Cheap eats are not just confined to the streets in London, although a lot of great places like Bao’s and Dishoom’s central London branches frequently have queues well out the door. Food markets, however, are always a good shout for a quick lunch or lazy evening hangouts when it’s sunny and dry (or head for the covered ones when it’s not).
Definitely one of the more famous and prettiest (but not necessarily cheapest) food markets in London. However, visit during the more pared-down weekday lunchtime market, or Limited Market as it’s known, and you’ll find a yard full of benches and some great bargains. Alternatively you can sit in the garden of Southwark Cathedral. You can still feast on falafel, pizza and Asian food during the early part of the week, but our tip is the pots of Koshari (Egyptian mix of pasta and pulses with a tangy, spiced sauce and crunchy onion topping)—the smaller one is only £3.50.
If you fancy a 2-minute stroll, nearby All That Falafel offers filling wraps, also starting at a very tasty £3.50. If you turn up for the lunch rush expect a queue—their falafel skills are legendary among locals and office types alike.
When: Limited Market Monday and Tuesday 10am – 5pm
Where: London Bridge / Borough
Full Market: Wednesday – Sunday (times vary)
Costs: £3.50 – £8
Southbank Centre Food Market
Just behind the Southbank Centre, the SC Food market is open for street eats throughout most of the week, and it’s hard to walk past the aromatic offerings without popping in for savoury or sweet food. It’s always pretty busy, but with there is a decent seating area, and you can always perch and people watch on the South Bank with a box of something delicious.
The rotation of vendors means there are always new and exciting things to try, from korritos (Korean burritos), Polish deli, Mauritian, Indian street food (we recommend the Dosa) and veggie and vegan food from Ethiopia. This market is a winner on location, variety and value.
When: Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays from midday to 8pm (9pm in summer)
One of the oldest markets in London, it’s basically a long street full of stalls feeding hungry office workers just off Gray’s Inn Road close to Farringdon and Chancery Lane tube stations. There are lots of independent restaurants and hipster coffee places here too but visit for the variety of food on offer.
As with most food markets, the stalls come and go, but substantial offerings include bibimbap, grilled cheese sandwiches, fish and chips, veggie, vegan and gluten-free options, noodles and Caribbean street food. Or go old-school cheapo for a baked potato with beans or chili for around four quid.
Of course, If you’re really skint, or can’t decide, there’s always Greggs.
When: Weekdays 10am – 3 pm
Where: Farringdon / Holborn
Older and cheaper and than neighbouring pricey Spitalfields, Petticoat Lane is much more of a proper old London market (there are regular market stalls as well as food) than a lot of hipster food hangouts.
The stallholders ability to serve a hungry crowd quickly is also a sight to behold. The woman in charge of the chicken Katsu wrap stall is a machine. It’s not huge, but great for cheap Asian street food, polenta dishes (including vegan toppings), falafel, jollof rice and curries.
When: Weekdays 8 am – 4 pm
Where: Aldgate East
Brixton is an old hand at street food and food markets (we’ve featured Brixton Village before)—and Pop has been a welcome new kid on the block. Created as a pop-up creative and business space in shipping containers on disused land, the unit is home to local independent businesses and startups. Food is served in the courtyard space, where you can eat and drink well into the evening under fairy lights and shady trees. There are 16 food stalls to pick for including celebrated pizza from Made of Dough, Italian bites from Don Luigi, Ghanaian food from Zoe’s Ghana Kitchen, Baba G’s burgers and ramen from Koi’s.
When: Daily from 9 am -11 pm (Midnight at weekends)