The days of London’s markets being hubs for fruit and veg, dodgy Rolexes, and lots of things for a pahnd are pretty much over. Nowadays it’s food, food, food, and there’s a serious lot to choose from all over London. So we’re here to guide you on the ones to go to - because nobody wants to spend six quid on a bang average mac ’n cheese - and make the most of a day in the sun wandering, eating, and eating some more.
Here are the top spots to wander through on a sunny day and take the opportunity to eat an eclectic range of awesome food.
Camden at the weekend is like every embarrassing adolescent moment you’ve ever had, rolled into a few hundred metres of tattoo parlour, goth store, and vape cafe. Skip the Stables Market and wander over to Kerb, which, while still completely mobbed at the weekend, has far better eating options. Of these, the fried chicken and burritos from Mother Clucker and Luardos still do it for us. As do Makatcha’s Indonesian BBQ options, and the bagels from Ghetto Grillz. There is, however, some Instagrammy stuff you can avoid - skip the halloumi fries and vegan tacos, and don’t even bother with the cheese wheel.
Ingeniously nicknamed Bitecross Street (can you see what they’ve done there), this street market in between Old Street and the Barbican has become a standard for workers nearby. It’s a global affair which includes (now) old-time burrito makers Luardos, Brazilian flatbread makers Beiju, and a cheap as chips lahmacun from The Iskelé.
You might only know Canada Water as a place you’ve woken up at having missed your tube stop, but there is one thing worth making the trip here specifically for. Hawker House is a warehouse worth spending an entire evening in. It’s one of Street Feast’s more impressive venues, and although it’s only open on the weekends, some of their best vendors like Mother Clucker and Yum Bun make the trip worth it - you’ll want to make sure you eat their fried chicken sandwiches and ice cream baos respectively. The drinks offering is pricey but the selection is impressive with lots of heavily stocked, heavily themed bars. There’s communal seating so you can pick and mix from any of the 10+ traders which makes Hawker House perfect for a long evening of eating, drinking, and avoiding the tourists in central London.
Is there a better nighttime place to hang out with great food and drinks than at POP Brixton? We don’t think so. It’s a neon-lit complex of shipping containers packed with street food vendors and mini restaurants, hawking everything from fancy Spanish tapas and Ghanaian comfort food, to the greatest fried chicken sandwich in London. Also, Franzina Trattoria is a handmade pasta place that has become one of our favourites. You’ll come here and never want to leave. It’s awesome for a group, and an excellent plan of action would be just to rock up to Brixton at the weekend with a few friends and bounce from one stall to another all evening.
When it opened in autumn 2016, street food market Mercato Metropolitano looked pretty glum. Like London itself, it was grim in the winter, all grey and wet, and the random location between Borough and Elephant definitely didn’t help. In warm weather though, it makes sense - it’s a good spot to rock up at the weekend with a few friends and eat and drink in the sunshine. On top of the usual craft beer, burgers, and hot dogs, there’s an Italian slant (clue’s in the name) and as well as a build-your-own tiramisu and Italian sandwiches, there’s a grocery where you can pick up some fancy cured meat and cheese. Give it a visit when you want something a bit more chilled out than the usual street food scene.
Welcome to one of the best hangout spots in all of London - Maltby Street Market is so good that we even come in the middle of winter. In summer though, it’s unbeatable - it’s a narrow street packed wall-to-wall with excellent food vendors and the odd antique store, and if you don’t leave a couple of kilos heavier, there could be something wrong with you. Besides excellent food options and plenty of space in the area to perch with a drink, it’s bookended by some excellent restaurants, including small plates specialist 40 Maltby Street, as well as the St. John Bakery. Plan to get here at the weekend and spend at least a couple of hours eating your weight in doughnuts.
There was a time, when we grew up, that going to Spitalfields was like entering a hurricane of the most London kind. There were smells, sounds, and socks falling from stalls everywhere. If you were eating you were getting a bagel from Brick Lane. Nowadays things are very different. And the food has gotten better. Spitalfields Kitchens has some of the best grab and go food in London. Top restaurants like Monty’s Deli and Berber and Q have stalls here. While Dumpling Shack, Yum Bun and Sood Family are delicious options.
Open air food markets aren’t as common in West London as they are elsewhere, presumably because when you have so many private squares to day drink in, you don’t really need Korean burritos. Pergola Paddington is a nice addition to the area around the canal basin. It has a setup that’s halfway between an open food court and a Mediterranean garden, with loads of pretty plants, and a beachy vibe that’ll almost make your social media followers think that you’re in Mykonos. The food lineup is decent - burger from Patty & Bun, tacos from DF/Mexico and Southern cooking from Decatur - and there’s heaps of space for your whole crew.
If you and your mates are blocking traffic on Commercial Street arguing over which of Shoreditch’s billions of restaurants to hit tonight, Dinerama is a quality solution. It’s one of Street Feast’s first and best spots, and has an extra nice feel especially during summertime where the roof comes off. Although the standard of their vendors has fallen behind some other newer places, there’s a quality evening to be had here. All your eating and drinking needs are neatly condensed in two floors of rowdy drinking at a bar that really is called ‘German Sex Dungeon’. A kebab from Babek Brothers, and a pot of donuts from You Donut will sort you out nicely. A session at the German Sex Dungeon is optional.
There’s a reason why your trendiest mate upped sticks to London Fields. At the weekend, it’s one of the best places to hang out in London. It’s even better in the summer, and Broadway Market is a big reason why. Hit up Dumpling Shack for some tasty (if pricey) pan-fried dumplings, Black Bear for killer cheeseburgers, and Butchies for a brilliant fried chicken sandwich. Just next door, Netil Market is home to the original Bao (of Soho queue fame), where you can grab a fluffy, porky bun without waiting for ages. Afterwards, wander over to one of the surrounding bars for a drink and some A+ people watching, or collapse in London Fields for a nap. It’s a scene, but it’s an incredibly entertaining one.
Ten or fifteen years ago, you would’ve been delighted to get a jacket potato with beans down Leather Lane. Nowadays, you’ll probably have a hard time choosing whether to go for the purple mash or some polenta with your lunch. This market has gone from a clothing to a food mecca. Daddy Donkey burritos were one of the first and now have permanent residence, while Grill My Cheese are sure to fill you up, especially if you’ve been to the Craft Beer Co up the road for a sharpener beforehand.