There are few ways to become completely enamoured with a new place; and immersing yourself in the local food market is definitely one of them. After recently visiting London, I discovered that their Market scene does not disappoint! There are dozens of food markets overflowing with stall after stall of organic fruit and vegetables, iconic local favourites in meat pies, fish & chips, and scotch eggs, as well as every type of cheese, cured charcuterie, and preserves, jellies, and jams that you can imagine. London’s food markets are a mecca for food enthusiasts travelling on any budget. Many are open everyday of the week and it can be difficult to narrow down which markets to see, (especially during a short stay to the city). Out of all of the London food markets I visited, I’ve narrowed it down to my top three choices below. They offer up everything from venison burgers to caviare on toast points, washed down with a glass of champagne or a freshly squeezed juice – beginning at 8 o’clock on a Saturday morning.
1. Borough Market
Borough Market is one of London’s largest and oldest food markets in the heart of Southwark – a stone’s throw from London Bridge. Accessible by bus, foot, car and Tube, this market offers every possible treat in the United Kingdom. You should put Borough Market at the top of your must-see list, right between walking across the Tower Bridge and riding the London Eye. The entire market is constructed of green-coated steel and covered in a semi-transparent roof to ward off the rain – a London activity suited for any weather!
Besides the sheer volume of food stalls, butchers, and bakers – is the tasting. Strolling through each lane past vendor after vendor, you can lift the lid on a gallon jar filled with black truffles from Tartufaia Truffles, or sample dairy products from all over the UK.
- Northfield Farm – fresh butcher cuts to take away or choose from a Sausage & Bacon Rump Steak Roll for £7.50
- Bread and smoked salmon pate from House of Sverre.
- Pick away at a variety of charcuterie and Cancoillotte cheese, from The French Comte.
- Furness Fish & Game – beautifully fresh seafood delivered every Friday and Saturday morning.
Borough Market is also perfect for long stays; you could never tire of the grocery options here if you lived in London for a lifetime.
I ended my Borough Market visit by briefly stepping out into the rain to cross Stoney Street for an outstanding pour-over coffee from Monmouth to pair with the vanilla bean donut I bought from Bread Ahead Bakery – you can see the flecks of bean nestled into the homemade cream! There isn’t a rainy Saturday that goes by that I don’t think of this experience, if you have to choose just one market as part of your London experience – this should be it.
2. Maltby Street Market – Ropewalk
This market is remarkably smaller than Borough, but don’t let that deter you. Tucked away under the railway arches in Bermondsey, Maltby Street market is open on Saturday’s from around 9:00AM to 2:00PM in a space occupied by timber merchants during the week, an absolute delight to all of your senses.
It is a little perplexing to cross the crowded and bustling Tower Bridge Road onto the small and narrow Tanner Street. As soon as you turn the corner the street falls completely silent and serene as you head towards Maltby Street and only then do you realize Ropewalk is right in front of you. Walking towards the market you smell two things – the charcoal BBQ’s and the aroma of fresh cut lumber. Really, what’s not to love?
Less of a grocer and more of an indie food stall haven, Maltby Street has a variety of small local vendors mixed in around permanent fixtures such as St John bakery (those caviar toast points!) or Monmouth Coffee.
- The pop-up bar for a fragrant £5.00 gin cocktail from Little Bird.
- The “Dirty Streaker” cheese beef burger with smoked peri peri bacon from the African Volcano.
- Champagne and oysters in front of Geo. Amos & Sons.
- A stroll through the famous Lassco antiques.
Mix and match at Milo & Hector’s Ice Cream Sandwiches – choose from four cookie flavours such as butterscotch and five ice cream flavors from Vanilla Bean to Rum Raisin (“quite boozy!”). A single decker will set you back £4.00 or double decker – £7.00, because really who can’t eat ice cream for breakfast?
Get here early to skip the queues or arrive for brunch to feel warm and cozy in a crowd. Take your umbrella for this one – the Union Jack’s flying overhead provide little shelter from the rain.
3. Broadway Market
Out of the three, Broadway Market truly feels like a local London experience. To start with, it’s further away from the city centre, tucked away in its East End namesake street – Broadway Market. The prices are noticeably lower then those more easily accessed by tourists, such as Old Spitalfields Market two miles south, making Broadway Market a budget friendly option. It also features performances by local musicians and overall is frequented by families with small kids and groups of friends. The food has more unique cultural influences bringing together different types of cuisine from all over Europe.
- Finest Fayre – handmade Scotch eggs.
- Red velvet cupcakes from Violet Cakes.
- La Tua Pasta – fresh artisanal pasta made the day its sold, I had this insane Tortelloni Wild Boar for £5.90 served with olive oil and parmesan cheese.
Given its location to the Regent’s Canal, you can take your market fare and stroll past the houseboats along the river.
What is the best part about all 3 of these markets? You don’t have to choose! You can easily see all three of these markets on a single Saturday in England’s capital.