Authentic bites, food staples and secret gigs.
Whether you are experiencing burnout or planning a weekend dinner with friends, Old Spitalfields Market is open seven days a week to accommodate your culinary needs. Serving everything from authentic hand-pulled noodles to Hong Kong and Indian-style snacks, you’ll find something to whet your appetite.
Taking a bite from the jianbing of Pleasant Lady, you will understand the reason for it being a staple of Chinese street food. With eggs, vegetables and fermented bean sauce wrapped in a layer of thin and crispy pancake, this must-try wrap bursts with authentic flavour. Another must-try is the famous Humble Crumble. It is one of the London pop-up dessert branches that serve seasonal specials, so check out their menu before ordering.
TOP TIP: Secret gigs are live every Saturday night where unnamed artists will showcase their talent from 8pm. Arrive early and enjoy food from street traders that stay open till the show begins.
Address: 16 Horner Square, London E1 6EW
Opening: Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday 10 am-8 pm; Thursday 8 am-6 pm; Saturday 10 am-6 pm; Sunday 10 am-5 pm.
The perfect oasis for city folks to forget reality.
This tropical street food market is about to celebrate its first birthday. Launched in May 2022, it consists of 10 food stalls, four bars, fire pits, a waterfall and even a cluster of palm trees. Following the theme of escapism, the market aims to provide a getaway for roaming city lives. This 25,000-square-foot space is the perfect oasis for city folk ready to momentarily forget reality.
TOP TIP: With red neon lights greeting at the entrance, the market has a vibrant atmosphere of live music and entertainment. You can’t miss the juicy burgers by B.O.B Burgers, which are utterly packed with meat patties, onion and melted cheese, smashed in between brioche buns. If you do get your hands on them, be ready to get messy.
Address: 17-19 Great Eastern St, Shoreditch, EC2A 3EJ
Opening: Monday Closed, Tues to Thurs 12 pm-11:30 pm, Fri to Sat 12 pm-12 am, Sunday 12 pm-10:30pm.
Special Friday events, English favourites and traditional cultural cuisines.
Set in Poplar and located under a canopy, a selection of fresh fruits and vegetables are available here. You’ll also find traditional English favourites like pie and mash from Maureens’, Schezwan flavours from Wings Chinese cafe, and Tikka and a traditional Indian grill at the Curry Hut.
With prices starting at £6, Wings Chinese cafe, a homely little cabin, serves special boxes of chicken with spring rolls and fried ho fun (rice noodles). Meanwhile, the Curry Hut has the option to order halal food and does flavourful naans, such as garlic, peshwari (fruity coconut filling) and keema (cumin marinated beef) naans.
TOP TIP: The market hosts a special event called “Bite” on the last Friday of every month. This is part of their rejuvenation plan to bring up the culinary reputation of the area, featuring various street food choices and even concerts.
Address: Chrisp Street, E14
Opening: Monday to Saturday 8 am-6 pm.
Reggae music, cocktails and fresh groceries.
Located at the heart of Dalston with over 150 stalls, Ridley Road Market is a symbol of Hackney’s heritage and history. Reggae music, cocktails and fresh groceries are some of the many things you can find in the market. If you visit near the end of the day, you may bag a bargain too.
TOP TIP: Mangal II, a Turkish restaurant right next to the market, is run by the Dirik brothers and serves Anatolian dishes back home in Kayseri. Its authentic menu “will provide twists and variations from the traditional rulebook”. Don’t miss the pork and lamb grilled above the charcoal fire, they sizzle with tanginess.
Address: Ridley Road, London, E8 2NP
Opening: Monday to Saturday 9:30 am-5 pm.
Fresh cheap eats for the savoury and sweet.
Looking for fresh vegetables, fruits and baked goods? Broadway Market, right across London Fields, is packed with buyers on early Sunday mornings. There are over 150 stalls offering different cultural cuisines such as Indonesian and Indian. Cheap eats like £2 oysters are for savoury lovers, while £5 Turkish Delights are for those who have a sweet tooth.
TOP TIP: Served hot from the wok, The Ghanaian food from Spinach and Agushi is the bestselling street food. The curry sauces are cooked to a rich creamy state and then poured onto steamed rice. You can even add a spoonful of spice if you like your food hot. The famous pulled beef rendang from Makatcha is another hot dish served with steaming, fluffy rice. It is the epitome of Indonesian culture. A tip is to arrive early on Sunday to skip the queues!
Address: 67 Broadway Market, London E8 4QJ
Opening: Sunday 9 am–5 pm.
Sunday gem that will satisfy your cravings.
Another Sunday gem where tents and stalls line up in different colours. Predominantly selling food, it is a friendly, go-to spot for all kinds of treats. From fruitcake loaves at Le Moulin Bakery to artisan blocks of cheese from Raw Cheese Powder and Scottish toasties from Deeney’s, there’s something to satisfy your cravings.
TOP TIP: Don’t miss the sushi burger – a gourmet, gluten-free, fusion rice burger from Sticky Bundits and the Winner of Best Sandwich in the 2017 British Street Food Awards. The Vietnamese Street food from Hanoi Kitchen can’t be missed too. From classic Pho (noodle soup) to banh mi (Vietnamese baguettes), to 12-hour braised meat that is marinated and cooked with five spice, star anise and lemongrass.
Address: Chatsworth Road, Hackney E5 0LH
Opening: Sunday 11 am–4 pm.
This article is part of our series, Food Without Borders: Taste of East London, check out more stories here. #ELLFoodWithoutBorders