'The friendliest place in London': Why Tooting was just named one of the world's 10 coolest neighbourhoods

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Famed for its bring your own booze curry houses, diverse communites and shabby chic vibe, Tooting is now officially one of the 10 coolest neighbourhoods in the world

Craft beer bars, sourdough pizza joints and trendy nightspots are popping up among Sari stalls and decades-old butchers in the south-west London hotspot.

The area appeared on Lonely Planet’s list of top 10 coolest neighbourhoods in the world alongside New York’s Sunset Park and The Triangle in Lisbon.

Now, locals, including Sadiq Khan have questioned why Tooting wasn’t awarded its cool credentials sooner.

Cool neighbourhood: Residents by fruit at a market in Tooting (AFP/Getty Images)

The Mayor of London was delighted with the praise stacked on his birthplace and former constituency.

He said: “It’s great to see Lonely Planet recognise what many of us have known for decades.”

Nestled in the heart of the Zone 3 commuter hub, which has a crater named after it on Mars, Tooting Market sells fresh food and brunch by day and cocktails by night.

Kiki Evans, co-owner of Unwined, a wine merchants in the market, said: “We love the market and how diverse it is, you have all these bars and restaurants right next to the butchers that has been here for 25 years and the Sari shop. 

Kiki Evans: ‘We love the market and how diverse it is’ (Evening Standard)

“We didn’t think it was particularly cool but it’s got a great vibe, it’s completely different in the night.”

Adam Burgess, manager of neighbouring coffee shop Brickwood, added: “Tooting is really up and coming, it does have a cool vibe. 

“Even though I’m Kiwi, my grandmother was from here and it’s completely different to when I was young, we would visit when we were five or six, about 20 years ago, and the market and the high street were places you would buy food, they were quite run down.

“Now it’s got a really nice, young feel.”

Student Anna Johnson, who works as a waitress at Brickwood, moved to the area from north London five months ago.

Anna Johnson: ‘Tooting is the best place to live’ (Evening Standard)

She chimed in cheerily and added: “It’s the sort of place you could bring your mum during the day and your friends at night”.

When told of Tooting’s surprise appearance on Lonely Planet’s list, market stalwart Hughie Crawford, who has lived in the area since 1969, said: “And so it should be”.

Mr Crawford, who works closely with several local community groups, added: “It is becoming really gentrified, and I use that word because that’s what’s happening.

“Big chains like Costa are moving into the high street, Franco Manca has moved to the market of all places. It really is up and coming but still so diverse.”

Residents also praised the foodie scene at the end of Northern Line. 

Muhammad Sadiq, who has lived in Tooting for two years and believes it is “the friendliest place in London”.

He said: “It’s so busy but it has the friendliest people in London. 

“It was everything you need, basically. Any food you want, it’s on your doorstep, it has great nightlife, good pubs and great markets. It’s also so well connected, you can drive out of London easily and if you want to get into the City just hop on to the Northern Line. I think I’ll be here for a long time.”

Tooting Bec Lido: The area plays host to the biggest outdoor pool in the UK (hozzler)

Despite being heavily bombed in the blitz before becoming the setting for 70s sitcom Citizen Smith, Tooting boasts 200 acres of green space and the UK’s biggest Lido.

Writer Will Jones nominated the area for the accolade and hailed the abundance of pubs and curry houses.

He gushed: “Its high street, which stretches between two Tube stations, is one of the best ‘curry corridors’ in the country, and contains some superb South Asian restaurants, like Dosa n Chutny and Apollo Banana Leaf.

“The best shopping can be found inside eclectic Tooting Market, and quirky bars and pubs include The Castle, The Antelope and The Little Bar.”

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