There’s no better way of experiencing the vibrant life of London than to visit a London market. From Borough to Brixton, fishmonger to meat seller, London’s plethora of food markets offer something to suit every visitor’s taste. We narrow down the options with our pick of the ten best London food markets.
Borough Market – London Bridge SE1
No list of markets in London can be complete without Borough Market. It’s the first market that I — and so many others — visited for a taste of London. Touristy, crowded and expensive as it has become, Borough remains the place to go for specialty ingredients like Spanish iberico bellota ham and Mexican guajillo chili. Whilst life in London seems to be constantly in flux, the queue outside of Monmouth Coffee is one of the great constants of life in London. Equally constant is the queue around Kappacasein’s raclette stand, serving freshly melted Swiss raclette and toasted cheese sandwiches. But Borough Market has such a variety of food stalls that you’re hardly missing out if you opt to avoid the queues. Brindisa, London’s preeminent Spanish food shop and restaurant sells top quality Spanish goods and succulent grilled chorizo sandwiches. Wash it all down with a beer from Utobeer, which sources some of the best and hardest to find beers from everywhere in the world. On your way out, if you’ve still got some cash to spare, stop by Mini Magoo for a selection of organic granola and muesli to have on the go.
Hours: Lunch Daily 10am-3pm; Thursdays 11am-5pm; Fridays 12-6pm; Saturdays 8am-5pm. See the full list of Borough Market vendors >>
Maltby Market – Bermondsey SE16
Maltby Market is, hands down, my favourite market in London, and going to Maltby has since become a Saturday morning ritual. If you’re looking to avoid the long queues and plodding tourists altogether, hop on to the Jubilee line to Bermondsey where Maltby Market has settled in amongst the railway arches of southeast London in the Ropewalk. Running wholesale business on the weekdays, Maltby Market boasts an incredible array of top-notch food sellers including Natoora, Neal’s Yard Dairy, Little Bread Pedlar and more — there are simply too many high quality food stalls at Maltby to know where to begin. On Saturdays, the market transforms into a lively gathering of local foodies who crave some of the freshest food in London, from heather honey from urban beekeepers London Honey Company to beer on tap from Kernel Brewery. Have brunch inside the railway arch at Bea’s of Bloomsbury’s unique American breakfast-inspired café, but save some room for St JOHN Bakery’s utterly incredible custard doughnuts. Flavours rotate on a weekly basis, but nothing beats the classic vanilla cream doughnuts with a hint of lemon zest. Wash it all down with a sweetly creamy single origin Flat White from the friendly baristas at the Craft Coffee cart.
Hours: Saturdays 9am-around 3pm. See more about Maltby Market >>
Brixton Village Market – Brixton SW9
Located in an old covered market arcade, Brixton Village Market is emerging as one of London’s great gastronomic hot spots and has revitalised the Brixton area, long known for its traditional Afro-Caribbean street stalls. Lighting up the gourmand blogosphere are Brixton mainstays like Honest Burgers and free range fried chicken restaurant Wishbone, which is the south-of-the-river outpost of the founders of London gourmet burger joints Meat Liquor and Meat Market. Although Wishbone’s ultra-trendy vibe has drawn some criticism from long time Brixton residents, it’s opening is undoubtedly a sign of the recent rejuvenation of the South London neighbourhood. Some of Brixton Village’s best known and tastiest eateries include Franco Manca, which serves amazingly textured sourdough crust pizzas, Mama Lan, a London Supper Club now with a cozy restaurant in Brixton. Serving a variety of authentic Beijing style dumplings, each of them exquisitely handshaped, Mama Lan brings a welcome taste of China to the London food scene.
Broadway Market – Hackney E8
Broadway Market is Hackney’s foodie hipster hub. Older sibling to The Schoolyard Market, this hugely successful Saturday market on the edge of London Fields in east London nearly disappeared in the early 2000s, but a resurgence in 2004 has led to new food stalls and a clientele passionate about food and all things local. Some of the best of Broadway Market include Banhmi11, which was initially set up as a weekend hobby by Van and Anh. Now with two market cafés in addition to its Saturday stall at Broadway, Banhmi11 are serving up the best market fresh Vietnamese food in London. For £5, choose between five banh mi meats — Crackling Pork Belly, Imperial Pork BBQ, Fish Q, Cha Cha Chicken or Temple Tofu. The pork BBQ and pork belly are hugely popular; try the catfish fillet for a pleasant palate surprise. Whilst waiting for your banh mi baguette and pho, drop by East London landmark Violet Bakery’s weekend stall crammed full of sweet delights including cupcakes and their infamous Whoopie Pies. Down a refreshing cold brewed coffee from Climpson & Sons Café, using their own single origin roasted beans; they’re located in a former butcher shop and open daily. Finally, squeeze into the cozy independent bookshop Broadway Bookshop for a quick browse.
Hours: Saturdays 7:30am-6pm.
Netil Market – Hackney E8
The younger sibling of ever popular Broadway Market, also located near London Fields, Netil Market has developed a character and following of its own since its establishment in 2011 by Creative Network Partners. Taking seriously the multidisciplinary nature of ‘creative’, the group launched Netil Market as a platform for designer/makers. Netil Market thus offers not only the usual London market fare of vintage clothing, furniture and jewellery, it also features stalls selling excellent handmade works by local artists and designers. Netil Market is also home to Lucky Chip’s original street van. Dubbed one of London’s best burger spots, grab a Lucky Chip Bacon Burger then pop by its neighbouring stall BAO for a post-burger snack. A relative newcomer to the Netil Market family, BAO London serves excellent traditional Taiwanese street snacks including their signature BAO buns. Taking slow braised pork belly and wrapping it up in a fluffy milk white Steamed Milk Bun, the BAO bun makes for a bite sized treat packed with flavourful goodness.
