I’ve said it before but I will say it again – street food is God’s gift to Londoner’s on a budget. You can have a meal out with friends for less than a tenner and it will be seriously tasty. For some reason that I just cannot fathom, England has a reputation for having awful food. I know I am biased, but I do have the experience to know that this is not the case. Seriously, I’ve eaten out enough to make sure. London’s street food scene is just one example of how wrong this stereotype is. Just look at the pictures.
Arepas & Cachapas
Where: Sunday Up Market (Brick Lane)
I didn’t know what an arepa was until I tried one at the Sunday Up Market but I soon discovered it was a maize flatbread from South America. They looked amazing so I ordered one stuffed with pulled pork, cheese, tomato salsa and fried onions. I devoured it so quickly I ended up covering myself in a lot of meat juice. At the end of the day, after I had been wandering around in public all afternoon, The Flatmate pointed out that I still had a spot of sauce on my chin. She hadn’t said anything earlier because she wasn’t entirely sure what it was. Thankfully, my arepa had been too good for me to care. It had been entirely worth it.
Where: Dinerama (Shoreditch), KERB (Camden) and Pop Brixton
I am a massive fan of all things burger. And all things curry. So putting the two together, as far as I’m concerned, is genius. The Flatmate first told me about Baba G’s, which serves chicken tikka burgers, after she’d had their pachos (nachos but with poppadoms instead of tortilla chips) and became obsessed. I’m now obsessed with that burger – I’ve had it multiple times now. It came with the option of chilli sauce. Usually, I say no to spicy (I can’t deal) but I figured it would be like lime pickle, which is my favourite thing to have with poppadoms. It wasn’t quite like that but, in this case, I admit that the spice made it even better.
Baklava & Turkish Delight Stand
Where: Borough Market (London Bridge)
Unhelpfully, I’m not entirely sure what the name of this stand is – so I have gone with giving a description of the two main things it sells: baklava and Turkish Delight. You should still be able to find it with that – it’s one of stands outside the main the covered area – along with all the street food. Now I am not really a Turkish Delight kind of girl – but I am most certainly a baklava one, and they have several different varieties here. In all honesty, I’m not entirely sure which one I ended up with. I originally ordered pistachio before realising that was more expensive (they all seemed to be £2.80 per 100g but the slices of that one were quite big) and I didn’t have enough change. Either way I was very happy with what I ended up with (possibly almond). Cravings for baklava may be a weird one to get but I love the stuff and this did the trick. Although I could have done with more!
The Bell & Brisket
Where: Pop Brixton
Usually when I go to Pop in Brixton, it takes me an age of wandering round and round the stalls to decide what I actually want. Last time I went, however, that did not happen. On my last Pop visit, I spotted a newcomer to the street food line up: The Bell & Brisket, which specialises in salt beef bagels – one of my favourite things. At £7.50 (£10 if you wanted fries too), these were not the cheapest bagels, even in London, but they sounded too good for that to be a massive issue for me on this occasion. I scanned the menu and settled on The King. The Lord Rupert (with pickled cabbage, dijion mayonnaise, melted cheddar and dill pickles) may have been rated one of the “top 30 best dishes” by Time Out but The King came with with maple cure bacon, gherkins, chopped salad, melted cheese (cheddar or blue) and House Sauce – and I wanted all of those things. I was not at all disappointed. Actually, that’s a lie, I was majorly disappointed when it was gone – because it was so very, very good. I managed to cover my jeans in sauce as it dripped through the box but I didn’t even care.
Where: Druid Street Market and KERB (Camden everyday, Kings Cross on Thursdays and West India Quay on Fridays)
Sandwiches are one of my favourite food groups so when I discovered a sweet version consisting of ice cream sandwiched between two cookies and covered in either salted caramel sauce or chocolate chips (£4.50) – was always going to get all up in that. Blu Top have a few different cookie options – I went for a chocolate chip one and a double chocolate – and varieties of ice cream (I went for chocolate) and either chocolate chips or salted caramel sauce as a topping (I had the latter). I was given a pretty generous scoop of ice cream so I had to eat some of it with a spoon before I could actually pick it up and eat it the way sandwiches were meant to be eaten. It was as delicious as it sounds.
