London has long been described as a great foodie destination, but it’s no longer about sitting down at a table in a top quality restaurant. Some of the best meals found in the capital today are sold by vendors on the street, in markets and in all manner of spaces, since many of them have food stalls that can go anywhere.
All over London, you can find prime spots for tucking into some tasty dishes from everywhere you can think of in the world. Just beware that some of your favourite vendors may have moved on since your last visit, so don’t get your heart set on anything. Instead, go with an empty stomach and an open mind and see what takes your fancy.
Street food is as much about the experience as it is the flavour. Chefs are going to bigger and better lengths to ensure their offering outshines the rest. This means all manner of retro vehicles done up into scran vans and staff decked out to the nines.
Here are some of the street food locations to check out in London:
Victoria Good Food Market
This wonderful street food market can be found in Cardinal Place Shopping Centre every Thursday between 11am and 2pm. Its timings make for a perfect lunch stop towards the end of the week when you feel like you’ve earned yourself a treat. Expect to find everything from the quintessentially British fish and chips to Brazilian and Polish delicacies that will make your mouth water.
Open five days a week to serve all the office workers nearby, Exmouth Market has a particularly international vibe and never fails to satisfy. Perhaps it’s the fact that the vendors are in direct competition with local well-respected restaurants that means they never lower their game. Stop by between 12 noon and 3pm Monday to Friday.
St Katharine Docks Good Food Market
A great choice if you’re looking for a healthy street food option, this weekly market will brighten up any Friday afternoon. Accompanied by a lovely waterfront setting, visitors can choose between Thai or Turkish, as well as a selection of other cuisines from around 20 stalls. Things kick off at 11am and expect the best dishes to be sold out by 3pm.
Global Kitchen at Camden Lock
If you don’t know what kind of food you fancy in advance, simply follow your nose to Global Kitchen at Camden Lock. Its vendors are there every day from 10am to 6pm, serving up all sorts of delicious foods. Whether it’s mac and cheese or pulled pork wraps, this collection of worldly delights has got your food cravings covered.
Brick Lane has long been famed for its food, but it’s time to step out of the curry house and onto the kerb. Head to the section of the street between the Old Truman Brewery and Shoreditch High Street to see what’s cooking on any day of the week. Yes, you’ll find Indian options, but there’s bound to be more to discover besides.
A perennial favourite of foodies in London is Borough Market, which is open all through the week and at the weekends too. Wander around and see what catches your fancy before purchasing anything, because the selection is just so vast. After planning your attack, opt for a couple of things that will go together from different stalls, then find yourself a perch and tuck into your haul.
Golborne Road and Portobello Road
Probably the best spots for street food in the whole of west London are on Golborne Road and Portobello Road. The specialities in these parts tend to be Middle Eastern, which is great for vegetarians and lovers of fine flavours alike. Get there between 10am and 4pm during the week, but you can risk turning up a little later on Saturdays and still find your appetite catered for.
The best vendors:
Usually found at Druid Street Market, Spice Box is the tastiest guilt-free meal you’ll ever have. We’re talking vegan curries served with cauliflower rice – now who can argue with that?!
Taiwanese may be the new street food kid on the blog, but it has already won over so many fans. Bao is a family business run out of Netil Market on a Sunday and is all steamed milk buns and delicious fillings.
The Rib Man
Former butcher-turned-street-food-vendor, The Rib Man really knows his meat and how to cook it. Be sure to try one of his immense hot sauces to top it all off. He’s usually all sold out by 2pm on a Sunday on Brick Lane, but he also sets up shop at The Boleyn Tavern every time West Ham play at home, so get yourself along.
If you thought that the humble baked potato was boring, then think again. At skins, this seemingly everyday ingredient is turned into a thing of true beauty. The namesake skins are crisped up to perfection and become the base for some incredible toppings. Think comfort food gone wild.
Stacked lunchboxes that every vegetarian would die for, Oli Baba’s is a fresh ingredient lover’s dream. There’s light flatbreads, scrumptious tabbouleh, smooth hummus, herb-packed salads and perfectly cooked sweet potato fries. Get yours at Dalston Food Market.
They do move around quite a bit, so you might not always be able to track Cooking Cooks down. If you do, it will probably be at Street Food Union or Duke of York Square and you can be guaranteed to get a great feed. Expect fresh, homemade pasta to order in a variety of enticing colours and then enhanced with an authentic sauce of your choice – yum.