London hasn’t always been considered a top food destination, probably due to the perception that England is a melting pot of different cultural influences, lacking its own style. But times have changed, and London now has a food scene that rivals that of New York City. One of my favorite aspects of the burgeoning food scene in London is the plethora of outstanding markets. If you love sampling local food, don’t miss these five top markets in London.
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Located just south of the Thames near the London Bridge, Borough Market is especially convenient for tourists who are likely staying in a hotel in South Bank or following this one-day walking tour of London. It’s right in the midst of the top sights. Borough Market has it all, from kitchen staples for locals, to street food options to enjoy while you’re walking around. There are many great gourmet food shops throughout the market.
If you’re looking for Borough Market at street level, you might have a difficult time finding it. The bulk of the market is located underneath the overground tracks, nestled into the alleys and streets down below it all. At the front of the market is where you’ll find the street food vendors, selling everything from spit roasted pork to Caribbean stews.
Venture further into the market and you’ll find cheese shops, spice shops and artisan baked goods. One of my favorite things to stop for is the gooey Raclette cheese on roasted potatoes at Kappacasein. The larger Three Crown Square area features produce, meat, fish, and cheeses. Borough Market is open six days a week and is closed on Sundays. The best time to visit is early on a weekday. Saturdays are the most busy, followed by 1pm-close on weekdays.
The Liverpool Street Station is a convenient train and underground station for visitors because of its central location just north of central London. If you journey a few streets outside the station, you’ll eventually wander into the Victorian-style covered Old Spitalfields Market. This is the place to go for vintage shopping with a lunch stop at one of the award-winning restaurants nearby, like Wright Brothers seafood restaurant or the fun and tasty fondue restaurant, Androuet.
Weekends are very busy at the market, but that’s also the best time to find vintage goods. Thursdays are dedicated to antiques, and Fridays focus on arts and crafts. At all times, you can find great street food options surrounding the entire market. There are even a few food trucks parked on the backside of the market.
Once you leave the Spitalfields main market area, you’ll find tons of other shops, restaurants, and bars in the surrounding area. It’s a fun area to spend a few hours looking around.
One of the biggest markets in London, with over 1,000 unique shops and stalls, Camden Market draws locals and tourists to its convenient location at Camden Locks, just a five-minute walk from the Camden Town tube station. The food market is only one small part of the larger market area, which covers quite a bit of the town. As you walk toward the canal, you’ll pass dozens of cheap trinket shops and flea market stalls. I’m not sure there’s anything you can’t find at one of the shops.
As you near the canal, you’ll start to understand the sheer number of food options there are in Camden. The market area is packed full of food vendors,. You can indulge in fried chicken from Butchies or creative macaroni and cheese from the Mac Factory, grab some homemade pasta or meatballs, or indulge in a pizza or tacos. Anything you can think of, you can likely find. Then try a sample of small-batch gin from Half Hitch Gin before grabbing the perfect spot in the shade of the huge dropping trees to enjoy a drink and great people watching.
Maltby Street Market
A real treat for foodies, Maltby Street Market is the perfect place to pick up a quick bite and enjoy the people watching. It’s just one small street – an alleyway, actually – that can be found just a couple streets south of the Tower Bridge. Yes, it’s a small street, but they’ve managed to pack in as many food vendors as possible into the incredibly unique space. Some vendors line the brick wall of the building behind, while others take up shop under the archways of the tube tunnel that runs overhead.
The food varies from waffles, topped with awesomeness, to incredibly tender flank steak with flavorful chimichurri and twice-cooked chips. Steak burritos, French Tartiflette, and really good falafel tempts your taste buds. You’ll also find a few permanent businesses where you can sit inside for an afternoon libation. No matter what you’re drinking, there’s a spot for you. There’s a wine bar, a brewery, and a gin distillery all within one block.
The Maltby market is only open Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Sundays from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.
(Image via Flickr by danieljcoomber)
The Covent Garden market is in the beautiful Market Building and Piazza, a charming place to walk around. There are actually three different markets in one at Covent Garden. The Apple Market sells British crafts and jewelery, East Colonnade sells handicrafts and housewares, and Jubilee market’s vendors change daily from antiques to arts and crafts. There’s also an outdoor farmers market with fresh produce. The market is open seven days a week with varying hours, which are typically 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Don’t miss visiting these 5 top London markets if you want to experience the local culture and get better acquainted with the food trends. Also, there are tons of other fun foodie things to do in London that you shouldn’t miss.
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