The Cheeky Italian
Where: Dinerama (Shoreditch)
Despite being an Italian place, I went for the poutine option – a traditionally Canadian dish. The Flatmate went over to Canada for her summer holidays this year and came back with tales of chips covered in stringy melted cheese and gravy. Chips, cheese and gravy are three of my favourite things and I love chips with cheese and chips with gravy. I was very jealous. I didn’t quite know what Italian-esque poutine would look like but it turns out, in this case, it looked like herby chips, topped with cheese sauce, gravy, pulled, slow-cooked beef and pickled onions. Pulled meat (be it pork or beef) is one of my favourite things and I am a fan of all things pickled so this seemed like my kind of poutine variation. It was delicious. I mean, it was very, very good. The only problem was that I was still pretty full an earlier meal. I managed to eat a good majority of it – in particular all the meat – but eventually, I had to admit defeat. Sadly all the gravy meant that it wasn’t suited for a doggy bag, which was a shame because I was hungry again about an hour later.
The Cinnamon Tree Bakery
After a lunch of Nana Fanny’s salt beef bagels (see below) I was left in the mood for something sweet. Wandering around the food stands outside the main covered area, I spotted lots of dessert options – in particular there were a lot of brownies on offer, but one in particular caught my eye: a macaroon brownie from the Cinnamon Tree Bakery, for the reasonable price of £1.90. I bought it and ended up taking it home (since I had actually also bought a piece of baklava I thought I would save my second dessert for dinner) and it was definitely worth waiting for. It was so good that as I sat there eating it on the sofa in front of the Flatmate, I even let her have a bite. It takes a lot for me to share food. She commented that it was quite dark chocolate for me, as she knows I normally find it too bitter. However that was not the case here – perhaps thanks to the sweet macaroon. What a combination.
Where: KERB (Camden) and Street Feast (Hawker House Canada Water and Model Market Lewisham)
I base a lot of my choices of where to go and what to eat on pictures I see on Instagram and Club Mexicana was no exception. My friend had visited their stall at Model Market and tried the nachos which, as with everything at Club Mexicana, were 100% vegan. Now I am not vegan (as is very clear from this list I am not even vegetarian) but I can easily say that their BBQ jackfruit burrito was one of the best burritos I have ever had. I still don’t know what jackfruit is but I couldn’t have told you there wasn’t any meat in it. I know the picture doesn’t look appealing but in my defence it is hard to take a picture of the inside of a half eaten burrito and make it look good. Especially when you are far more interested in devouring it.
Where: Borough Market
Comptoir Gourmand is a stall hosted by French patisserie that provides multiple dessert options to follow your Borough Market main meal. There are multiple options to satisfy your sugary cravings: big meringues and cookies, tarts and colourful macarons. I couldn’t pick just one thing so went for a white chocolate cookie (£2.00) and a salted caramel macaron (£1.10). The cookie was pretty good but the winner here was the macaron: crunchy on the outside, nice and creamy on the inside. I should have just got multiple of those.
Duck N’ Roll
Where: Dinerama (Shoreditch)
When I went to Dinerama recently with friends, we split into twos to go and get food. One pair held the table while the fetched their dinner. I was on table duty first, so when my friend came back holding a lovely looking tray of burger and chips, I pretty much already knew what I was going to be ordering before I even looked around at what was on offer. The only problem was picking something on the menu. Was it going to be the pulled duck bun with pickles and boozey sauce (£5)? Or would it be the classic duck burger with cheese, salad, balsamic onions and spicey tomato sauce (£7)? Thankfully, one of my friends was having the same dilemma – so we went for both and split them down the middle. Obviously, we each ordered a portion of the twice cooked duck fat fries (£3) – because sharing a portion of those bad boys would have stupid. They were amazing – literally all chips should be twice cooked and fried in duck fat. The burgers were also great. I preferred one, while my friend preferred the other but I have literally no idea which way round that was. You’re not going to lose with either one.
