The Meatball and Salted Cod’s Mini-guide to London’s Food Markets

In preparation for the weekend and hopefully some sunny weather, we’ve decided to give you a mini-guide of some of our favourite markets in London. In procrastination-overdrive we even made a map with details on where they can be found.

Salted Cod’s recommendations:

North End Road (Mon-Sat 8am-6pm)

I will start with my latest find and also my local market, North End Road Market. As the name suggests this market takes place in North End Road, more specifically between West Kensington (from Lillie Road) to Fulham Broadway. It is a bit of mix when it comes to products, from cheap clothes and phone covers to fresh egg vendors and French speciality cheese stands. I would say that one constant in this market is its cheapness. Apart from the French speciality cheese stand (which in comparison to others is actually quite good value) everything is ridiculously cheap for London. You also have an amazing choice of vegetables, especially more exotic ones. I would recommend the butcher’s (for which you will have to queue on saturdays), the ‘Well Bread Bakery’ for their samosas and the spinach pastries, the fresh egg vendor and the first fishmongers (when you’re coming from West Kensington). This is a great market and, since it runs six days a week, has let me avoid the trap of bland supermarket meat and vegetables. Be prepared for the experience though, this market is loud, rude and full of people, especially on a Saturday.

Real Food Market in Southbank (Fri-Sun: 12am-8pm)

I discovered this market last summer during the Festival of Britain held at Southbank during the summer and thought it had closed since then but re-discovered it a few weekends ago. This is a fairly small market with different food stalls, with some of them selling food products too. I might be biased in this choice but my favourite stall is the one selling amazing Iberian chorizo sandwiches. This feels just like being back in Lisbon during the ‘Santos’ eating barbecued chorizo on white buns. In all this is a really good choice for lunch if you are in the area, but maybe not a destination market (unless you are obsessed with those chorizo sandwiches like me..).

The amazing chorizo roll

Borough Market (Thu 11am-5pm, Fri 12am-6pm, Sat 8am-5pm)

This can be said to be the king of markets in London. You can find all kinds of food products in this market and are almost always guaranteed excellent quality. This is the destination market of London. You could spend a whole day there trying the different foods on offer or browsing through the millions of produce on sale. I would recommend going there on a Thursday or a Friday, when the market is less busy and have a browse through the whole market to see what kind of food you might like (believe me, it’s easy to go for something and then regret it 10 minutes later, the choice here is just incredible!) and then settle for your favourites. You can eat them in small specially provided spaces within the market or, if it’s sunny, you can just sit on the lawn outside the church just by the market, which is generally quite full. I would recommend in particular the raclette stand and the game roll sold at the place just at the entry of the market by the church. When you’re all nice and full head for the produce section of the market and start stocking on some of the best products available to Londoners and food geeks. My favourites are the French cheese stall, the Brindisa shop and  this guy who sells nothing but mushrooms.

Some of the stalls at Borough

…and some mainly East End recommendations from Miss Meatball:

Ridley Road (Mon-Sat 6 am- 6 pm)

This street market in Dalston is the absolute opposite of sophisticated Borough market – smelly, cheap, loud and a bit crude. In a sense it is Hackney (when you subtract the hipsters) distilled into one long road. Here you will find at least 8 fresh fish stalls (one selling it in bowls for a pound like the fruit sellers), dancehall records, Bengali films, halal goat meat and tripe, Nigerian beans, spices, leather sofas, fake fur hats, and loads of fresh fruit and vegetables. I have not yet sampled the street food stalls, but for groceries my favourite buys here include two large pineapples for £1.50, and eggs. The lady in the egg stand has been on Ridley road with her family for 34 years and is really lovely. She sells all kinds of eggs (large, small, free range, organic), and a tray of 20 extra large brown free range eggs is £4.20 which you get packed up neatly for transporting home. Ridley road market is also one of the few places left where you will hear proper East London accents of all sorts, so it’s a good tourist destination off the beaten path.

Mr. Eggman at Ridley road market

Whitecross Street market (Mon-Fri 10am – 4 pm)

Whitecross street market has an array of really tasty street foods catering for all the office workers around Old Street and Clerkenwell, for normally around £5. A definitely favourite (which has been here for 4 years – testament to its amazingness) is the burrito van, which sells slow-cooked spicy pork burritos with homemade delicious guacamole for £5.50. The queue is usually very long but if you opt for a later lunch you’re in for a treat. As the weather is getting nicer, nearby St. Luke’s Music Education Centre (an old church opposite of the Northern part of the market) makes for a beautiful little cemetery-plot to enjoy sunshine and street food.

Unappetising photo of the slow-cooked burrito.

Broadway market (9 am-5 pm on Saturdays)

Broadway market in London fields is a perfect spot for hipster-watching now that Shoreditch has gone mainstream, and also a good place for street food. Timeout’s review from 2010 is still pretty spot-on about the various cake stalls which remain one of the best features about the market. This market normally gets very, very busy, so get in early for a pre-wander around all the stalls and eating. If you’re into home-made designs and fashion, this is also a good bet for quirky jewelry.

Fumio at his Chatsworth market stand (picture from the Chatsworth market website)

Chatsworth road market (9 am – 5 pm Sundays). As it currently stands this market feels like a rural cousin to Broadway market, scruffier and less travelled. This might be because Chatsworth lies in a part of Hackney still too rough for many hipsters and doesn’t attract that many people yet. However, it might get more busy with warmer weather, and it has a trumph card in the okonomiaky (Japanese savoury pancakes) at Fumio Tanga’s Sho Foo Doh stall. They might be one of the best street foods I’ve tasted all year. If Chatsworth Road seems too far out of the way to travel, Fumio also sets up his stall every Friday night at The Long Table in Dalston (6 pm – 1 am), which is a nice and cosy night-time food feast if you dare brave the queue.

Flower vendors’ profile pictures from the Columbia flower market website.

Columbia road flower market (Sunday 8 am-3pm) Since you can eat some flowers and there are some food stalls here, this market goes on the Meatball and Salted-cod list. With the massive amounts of flowers sold by the bunch it is absolutely beautiful to stroll through – and a tip is to get here by by mid-afternoon, when you get cheap bouquets as stalls are closing up.

Sunday UpMarket (10 am-5pm Sundays). Brick Lane and its surrounding area now has tons of market stalls every weekend, and you can spend hours browsing stalls for clothes, jewelry, interior design pieces, bags and other random things. If you want to find some good street food among all this, the Sunday UpMarket has plenty of good-quality stands, with the Ethiopian stand serving injera (soft, mushroomy kind of bread with various fillings and side salads) standing out. Me and my friend Jess still drool secretly when thinking back of our injera and lentil moment here. Seriously worth a try.

Chatsworth road market a long time ago.

2 Comments on “The Meatball and Salted Cod’s Mini-guide to London’s Food Markets”

  1. […] Salted Cod had a stroll around Ridley Road market (bit more info about that market in the middle of this post if you fancy going) and enjoyed the sunshine bashing down on Hackney’s back alleys. The […]

  2. […] other pins may have been mentioned in blog posts (like markets or shops), or are simply places we love but have not had a chance to write about yet. From now on, […]

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