They say that to really understand a new location, you need to taste its food. This is especially true of London where a melting pot of cultures and cuisines comes together along the banks of the Thames, around the cobbled streets of Covent Garden, under the buzzing roofs of London’s unusual markets and along the fragrant passageways and bustling streets of China Town.
You don’t have to pull up a chair in a Michelin-starred restaurant or make reservations weeks in advance to discover the city through its food culture though. London’s street food scene is one of the most vibrant, most exciting and most diverse in the world, with promising young chefs serving up an array of fresh produce, all inspired by techniques, experiences and ingredients from destinations worldwide. From Colombian in Camden to Indian dosas by the Gherkin, there is a flavour explosion happening in the capital right now.
Grab your appetite, your walking shoes and your guidebook and prepare to experience some of the tastiest treats in the city at some of London’s most unusual markets.
KERB, Camden Market
Nearest Tube: Camden
Open every day of the week, KERB Camden Market is a smorgasbord of street food to make you salivate with over 30 vendors cooking up a storm. You can almost literally eat your way around the world simply by walking around the market. Forget boring hot dogs and burgers, the street food maestros in Camden are innovators and tastemakers. There’s Ghetto Grillz, staffed by siblings from Glasgow who’ve set up shop in the city with their own unique take on NYC’s ubiquitous bagel, grilled and melted and served up with fully loaded sides. Fundi Pizza have dough covered while Yu Kyu is pioneering a new approach to Japanese soul food – think Asian Sloppy Joes, Tonkatsu sandwich and glazed sweet potato chips with spring onion and poppy seeds. There’s also Greek, Italian, Venezuelan, Taiwanese and Thai.
Maltby Street Market
Nearest Tube: London Bridge / Bermondsey
If you’re anywhere near London Bridge on a Saturday or Sunday, head to London Bridge mid-morning to try gourmet street food and load up on fresh produce at Maltby Street Market. A mash up of eats and antiques, look out for Dhan in the Rope Walk section, tucked beneath the railway viaducts. Taiwanese-inspired, they serve up egg-sized waffles, crisp on the outside, chewy within and smothered in lip-smacking toppings such as home-made salted caramel, peanut brittle and vanilla custard. A little further along, Devi’s serves up plant-based slow food with spices and aromatics from along the Indo-Persian trade route.
Nearest Tube: London Bridge
No street food round-up would be complete without a mention of Borough Market. As London’s oldest market, it has served locals and visitors alike for more than 1000 years but rather than looking back, its traders and artisans have their fingers firmly on the food pulse. There are dozens of exceptional producers to discover, with stalls groaning under the weight of regional and international specialities.
The street food scene at Borough Market is a kaleidoscope of colours, flavours and textures. Spanish food experts, Brindisa serve up cured meats and fruity olive oils and sit alongside other vendors such as Ethiopian Flavours, with its authentic take on African fare. Lincolnshire sausage, pork pies and free range British meat dishes are plentiful. There’s delicious veggie fare at Veggie Table, Thai street food at Khanom Krok, humble Egyptian street food at Koshari Street and garlic and chilli dishes from the Orient at L’ailOlive.
KERB On The Quay
Nearest Tube: Canary Wharf
KERB street food markets are popping up all over London with mouth-watering selections from some of the most exciting food trucks in the city. KERB On The Quay, just down from Canary Wharf, is no exception. There are around 10 trucks to choose from any given day, many of which you can also find at the Camden location. Hanoi Kitchen dishes up an authentic taste of Vietnam with a twist, with fresh summer rolls, Banh Mi and moreish rice noodle pots. Mother Clucker keeps it simple with just one chicken dish and fries – a sure sign you’re in the presence of culinary greatness. There’s fire bread pizza at Well kneaded and Indian, American, Middle Eastern and Mediterranean options aplenty.
If you’re looking for something a little different, London’s unusual markets are dotted in the most unexpected of locations. Expect fresh produce, plenty of food theatre and tasty international fusions served up with quintessentially British flair.