One of the best things about living in London is the abundance of food options on my doorstep from buzzing restaurants to bakeries boasting croissants to rival the best in France. London is a food lover’s dream. Yet, despite the almost overwhelming choice, I find myself drawn time and time again to the allure of the city’s bustling food markets. It is not just about grabbing a quick bite on the go – markets are a destination in their own right. Here are my favourites:
London’s oldest food market, it would be impossible to compile a list of London food markets without mentioning this Mecca. Hardly a secret, Borough Market is not a ‘hidden gem’; it is unapologetically busy and bursting-at-the-seams. Come to Borough and be prepared to battle the crowds! I start most Saturdays off here at around 8.30, in the calm before the storm, when the croissants are still warm and the coffee freshly roasted. I tend to linger until around lunch when it is crowded but frankly the crowds don’t bother me anymore, they only add to the atmosphere. Borough is a special place and not to be missed.
Market Hero: The Parma Ham and Mozzarella Stand is a must, selling exactly that, with a quality so good you will forget the price tag.
The London Farmers’ Market Association is an incredible body which works hard to ensure people living in London have easy access to high quality seasonal foods. My local market in Islington was not only the first farmers’ market but is one of the best. Every Sunday morning, the Penton St. side of Chapel Market is taken over by farmers and producers selling their wares. There is a lovely local atmosphere; if Robert isn’t there with his flowers, people will be asking! The produce is excellent quality and, over time, I have started to buy all of my food here on a Sunday without needing to visit a supermarket at all.
Market Hero: Nigel’s Lettuces and Lovage, for varieties of squash you never knew existed including the much sought after spaghetti squash!
Ah, Broadway Market. Get your best vintage gear at the ready, groom your beard and pop on your specs because Broadway Market is the place to promenade! East London’s produce and street food market is nestled between London Fields and Regents Canal, which makes it a fantastic spot to stop off mid-cycle. At first glance it is oh-so hip and trendy but subsequent visits have cracked the cool outer shell to reveal a softer interior. Like Borough, Broadway tends to get quite busy so it’s good to get there early, grab a seat outside of one of the cafes, sip a coffee and watch the market come alive.
Market Hero: Violet Cakes. Baking extraordinaire Claire Ptak’s luscious stall is home to beautifully made sweet treats. You won’t find any nasty hidden ingredients here as Ptak prides herself on bakes that use the bounties of the season, with fruit purée lending itself to pastel hues in the silky buttercream. Oh, and be sure to pay a visit to the nearby Violet Bakery on Wilton Way for further confirmation of deliciousness.
Nestled under the railway arches on the Ropewalk in Bermondsey, Borough Market’s quiet neighbour Maltby Market is bubbling over with charm. Maltby boasts an array of fantastic offerings such as St JOHN Bakery, Comptoir Gourmand and The Cheese Truck with their heart-attackingly delicious cheese toasties! The emphasis here is on hot food so it is ideal to stroll from breakfast at Borough, to lunch at Maltby for perfect Saturday grazing!
Market Hero: Little Bird Gin is distilled in small batches in South London. Sit on their quirky mismatched furniture and enjoy a range of delicious gin cocktails, all while indulging in lunch from surrounding stalls. Heaven!
After breakfast in Borough and lunch in Maltby, continue south for dinner in Brixton Village and Market Row. This series of covered passageways encapsulates the essence of London’s melting pot of cultures with an amalgamation of world cuisines. The passageways are open daily until 11.30pm (6pm Mondays), which makes it ideal for a night out. In fact, I was so enamoured after my first trip that I returned the next Saturday night, where I discovered a tiny vintage shop which turns into a cocktail bar after hours.
Market Hero: Mama Lan. Dumplings, noodles and snacks Beijing style. I am not usually a big chicken wing fan but one taste of the offering here and you’ll find yourself making excuses to get to Brixton.
Sarah is among many Irish people living in London, where she delights in exploring its exciting food scene. She is passionate about food markets, spending her weekends trawling around Borough market grazing, chatting and stocking up on all things edible.
She dedicates a blog to her adventures in the markets, from her local farmers market to those she happens upon on her travels. Writing for TheTaste allows her to share tales from the food front line with fellow eager eaters.