London’s Best Street Food Markets and Food Halls
Street food markets and food halls offer diners a chance to try small, generally good-value dishes from a number of vendors and to eat them in an informal setting, juices dripping onto hands and t-shirts. This style of dining also adds a bit of kerb-side theatre – the splashing of sauce onto ice cream or the sizzle of a burger on the grill. Londoners love to have their noses in the action. Here are some of the best street food markets and food halls in town.
Bang Bang Oriental
This huge North London food hall has been all over the Internet since its opening in July. Talk about arriving with a bang bang. This type of food court is common all over Asia, and now Londoners have embraced it too.
We went up to Colindale for a first look and found dim sum paradise, ordering plate after plate of dumplings, cheung fun and custard tarts. It’s the kind of place you can drop into for a full on all-afternoon binge, or swing by for a bowl of ramen or a plate of crispy duck with a bubble tea on the side. And there’s a bar. Hurrah!
See our first look video of Bang Bang Oriental, to get a feel for the place before you travel.
Bang Bang Oriental, 399 Edgware Road, NW9 0FH
The Japan Centre has a new flagship store and it’s seriously stepped up a gear. It was always the number one destination for Japanese Ingredients in London — and obviously for those takoyaki (octopus balls) on sale just outside the entrance.
Now though, they’ve got a shiny new store with dedicated areas for miso and sake, with experts available to tell you more about them. They’ve also got a 100-seat food court in the middle, selling ramen, udon, katsu curry and rice, lots of sushi and steamed buns. Oh, and for anyone worried they wouldn’t be able to get the takoyaki — you can buy them here too.
The system works in the same way as Bang Bang Oriental, where you order food at a counter (watch out for the tempting display of interesting food on sticks) and they give you a buzzer that goes off when your food is ready. You can also pick up any number of the pre-prepped boxes from the chiller cabinet to eat in, and then do your shopping for later at the meat and fish counter, before delving into those shelves. We love their crisp selection in particular, and don’t forget to grab some noodles, miso and sake, if that’s your thing. This place is fantastic for the packaging alone, if we’re honest.
The Japan Centre, 35b Panton Street, SW1Y 4EA
Flat Iron Square
This Bermondsey food court is much smaller that Bang Bang but still has plenty to offer. There’s a large bar area near the entrance with pub-style wooden benches and loads of craft beers to choose from, made by super hip breweries like Magic Rock and Beavertown.
The food vendors are partly outside in trucks and partly inside under cover. We love Mike and Ollie Manti the best. Mike and Ollie started out at Brockley Market on Saturdays and still trade there now, selling their seasonal flatbread wraps. They also had a short-lived restaurant in Camberwell called Queen’s, which is now rented out as an event space. Their most popular menu items lives on however — manti.
These Turkish pasta puffs are filled with feta cheese and served with an intense beetroot sauce, garlic yoghurt and Urfa chilli-infused butter. On top, a crisp crumb, so the whole thing is hot, crunchy, rich, cool and creamy, all at once.
Head to Where the Pancakes Are for dessert — giant blowsy pancakes that look like Yorkshire puddings given a snowy coating of icing sugar and topped with fresh fruit. Still hungry? You could do a lot worse than pop into Bar Douro for a snifter of sherry and a plate of salt cod fritters.
Flat Iron Square, 68 Union Street, SE1 1TD
There’s an area just north of Elephant and Castle that was kind of a wasteland for years (at least, in restaurant terms) until someone built a 45k square foot food market and food court on it. The name is Italian, of course, and there’s a lot of Italian food inside but also Spanish, Vietnamese and other South East Asian cuisines. In fact, we reckon you could find pretty much anything in here, if you looked hard enough.
The Italian deli on the shop is a little expensive compared to the same products elsewhere, although the quality is high. The food court is the most fun, though. You’ll need about 20 visits to get through it all and even then you’ll need to take down around five vendors per visit. We think. We have absolutely not checked those numbers.
There’s a lot of pizza, pasta and noodles going on and we’ve thoroughly enjoyed munching our way through them all. Maybe they should rename it House of Carbs?
There are bars, too, naturally, including a dedicated separate wine bar with an Italian list.
Mercato Metropolitano, 42 Newington Causeway, SE1 6DR
Old Spitalfields Market
Spitalfields Market used to be a bit of a let-down; here was a fantastic space in a prime location that was, well, just a bit rubbish on the street food front. Sure, the market was lined with restaurants, but that’s not why you’re here. Where were all the low cost, on-the-hoof dining options?
Now, Portuguese chef Nuno Mendes has partnered with hospitality consultant Stephen Macintosh to form Ten Ten, a creative organisation focused on revitalising the area. About time, we say. They’ve installed ten full working kitchens around the edge of the market and moved some of London’s best traders into them, including Breddos, Flank and Dumpling Shack. See the full line-up of traders in our news article.
Old Spitalfields Market, 16 Horner Square, E1 6EW
Berwick Street Market
Soho’s street food market provides lunch for thousands of ravenous office workers every week, when queues often stretch down the road, particularly for Savage Salads. This hugely successful stall makes salad boxes that go way beyond limp leaves and cous cous, serving creative roasted vegetable arrangements, grilled halloumi, dips, sprinkles and general bags of flavour.
On a similar healthy note, the Jerusalem falafel stall is also worth checking out — their wraps are really fresh, with loads of crunchy salad, crisp falafels, pickles and hummus. They’re also completely vegan. So that’s two options already which show that street food doesn’t have to be deep fried, meat in a bun or generally very unhealthy. Vive la difference!
The market has actually been on this site since the 18th century and judging by its popularity will be active for many more years to come.
