As a student abroad, I can’t afford to dine at the newest Michelin star restaurant or Soho eatery. But instead of resorting to eating in every night, I’ve discovered the beauty of London’s food markets — you can find cheap, delicious food with tons of samples.
When it comes to food markets, London knows what’s up. I’m not talking about one or two food trucks outside some office buildings for a couple midday hours, I’m talking rows of tempting stalls, everyday. While London also has a surplus of brunch spots and afternoon teas, food markets are perfect for trying new things on a budget. Lucky for you, I’ve made cheap-delicious food a passion of mine and collected a (mostly) comprehensive list of the absolute best market food London has to offer.
1. Raclette from Kappacasein Dairy at Borough Market
As far as beautiful things to see in London, Big Ben has nothing on Kappacasein’s cheese wheels being melted before your eyes. Using the Swiss technique, the artists flame the cheese and when a gorgeous brown crust forms, the molten gold is scraped onto your plate of potatoes. They also have the best toastie, which gives this cheese-encrusted grilled cheese a run for its money.
2. Hot Cross Bun Macaron Ice Cream Sandwiches from Yolkin‘
Paris isn’t the only one with macarons. And although Yolkin’ isn’t in a market, this cute stand offers macaron ice cream sandwiches that will satisfy your sweet tooth and your Instagram alike.
Personally, I’m not a huge fan of hot cross buns, but if you’re feeling British, go try that unique flavour out. If not, check out the pandan and coconut, rose stracciatella, almond brittle, or Skittles flavours. The flavours change every week, so obviously… you have to go every week.
3. Peanut Butter Berry Donut from Crosstown Donuts at Old Spitalfields Market
Amidst all the donut shops following the designer donut trend, Crosstown Donuts qualifies as one of the best. With flavours ranging from sea salt caramel banana to creme brûlée, they really can do no wrong. Oh, and their donut-to-cream filling ratio makes every bite the right amount of messy and delicious.
4. Rib Meat Roll from The Rib Man at Brick Lane Market
For summer BBQ season or really any time of the year, The Rib Man is famous for having the best rib meat in the Greater London area. His hot sauce is infamous and you’ll wish you had your own bottle. Be sure to come early, because with only one appearance a week, he sells out quickly.
5. Baby Got Mac from Grill My Cheese at Leather Lane Market
6. Katsu Wrap from Katsu Wraps at Petticoat Lane Market
Chicken katsu is always a Hawaiian crowd favourite — who doesn’t love the light crunch and the delicious sauces drenching it? It’s even better because this katsu is made into a wrap and is only £5 — I repeat, FIVE POUNDS. There is really no losing in this situation.
7. The Mothership from Pieminister at Leather Lane Market
When coming to London, steak and ale pies are an essential British comfort food. So why not get one from Pieminister, where you can douse any of your pies with mash, gravy, peas, cheddar, or crispy shallots? This is British food done right.
8. Bacon and Maple Syrup Brownie from Bad Brownie at Maltby Street Market
Like a slutty brownie on crack, these award-winning brownies in any flavour will have you seeing how many you can legally pack up and ship home. With other flavours like raspberry, rose and pistachio, and “bonfire brownie,” there are plenty of ways to taste their divine chocolate.
9. The Dirty Barbie from Mother Flipper at Brockley Market
Double patty, double american cheese, candy bacon, candy onion, BBQ sauce… You won’t be able to walk by when you get a whiff of their juicy meat or caramelising bacon. And we thought all of the best burgers were in America.
10. Ahi Poke Bowl from Eat Poke at KERB
If you want something on the fresher side, poke bowls are the perfect proportion of melt-in-your-mouth tuna, veggies, and rice. In the land of meat and potatoes, this taste of Hawaii is a mini food vacation.
11. Chocolate-filled Churros from Brazilian Churros at Greenwich Market
These churros are fresh out of the fryer and made to be dipped in their rich chocolate or dulce de leche sauces (or both). While you could also make your own at home, these are worth the trip and are just two quid.
12. Masala Fries from Baba G’s, Bhangra Burgers at Pop Brixton
Once the piping hot fries are coated in an array of spices, they’re balanced out with a cool, sweet chutney. A unique twist on your basic fried potatoes, they’re not to be missed amongst the array of choices at Pop Brixton.
13. Traditional Scotch Egg from Scotchtails at Borough Market
Amongst Borough’s variety of food markets, Scotchtails is hard to miss because everyone knows life is better with eggs. A classic UK food, these Scotch eggs provide that yolk porn your Instagram is needing.
14. Pork Bao Bun from Belly N’ Bao at Camden Lock Market
While it’s unclear what the preferred method of eating this is, Belly n’ Bao’s overflowing bun will give you that mixed feeling of full and needing more. What more can you ask for?
15. Big Falafel Wrap from I Falafel at Petticoat Lane Market
For only £4, this colourful, flavour-filled burrito is great for vegetarians and meat-eaters alike. While you’ll most likely encounter a bit of a queue, don’t worry — the falafel master works at lightening speed to deliver you your lunch. Oh and if you opt for the small, it’s only £3. Wow.
16. Nostalgic Mac Pot from The Mac Factory at Camden Lock Market
While mac ‘n cheese can be amped up several ways, the simplicity of the thyme and parm crumble will have you licking the bottom of the bowl. The Mac Factory turns a rainy London day into the ideal setting for your comforting, cheesy macaroni.
17. Chicken Bap from Spit & Roast at Brockley Market
This gorgeous fried chicken is placed on a fluffy bun with Korean hot sauce and a bit of slaw (gotta get your veggies in). Once you sink your teeth in you’ll be wishing this was offered everyday.
18. Dosa from Horn Ok Please at Southbank Centre Food Market
For me, the added touch of the pomegranate seeds took this Indian street food to another level of flavour and texture. Since London is known for its great Indian food, Horn Ok Please is a great place to grab a taste of it. While Indian restaurants offer a ton of options, this food stall simplifies your choices to a few great dishes.
19. Bubble Waffle from Nosteagia at Pump Shoreditch
Not your typical Belgian waffle, Nosteagia tops these babies with Nutella, Oreos, and ice cream, and they’re wrapped for on-the-go… How can we say no?
20. Soup Dumplings from Dumpling Shack at Broadway Market
Unsure of what a soup dumpling is? In short, they’re pockets of warmth and are the perfect accompaniment to a cloudy London sky. One of the best parts? You can take some home. Excuse me while I stock up for winter.
21. Bulgogi Burrito from Kimchinary at KERB
Here’s your new fusion food, people — Korean burritos. Similar to other asian-rritos, when it melts in your mouth, there will be no doubt that these two were meant to be together.
22. Bleecker Black from Bleecker Street Burgers at Old Spitalfields Market
Onion, cheese, meat patty and… black pudding? That’s right. If any of you have tried this signature English sausage, you know it’s delicious. And on a burger? Divine. Get yourself over here, and make it a double.
23. Honeycomb Donut from Bread Ahead Bakery at Borough Market
Anyone who’s been to Borough Market knows these guys are the real deal. While these flavours aren’t as crazy as some in America, they’re perfect bites from start to finish. You’re welcome.
With all the markets and street food in London, it’s impossible to get all of them in one list. However, with limited time and a limited budget, these are must-eats when in London. Plus, besides a full-stomach and overflowing Insta, you’ll also get a lovely perspective of outer-London boroughs. Enjoy!