Back in the dark ages, before the UK’s food revolution at the turn of the millennium, it’s fair to say that the UK wasn’t exactly known for its cuisine.
London has always had bustling food markets. Borough Market has traded since around 1014, but the food on offer was more wonky carrots than emu burgers and rainbow toasties. But now every neighbourhood in the city has some kind of market.
Best for Central Location
If you’re walking between Coca-Cola London Eye, Underbelly Festival and the National Theatre, Southbank Centre Food Market—held in the square behind the Royal Festival Hall— is a handy spot for a break (Fri-Sun). The market has 40 stalls, plus eight pop-up bars this summer. Korrito, which serves Korean pear-infused bulgogi beef, is unusual, but a local favourite is Shrimpy’s signature dish, the Shrimpster: a grilled shrimp burger with avocado and samphire in a bun. Sit on the steps overlooking the square or on a bench lining the River Thames.
Best for Hipsters
Street Feast knows what hipsters want: Negronis, neon and food stalls with witty names like Mother Clucker. If that scene appeals, head to Dinerama (Wed-Sat), a two-storey food hub in Shoreditch which fits up to 1,000. The space has nine food stalls and 10 bars including a rooftop cocktail bar and tiki hut. Look out for Caribbean chicken wings from White Men Can’t Jerk and ice cream desserts from Chin Chin Labs, which is famous for its flame-grilled marshmallows, gold salt and signature dry ice. The Street Feast team is also behind Hawker House, a warehouse for 3,000 in Canada Water; Giant Robot, a rooftop for 700 in Canary Wharf; and Model Market, an old 1950s market for 1,000 in Lewisham.
Best for Families
Kerb holds markets across London including Paddington, St Katharine Docks, Camden Market, near the Gherkin in the City and near Coal Drops Yard behind King’s Cross Station (Wed-Fri). The King’s Cross outlet, the original Kerb market, is held in Granary Square by Regent Canal. It has about 10 stalls–try a bowl of rice topped with diced tuna or salmon, edamame, pineapple and seaweed from Lords of Poké. Children will love splashing about in the fountain, while hot-pink beanbags keep Instagrammers happy.
Best for a Local Vibe
If you want to experience London like a Londoner, visit one of the capital’s 30 or so farmers’ markets. Among the most central are Westminster Bridge (Thur), Parliament Hill (Sat) and Marylebone (Sun). A little further out of the city centre, Alexandra Palace Farmer’s Market (Sun) has 40 stalls. Make a day of it by visiting the park’s garden centre and café, boating lake, pitch and putt and ice rink, or see a show at Alexandra Palace Theatre.