• By Ellen O'Riordan on Mar 17, 2016

Best South London Parks With Cafes

When one thinks of a park cafe, one might picture a small kiosk brandishing polystyrene cups of instant coffee which will fulfill its purpose as a hand warmer, but not as an enjoyable beverage meant for consumption.  You will fail to be wowed by the menu of stodgy packaged flapjacks, cheese and onion crisps and mars bars.  Enter South London's impressive selection of fully functioning cafes offering quality teas, coffees, extensive and wholesome food, and if a flapjack is on the menu, you can be sure it was made fresh, with quality oats and lots of love.

Brockwell Park, Dulwich

The Lido Cafe is a stunning eatery and a trip in itself, but it is also the perfect way to end a walk around the park.  It decor is light and airy, with white furnishings, bamboo fencing and indoor plants creating an earthy and chilled vibe.  It has an eclectic and nutritious menu serving homemade burgers, wholesome open top sandwiches, fresh smoothies and coffees.  It also caters to children and has a separate breakfast menu; featuring blueberry buttermilk pancakes, lunch menu and a sophisticated dinner menu.  Alternatively, pop in just for a flavorful coffee and a devilishly good slice of cake.  The cafe is a popular spot, so booking ahead of time is advised.


Peckham Rye Park and Common, Peckham

This cafe is a gem, even for its bookish title alone; Cafe on the Rye.  The busy cafe uses fresh and locally sourced ingredients to create their slightly quirky menu.  They serve ciabatta sandwiches as well as wraps, burgers, salads and pastries.   The real treat here is their signature “Rye Fry”; an English breakfast with a local twist.  Make sure you arrive on an empty stomach to be sure of finishing it!  They have daily specials and dangerously tasty sweet treats such as fruity flapjacks and an almond and polenta cake.  The cafe is child-friendly and offers a separate kids menu.


Wandsworth Common

The Skylark Cafe in Wandsworth Common is a breath of fresh air, providing mouthfuls of delight and a revitalising view and atmosphere.  The cafe has only recently replaced the dingier 'Common Ground', with the new owners injecting life, flair and scrumptious bakes into the tired old joint.  The ingredients are locally sourced and their cakes and ice-creams are baked down the road by a local bakery.  The Skylark can be found amidst the leafy park, overlooking the tennis courts, bowling greens and playground.  The cafe invites anyone and everyone from families to pets, to knackered cyclists.  The downside to this sweet cafe is their opening hours, shutting their doors at 5.30pm each day.  Still for an afternoon spot of coffee and lunch this is a great spot.

Dulwich Park

The Pavilion Cafe sits elegantly on the tree line overlooking one of Dulwich Park's open field areas.  The menu is pretty standard, but you can rely on classic dishes such as a tuna Nicoise salad and daily soups.  They do offer special dietary alternatives such as gluten-free and vegan items and the meat and fish are locally sourced.  The service can be a bit slow as the cafe is nearly always crammed with families who love the welcoming, community vibe.


Kennington Park

Nestled in the centre of Kennington Park is a quaint little cafe, which arguably makes one of the meanest 'park paninis' (yes there's an official league table) in London, possibly in the world.  There's a small inside area, but really the outside wooden terrace, with views of the picturesque surroundings, is where you want to be sipping your latte.  The coffee is pretty good, but the real highlight here is the delicious homemade ice cream. 


Vauxhall Park

Vauxhall Park is a Green Flag award-winning park with nearly nine acres of picturesque greenery.  'Parco' is of course an Italian cafe, serving classic "Mama" dishes such as lasagnia, calzone, ciabattas and miestrone soupds.  It is a petite but modern venue with comfy sofas, high stools and leafy terraces so you can enjoy your food outside.  Dessert does not dissappoint and the selection of ice-creams and coffees would satisfy even the most Italian of tastebuds.


Local venues

Pyners Close Playing Fields

Dulwich Common Dulwich West Dulwich South London SE21 7HA

Old Alleynian Rugby Club

Dulwich Common West Dulwich Dulwich South London SE21 7HA

View more venues

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