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I’m sure you remember the first time you got turned on to street food. Like us, you were probably dragged there by a foodie friend or partner, in protest, because, isn’t it just easier to go to a restaurant, sit, and be doted on? But you quickly realised that food markets are now something entirely new. Relaxed and informal yet possessing a buzzing ambience, the new breed of modern markets fuses together the best and most innovative street food vendors, and an emergence of mono-product specialists, allowing for more interesting choices than traditional menus. Why settle for an Italian, when at a market you can have a first course of lobster mac and cheese, followed by a jackfruit taco, followed by a salted caramel cronut, all washed down by a piña colada served in a coconut shell? But forget about busy Borough Market. Here are some lesser-known local faves.
Curated by Partridges, the specialty food shop, the Duke of York Square Food Market fuses elevated options such as fresh-rolled sushi, and a stand where you can get a half-dozen shucked oysters for £7, and a glass of champagne, if inclined. These treats are juxtaposed with a range of unexpected global hits, such as a dumpling truck, a Brazilian grill with excellent feijoada, and a vegan Jamaican place which always creates a long queue.
80 Duke of York Square, SW3 4LY
When: Saturdays, 10am – 4pm
Nearest Tube Station: Sloane Square
Located in 45,000sqft of industrial space, the halls of Mercato Metropolitano are surrounded by leafy courtyards, each appointed with bars and food stalls. Wood-fire pizzas, and a stall selling myriad focaccias stand out as winners. Several specialist bars will quench your thirst, with anything from small-batch gin to biodynamic wines, to Bavarian-style beers and tropical cocktails. There’s also a yoga studio and a Backyard Cinema.
42 Newington Causeway, SE1 6DR
When: Open seven days a week. Plus, it starts up at 8am during the week, and stays open until 11pm every day except Sunday.
Nearest Tube Station: Borough or Elephant & Castle.
Berwick Street Market
Though not as famous as some of the other markets, Berwick Street Market has been around since 1778. Savage Salads is great if you’re in a healthy mood, with hot and cold salads made with a variety of the freshest and healthiest premium ingredients. Lord of the Wings’ free-range chicken wings in five different flavours are ace if you want some sustenance.
Berwick St, Soho, W1F 0PH
When: Monday – Saturday: 8:00 – 18:00
Nearest Tube or Overground: Leicester Square or Piccadilly Circus
The people at the KERB company have spent the last five years at the top of the street food game, working away to ensure that Londoners have access to a lot of really great vendors. One standout stall INK Squid Bar, which serves crispy calamari with chillies, parsley and a black squid ink garlic mayo, as well as Lovely Bunch of Coconuts, which doles out hearty Mauritian food. Order the Roti.
Where: The have several locations throughout London, operating at different times of the week – see here.
Leather Lane Market
Simple and honest, and even sometimes described as “a bit scruffy”, the East End’s Leather Lane Market has the unpretentious charms of old-world London. Our favourite is definitely the Rodeo Sub at Sub Cult; with Aged Sirloin Steak, Truffle Mayo, Provolone Cheese, Shallot Marmalade, Pickled Chillies and Rocket. Solid.
Leather Lane, Holborn, London EC1N 7TJ
Nearest Tube Station: Chancery Lane or Farringdon
Tucked down in a quaint secluded alley in Southwark, lined by repurposed railway arches, Maltby Street is the perfect size – large enough for variety and small enough to retain a charming village feel. Highlights are the Cheese Truck’s grilled cheese, the salt beef sandwiches, and Little Bird – the small batch gin distillery.
Maltby Street, SE1 3PA
When: Saturday 10am - 5pm, Sunday 11am - 4pm
Nearest Tube Station: London Bridge
Luardo’s Burritos, located primarily at Whitecross Street Market in Farringdon, are said to be the best in Europe. We like the chicken, poached with garlic and bay leaf, topped with coriander, pico de gallo, guacamole, lettuce and sour cream. There are also excellent Korean wraps at this prime lunchtime market.
Whitecross St, London EC1Y 8JL
When: Thursday – Friday: 11:00 – 17:00
Nearest Tube or Overground: Old Street or Barbican Station