London is home to many a type of market from antiques and vintage clothes to ceramics and furniture but my favourite is undoubtedly the ones selling street food. There’s no shortage of food market in London and these places are a god send to anyone attempting to both exist in London on a budget and maintain something resembling a social life. Not only can you find some tasty street food treats all over London but you can buy yourself a meal that will leave you feeling full and satisfied for less than a tenner. That might still sound like a lot for a carton of food but hey, this is London.
1. Borough Food Market, London Bridge
Borough Market is London’s crown jewel of food markets. If you want to stock up on your weekly supply of meats and cheeses then you can do just that. Alternatively, if you want to grab a quick bite and eat it whilst perching on a curb somewhere in the sun then you can do that too. Well, this is England – sun cannot be guaranteed. But good food can be.The choices range from Caribbean food to juices, cured meets and an array of cheeses. My personal favourite is the £5 duck confit sandwiches from Le Marche du Quartier. And as if there weren’t enough stalls selling sweet treats for dessert, Konditor and Cook bakery also has a branch that sits opposite the covered market. On my visit, I went for their £1 cake of the day and my slice of cake, the type of which I can’t remember, I think chocolate with white icing, was good even with the low price tag.
It drives me nuts that this market is not open on Sundays, but it’s worth fighting your way through the huge Saturday crowds for.
2. Camden Lock Market
Camden Lock Market was probably my first London food love. I used to come up to the city and hang around the place at the weekends when I was a teenager and the food market would be my regular place for lunch. There is an array of stands, covering an array of global cuisine but I’d always end up with Chinese food: chicken and noodles to be precise.
3. Dalston Yard Street Feast
During the warmer months, Dalston Yard plays host to Street Feast – a collection of lovely street food outlets. It opens Fridays and Saturdays from 5pm-12am and there is free entry until 7pm, after which it costs £3. Dalston Yard is just around the corner from Dalston Junction overground station and is surrounded by brick walls, covered in graffiti and peeling paint, and metal shipping containers. The roof is made up of pieces of metal sheeting, many of which are missing, meaning it is somewhat exposed to the elements. When I went on a warm and sunny Saturday evening, the place was buzzing with people, which made finding a seat basically impossible. It also took me ages to actually decide what I wanted to eat as there’s so much to choose from. However, it didn’t take me long to pick out a pina colada cocktail ice lolly (£3) and a nice cool bottle of berry cider from one of the bars (£5).
4. Dinerama Street Feast, Shoreditch
Dinerama is another Street Feast venue that is open for selected months during the year in Shoreditch. As with Dalston Yard, if you arrive between 5pm-7pm you can get in for free but any later it’s £3. Dinerama is smaller than Dalston Yard, which is perhaps why it seemed busier. That meant there were less food options but this was actually kinda helpful. I’d spent ages traversing Dalston Yard, trying to settle on a place. At least this time, it didn’t take quite so long. Dinerama felt quite make shift – in a good way. Everything was very metal – like scaffolding – with lots of multi-coloured lights and little bonfires in barrels. I started off by getting a drink and treated myself to something that can only be described as a fruity slush puppy cocktail. I was even lucky enough to find some seating upstairs – it seems the time I had turned up (about 6ish) was a good time. Although I didn’t stay here long thanks to a ridiculously loud party behind me. Instead I ended up downstairs in search of some delicious food, of which there is plenty.
5. Maltby Street Market, Bermondsey
At the weekends, Maltby Street plays host to the Ropewalk food market. Not only is the street lined with street food stalls but there are little restaurants and cafes under the railway arches along the side. I must admit, I didn’t make it to the outdoor stands, instead I ended up in St. John’s Bakery which sells the most amazing cream filled doughnuts. These would make the perfect dessert to whatever street food takes your fancy.
6. Pop Brixton
Pop is a community area that hosts an array of local businesses. These include a few little retailers and bars but the main residents are the street food outlets. most of which sell food. Good food. I’ve been making it my business to try them all. There’s Ghanaian fried chicken, pulled meat burgers, curry burgers, gourmet fish and chips and stonebaked pizzas – and that’s just to name a few. It has a buzzy vibe and the surrounding shipping containers and railway arches, does make it feel just a little bit hipster but there is also a family feel during the day. Even when it gets busy, it still feels less hectic than the atmosphere at somewhere like Street Feast at Dalston Yard or Dinerama. It’s also open all year round. During the summer, it’s open so you can sit and eat in the sun, or try your luck and see if you can find somewhere undercover. In the winter, a cover is erected over the whole place.
The big container to the right of the entrance sometimes hosts live music – perhaps a DJ or a band with steel drums – and even fitness classes. I’ve previously done a barre class, lit by fairy lights, to the sound of disco tunes. It was a great classed, marred only by the fact that the smell of food drifting in from outside made me incredibly hungry.
7. Sunday Up Market, Brick Lane
The Sunday Up Market quite possibly takes the prize as my favourite street food market in London. You can find it at the Old Truman Brewery, between 10am-5pm on Sundays, and it consists of several market stalls selling not only food but posters, jewellery, clothing and other bits and pieces but the real crown jewel are the many more selling the most delicious foods from all over the world, like barbecue ribs, fried chicken, Turkish platters, massive burritos and Chinese chicken and noodles. It takes me a lot longer to choose what I want than it does for me to find a spot to perch on the curb outside and wolf it down. On my last visit, I found an Italian stall, which offered several options, one being the possibility of mixing various dishes. That was helpful considering my inability to make decisions. I had two types of spinach and ricotta tortellini, one with pesto and another with gorgonzola cheese, and gnocchi with tomato sauce and meatballs, all covered in parmesan and arranged in the order of the colours of the Italian flag (£7 for a large portion). It was fantastic. The smoothie stand provides the perfect accompaniment.