Street food markets in London
Finding the five best street food markets in London is not without significant competition. Markets of all kinds abound in London, and street food markets are common. The Borough Market, Brick Lane Market, Spitalfields Market, Maltby Street Market and the Brixton Village Market lead the way in providing high quality artisanal and international food with a fun atmosphere.
Wherever you stay, you can be assured that you’ll never be too far away from locals selling their wares: fruit, veggies, antiques, vintage clothing and the like.
But for any first-time visitor, there are some street food markets in London that should be at the top of your list. If you are a foodie, you’ll want to make sure you leave plenty of time to visit them all.
Once you’ve been, you’ll find that they aren’t just for first-time visitors at all. They form a special part of the local culture and are an important part of many local’s daily and weekly routine. One visit to any of them and I can assure you, you’ll be back for more.
Tips for visiting London street markets
Markets can be daunting sometimes, especially if you are new to them. In a city like London, with a population of around nine million-plus visitors, markets can get very crazy.
These are some simple tips to help you navigate the markets with ease.
COVID-19 Update: To limit the spread of the coronavirus, or as a result of government instruction, many markets, restaurants, cafes, museums and other attractions may have closed or changed their opening times. Please consult your own government travel advisories before booking any travel or travel-related activities. Please note, all images in this article relate to a pre-COVID time.
Brick Lane Markets
The Brick Lane Markets are bursting with colour and energy. Whilst the food here is good, these markets have so much more to offer. There’s always plenty going on, it’s hard to know where to start first.
Brick Lane’s history sets the scene for much of its vibe. Dark brick buildings and warehouses are the norm here. Once the mainstay of local industry, the former brick and tile manufacturing companies and breweries now are the beating heart of the market.
There’s a warmth here that is hard to explain. It’s artistic, it’s fun and it’s welcoming. People sit on the footpath to eat their food, the only spare spot available after purchasing from a nearby vendor.
Former parking areas have been redesigned to support mini food courts, outdoors of course, whilst old buildings and warehouses now sport artificial turf and a backyard environment. All of it is made to make you feel comfortable and relaxed. It’s to make you want to stay, and eat and drink for a while.
Sunday is the best time to visit the Brick Lane Markets. It’s when they are at their busiest, but it’s when they truly come alive. Buskers and other street performers ply their trade along the street, encouraging visitors to part with a spare quid or two. Some are very good. There’s always a few locals here too that add to the rich tapestry of the area.
As well as incredible food, you’ll also find second-hand goodies, old records, jewellery and books. Anything is possible really.
There are also five other markets, as well as the main Brick Lane Street Market. Within the walls of the Truman Building (the former brewery), you’ll find the following individual markets.
Young designers sell their creations here. You’ll find jewellery and accessories galore, plus arts, crafts and bespoke items that you won’t believe until you see them. If you are looking for something new and edgy, this is the place to come.
Boilerhouse Food Hall
This food hall is all about celebrating multi-culturalism, with over 30 stalls. Try Ethiopian, Moroccan and Polish cuisine and learn about some food you may not have tried before.
If vintage is your thing, you’ll find plenty of it here. From fashion to records and accessories, you’re sure to find something here.
There’s more vintage here, but this time you’ll find more of it in the homewares theme. Coffee and tea paraphernalia, antiques plus you can get some great tea and cupcakes here too.
There’s more of the same here. Vintage, arts and craft, designers and food. Outside, the food area of Ely’s Yard picks is a great spot to take some time out.
The entire area also has a thriving street art scene which continues to be celebrated by local artists, residents and the council. Fashion Street and Hanbury Street are the best streets to check out if you don’t have a lot of time or don’t know where to start. Always keep an eye out for Banksy involvement.
As a creative hub, there are also many galleries in the area.
Finding all the best art work in the Brick Lane area can be daunting to a first time visitor. If you want to do it with someone who knows exactly where to find it, consider doing a street art walking tour in London’s East End.
Food at the Brick Lane Markets
Brick Lane has built a reputation on having the best curries in London. It has a large population of residents who have hailed originally from Bangladesh, bringing their traditional recipes with them and setting up curry houses along the famous strip. There are more than 50 individual restaurants selling Bangladeshi curry here.