Where: Broadway Market, Brick Lane, Primrose Hill and South Bank
Brick Lane is home to many a market, including one that lines the street close to the Cereal Killer Cafe. I walked through it en route to a cereal brunch and it looked way too good for me not to go back there for more food after. All the food looked amazing but I eventually settled on the duck confit burger from The Frenchie. If there are three things I love, it’s burgers, duck confit and cheese – and this place offered all three in one tasty package. The queue was long (20-30 minutes) but it was completely worth it. The burgers were made on a hot grill in front of us – so at least when we got to the front, we got a bit of a show while we waited. As if we weren’t all hungry enough. The burgers came with the option of goat’s cheese, blue cheese or cheddar – I went for the latter option (as I always do) and it was delicious. There was quite a bit of chutney in the bap as well which was a bit unnecessary as it masked some of the meaty flavour – but as far as criticisms go, that is a very slight one.
Grill My Mac
Where: Dalston Yard, Leather Lane (Holborn)
Grill My Mac offers several (often cheesy) options, including the standard sourdough grilled cheese sandwich, the Baby Got Mac (a grilled cheese with BBQ sauce, macaroni cheese and pulled pork) and something with ribs and cherry coke. I went for Baby Got Mac, partially because I am obsessed with pulled pork and had a massive mac and cheese craving and also because I just wanted to say the name when placing my order. Even though £6/£6.50 (I forget which) is quite a lot of a sandwich, it was a pretty good sandwich. Although, I have to say that it didn’t quite hit the spot. Sometimes with a classic, I think less is more and the standard grilled cheese maybe was what I was really looking for. Having said that the rib/cherry coke sandwich sounds insanely good and I will be keeping my eye out for that one.
Where: Borough Market
Now as you might have fathomed from this post, I love a good street food market. However, I spend more time wandering around trying to decide what to eat than I do actually eating whatever it is I’ve settled on. Don’t get me wrong, I love all the delicious options these places have but, at the same time, I kinda wish that someone would be like “this is the perfect stall for you, this is where you need to go”. That is kinda what the universe did to me on my latest trip to Borough Market this May Bank Holiday Monday.
The market, which is usually horribly packed with people, was mostly closed and nearly deserted. Hash was one of the maybe two places that were open and the smell drew me in like a moth to the flame. I spotted a vat of meat marinading in tomato sauce and a dish full of mac and cheese. The place sold slow cooked meat sandwiches that all sounded amazing. I might have easily found where to get food but now I couldn’t decide what to order. Helpfully, Hash had predicted this might be an issue and so has “Splits” on the menu, where you can order a dish that’s part their three cheese macaroni cheese and part something else. I went for the mac and cheese split with pulled pork soaked in kimichi sauce (£7). I had to wait a little while to order but I got to stand downwind of the pulled pork so I didn’t even care because it smelt so good. It tasted even better and I was full for the rest of the day.
Where: Pop Brixton
Fish and chips is one of my all time favourite British classics. There was a really good chippy in the Kent village where I used to live and, since I have spent many a summer in the seaside county of Suffolk, I have eaten a lot of seriously good fish and chips. Since I moved to London I haven’t found a great fish and chips place, which is annoying because I have been seriously craving it. Happily there is a fish and chips place in Pop Brixton: Hook. It wasn’t your classic battered fish and chunky chips. Instead the fish was covered in breadcrumbs and the chips were more like potato wedges. But really, really good wedges. The seasoning on everything was amazing and the homemade tartar sauce was delicious. I didn’t even crave my usual mayonnaise and ketchup accompaniments. It may have been the most expensive dish I have found in Pop (£10 for cod) and it didn’t quite satisfy my fish and chip cravings (because it was more of a gourmet version than the classic) but it still tasted awesome.
Where: Borough Market (London Bridge)
Whilst wandering around Borough Market, I caught sight of one of the most beautiful sites I have yet seen in London: Kappacasein’s raclette. I’ve had multiple raclettes before (involving cooking meat and vegetables on a grill and melting cheese in trays underneath) but nothing like this. Basically, the geniuses at Kappacasein place wheels of cheese underneath blocks of hot metal and wait for the top layer to melt. When it has done so, they scrape the layer of and onto a plate of fluffy new potatoes and serve it with some seasoning and a side of gherkins (if you want them). As a cheese addict this is basically my idea of heaven.
