London’s street-food markets (pop-ups, ephemeral restaurants: they take many names) are in full swing for the summer, with regular appearances every weekend across the city. Traditionally the haunt of small, independent chefs and outlets, increasingly they are incorporating larger, more established restaurants; however, this has failed to detract from the sizzling array of cuisines on offer.
Round the corner from Camden Lock you can find this culinary diamond; it feels as if the market is hiding away from the street, but the smells that greet you reward a hungry search for some great food. There is a rapid turnover of stalls meaning from one week to the next you will always find a new treat, although beware of the crowds at weekends.
When: Every day, 10:00-late
Nearest tubes: Camden Town, Chalk Farm, Camden Road
Urban Food Fest (Shoreditch)
Home to 15 food trucks with stalls changing every week, what sets Urban Food Fest apart are the incredibly well-stocked bars: featuring cocktails, wines, beers and exotic soft drinks. On a hot day it may be a bit stuffy inside, a crisp drink on ice will be worth it.
When: Saturdays, noon-midnight
Nearest tubes: Shoreditch High Street, Old Street.
Pump lies just next door to Urban Food Fest in what is London’s golden mile of street food. It offers a similar diversity, but, given the more permanent and established nature of its vendors, the food is a bit tidier. While drinks are on offer, for refreshment it’s best to stick with its neighbour.
When: Every day, 11:00-late
Nearest tubes: Shoreditch High Street, Old Street
Pop Brixton represents manufactured spontaneity at its best, with a series of wooden boards and shipping containers lying just off Brixton Road. There is still a fun atmosphere, though what it does best is the food: Vietnamese fried chicken, sensibly-portioned pizzas and sumptuous ice cream are just the surface of this culinary masterpiece. The heaving crowds (yet still-short waiting times) are testament to this.
When: Every day, 9:00-23:00 (until midnight Thurs-Sat).
Nearest tube: Brixton
Street Feast Model Market (Lewisham)
Street Feast represent the pinnacle of the pop-up scene, with four venues across South and East London run in a slick operation. The venues are something to behold, with a large number of stalls from which to eat and drink, although the food on offer is perhaps lacking in breadth with an overt focus on meat, burgers and heavier foods. You also have to pay £3 entry (after 19:00).
When: Friday 17:00-late; Saturday noon-late.
Nearest tube: Lewisham
Boxpark (Croydon – Opening soon)
Croydon is to receive its largest pop-up venue in the form of Boxpark – though we will have to wait until September. This is a transplant from the company’s first location in Shoreditch, with an identical concept of small retail spaces designed for a wide variety of independent shops, food and drink outlets. There will be a particular focus on local firms, such as Croydon-based The Cronx brewery.
When: From September 2016
Nearest station: East Croydon (by tram or national rail, 15 mins from Clapham Junction)
Lyric Square (Hammersmith)
A hub for West London’s office workers, this weekday lunchtime-market has grown from a small collection of farm shops selling homemade ware to an international bizarre of snacks, bakers and high-quality lunches. The stalls don’t change often, meaning that the highlights (particularly the sushi and Thai) are always present.
When: Thursdays and Fridays, 8:00-17:00 (though food ends about 15:00).
Nearest tube: Hammersmith
Fine Foods Market (Acton)
Fine Foods Acton is more of a farmers’ market than a hip street-food set-up, but that does not take away from the care and attention paid to the cuisine. The market mixes locally-sourced and (often organic) produce with food stalls to create an inviting Saturday-afternoon atmosphere.
When: Every Saturday, 10:00-15:00
Nearest tube: Acton Central
Pergola on the Roof (Shepherd’s Bush)
This is a food court – but with a slight twist. Pergola is providing a Mediterranean atmosphere under a canopy of flowers on the roof of the BBC’s old television centre, with four restaurants and two bars set to raise the roof in White City. If you sign up to their newsletter you will also receive a free drink.
When: Wed-Fri (18:00-23:00); Sat (12:00-23:00); Sunday (12:00-21:30) until 29th August.
Nearest tube: Wood Lane