You’ll find a diverse range of food, and you’ll never have to walk too far to find something to eat. The hardest decision is what and how much?
Where is the Brick Lane Market?
If you are a new visitor to London, it can be confusing as to where Brick Lane actually is. Is Brick Lane in Shoreditch is the most common question asked. Brick Lane is a street, not a borough) in East London that runs from Bethnal Green right through Shoreditch and to Whitechapel. Brick Lane is located in the borough of Tower Hamlets, near Shoreditch.
How to get to the Brick Lane Markets
Whilst you can drive to the Brick Lane Markets, we don’t recommend it. Catching public transport is much easier. For most travellers or first time visitors to London, using a car within the city limits is too much of a drama.
The nearest tube station is Aldgate East or Liverpool Street Station. Both will take approximately 10-15 minutes to walk from.
The nearest train station is Liverpool Street Station, 12 minutes walk away. The London Overground also has a station at Shoreditch High Street, eight minutes from Brick Lane.
There are a variety of buses that has stops near Brick Lane. For the best one to suit your location, check the London Journey Planner.
If you are planning on going to Brick Lane, you’ll no doubt spend most of the day here. If so, why not add Spitalfields Market to your list of markets to visit in East London.
Under an old Victorian-era roof, it’s chock-a-block with artisanal food stalls and eateries too, so you may find that one day actually isn’t enough to fit in both markets.
On a site where markets have operated for more than 350 years, Spitalfields has the glitz and glamour that Brick Lane doesn’t, having been renovated quite well in recent years.
There’s a fashion market here also selling higher-end, new fashion items and accessories. Artists of different creative persuasions also have their products on offer.
How to get to the Spitalfields Markets
Refer to the directions above for Brick Lane Markets. The markets are very close to one another, so the logistics of getting to both are similar.
Despite being in London many times over the years, we’d never made it across to the Brixton Markets. It was a shame it took so long for us to find them, but better late than never as they say.
With a strong African-Caribbean theme, the food, music and dancing will have you ensconced in the whole area in no time.
Brixton Station Road Market
The Brixton Station Road Market is well frequented by locals, selling groceries, fresh fruit and vegetables, street food and a variety of other products. It’s colourful, noisy and a great place to explore.
It’s definitely a place created for the locals by the locals. There are similar street markets in nearby Pope’s Road and Electric Avenue.
Brixton Village and Market Row
Nearby, through a door that is easy to miss, you’ll find the treasure trove of food and local traders under the roof of several arcades. It’s a foodie hotspot, one that still remains largely hidden to anyone but the locals.
Places to eat in Brixton Village Market
There is no shortage of places to rest your legs after a big day of shopping, or if you are famished. Cafes, restaurants and street food vendors line both sides of this undercover market, dating back to the 1960s.
These are some of our highlights.
Champagne and Fromage
It will come as no surprise that a shop loaded up with French saucisson, cheese, baguettes and French condiments would grab out attention. Here you can shop for takeaway items, eat in-house and wash it down with a glass of your favourite French bubbles.
Etta’s Seafood Kitchen
A longtime resident in Brixton’s, Etta serves up fresh seafood in a relaxed environment.
Burnt Toast Cafe
The Burnt Toast Cafe occupies a lively corner of the Brixton Village, offering up all-day breakfasts and other casual, easy to eat food.
Located on the outside of the Brixton Village, overlooking a rather unspectacular looking concrete area, Kaosarn is a small eatery offering authentic Thai food.
Thankfully, the concrete area is used well as an extension to the food outlets and also a place for entertainment. Having some bright music played whilst people dance freely, all while we munch on some fine Thai food makes for a perfect visit to the market.
Family owned and operated, Kaosarn has a small menu, and even smaller tenancy, meaning it can be hard to get a table. It’s also BYO, not something you see much of anymore. If you haven’t got your own, they are more than happy to have you go next door and buy something to have with your meal.
