Ready to explore Balham? Follow our Balham taxi driver’s guide to the area for a real insight into the best places to sink a pint, grab a cocktail or dine out in this fashionable corner of south London. There are no prizes for guessing what the key demographic in “Baby Boom Balham” is. But that’s not to say it’s all prams and pushchairs round here. There are also plenty of young professionals and grown-up Londoners who came seeking a slightly quieter life than in nearby Clapham. Balham benefits from two key advantages which make it a highly desirable place to not only live, but also to visit. First of all – the holy grail to all London locations – it has a tube station. Secondly, if you take a look at Balham on a map, you’ll notice it’s completely surrounded by three large parks: Tooting Commons to the south, Clapham to its north and Wandsworth to its west. So not only can you get into central London in a brisk twenty minutes, you can also choose from one of these three wide open spaces to get your nature fix too. From the friendly local pubs like Balham Bowls Club and the Devonshire through to the quaint walkway of Hildreth St and its many boutique shops and cafes; Balham has a lot to offer the curious visitor. Addison Lee have been providing the capital with a service Londoners can trust since 1975. In that time we’ve come to realise that accountability is as important reliability. Which is why we endeavour to guarantee our cars aren’t just on time, but also always at the price we quoted you. Meaning no ‘surge charges’ ever. Follow our Balham taxi driver’s guide to unravel the best bits this cosmopolitan corner of south London has to offer.
Where to drink
Balham Bowls Club
Probably the coolest pub in Balham, the BBC is a pub very much in the mould of a working men’s club. If it had been through a bit of a makeover. Whether it’s the tall, dark rooms, the comfy leather seats or the shabby little bar. Somehow the BBC manages to stay relevant and inviting all at once. The ales are constantly on the change to satisfy the beer drinkers, while the food menu also makes for great reading. A list of dishes to share or eat alone, as well as some enviable Sunday Roast choices. Seating both at the front and in its relatively large back garden give plenty of room for weekend drinkers to roll out into the sunshine if the weather allows. Special mention should go to the bar staff who always seem to be having fun.
7-9 Ramsden Rd, SW12 8QX
A bit more of a ‘pub pub’ than the BBC, if you get what we mean? When you first enter the Devonshire, past the modest terrace at its front, you get the idea this is going to be a quirky little pub with room for standing and not much more. The kind of place where old men come to congregate and grumble. But then you notice the bar stretches right through the back into a larger room with ample seating and an open kitchen. Go yet farther back and you’ll find the garden. Loads of big tables and plenty of seating are accompanied by a grill and rib shack. Arguably Balham’s best pub garden.
39 Balham High Rd, SW12 9AN
Stand outside the Balham Arms and you’ll soon get the gist of what they’re about. Printed in large letters are the words ‘pizza and pints’. And yes, it would seem that the Balham Arms has the market cornered on the best possible combination of those two best possible ingredients. They have a large selection of ales – craft and otherwise – ready for you to swill on. Not to mention some rather decent wines as well. And the pizzas all come in under £10 making them the perfect companion for all that thirsty work. The interior seems a little confused; sitting somewhere between lively townhouse and retro chic. But it just contributes to an energetic and youthful feel so it’s not all bad.
90-92 Balham High Rd, SW12 9AG
Where to eat
The Chicken Shop
OK, so the name isn’t all that inspiring. But let’s put that down to a spot of trendy minimalism and move past it. Because when you do eventually chow down in Balham’s Chicken Shop, you’ll realise all the effort here has gone into making the chicken as delicious as humanly possible. Owned by the guys behind Soho House, this awesome little chicken shack serves up its grilled chicken in a heavenly marinade and a choice of sauces. Go for a quarter, half or whole and then add some sides (coleslaw, fries or corn on the cob) and you’re set. The emphasis here is on group eating which is presumably why beers come served in hearty pitchers where needed.
7A Chestnut Grove, SW12 8JA
As younger brother (or is it sister?) to the massively popular Hawksmoor restaurants, Foxlow was always going to be a hit. Picking up where the Hawksmoor left off; steaks, burgers, fish and other hearty dishes are at the core of what these guys do best. The menu never overstretches itself so all the ingredients are allowed ample room to mingle easily with one another. The restaurant itself sits just around the corner from trendy Hildreth St. But its large glass windowed front make it an attraction in its own right. If you’ve got time, check out the basement bar The Owl too. The drinks and ambience are on another level to anything around here.
15-19 Bedford Hill, SW12 9EX
Long the favourite of every trendy Balham breakfast goer, Milk has recently seen its popularity rivaled by newer contenders on idyllic Hildreth St. For our money though there’s still no better place to get your breakfast, brunch or lunch in Balham. Every ingredient here feels like it’s been hand selected by Nordic angels for your pleasure. But even when it’s at its most achingly hip, Milk is still a fabulous place to eat and drink. The food ranges from standard breakfasts to things you’ve neither eaten before nor even heard of. But venture a while into the dark minds of these gastronomic geniuses and you’ll uncover a menu well worth exploring.
20 Bedford Hill, SW12 9RG
What to do
Hildreth St Market
We’ve chatted already about the merits of Hildreth St. A lovely little cobbled area that was pedestrianised not long ago to allow its boutique cafes and shops the space to branch out into the road. And while those shops deserve mention on their own, the market which comes by once a week is also worthy of a visit. There’s not too much to it, in that its stalls are quite limited but just to see the florist spanning out like a geometric labyrinth is, for us, a good enough reason to swing by.
Don’t you just love it when a great bar or restaurant decides to screen new movies in their boutique cinema space – complete with luxury sofa style seating? Balham’s favourite little cinema, gallery and events space also has one of the area’s best loved restaurants and bars. Serving a bottomless brunch every weekend, throwing parties every Friday and Saturday night. They also host gigs and comedy nights and have an excellent roof terrace. Which is mandatory in south London these days. Easily one of the most exciting places to visit in Balham.
12 Balham Station Rd, SW12 9SG
With no less than three major parks within spitting distance of Balham, you’d be crazy not to venture out and stretch those legs. Wandsworth Common to the west offers a lovely little green area with the magnificent Bellevue Rd along its side (ideal for a spot of window shopping or some lunch). Tooting Commons to the south is broken up into little pockets around clusters of woodland, making it a great place to get lost in. While Clapham Common has a more lively scene. With bars and pubs all around it. Take your pick, set your direction and get strolling!