London has an impressive array of street foods on offer at the many markets across the city, from the shabby traditional no-nonsense market to the more recent jazzy markets popping up there are so many options to choose from catering for all tastes and budgets (though some really push the boundaries of acceptable pricing for so-called ‘street food’, no names mentioned). Here is a list of just 10 of my personal favorite street food offerings;
Old Spitalfields Market
When I worked near old Spitalfields market I had an endless supply of great lunch options and having trialed nearly all the street food on offer here I have narrowed down my favorites to the following three:
1. Cafe Caribbean
I am beginning to sound like a broken record here by writing about my love for Café Caribbean yet again. I have taken friends, family and visitors from abroad to savor the delights of the Jerk chicken, potatoes, and rice and peas on offer at this permanent old Spitalfields fixture and I don’t think I could ever get bored of it. Cooked with love and soul this tastes like something out of your friends Grandma’s kitchen. Cafe Caribbean also features on my top 10 cheap eats and city Halal lunches posts which you can read in the London town section.
2. Market Green
This was my go to lunch joint when I wanted some satisfying, guilt free healthy food and represents so much of what I love about London street food – fusion cuisine! You choose your protein (I always go for the honey soy grilled salmon though the Vietnamese meat balls are a crowd pleaser too) which is served with grains/veg (I always go for the delicious Turkish bulgar) and a choice of two sides from sweetcorn pudding, sweet potato mash, Asian slaw (Seriously good) and kale and strawberry salad. No additives or processed ingredients are used – this is just natural and healthy food at its best
3. Napoleon Pizza
For those more glutinous days when only a pizza will do this pizza van specializing in Naples style pizza hits the spot and then some. Neapolitan pizza is becoming increasing popular in London and for good reason too – the charred bread like base is unlike any other type of pizza and this van in Spitalfields serves them up to lunchtime perfection.
Goulston street market
4. Japanese Katsu Wrap
Cruel irony is discovering an amazing food market right by your office of years just ONE month before you’re due to move to a different location that renders lunch time visits to newly discovered market impossible. Instead of weeping over time lost however I will cherish the time left with this great market to appreciate the amazing innovation that is the Katsu Chicken wrap. Is this a thing that I’ve somehow missed or am I correct in thinking this is a wholly new and original concept? So simple, yet so genius – what is there not to love about crunchy katsu chicken, fresh and crisp salad, chilli sauce and a touch of humus (genius, honestly) wrapped lovingly in a tortilla? The queues that stretch around the corner of this stall show that many share my enthusiasm for the katsu wrap.
5. Turkish Gozleme
Whitecross market has so many options to choose from and I definitely think a few more visits are in order to make a completely informed decision, however for now I will have to go with the Turkish Gozleme stall. Hand rolled Turkish flatbread stuffed with cheese and spinach or meat takes a twist here as it is then wrapped around additional fillings such as Turkish sausage or halloumi cheese and salad. The flat breads are rolled in front of you by a bevy of Turkish lady’s as is typical in Turkey and customized to your taste in a spin on the traditional Turkish staple. If you want some more Turkish food options check out my definitive guide to Green Lanes – Turkish food heaven post here.
Portobello Market (Goldbourne road)
6. Moroccan Fish
Behind the world-famous Portobello market stretching from Portobello road to Ladbroke grove is the Goldbourne Road market which is reminiscent of the Portobello market of the early 90’s before it was sexed up. Here you will find busy stalls grilling all types of fish and eagerly waiting customers tying to secure their order before the sea bass or sword fish runs out. There are a few of these Moroccan fish stalls and they are all equally as good so pick which ever looks most appealing to you and has the best seating availability. On a typical day customers are made up of Moroccan women, Rastafarian men, Algerians from the nearby mosque, Notting Hill yuppies and genuine foodies – both regulars and first timers.
The menu is simple and written clearly on a large black board – fish, chips, rice, salad and bread for £5. Extras of Calamari cost more. Fish on offer ranges from sea bass, swordfish, tuna steak to whatever else the fish monger has in that day. Marinated fish in olive oil, spices and peppers are laid out on the huge grill pan and make shift chairs and tables surround the ‘kitchen action’. Also featured on our Top 10 London Cheap Eats posts here.
Shepherd’s Bush Market
7. Mr Falafel
Shepherds Bush market has not changed much in the last 15 years which means for some it pales in comparison to the new and ever-changing jazzy markets of London popping up everywhere, but it has one redeeming feature which alone makes it worthy of much praise – for of course it houses the amazing Mr Falafel (plus there’s something very satisfying about traditional London markets humble and unchanged in the face of mason jars, exposed brick and vintage cool market stall vans). Mr Falafel started off life as a humble stall in the market which quickly became popular with both local residents, market sellers and the BBC media types based down the road at White City and has now upgraded to a fully standing covered ‘shop’ of sorts in the market with a door and tables and chairs to sit at (no more messy eating on the bus necessary). Quite simply this is my favorite falafel sandwich in London – freshly made falafel, fried aubergine and potatoes, gherkins and pickles and chilli sauce with an actual kick – the perfect components for a holy eating experience. The falafel menu is extensive – additions range from halloumi, avocado, broad beans, fried cauliflower, spicy potatoes and of course my beloved fried aubergines. This also features on my top 10 London cheap eat post here.
8. The Veggie Table
The Vegan friendly Veggie table at Borough Market can convert even carnivores to the way of the beetroot burger – which tastes a lot better than it sounds. Set up by a married couple frustrated by the lack of good food options for vegans the Veggie Table really delivers and is extremely fulfilling. The freshly made burgers are difficult to explain for people wholly unfamiliar with the versatility of beetroot – it needs to be experienced to be believed! The veggie table only trades on Friday, Saturday and Sunday’s.
Dietary: Vegetarian, Vegan
9. Horn Ok Please – Masala Dosa
Another veggie friendly option on this list is the Masala Dosa stall at Borough Market. Dosas are a type of Indian pancake made from lentil flour and gluten-free which are filled with masala spiced potatoes and served up with mixed chaat items and my favorite Indian condiments – tamarind sauce and mint chutney! The dosa is made in front of you and prepared according to your tastes. Nothing quite says summer to me like a sunny lunchtime spent at Borough Market eating some good vegetarian food and grabbing a freshly squeezed juice after.
10. Ethiopian Vegetarian Food Stall
I absolutely love Eritrean and Ethiopian food – spicy, aromatic vegetarian stews or slow cooked meat served on injara (east African Gluten free sourdough flatbread made from teff flour) is an ideal dinner option for me. Many Ethiopian vegetarian street food stalls have popped up offering quick bites and a taste of this amazing cuisine unfamiliar to too many people in London. The stall at Greenwich market is one of my favorite for Ethiopian offerings; spicy samosas stuffed with black lentils and a vast choice of vegetarian stews from spinach, pumpkin (my personal favorite) to chickpeas and lentils are available to choose from.
Now I could not write this without giving an honorary mention of my favorite market stall for dessert – the delectable Bread Ahead stall in Borough Market who make the best doughnuts known to man – from fillings of chocolate velvet to salted caramel you can’t go wrong with these fluffy light sugary balls of heaven.
That’s a selection of just 10 of my favorite street food offerings – I have purposely left out Brick Lane and Leather Lane markets as I feel they need a whole post of their own (watch this space!) I would love to hear some of your personal favorites and recommendations especially in the uncharted territory (for me anyway) of North and South London!
Liked this post? Here are some more London Foodie posts you might like, check them out!