Brixton Pop Village
This was my favourite in Brixton. A pop-up village. On wasteland that hadn’t been used for a very long time. Entrepreneurial and community spirit and an injection of cash saw this area get transformed into a hub of shipping container creativity. Local businesses and artists have come together here to create a fun area with a focus on social enterprise and the environment.
It was developed with a view to being temporary and was meant to shut down in 2020. Let’s hope that it is kept alive as it has added a breath of fresh air and support for Brixton and the surrounding communities.
How to get to Brixton Markets
The different markets of Brixton are all located closeby each other.
The closest tube station is Brixton. As you leave the station, cross Atlantic Road and turn right into Brixton Station Road. At the intersection, turn right into Pope’s Road. The entrance to Brixton Village can be easy to miss. See the image below.
The closest overground train station is Brixton.
Many buses run to and through Brixton. Consult the London Journey Planner to find the best bus route to suit.
Borough Market spills out from underneath its glass ceiling, into the streets near London Bridge. This hugely popular market in London, quite easily the best food market in London, dates back to medieval times.
It’s the largest market in London and its reputation is well earned. Even if you aren’t a foodie, making a visit to the Borough Markets is a must-do for anyone visiting London.
Arrive with an empty stomach to eat at one of the many cafes, restaurants or food vendors located here, and bring a bag to take some goodies home with you.
Maltby Street Markets
Not all that far from the Borough Market, along the same train line, the Maltby Street Markets of Bermondsey is a bright light in this otherwise heavily industrial-looking areas. Here vendors trade in the street and from the shadows of the arches built into the Victorian era bridge.
Bermondsey is not normally an area that would be high on the wishlist of new visitors to London. Indeed, many Londoners have scratched Bermondsey off their own visitation list, remembering it as a borough with a dubious reputation and a past deeply linked to industry, tanning in particular.
Like anywhere though, and particularly in London, Bermondsey is the face of a new food experience. Along the Bermondsey High Street, cool cafes and bars sit alongside restaurants, and food spaces like the Vinegar Yard draw in people from all over.
Bermondsey is also known for something peculiar. A Russian tank. In the middle of nowhere, in a side street that remains largely unseen to people who aren’t in the know, a T34 Russian tank has been part of the landscape since 1995.
Following a dispute over property planning, the would-be developer sought permission from the council to put a tank on what would have been his housing site. Thinking he meant a water tank, this piece of war history has sat on the empty land ever since. It gets repainted every now and then, like in April 2020 when it was painted blue in support of the NHS workers dealing with the COVID crisis.
The Maltby Street Markets, also known as the Ropewalk Markets, aren’t as popular as the huge Borough Market, meaning it’s easier to move around. Fewer crowds can mean more of an opportunity to check out more stalls and of course, there is less queueing when you decide you want to eat or buy something.
Did you know?: Now on a privately owned patch of land, the markets occupy a lane known as the ropewalk. A ropewalk was a long, straight area (often a street) where long pieces of textile could be laid down, in order for ropes to be made.
The Maltby Street Markets is open on weekends. Visit their website to check for accurate opening times.
Highlights of the Maltby Street Markets
The Cheese Truck
Like Kappcasein at the Borough Markets, lovers of gooey cheese toasties can also get their fix at Maltby Street.
All products are sourced from the UK from a business that now attends festivals and markets all over the country.
The fare here is defiantly British, with sausage rolls and pork pies on offer, but it is the Scotch eggs that catch your eye. They are possibly the largest we have ever seen, and I have to say, the best looking.
In a clever marketing move, a sample is provided, the egg’s centre brazenly on show, exposing the soft yolk. It’s the defining moment of a Scotch egg. The centre must be soft. Wrapped in the finest quality sausage meat and breadcrumbs, these British free-range eggs are a meal in themselves.
Maltby & Greek
Serving all things Greek, this cafe and bar is tucked away inside one of the railway bridge arches. In a scene that makes you feel like you’ve stepped into someone’s workplace, you’ll sit alongside vertical stacks of timber. The seating is eclectic but offers a real sense of fun and there’s no denying the authenticity of the Greek food.
