Head south-west for Clapham’s more sophisticated neighbour.
Isn’t Balham just a handy Northern line interchange?
Yes, but it’s so much more. Hell, even Ed Sheeran has moved here. Wait, where you going? it’s really nice!
Fine. Where first?
M1lk (Hildreth Street Market) is an insanely popular Aussie breakfast café, but if you’re starving and can’t wait in its (very long) queue, try The French Café (Ritherdon Road) or The Camden Coffee House (High Road) for the best cup of joe in Balham.
What am I eating?
There’s upmarket seasonal produce at Lamberts (Balham High Road), as much roast chicken as you can eat at Poulet Rouge (Chestnut Grove), family-friendly Italian at Bucci’s (Balham High Road) or Sunday lunches that will leave you needing a nap at The Balham Arms (Balham High Road).
Woah, there: payday’s still a good few weeks off.
I might be able to stretch to a drink…
Try 3 Monkeys (Fernlea Road) for a smoky Old Fashioned, Lost & Found for happy-hour bargains, the ‘hidden’ (very easy to find) downstairs bar at Harrisons and the properly hidden Sean’s Thai Bar, downstairs at Krua (all Bedford Hill). But if you’re just after a pint, head to Firefly (Balham High Road), which rotates its beer selection monthly.
I feel like I need some fresh air now.
You could go to one of the leafy surrounding commons, but instead hit the massive pub garden at The Avalon (Balham High Road).
Is there anything that’s not a pub?
There’s shopping! Postmark (Balham High Road) is a quirky card boutique, while Lavish Habit (Fernlea Road) is a coffee shop with a vintage emporium in the basement. Need more booze? Bring your growler (no, nothing filthy, it’s a refillable beer bottle) to We Brought Beer (Hildreth Street Market).
And how about a night out?
By Issy Sampson, who is writing an autobiography called ‘Balling in Balham’. Currently looking for a publisher.
Fancy a change of scene? Here’s the best bits of Pimlico.