Market Hours: Weekdays 9am-6pm; Saturdays 11am-6pm. Lucky Chip: Saturdays 12:30pm-6pm. BAO: Saturdays 11:30am-5pm.
Brick Lane Market E1
Brick Lane comes alive on Sundays when most London markets fold up their stalls for the weekend. Located along the East London street famous for its Bangladeshi restaurants, the Brick Lane Market is a favourite amongst arts students, bargain hunters with an eye for the unexpected treasure, or the simply curious. With roots that go back to the 17th century, the modern market is centred on the Old Truman Brewery, which houses stalls selling antique furniture, clothing as well as a section with food stalls from around the world. Part flea market, part food market, the area surrounding the Old Truman Brewery is home to several other markets — the Sunday UpMarket, the Backyard Market, the Boiler House Food Hall, the Tea Rooms and the Vintage Market — that together sell a motley collection of just about everything. Brick Lane is also the Sunday home of the Rib Man, who specialises in succulent, tenderly meaty, spicy ribs. Serving whole and half racks of ribs, rib meat wraps and rib meat rolls, these are topped with the Rib Man’s famous hot sauces that are only for the intrepid. On Thursdays, the Rib Man can be found with KERB at their King’s Cross street food block and at StreetFeast on Fridays.
Hours: Sunday UpMarket open Sundays 10am-5pm.
Backyard Market, Boiler House and Tea Rooms are open Saturday 11am-6pm; Sunday 10am-5pm.
Vintage Market open Thursday & Friday 11am-5:30pm; Saturday 11am-6pm; Sunday 10am-5pm.
Food Cart Pods | KERB and Street Feast
KERB and Street Feast are at the forefront of bringing the street food trend — so popular in American cities like Portland, Austin, Philly and LA — to the British capital. Not quite the traditional London market, KERB and Street Feast London are creating an alternative street food culture. KERB and Street Feast bring together food cart traders, many of whom focus on perfecting one specialty item, and food lovers across the city. KERB features a rotating roster of the city’s mobile food traders, including some of London’s most exciting flavour innovators like Yum Bun, Sorbitium and Pizza Pilgrim. Located just behind King’s Cross station, KERB food pods can also sometimes be spotted in the City near the Gherkin and once at month at UCLU. The best way to keep track of them is to follow their updates on Twitter.
Whereas KERB is a (usually) daytime affair, Street Feast London brings the Night Market to the city. In their own words, since 2012 Street Feast has set up shop in ‘car parks, breweries, warehouses, old tube stations, and builders merchants to create a unique haven for lovers of great food and drink.’ In short, Street Feast is a London foodie’s dream come true. Some of London’s best food carts congregate at Street Feast; keep an eye out on their traders list and you might find Honest Burgers from Brixton or the Rib Man from Brick Lane set up side-by-side at Street Feast.
Exmouth Market – Clerkenwell EC1R
Exmouth Market is nestled in the heart of the narrow winding lanes of Clerkenwell and teems with restaurants that cater to London’s foodie young professionals. An after-work favourite, Exmouth Market is also minutes away from the Sadler’s Wells theatre, one of London’s preeminent performing arts venues. Here, Caravan Restaurant / Roastery serves one of London’s most relaxed brunches set amidst an ultra-tasteful decor. Not only boasting of iconic restaurants like the Eagle gastropub, Exmouth Market also features top-notch pop-up food stalls serving gourmet food. Scandinavian-run Freebirds serves tightly wrapped burritos that can satisfy any cravings for Mexican ancho peppers and refried beans whilst just down the road, Daddy Donkey vies for attention at nearby Leather Lane market with its succulent carnitas, shredded pork slow-cooked flavoured in spices and Coca cola. Otherwise, Spanish restaurant Moro’s street stall draws a loyal weekday lunch crowd with its authentic Moorish street food.
Billingsgate Fish Market – Poplar E14
Located in the east end of London, Billingsgate Fish Market is one of London’s oldest and most venerated markets. In the 16th century, Billingsgate developed into a market specialising in the fish trade and, by the mid-19th century was the largest fish market in the world. In 1982 it moved from its historic location on the River Thames to a far larger location in Poplar. Fishmongers still hawk the day’s catch to London’s discerning buyers; even now, the market primarily serves wholesale buyers from the city’s food industry. Whilst the market is open to the general public, its opening hours — 4:00 am-9:30 am — may put off all but the most dedicated.
Hours: Tuesday to Saturday 4-9:30am.
Columbia Road Market – East London E2
A short walk from Brick Lane Market, Spitalfields and trendy Shoreditch, the Columbia Road Flower Market is hands down one of the best places to go on a sunny Sunday morning in London. Every Sunday throughout the year, Columbia Road is comes into full bloom as flowers and foliage of all colours, shapes and sizes burst into view, filling the air with their vibrant scents. Flowers draw the crowds, but Columbia Road Market offers far more than just flowers and specialty gardening shops. On each side of the street, the road is lined with boutique and vintage shops selling unique house and kitchenware, designer furniture shops, as well as cafés, restaurants and East End art and antique galleries.
Hours: Sundays 8am-around 3pm.
By Stephanie Avila
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