Find good quality beef at a good price can be difficult. As Australians, we get very used to eating high quality beef, but we also know it comes with a cost.
The team at The Beefsteaks pride themselves on using British beef that is both grass fed and dry aged.
Food envy in a market is a constant state of being. Unlike in France, where etiquette suggests you shouldn’t walk around and eat at the same time, food markets like this made eating on the go very popular and most certainly gets a tick from a manners perspective as well.
Keep an eye out for food being eaten with a fork out of a foil wrapper. Odds are they’ll be eaten arepas, a Venezualan street food.
The Gyoza Guys
Gyozas can be found everywhere these days and are perfect market food. Quick to make and even quicker to eat. Your only problem here will be keeping enough room to try everything else.
A long-time resident of the Maltby Street Market, firstly as a vendor and now with a bar under the arches, Bar Tozino is (amongst other things) the place to go here for Iberian ham, known as Jamon.
At the markets early and in need of some typical breakfast food? Waffle on will keep you satisfied with their range of waffles and sweet and savoury toppings.
How to get to Maltby Street Markets
If you are on a city market crawl, it’s quite easy to walk to the Maltby Street Market from the Borough Market.
There are several routes to walk. We recommend the one that goes via the A200 and Druid St. In Druid Street you can break your walk with a pint or two along the Beer Mile, where craft brewers have multiplied over recent times. This website gives an up to date account of brewers and their opening times.
This walk is 1.4km (0.9 miles).
If you catch the tube, the closest tube stations to Maltby Street are London Bridge Station and Bermondsey Station.
If you are coming from London Bridge Station, the walk is almost the same as from the Borough Markets. It’s just slightly shorter, but you can still walk along Druid St to get to the markets.
Bermondsey Station is about 1km (0.6 mile) in the opposite direction to London Bridge.
Buses also operate from both locations and have stops close to Maltby St.
Plan your journey with the London Journey Planner
The city cycle program also has many bicycle locations in and around both the Borough and Maltby Street markets which also offers a quick and easy option. Download the app and get riding.
Street food market tours
If you are short on time and want to manage your visit to the markets more efficiently, or you are interested in learning more about the areas that surround the markets, why not go on a tour with Eating Europe? We have used Eating Europe before and especially loved their historical pub and food tour. You can read more about the tour here.
East End Food Tour
- Enjoy a very British bacon sarnie
- Eat a bagel from Bagel Bake, East London’s most popular location for bagels. You get to skip the queue too, which is a big deal!
- Taste the award-winning fish and chips at Poppies
- Savour wine and cheese at an artisanal wine bar
- Eat English puddings and sample pastries
- Explore this area steeped in history once known as the home of Jack the Ripper
Brixton Markets Food tasting tour
- Visit the David Bowie Memorial, in memory of a Brixton local
- Tour is run by a local from Brixton
- Visit all the markets named above: Pop Brixton, Brixton Village, Electric Avenue
FAQs Street food markets in London
London is a large city and within the city limits there is a congestion tax. Traffic is heavy and can be slow. If you are new to London, it can also be a confusing and frustrating way to travel. There are many public transport options to get to all of these markets, however there are some public car parks nearby these markets if you wish to drive a car.
No, in fact, many of them are open for most of the week, or all weekends. In fact, London’s largest market, the Borough Market, is closed on Sunday. For accurate opening hours, refer to each market’s website.
You could easily spend all day at any of these markets. If you have a time limit, allow at least 2-3 hours at each plus transit time.
No they are not. There are many markets in London. These are just some of the best street markets in London with a strong food offering.
Public tranport is the easiest and most efficient way of getting to any of these markets in London.
For the most accurate opening times for the London markets, we recommend checking the specific market’s website.
Other places to visit in London
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About the author
Kerri left her corporate career to pursue a different lifestyle, establishing the successful travel website, Beer and Croissants.
Kerri and her husband Stirling now regularly travel the world, where eating great food, sampling local beverages and cooking international foods are integral to their adventures.
You also won’t find them too far away from an epic road trip either, with motorhomes their speciality.