Berwick Street Market, 8 Berwick Street, W1F 0PH
Pop Brixton smashed everyone’s fears that it might be in any way similar to the fairly lame Shoreditch Boxpark. This vibrant corner of the wider Brixton market area is filled with shipping containers and ok yes, it does attract a certain demographic but it’s also clear that the owners are attempting to promote diversity within.
Some fantastic traders have passed through here, such as Kricket (now a permanent restaurant), who were replaced by Smoke & Salt, currently killing it and receiving glowing reviews. We also dig the tacos at Maria Sabina, which are muy authentico.
Pop Brixton, 49 Brixton Station Road, SW9 8PQ
The Street Feast Group
The Street Feast group of markets dotted around London are huge draws for hungry Londoners and party-goers during the warmer months. All of them feature high-quality street food and they all have several bars (Hawker House has a full eight of them to get involved with, if you have the stamina).
It’s best to check the website for details of individual traders and opening times, but rest assured there’s something inside for everyone. Even the picky one in the group who always moans and goes home early.
Street Feast, Shoreditch, EC2A 3EJ; Canada Water, SE16 7PJ; Canary Wharf, E14 5AR; Lewisham SE13 6LS; Clapham Common SW4 9DE
Brockley Market is the kind of food market everyone wishes they had next to their house. It’s the perfect mixture of produce, street food and bunting flapping slowly in the breeze as locals amble around with their freshly ground coffee and bacon sandwiches.
Open on Saturday mornings only, you’ll find people here genuinely doing their weekend shopping, and stopping for a bite to eat at the same time.
London street food legends Luardos are sometimes here, parked up in the corner, banging out their burritos and tacos. We’re fairly sure they were the first person to do proper Baja California style fish tacos in London and they’re still on the menu from time to time. If you see them, snap ‘em up.
The fabulous Mike and Ollie also sell their wraps here and they’re still some of the best sandwiches in London. All of the ingredients are homemade and many are foraged in South London by Mike, like rosehips for syrup. Oh, and the Mother Flipper breakfast muffin is something else with its bacon, egg and potato rosti all crisped up inside.
Brockley Market, Lewisham Way, SE4 1UT
This famous food market is also London’s oldest and it attracts tourists (a lot of tourists), first-time Londoners and established cooks and chefs. The place is full of produce, much of which is sold directly to you by the people who make, grow or source it, and there’s loads of food to eat on site. Top tip: head to Gourmet Goat for one of London’s best lunches in a box or wrap.
The market gets very busy on weekends, so it’s best to check the website and avoid the peak times. Check our guide to eating and drinking in the London Bridge area, too.
Borough Market, 8 Southwark Street, SE1 1TL
The KERB street food collective, founded by Petra Barran has revolutionised the London street food scene, setting up markets all around town and providing a service to nurture up and coming talent.
Some of London’s top pavement grub has come to light via KERB, including Cally Munchy, with their African Caribbean fusion that makes your mouth light up like Piccadilly Circus, to long-time legend Angus and his Everybody Love Love Jhal Muri Express — it’s the best vegan street food you’ll ever eat, and the most entertaining to order.
KERB, Camden Market, NW1 8AF; Paddington, W2 6PY; King’s Cross, N1C 4AA; the Gherkin, EC3A 8EP; West India Quay, E14 4AZ; London Bridge, SE1 2DA
Leather Lane Market is salvation for street food hunters in The City, just moments from St. Paul’s Cathedral. Long time residents Grill My Cheese are still going here, constantly clamping bread and cheese with a variety of different additions — we love the mac’n’cheese because nothing says ‘I mean business; check out my suit if you don’t believe me’ like double carbs at lunch.
Leather Lane Market, Leather Lane, EC1N 7TJ
Maltby Street Market offered a very welcome and relatively nearby extension to the offering at Borough Market when it opened and it continues to host some of London’s most interesting talent.
We are big fans of Grant Hawthorne’s African Volcano stall, where he sells his brilliant African-inspired hot sauce, the recipe gifted to him by a woman from Mozambique and adapted over many years into the sauce he sells today.
Dhan Waffle sell their Hong Kong-style egg waffles. Well, the waffles themselves are Hong Kong style, but they’re served with loads of toppings like Nutella, caramel and chocolate and served in an egg box so they’re trad waffles given a London makeover.
We also recommend grabbing a grapefruit gin and tonic from South London brand Little Bird Gin, which may or may not be excellent for a hangover, depending where you stand on hair of the dog.
Maltby Street Market, 41 Maltby Street, SE1 3PA
This very popular market is throbbing with activity at weekends and it’s where Bao — who now have two permanent restaurants, plus the brilliant Xu — started out. Their stall is still here, FYI, if you want to get your fluffy bun fix out east.
We also love LemLem Kitchen, who make some of London’s best (sort of) tacos and fly the flag high for Eritrean food. There are a few good Eritrean restaurants in London, don’t get us wrong, but we love that these guys have given it a modern twist, serving dainty portions of injera (rather than enough to carpet a football pitch) and gorgeous wings coated in berbere spice. Once you’ve filled up and grabbed a cheeky livener in the form of a cocktail from the bar, make sure to have a mooch around the bric-a-brac stalls, for maximum east London vibes.
Netil Market, 13–23 Westgate Street, E8 3RL
This Clerkenwell market is open every day apart from Sunday until 6pm, but you’re best going for lunch on Thursday or Friday when there are more traders. The most famous stall here is Spinach and Agushi, named after the African melon seed soup, although we recommend ordering their spicy, tomato-heavy jollof rice; there’s a reason this dish is so beloved of West Africans.
Their barbecue chicken wings with peanut rub (similar to Nigerian suya) are also an essential snack or side dish.
Exmouth Market, EC1R 4QL