Much-maligned but full of surprises, artiness and clubland coolness.
Why go there?
To open your mind to the culture, superclubs and unmanicured architecture of an unjustly slated locale. What’s the vibe? In the arches by the Overground station it’s all buzzy Colombian community eateries, airy Chatica (Elephant Road) being the most anglophone-friendly. Arty, left-wing types congregate around the dinky, vintagey Electric Elephant café (Crampton Street). And there are plenty of unreconstructed old-school thrills in East Street Market and the Elephant & Castle Shopping Centre.
That shopping centre?! Isn’t it well manky?
A bit, yeah. But in recent years, it’s become a thriving multicultural community hub. Mamuska! does a great line in slap-up, bargain-basement Polish feeds and on weekend evenings Latino restaurant La Bodeguita turns into a rowdy dancefloor until 4am.
What’s that noise?
Choons, mate. London’s first superclub, Ministry of Sound (Gaunt Street) just won a legal battle to secure its future. The Coronet (New Kent Road) runs late-finish raves that range from old-school garage seshes to fetish parties. If it’s electronica you want, check out Corsica Studios (Elephant Road), one of London’s best arts and music venues.
I could do with a drink.
The Beehive on the corner of Pasley Park (watch out, there are two identically named pubs in the area) is a beautiful community boozer, ideal for a quiet pint. Alternatively, the newly relocated Southwark Playhouse bar (Newington Causeway) is an underused gem. If you’re after something more energetic, try the Old Red Lion on Kennington Park Road – trendy craft beers abound and it puts on everything from folk gigs to rock ’n’ roll nights, attracting a young, cool crowd.
How about something more relaxing?
You need The Home of War aka the Imperial War Museum on Lambeth Road which has a beautiful Tibetan Peace Garden within its grounds. Alternatively, nearby West Square is a cherry tree-filled oasis of calm.
And if I only do one thing?
Bingo in the glorious, retro 2,000-seater arena atop the Elephant & Castle Shopping Centre – surely London’s only Afro-Caribbean-centric bingo hall. Canteens serve up huge portions of goat curry and end-of-round shouts lean less towards ‘House!’ and more towards a chorus of disgruntled teeth-kissing and roars of ‘YOOOOOO!!!’
By Alexi Duggins, who tries not to strangle people when they say ‘I hear Elephant’s very up-and-coming.’