Navigating the maze of London’s street food markets

Navigating the maze of London’s street food markets

If you’re a street food aficionado and you’ve visited London in the last decade or two, it’s a fair bet that your taste buds have already encountered the wares of Borough Market, Brick Lane, and Spitalfields.


The capital’s street food scene has seen an explosion of interest in recent years. New locations have been popping up on kerbs all across the city, to the point where even the savviest street foodies have only explored a fraction of what’s on offer, and crowds for the most popular markets have been getting a little crazy.

London has a rich history of street food, stretching right back to Roman times when oysters were the cheap snack of choice. In the medieval and Elizabethan periods, you were more likely to encounter hot sheep’s trotters and pea pods, with twigs of ripe cherries for dessert. The sticky Chelsea Bun was one of the capital’s first food sensations, though, with royal fans boosting their popularity to the point that huge queues would form; 240,000 buns were reportedly sold on just one Good Friday. By the mid-19th century, there were thousands of street food vendors thronging London’s lanes, selling everything from fried fish to plum duff, as well as the famous boiled eels.

The twentieth century saw the arrival of new, exotic snacks such as curry and jerk chicken alongside the old favourites. Now the gastronomic delights on offer are truly global – you can get a taste of pretty much anywhere around the world within just a few miles. However, the choice can be a little overwhelming: do you go for Korean bibimbap or an Eritrean “Afro-taco”? Which stalls have the tastiest (and most generously portioned) food, and which markets will be so busy you’ll struggle to get served? It’s quite a maze, and even food bloggers are struggling to keep up.

But don’t give up! This is one of the most exciting times to be a food-lover in London. Our advice is to try avoiding the 1pm lunch rush if you can and check out our London Street Food Taste Tour before you head out into the crowds for Taiwanese waffles or South African “volcano burgers”.  If f you’re feeling thirsty you can take your pick from the wide variety of British Craft Beers, as well as beverages from across the world.

You can find more hidden street food gems, along with opening hours, at The London Street Food Taste Tour.

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