The 19 Best Places To Eat & Drink In Borough Market
photo credit: Koray Firat
If you live in London, you’ll end up browsing Borough Market at least once a year. It’s just a fact of living here, like crying on the Central line, or being intimidated by a pigeon.
Accepting this inevitability means that you also need a plan of attack before you head to the market. Ideally, you’ll be able to get to all the best stuff without joining any old queue because you’re worried that you’ll miss out, and you’ll minimise the time you spend sandwiched between French tour groups. Here’s our guide to make sure that happens. And when you’ve exhausted all of the options inside the market, we’ve got guides to the best restaurants in nearby London Bridge and Bermondsey too.
Grab a big pile of napkins after ordering at The Black Pig—you’ll need more than you think. The doorstop-sized ciabatta sandwiches from the perma-busy Borough Market stall are generously stuffed, and will drip sauce and spill slaw no matter how anaconda-like you can stretch your jaw. Each one contains a small mound of juicy, tender, slow-roasted pork shoulder between springy bread. Our favourite extra fillings are in the Salsa Verde, with tangy, fresh apple and fennel slaw, creamy aioli, and herby salsa verde.
Some of the baying crowd at Borough Market have got the right idea—particularly the ones inhaling kubba haleb and potato chap outside Juma Kitchen. These deep-fried bites—formed from rice or potato patties and filled with aromatic, baharat-spiced lamb mince—are the snack that’s made this Iraqi stall rightly popular. If you’re after a show, swing by London Bridge at 1pm on a Sunday, when a gargantuan pot of dolma, an Iraqi family-style dish, is unveiled.
Long lines at Borough Market can sometimes result in disappointment, but not at Shuk;. So if there’s a wait at the Israeli stall, know the soft, pillowy pitas are worth it. Our go-to filling is juicy chicken shawarma with plenty of garlicky toum, herby schug, and crunchy salad. Grab a pile of napkins, find a bench, and dive in.
The chorizo roll at Brindisa’s Chorizo Grill on Stoney Street is one of London’s best sandwiches. All you need to know is that there’s some sweet pepper, some spicy chorizo, and rocket in a white bun, and that you definitely won’t be mad that you ate it. Double up on the chorizo if you like to live dangerously.
Speaking of sandwiches, the cheese toastie at Kappacasein—raclette, comté, and creamy leeks sandwiched between sourdough slices—is a thing of beauty. If you want to keep your hands kind of clean, get the new potatoes with melted cheese instead. This Alpine-style cheesemaker is open Thursday to Saturday, and there’ll be a line at all times, but it moves fast.
Stopping by Porteña for a few empanadas is essential when you’re in Borough Market. This Argentinian street food spot has four go-to meat numbers—beef, chicken, chorizo, or ham and cheese—as well as three vegetarian options—provolone and caramelised onion, spinach and ricotta, and caprese. They’re spicy, delicious, and great-value.
We’re big fans of alliteration. But we’re even bigger fans of this stall. Gourmet Goat serves Mediterranean dishes made with seasonal vegetables and British meat, shockingly, including a lot of goat. Although it serves everything from slow-roast veal salads to halloumi bulgar wheat bowls, the kid goat kofta pitta is what you really want to get involved in. We challenge anyone to come here and try this bad boy without entering a very serious and slightly obsessive conversation about tzatziki.
Horn OK Please is named after a phrase seen on the back of cars and trucks in India when overtaking, and you’ll understand the relevance of this name as you try to slyly overtake a daydreaming tourist in front of you. The reason for the queue jumping is this spot’s moong daal dosa—a spiced potato and lentil-filled pancake served with channa chaat—is really quite brilliant. It’s gently spiced (although you can ask for a hotter version) and is one of the best vegetable-filled meals you can get in the market.
If you’re able to walk away from Hobbs Meat Roast without apple sauce on your chin and pulled pork down your top, then you’re doing it wrong. This roast meat spot serves baguettes, wraps, and buns full of things you’d usually find in a roast. You might be tempted to try out the salt beef and the roast loin of pork, but resist the urge. This place believes in big portions—you’ll only need one.
You can get freshly shucked oysters at Richard Haward’s in the market, and you’re going to want to do that. Grab a seat and order a few along with a chilled glass of wine. For feeling like a baller on the cheap, this is pretty much unbeatable.
We like to hit this Indian place up when we’re in the mood for something wholesome. And the vegetarian street food dishes like papdi chaat and pau bhaji always do the trick. Rest assured that it’s all excellent and know that there are plenty of vegan options too.
A market isn’t a real market without doughnuts, and the ones at Bread Ahead are properly good. If you bring a box into work, you’ll pretty much be guaranteed a raise. Your boss said so. The sea salted caramel is a showstopper with a slab of honeycomb balanced on top, and the rustic baguette makes for a tasty snack to nibble on as you wander about.
THE SIT-DOWN SPOTS
At Borough Market, the early bird gets the fry-up. Although Maria’s Market Cafe serves until early afternoon, come in the morning before stalls open. The tourist throng hasn’t reached fever pitch and you’re likely to eavesdrop on the wonderful group of women who run this tight ship as they catch up with regulars. The wipe-clean tablecloths and plastic bottles of red and brown sauce give it a caff feel, and the food is hearty, satisfying stuff. Our go-to is a soft, floury roll with sausage and crispy-edged bubble and squeak.
You don’t visit Rambutan to completely escape the chaos of the market, but the chaos inside this Sri Lankan spot is the organised kind. It’s glimpsing gundu dosas being flipped in a paniyaram pan over an open fire, and watching staff dash about the store cupboard-sized kitchen. Warmth radiates from all corners of the plant-filled dining room and friends split excellent prawn curries and over-order dishes from the changing menu—like meaty mutton rolls and spicy fried chicken—without regret.
Monmouth has some of the best coffee in Borough (if not all of London), and its filter coffee is especially good. Just try to get here early in the morning or mid-afternoon if you want to avoid the queues at peak times. It’s especially nice to stroll around with a hot cup of caffeine while fantasising that you might actually do something with those expensive vegetables you just bought.
When you walk into Borough Market, one of the first things you’ll see is the massive beer and wine stall. What you might not notice is that the owners also have a pub behind the market, which is where you should go if you want to do some serious beer drinking. It’s a tiny bar but there’s a small outdoor bit for warm days, and the staff are freakishly knowledgeable about their craft and proper ales. The Rake is a perfect escape while your other half is cooing over some wild mushrooms.
Amid all the stalls, Borough Market has some very good sit-down restaurants that are worth slowing things down for, and Elliot’s is one of them. Elliot’s is a wine bar/cafe with French and Italian-influenced sharing plates like wood-fired pizza, quality meat and fish cooked on the grill, and zingy, creative salads.
Don’t let the weather put you off—the ice cream at Gelateria 3BIS tastes just as good in the rain as it does in the sunshine. The stracciatella and hazelnut flavours are our favourites, and the answer should be “yes” if they ask if you’d like some chocolate sauce. Wandering around the market with one of these is a pleasure, especially if you happen to be about when the crowds thin a little.
Wright Brothers is our favourite spot to perch with a beer and a pint of prawns, because it feels like you’re in Borough Market without having to deal with the craziness of the market itself. It overlooks the stalls and specialises in seafood, so you can get everything from a snack to a full-blown seafood tower. Sitting here in the sunshine with a cold drink is a quintessentially London experience, and perhaps the one thing we’d unequivocally travel to Borough for.