Where: Pop Brixton
Kricket serves up small plates of Indian street food. This isn’t the cheapest Pop Brixton option, with many of the dishes costing more than one bigger meal from one of the other nearby eateries but the food is great and Kricket does at least give you the option of dining inside its shipping container. The Keralan fried chicken with curry leaf mayonnaise was a particularly good and easily some of the best fried chicken I’ve ever had (along with Zoe’s Ghana Kitchen – also of Pop) and the grilled lamb rump was also lovely (but also the most expensive dish on the menu at £10). The samphire pakoras (£5) were not what I expected – I thought they were a small pastry filled with veggie goodness – and turned out to be deep fried green stalks of samphire. These provided a good side dish to the lamb and chicken. Although the bhel puri (£4) was good, I’m not sure what I thought of it. It’s basically puffed rice, served with with mango and a yoghurt and tamarind sauce and I think just too unusual for me.
Le Marche du Quartier
Where: Borough Market (London Bridge)
There are multiple delicious places to try out in Borough Market but there is a reason why I consistently end up queuing at Le Marche du Quartier and that reason is simple. Confit duck sandwiches. Confit duck sandwiches for a fiver. Confit duck sandwiches with a cup of sangria for £8. The meat is tender and delicious and cooked right in front of you in big metal bowls. It’s impossible to get anywhere near that stall and not get sucked in by the amazing smells.
Made Of Dough
Where: Pop Brixton
When I first went to Pop Brixton, I planned to just go for a drink. In fact, I even made lunch for me and my friend before we headed down there. That was foolish. Because when we arrived, the food on offer looked a thousand times better than my cooking – not that that’s hard. We had to eat something. Made Of Dough’s stonebaked Neapolitan pizzas therefore seemed like the perfect option. We could easily split one of those. The chorizo one we tried was awesome. I’ve since been back and ordered one just for myself.
Where: Pop Brixton
Whenever I go out and have the option of Mexican food, I am always inclined to take it. That usually means that if you ever need to find me, I’ll probably be eating Mexican tapas dishes at Wahaca. When I’m at food markets however, surrounded by an array of global cuisine, I usually resist the temptation of fajitas and enchiladas because I make them a lot at home. I also noticed that the ones from Maria Sabina were slightly small and I don’t exactly have a small appetite. However, on my last spontaneous Pop Brixton trip, I’d had a big lunch and I was planning on saving room for pudding so off I went to Maria Sabina. I ordered their mix of four tacos – pork, chicken, chorizo and potato – as opposed to the two quesadilla option. These did not turn out to be my favourite street food tacos (see below for those ones), nor one of my favourite Pop Brixton places, but I still doubt you’d be disappointed with them.
Miss P’s Barbecue
Where: KERB (Paddington on Wednesdays, the Gherkin on Thursdays and West India Quay on Fridays)
Like I’ve already said, I am into all things burger. I’m also addicted to anything barbecue and pulled meat. A burger made up of pulled meat and barbecue sauce therefore is pretty much my dream. Miss P’s Atlanta barbecue inspired menu includes a pulled pork burger. The meat was tender and cooked to perfection but the thing that really made the dish was the sauce. I have no idea how they get it to taste like that- my barbecue sauce certainly does not taste that way – but I was too distracted by my desire to eat it to give it that much thought.
Although I’d been trying to sample a different place each time I went to Pop Brixton (Miss P’s former residence), I did cave and go back to Miss P’s. It was late when I arrived and many stands were no longer open so I had a good excuse. There were a few options on the menu that I hadn’t tried but I was in the mood for a burger. I did at least try a different burger this time – the smoked chicken burger. At the time, I was craving some southern fried chicken and sadly this wasn’t that, it was batter free, but it was still good.
Where: Dalston Yard and KERB (Camden)
As much as I love a good bit of cheap, greasy fried chicken (particularly after a night out), Mother Clucker really is the good stuff. I have no idea what mixture of spices they use to coat their strips (£6) are amazing. And incredibly tender. Both the meat and the coating basically fell apart as I attempted to eat it – in a good way. I had mine with mayonnaise which was good but it didn’t really add much given how good the chicken was. And coming from me that means something as I generally live by the rule that everything tastes better with mayonnaise.
