A recent trend that’s swept right across the UK capital is the penchant of hipster-ish locals, in-the-know visitors and curious tourists to seek out, discover and taste the very best offered by the city’s small markets that are chock-full of diverse and exciting stalls. No question then, London’s truly in an age of great street food – many of their vendors being dynamic chefs looking to move on to bigger things; that is, opening a hugely popular restaurant of the future. So, why not check out one of the following markets and come across their stall before they make their name? It’s not just about having the bragging rights in a few years’ time, though; you’ll also get to sample some truly terrifically tasty morsels. Here’s where to head…
Broadway Market(E8 4QJ)
Predictably bustling at the weekend, this Hackney institution’s nonetheless hard to resist if you’ve ventured East London way. Established over a century ago now, its pop-up stalls offer many a tasty morsel, not least fine fruit and veg and many a sweet delicacy, as well beef brisket burgers at Black Bear, Cornish crab meat arancini at Fin + Flounder and crab soup and pork dumplings at Dumpling Shack. Delicious.
Netil Market(13-23 Westgate Street E8 3RL)
Despite its location very near Broadway Market, this place has established itself considerably over the past few years to offer something of an irresistible one-two along with its bigger neighbour. When the sun’s out expect at least 30 different stalls to crop up here, among them the excellent Lucky Chip and Bao, as well as the Eritrean cuisine-themed Lemlem Kitchen, whose offerings like koreima beef shin tacos (tortillas with coffee- and black cardamom-flavoured braised meat) are absolutely to die for.
KERB Camden(NW1 8AF)
Apparently, this haven of street food goodness is open every single day of the year, which is, frankly, wonderful news as its many and various stalls offer eager punters everything from butter-soaked fried chicken strips (at Mother Clucker) to lip-smackingly fine pizzas (at Fundi) and Mexican-cum-Korean dishes (at Kimchinary) to utterly tasty tortas, tacos and burritos (at Luadors). And even nearer the very centre of town – so great news if you’re staying at the likes of the Park Grand Paddington Court London hotel – is the KERB market at King’s Cross (King’s Boulevard N1C 4AA). One of the great tips for visiting London to discover some great street food, for sure – especially as it’s just set down the gauntlet of a challenge to sample the fried chicken creations from every one of its traders’ stalls in a mere 48 hours!
Maltby Street Market and Druid Street Market(Ropewalk SE1 3PA/ 126 Druid Street SE1 2HH)
The idea behind this pair of neighbouring Bermondsey markets is not to pull in heavy numbers of punters (like say the relatively nearby Borough Market), but to sate the taste buds of those after something truly new, different, exciting and impressive. All about the authenticity of fine street food then, here you have to try the seafood at Cornish Grill, the fishfinger sandwiches at Daja Chicken, the creations at Monty’s Deli and the brownies and hot chocolates at Fatties Bakery. As an added bonus, you’ll discover the markets are surrounded by a coterie of local, independent breweries, which ensures you can enjoy a well-earned (half-) pint after a lunchtime or afternoon spent surfing the food stalls.
Flat Iron Square(68 Union Street SE1 1TD)
Just down the road in Southwark, you’ll come across this foody refuge featuring a covered market court, pop-up stalls and, more unusually, both a flea market and a hip new music venue. Of all the best and most popular vendors here are Baz & Fred’s with their delicious stone-baked pizzas, the Portuguese-themed Bar Douro and the fabulously named Where the Pancakes Are, which accompanies sweet and savoury crêpes and pancakes with prosecco and ciders to further whet the appetite.
Tooting Market(21-23 Tooting High Street SW17 0SN)
Venturing further south, the longstanding Tooting Market has seen an upsurge in popularity in recent times thanks to the quality and variety of vendors and their offerings. We’re talking the likes the dependable Stannards butcher-cum-fishmonger, the Franco Manca pizzeria, the excellent coffee beans outlet that’s Brickwood Coffee and the traditional British cuisine-serving Plot restaurant. A word to wise: don’t miss the braised beef cheek main with accompanying pickled cabbage and onions at the latter eatery – you’re bound to go away tooting your toot about how terrific Tooting is!