Like a lot of pedestrianised neighbourhoods, the streets around London Fields excel in two key areas: ambling and eating. Feeling worse for wear after a heavy night? There’s a cheeseburger you should know about. Bumped into someone you or your friend vaguely knows? Sounds like a coffee and a pastry opportunity. Feeling a little down in the dumps? It’s a good thing one of London’s best sandwiches is just around the corner. You see, London Fields has plenty of delicious and gluggable options if you happen to be passing by. These are the best ones:
SOMETHING BIG, BREADY, AND HANDMADE
Saray Broadway Cafe
Every weekend Broadway Market puts on a production of ‘Hey, This Feels Kinda Normal, Right?’, an unrehearsed pandemic-proof show, where swathes of people with Terminator-like focus appear on a mission to get a coffee from Climpson & Sons. If you’re looking to get in and out of here with something delicious, all while avoiding the locals and their army of whippets, then Broadway Cafe is your best bet. It’s a straightforward looking caf that hand rolls gözleme in the window every day. A blanket-sized roll of spinach and feta-filled flatbread will cost you about £3. Warm, salty, soft, and crisp around the edges, it really is good enough to snuggle up in.
WHAT YOUR HANGOVER NEEDS
Gözleme might be precisely what you need right now (in which case, see above), but if you’re feeling patient and less queue averse, there’s Hill & Szrok right next door to Saray on Broadway Market. The bougie butchers makes a mean Toulouse sausage, among lots of other things. But it’s their double cheeseburger - foil-wrapped, juice-heavy, and pickle-generous - that has us loitering outside on Fridays and Saturdays like a hypebeast with a hankering. That said, their merch is pretty tasty as well.
AN IRRESISTIBLE LUNCH DEAL
It feels silly to call Mare Street off the beaten track, but in comparison to the perma-London Fields festival, it can feel that way. It’s where you’ll find Caribbean Kitchen and their too-good-to-turn-down lunch deals. Back in the day, when fresh air was breathed, and items were handled willy-nilly, there was something called ‘Ye Olde Mealus Dealus’. It was sad, it was more often inhaled than chewed, and Caribbean Kitchen puts it to shame. Their chicken stew with rice and peas is a generous and chilli-warming lunch for one. The same goes for their vegan sweet potato and black bean offering. Or there’s a jerk chicken wrap if you’re looking for something for handheld, all for in and around a fiver.
Or, L’eau à La Bouche is a - how do you say? - _très charmante deli that does a mean croque monsieur or raclette toastie, perfect for a midweek pick-me-up._
A SQUID SANDWICH AND SANCERRE
You know the end bit of the toothpaste? When you slowly, strategically fold and squeeze every last bit of minty goodness out of the tube? That’s what Instagram does with some food. Bright’s squid sandwich is one example. Look, we know we’re part of the problem. And we’re not here to play devil’s advocate either - that sandwich is the perfect balance of soft, pillowy, squid and aioli simplicity. Rather, we just want to say, FYI, all the other stuff Bright does is, probably, even better. Their at-home meals feel and taste like real, visceral, not-at-home food. A coq au vin jaune got us especially nostalgic for the old days (AKA life). Plus, their wine selection and nibbly bits is also excellent.
Or, Fin and Flounder supplies Bright with all of their seafood. The fishmongers is just around the corner. If it’s the bottle you’re driven by, then Noble Fine Liquor that’s run by the P. Franco and Bright team, is on Broadway Market.
HANDHELD THINGS TO GET A LITTLE MESSY WITH
Netil Market isn’t exactly lacking in options, but Sonora, which make some of London’s best tacos, shouldn’t be missed. Whatever you go for here, you’re not going to be disappointed. But nor are you going to get away without queuing. It’s worth it. The tacos are weighty, sauce-filled numbers where cheese-crust is essential. The bean and cheese quesadilla is a gooey, any-time-of-day classic. While the chicharrónnes burrito has seen us through some shaky Saturday mornings.
Or, there’s plenty within touching distance in Netil Market. Like Bao for some fried chicken and pillow-y buns, Treats Club for those Biscoff salted caramel doughnut days, and Pockets if a packed-out vegetarian pitta sounds like the business.