At last, the days of British food being synonymous with soggy crisp sandwiches and fluorescent Chicken Tikka are over! London is finally being recognised for it's incredibly vibrant food scene, fuelled by the brilliant and diverse food markets, and eclectic street food pop-up stalls that are emerging on a daily basis. The best food markets in London come in all shapes and sizes and we've thoroughly enjoyed researching them in person!
The only problem now is the struggle to choose what and where to eat, with so much on offer. But don't worry - they're open every week, so you can always go back for round 2 (or 3, or 4...). Enjoy!
Food markets London:
This self-proclaimed ‘nomadic street food circus’ is unlike any food market you have ever experienced before! As a night market (opening on Friday and Saturday evenings), it gives off the atmosphere of a music festival with stalls, DJs, and thousands of food-loving visitors. Located in Dalston (but with occasional visits elsewhere in London), Street Feast offers a variety of delicious food stalls from big names like Yum Bun, Bob’s Lobster and Mark Hix, selling everything from ice cream to jerk chicken. The bar is big, the prices are reasonable and there is plenty to eat – could this be the best night out ever?!
If you only visit one food market in London, make it Borough – the biggest, boldest and best. This famous gourmet market dates back to the 13th century, making it the oldest in London (although it has changed a bit over the years!). Originally a wholesale market, it now offers both produce and street food from up to 70 stalls. You can find everything from rare meat and game (Ostrich, anyone?) to freshly cooked scallops and chorizo sandwiches. There are plenty of drinks to buy too – stalls selling Prosecco and sangria are popular in the summer months, while the popular pop-up Scotch Tails offers scotch eggs and cocktails! There is also a branch of Monmouth coffee just across the road, but be aware that queues often stretch around the corner. The general rule with Borough is try to get there early to avoid the crowds – although bargains can still be found late in the day.
Smithfield's Meat Market
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This probably isn’t one to visit if you’re a vegetarian - Smithfield’s is the largest wholesale meat market in the UK, although they also sell cheese, savouries and produce. Located in a beautiful Victorian building in the City, there has been a market on this site for over 800 years. The history of the site is fascinating – it was once home to jousting tournaments, and the infamous St Bartholomew’s Fair which was banned in the Victorian period for being to raucous! As a wholesale market Smithfield’s stocks some of London’s best restaurants, so this is the place to come if you are looking for the best meat you can possibley get for a good price. The market is only open 3am-8am though, so get up early/stay up late if you want to get the best deals!
Brixton Village Market
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Located in the South London area of Brixton, this eclectic covered street market is best known for the amazing international food on offer, particularly African and Caribbean. Offering both produce and street food stalls, it has become a popular haunt on Thursday and Friday nights for those who want a few drinks and something a bit different to eat. There are also vintage and antique stalls depending on when you come and on Sundays it turns into a Farmer’s Market. Many well-known restaurants started as stalls in Brixton Market, so keep your eyes peeled for the next big trend in food.
Maltby Street Market
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Hidden under railway arches in Bermondsey, Maltby Street Market is the secret spin-off of Borough Market, with a number of traders having made the switch in the last few years (and a few selling at both and getting in trouble for it!). With an emphasis on informal, artisanal food, Maltby is perfect for those who want the high quality of Borough Market, in a less hectic setting with hardly any tourists. High-end producers such as St John’s Bakery, Neal’s Yard Cheese and the London Bee Company all sell their wares here during the weekend, while Monday to Friday it becomes wholesale. The close proximity to Borough also means you can easily visit two markets in one day!
Billingsgate Fish Market
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London may be quite far from the sea, but you wouldn’t know it from Billingsgate Fish Market – it’s the largest inland seafood market in the UK, with over 13 acres of fishy goods. Located in Canary Wharf, this is by far the best place in London to come if you’re a devoted seafood fan. Running as a market since the 16th century, Billingsgate now also offers courses and classes at their adjacent school for those who wish to learn how to prepare fish and seafood. While casual browsers are welcome, Billingsgate runs largely as a wholesale business, so watch out for the fishmongers running between the aisles with huge pallets! Like Smithfield, a very early start is also recommended – most say 5am is the best time to come for the freshest fish.
Photo credit: www.sustainweb.org
Situated in a car park in Lewisham, Brockley is by far the most informal and least established of all the markets in this list. However, don’t let that fool you – it is still one of the best in London, with a fantastic array of produce stalls offering fresh fruit and vegetables, meats and cheeses, and popular street food stalls like Mike and Ollie and Mother Flipper. The location, size and restricted opening (Saturdays only) means that Brockley Market is never too crowded or too touristy, so come and check it out if you want something a bit more local.
Main Photo Credit: digitaltemi