London is one of the most diverse cultural hubs on the globe, and the 2014 winner of Best City for Culture, Leading Culture Destination. Nothing epitomises this more than the beautiful street food which adorns the busy London streets, with golden aromas from all corners of the world, wafting through narrow alleyways and expansive boulevards alike. There is just no beating London street food!
In fact, when it comes to street food, London has so much to offer it can be overwhelming, and impossible to know where to start. We recommend our top picks in each corner of London to get you started, and finish off with a simple checklist to make sure you can make the most of your London experience, whether you are here on a short stay or a local yourself.
London Street food: A brief History
As you wander through the bustling markets and trendy foodie pop-ups you may ask yourself how did we get here? Street food in London is no new thing, and can be traced back at least 2 millenniums. It is because of this rich history that the London food scene is so vibrant today.
Roman Londinium – Early markets date back all the way to 200BC in early Roman Londinium. The forum. At this time the majority of people didn’t have access to a kitchen, which was a luxury reserved for the wealthiest in society. The less fortunate would live almost entirely on uncooked vegetables and street food. It is not known exactly the array of food they had on offer, however oyster shells remaining across almost all the forums suggest it one of the most popular options.
Medieval London – As we continue through the ages into the middle century, the marketplace evolved and street food started to include Pastries. An early favourite was the sweet apple pie.
Georgian period – The Georgian period dawned a new age of sweets, cakes and pastries. This was when the muffin first appeared and the beginning of the legendary “Muffin Man” which would become a huge part of Victorian history.
Victorian London – A big change in the evolution of street food occurred in this important period of history. Whelks, eels and pea soup where highly popular dishes. Fried fish and pies were popular foods. Street food also became more mobile with delicacies not only sold at market stalls but now brought door to door.
London Today – Today of course street food has undergone possibly the largest transformation. The world has become a smaller place, with London being a city leading in cultural diversity and in turn a centre for diversity in street food. We now see a wondrous worldly collection of the finest street foods, sold from thousands of vendors all over the city out of shops, vans and kiosks, offering delicacies of the highest quality for reasonable, although not cheap prices. street food is more popular and trendy than ever and the food of kings, like our favourite and namesake, the hog roast, is now available to anybody walking past. We can’t know how long this era will last or how street food may change in the future, so make the most of it today!
There is no way to encapsulate all of the pleasures of London’s street food scene in one single post. We have taken some of our favourite picks from across the capital, so that you don’t miss out on some real treasures.
London Street Food: Our Favourites
South London pick – Borough Market
Generally open from Monday to Saturday, but in full swing Wednesday to Saturday from 10 am to 5 pm, borough market is one of the best showcases of London street food, and is only a stones throw away from London Bridge station.
Borough Market is London’s oldest street food market which is still running, founded over 1,000 years ago. This market is hardly an antiquity, and is more vibrant today than ever before. As soon as you arrive you will be bombarded with a vast array of smells and colours that will surely leave you amazed.
North London pick – Urban Food Fest
Urban Food Fest can be found every Saturday from midday to midnight in the heart of Shoreditch. This market epitomises trendy street food, and is an absolute must visit on any trip.
Unlike most street markets, this is not all about the street food. They have a huge variety of bars, craft beers and cocktails all up for grabs. If alcohol isn’t your thing you can still enjoy some of the best food around while listening to live music and vibrant city energy.
West London pick – Golborne Road and Portobello Road
Near Ladbroke Grove tube station Golborne Road and Portobello Road is our top pick market in West London. This will be open across the week, but the main days are Friday and Saturday when they are open between 9 am and 5 pm.
Unlike the other picks this market really stands out, not only because of the street food but the whole array of antiques, clothes and collectables on offer. This is the perfect visit for those whom don’t want to stop at the food alone and want a full English market experience.
London Street Food: Complete Checklist
While our favourites are listed above, it is hardly an all inclusive list. If that isn’t enough check out some of the many other options that this great city has to offer:
- Brockley Market
- Borough Market
- Lower Marsh Market
- Maltby Street Market
- Model Market
- Southbank Centre Market
Street food in East London
- Brick Lane
- Broadway Market
- Chatsworth Road Market
- Dalston Yard
- Urban Food Fest
Street food in Central London and the West End
- Berwick Street Market
- Piccadilly Good Food Market
- Victoria Good Food Market
- Kerb at the Gherkin
- Exmouth Market
- Leather Lane Market
- Street Dots
- St Katherine Docks Good Food Market
- Whitecross Street Market
Street food in North London
- Global Kitchen at Camden Lock
- Kerb at Granary Square
Street food in West London
- Goldborne Road and Portobello Road