Our pick of the best food markets in London
London is big. Really big! Precious time can easily be lost trying to figure out where best to engage in our all-time favourite pursuit: eating. And if you’re anything like me, finding the best places to grab a bite is a huge part of any city break.
When in the Big Smoke, you’d be crazy not to visit at least one of its famous food markets. On the Move sent me to investigate. To taste the produce, meet the people and soak up the history. I happily obliged, dusted off my Oyster Card and grabbed fellow food lover, esteemed companion, and guru of London trivia, Kristian. We headed to our starting point, Liverpool Street Station, and prepared to gorge in the name of journalism.
#1 Brick Lane (09:30)
Upon arrival and in need of a snack, we make the short walk to Beigel Bake on Brick Lane. Open 24 hours, do not expect refined presentation; do expect hefty portions of salt beef. Do not expect to be welcomed with a warm smile; do expect to be shouted at to get in line and the friendliest London banter. Do not expect just another salt beef beigel; do expect a real taste of London’s East End. Fuelled up, we head further east on foot to the first location of our tour.
#2 Broadway Market (10:40)
A path less trodden and with less fame than Camden or Borough, Broadway Market is woven into the fabric of Hackney. Kristian and I pass by the fine arts and crafts that the bustling street has to offer. We are here to do one thing: eat breakfast!
The traders are more than happy to let us sample their wares, which is a great way to make sure you love the dish you’re about to commit to. The irresistible aroma of grilled meat, coupled with the promise of ‘Bad Ass Bacon Butties’, leads us to a converted vintage ambulance. Le Swine has been trading for 3 years and is the venture of keen foodie James. Crispy, salty bacon and gooey free range duck egg in a sweet brioche bun, elevated with a generous dollop of earthy mushroom ketchup. A great balance of flavour, texture, and a perfect twist on a British classic, this really is a superb breakfast treat.
#3 Netil Market (11:15)
Distracted by a golden stream of egg yolk oozing towards my camera, I eagerly listen to the professional pork peddlers recommending the bao (Chinese steamed buns) to be found tucked away around the corner. Having never heard of Netil Market, Kristian and I hurry through the crowds, refresh ourselves with freshly squeezed apple juice, and order two rounds of the best bao I have ever eaten from the aptly named Bao Bar. Eat here, you will not regret it!
#4 Borough Market (12:15)
From succulent street grills to molten raclette, a haven for local produce to take home or gobble up among the crowds, think London food market, think Borough Market. Take your time here; soak up the sights, sounds and smells and just explore. First we skirt around the market’s outer edges, greedily hoovering up tasty free samples of cheese, meat and bread from the artisan stalls: from Zach the Comté guy, Jennifer with her pink peppercorn salami, Bart and his organic butternut squash.
As hunger kicks in, we dive through to the centre of the market and into a dish of
crunchy-fried salt and pepper squid from Furness Food Hut, washing it back with a cup of sangria. Cold and sweet, it cuts right through the savoury seafood. Kristian and I both agree we could stay here all day. But there is work to be done and more markets to visit.
#5 Brixton Village (14:50)
Go to Brixton. Go to Brixton! Go to Brixton!! Ignore the superficial pop-ups
and head straight to the Village. Wind around hardware and household goods until you find one of the most exciting places to eat in London. Go with a friend, stay a long time, share dishes and eat lots.
We start with a crêpe at Senzala; wholesome, full of flavour, served with personality. We then grab a drink at Jalisco, where husband and wife team Wilson and Carolina serve up incredible burritos. Beautiful dim sum and jasmine tea can be found at Mama Lan’s, then on to Etta’s Seafood Kitchen for a truly delicious contemporary Jamaican menu. “Every dish contains a fish” we’re told by Etta with a smile. I question the oceanic origins of the bread. Etta bursts into laughter and joyously slaps my arm.
#6 Southbank Centre Market (16:00)
Grab a yummy scotch egg here – another unmissable British classic.
#7 Voodoo Ray’s (18:25)
Don’t pass by BOXPARK Shoreditch without grabbing a slice of Voodoo Ray’s NY style pizza. I got the Hot Mix 5 – simply delicious!
#8 Food Village (18:50)
A 2-minute walk from Shoreditch High Street station and conveniently located opposite Voodoo Ray’s, the Food Village offers a pleasing array of street food. Somewhat generic offerings, but all very good – sample as much as you can! Pizza, burritos, cocktails and more are all on offer, but we focus on Gamekeeper and their awesome selection of venison products. A little costly but worth it, their seemingly simple dishes are brimming with confidence and very well accomplished by chefs who simply know what to do with a haunch of venison!
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