London’s booming market staples, like Borough Market, are still an excellent place to spend time – and there is plenty of good hot food to take away, too – but it’s often nicer to focus on the smaller ones to ensure that more of your time is spent eating than queueing. Find out where Victoria Stewart reckons you will find London’s must-taste traders. (Photo credit: The Gastronome)
Five years ago if you were visiting London you might have accidentally stumbled across the odd brilliant farmer’s market or a low-key food stall of sorts.
Skate forward to 2016, and there are now so many street food traders selling their wares – think roti wraps, Chinese dumplings, chargrilled oysters, super fudge brownies or homemade ice lollies – from vans, trucks and stalls, that it’s become more of an exercise in knowing which traders to buy from than where to find street food at all.
Brockley Market, Lewisham
After launching in Lewisham, south east London, in the autumn of 2011, this Saturday market run by visionary manager and professional photographer Toby Allen has been consistently good – you only need glimpse at his luscious pictures laid out on the market’s Instagram feed to get a feel for what’s on offer there. What’s nice about this one is that there is something for mostly everyone – excellent fresh fruit, vegetables, cheese, fish and meat for locals to scoop up, and a range of hot and cold takeaway food from burgers and wraps and crepes to a man who makes Polish pickles and another who bakes cakes.
Venture to this neck of the woods and you’ll get a double hitter which includes the thriving, bigger Ropewalk at Maltby Street Market and, just around the corner, the teeny, newer one on Druid Street. The first, open on weekends, is where you’ll find one of London’s best bakers and doughnut makers, St John’s Bakery, as well as the clodhopper reuben-on-rye sandwiches from Monty’s Deli, and peri peri chicken from African Volcano. Druid, meanwhile, is a Saturday-only operation run by food writer and events organiser Miranda York. Primarily a produce market, it’s also topped up with regular street food traders like the New Orleans-inspired Decatur, as well as an ace selection of guest stalls.
Berwick Street Market, Soho
Berwick Street has been home to a regular market since 1892 and actually, despite a recent update, it stills feels like a slightly chaotic and old school version of what some of the other London markets are doing – but, then, that’s part of its charm. This weekday lunchtime market runs from Monday to Friday, and if you look carefully enough you’ll find some excellent dishes worth trying. I often start at the top for a decent lunchtime hit, then wrap it up with a few pieces of really fresh fruit from the grocery stalls at the Peter Street end. Regular traders include burger maestro Cristiano Meneghin of Tongue ’n’ Cheek, sub sandwich kings Sub Cult, burrito hawkers Freebird, and green boxes from Savage Salads (but be prepared to queue at this one).
Top pick: any of the heartbreaker burgers from Tongue ’n’ Cheek.
Only serious street foodists would take on all three of these brilliant neighbouring markets, but at least you have the option if you’re in E8. Each one is very different in character – big, bustling Broadway Market with its stacks of fresh produce and also crepes, fish wraps and Persian stew; its miniature sister around the corner in the schoolyard where you can find dumplings or hot chocolate; meanwhile a short stroll to Netil Market opens up a whole banquet of options, including Afro tacos, Taiwanese buns and cheese toasties, and all sold from small wooden shacks.
SC Market, Waterloo
Like other markets, this one has gone through various incarnations under different management. What’s up now, though, every Friday to Sunday afternoon, is a gigantic and consistently strong line-up of traders from all over the world. In fact I’d wager that even if you stayed there for an entire weekend you wouldn’t manage to get through the regular stuff – and that’s before you’ve tried anything made by guest traders including – depending on the week – Hank’s Po Boys, Busan BBQ or Sea Dog Food.
Victoria Stewart’s blog about London street food can be found at www.londonstreetfoodie.co.uk
This article was originally published on Skyscanner