Where: Borough Market (London Bridge), Broadway Market, Camden Lock Market and Spitalfields
One Saturday, I went to Borough Market with the sole intention of satisfying a major Kappacasein craving I’d been having – however on arriving at the spot where I had found the cheese fondue before, I found that a new stand had taken its place (don’t worry – my spies, aka Google, tell me it has only moved and not disappeared from Borough Market altogether). This new stand was Nana Fanny’s and specialised in salt beef and falafel. As much as I do love both of those things, I couldn’t not go with the salt beef. I opted to have it in bagel form (the bagels on offer were the Brick Lane beigels) and chose to spend an extra £1 on adding cheese (melted with a blowtorch) to my salt beef, mustard and thick slices of gherkin. I’m not usually a massive mustard person (I could have asked for my bagel without it) but here I actually thought it worked very well. As disappointed as I was not to get my cheese fondue, I still left Borough Market very content after my bagel.
Where: Borough Market (London Bridge)
On my various trips to Borough Market, I have often caught sight of some tasty looking salt beef being carried around by various visitors. I discovered this was coming from the Northfield Butchery and I can now confirm that it absolutely tastes as good as it looks. The salt beef comes in both bagel (£5.50) and sandwich (£6.50) form and, as much as I do love a good bagel, I did think the sandwiches looked better and totally worth the extra pound. The salt beef is shredded and tender and comes between two slices of rye bread, slathered with mustard and with some big old slices of gherkin. There was a bit of a queue when I arrived but people were getting served pretty quickly and soon I was being asked if I wanted my sandwich with all the trimmings (obviously I did). The guy then gave me my two halves of stuffed sandwich carefully, to make sure I got a good grip on them and nothing fell out. I was just about able to grasp them both with one hand in order to take a picture. Thankfully nothing dropped out as a I did so because that would have been devastating.
Where: Roof East (Stratford)
As you may have guessed from the name, Rockadollar Dogs serves hot dogs. But not just any hot dogs. These are “pimped-up posh dogs”. As far as hot dog stands go, this one is quite expensive, with prices between £8-£9 but for that you will get a seriously packed hot dog. I wasn’t sure whether I could justify getting one but then I saw someone ordering “The Yakisoba” (a pork frankurter sausage with pulled pork, lime fennel and herb slaw, yakisoba sauce & coriander) and it looked insane. Anyone who has known me for more than five minutes will be able to tell you that Yakisoba from Wagamamma is one of my favourite things ever – and I don’t just mean food. I took it as a sign and I don’t think I will ever not be grateful that I took this chance to get one. It actually was as good as it looks.
The place also serves nachos (£5 for standard, £8 if you want to add chilli or pulled pork). These were pretty good (albeit a bit cold) and, although the portion didn’t look huge, there turned out to be more than you’d think.
Where: Pop Brixton
On one Pop Brixton trip, The Flatmate and I arrived quite a while ahead of the friend we were meeting but we were too hungry to eat. We figured that if we ate our pudding first, before our main meal, we could dive straight in. We found an array of patisserie treats, including cupcakes, cheesecake slices and macaroons. My eyes were initially diverted by the cupcakes but then I spotted some Oreo cheesecake. Who can say no to that? Not me. Sadly, it wasn’t quite as delicious as I was hoping but it certainly did taste thick and cheesecake-y.
That wasn’t my last visit to Supercute on that particular Pop visit. After The Flatmate and I had Dessert 1 – followed by something savoury with our friend – all three of us fancied something sweet afterwards. So we went back. I was tempted by the Oreo cupcake but considering that has been my go-to cupcake option in the past, I figured that I should pick something else and ended up with the Malteser chocolate cupcake. For such a soft cupcake it was incredibly rich. It was so rich that it was hard to eat the entire thing, but I can’t say for sure that wasn’t because I’d already eaten cheesecake and a barbecue pork burger.
You may well already know about the chain restaurant Wahaca, which serves up delicious small plates of Mexican delicacies, but you may not know that they have a street food stand outside of their restaurant on the Southbank. This provides a quick and budget-friendly to grab some Wahaca, with burritos and tacos being on offer for around £6. The burrito is a popular option but I’m not a fan of rice in my wraps so I often go for the juicy pulled pork tacos. I used to go to university round the corner and would often return to my afternoon classes after lunch down by the river covered in meat juice but I didn’t even care.
