There’s no better way of experiencing the vibrant life of London than to visit one of its markets. From Borough to Brixton, fishmonger to meat seller, the plethora of food markets offer something to suit every visitor’s taste. We narrow down the options with our pick of the ten best food markets in London.
KERB and Street Feast are at the forefront of bringing the street food trend to the British capital. Bringing 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 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. 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 HotBox or Prawnography.
No list of markets in London can be complete without Borough Market. 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. The queue outside of Monmouth Coffee is one of the great constants of life in London. Equally so 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, a 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 hard 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.
If you’re looking to avoid long queues and plodding tourists, 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, and Little Bread Pedlar. On Saturdays, the market transforms into a lively gathering of local foodies who crave some of the freshest food in London, 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 American breakfast-inspired café, but save some room for St JOHN Bakery’s incredible custard doughnuts. Wash it all down with a sweetly creamy single origin Flat White from the friendly baristas at the Craft Coffee cart.
Located in an old covered market arcade, Brixton Village Market is emerging as one of London’s great foodie hot spots and has revitalised the Brixton area. Here you can find 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. Some of Brixton Village’s best known and tastiest food stands include Franco Manca, which serves amazingly textured sourdough crust pizzas and Mama Lan, a London Supper Club now with a cozy restaurant in Brixton.
Broadway Market is Hackney’s foodie 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 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. The pork BBQ and pork belly banh mi are hugely popular, or try the catfish fillet for something different. 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, who use their own single origin roasted beans. Finally, squeeze into the cozy independent bookshop Broadway Bookshop for a quick browse.
The younger sibling of ever popular Broadway Market, also located near London Fields, Netil Market has developed a following of its own since its establishment in 2011 by Creative Network Partners. Netil Market 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. For a post-burger snack pop over to newcomer to the Netil Market family, BAO London for a traditional Taiwanese street snack. 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.
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 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 and 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.
Exmouth Market is nestled in the heart of the narrow winding lanes of Clerkenwell and teems with restaurants that cater to London’s young professionals. An after-work favourite, Exmouth Market is also minutes away from the Sadler’s Wells theatre, one of London’s pre-eminent performing arts venues. Caravan Restaurant/Roastery serves one of London’s most relaxed brunches, set amidst ultra-tasteful decor. Here you can find iconic restaurants like The Eagle gastropub, Exmouth Market as well as 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. 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.
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.
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 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 house and kitchenware, designer furniture shops, as well as cafés, restaurants and East End art and antique galleries.