White Men Can’t Jerk
Where: Dalston Yard
I have to admit, I always forget that jerked meat isn’t my favourite and in this circumstance I got a little overwhelmed by the choice in Dalston Yard’s Street Feast and ended up at the place with the most memorable name. Having said that, the meat in my jerked pulled pork burger, with coleslaw and salad in a brioche bun (£7), was cooked beautifully. It was soft and juicy and complemented by the sweetness of the coleslaw. I would have preferred a cheesy accompaniment but that’s just me. I eat everything covered in cheese. This stuff was still undeniably good.
World of Wurst
Where: Pop Brixton
Having spent a summer living in Berlin, I have become somewhat of a currywurst addict. I’ve tried to make it myself but my attempts have just gone horribly wrong and I’ve ended up with an unpleasant taste in my mouth that has lingered for days. Thankfully, World of Wurst actually know what they are doing. My currywurst idn’t taste quite as I remembered from my Berlin days – the flavour seemed stronger – but it was probably still one of the better currywursts I’ve had in my time. It was served with a crusty roll which was perfect for mopping up the sauce but I would have preferred some nice chips.
Where: Street Feast (Dalston Yard and Dinerama, Shoreditch)
As much as I do love a steam bun when I out eating Dim Sum, I wasn’t at first too fussed about having it as street food. I was more in the mood for something bigger and meatier. But when I was at Dalston Yard one Saturday night, it was clearly the most popular choice. I couldn’t decide quite what I wanted so I thought I would let the queues of people decide it for me. I went for two: the slow roasted belly of pork with cucumbers, spring onions and hoi sin sauce and the portobello mushroom with toasted walnuts and miso glaze. They really were pretty tasty – the only problem was that I could have done with more. So I got more. The Dalton Yard branch also serves a sweet deep fried bun for dessert with coconut ice cream with peanut brittle and butterscotch. This was the absolute highlight.
Zoe’s Ghana Kitchen – It’s Ghana Be Tasty
Where: Pop Brixton
I wasn’t entirely sure what Ghanaian cuisine consisted of until I spotted some delicious looking Instagram pictures of fried chicken from Zoe’s Ghana Kitchen. I knew that this was something for me. It was pouring down with rain when The Flatmate and I visited so we paid a little bit extra to dine inside the shipping container where the street food restaurant resides – something many places in Pop do not offer. Granted, there’s not a lot of space inside (3 tables to be exact) but there was more than enough room for the two of us. The Flatmate and I ordered our chicken alongside some thick plantain chips, okra tempura fries and Nigerian Fanta, which made a delicious meal. In fact it was probably some of the best fried chicken I’ve ever had. It was all meat and no bone (ideal) and nicely seasoned. It may have been our most expensive trip to Pop (partially because I ate in and partially because it was the most food I have ordered) but it was totally worth it.
Where: I don’t know anymore! Yumitub used to have a spot at Pop Brixton but has since closed. I’ve included it on this list because it is so good I can’t bare the thought it won’t open up some place else.
If you’re in the mood for something sweet, or even if you’re not even hungry, I think that it is important that you go to Yumitub, which sells Thai-style ice cream. Basically, the people at Yumitub make it in front of you by freezing cream on some very cold looking metal plates and then mashing in your choice of toppings. I went for Jaffa Cake with white chocolate pieces. The brownie pieces looked amazing and I am a big Oreo fan, but I figured that Jaffa Cakes aren’t often on the ice cream menu, so I needed to go for them, and it would be better to compliment them with something simple but tasty. Once all of the mashing up is complete, the ice cream is rolled up, put in a pot and topped with your choice of sauce or whipped cream. I obviously went for the latter.
This was the only place I let myself go to consistently on my quest to try every place in Pop Brixton. It’s just the best dessert. On my second trip, I went for fudge and brownie – delicious and kinda nutty tasting- and, on my third visit, I tried Oreo and Maltesers. That one was a particular winner. As was my next Crunchie and Ferrero Rocher combination.