Courtesy of BBQ Dreamz
Food & Drink

London's Most Exciting Street Food

Published On 09/07/2016
Lemlem Kitchen

Lemlem Kitchen

Netil Market (& Hackney)

Makda Harlow grew up in Asmara, the capital of Eritrea, and the dishes she serves from her handsome, Art Deco-style stand at Netil Market reflect the unusual blend of African, Mediterranean, and Middle Eastern cuisines from her hometown. With so many influences, it’s no wonder her "Afro-tacos" are beautiful little carnivals of colour. Toppings such as spiced pulled lamb with cumin, carrot, and beetroot slaw soak into their spongy injera base, so you get an enormous pop of flavour in every mouthful. Those who can handle the heat should also save space for the awze hot sauce chicken wings, which come with a stuffed pepper & feta dip. This stand serves every Saturday and selected Sundays, and it's worth trying to claim a stool at the Lemlem stand itself so that you and Makda can talk through the menu.

Ashleigh Arnott/Thrillist

SpiceBox

Druid Street Market, Southwark, and selected KERB markets

Vegan doesn’t have to mean bland, and these guys are here to prove it. The SpiceBox vegetable korma is an exemplary curry, rich with cashews and coconut and packed with perfectly cooked vegetables. Homemade pickles add a bit of tang and crunch, and your choice of rice makes sure your belly is fuller than the local curry house on match day. And it’s actually good for you, meaning that you can head straight for the nearest pudding afterwards without embarrassment. If you found SpiceBox at Druid St, St. JOHN's doughnuts should be your next victim.

Dhan Waffles

Maltby Street Market, Southwark, and St Katharine Dock's market

There’s a whole lot of tempting street food coming out of Taiwan right now (if you haven’t already braved the queue for BAO, then get on it STAT), and Dhan’s pillowy little waffles are up there with the best of them. Its wonderfully old-school waffle iron cooks the egg-sized treats until they’re perfectly crisp on the outside and dense but soft in the middle. Then they’re smothered in your sauce of choice. The sauce menu is so gloriously sugary that it could have been written by Augustus Gloop, so good luck choosing between fresh vanilla custard, Taiwanese peanut brittle, salty caramel, and Nutella.

Ashleigh Arnott/Thrillist

Poke

Street Feast, Dalston, & various KERB markets

This Hawaiian speciality has swum straight into London’s food consciousness in 2016, but Poke was ahead of the tidal wave, starting out at KERB's markets mid-2015. A black rice base is topped with fresh raw fish in a shoryu sauce and colourful homemade pickles, creating the perfect jumble of textures and flavour. It also, conveniently for this day and age, creates the most Instagrammable bowl on the street.

Kimchinary

Various KERB markets, including Camden Daily

Hanna Söderland hit upon an irresistible mash-up when she created Kimchinary. You’d think the burrito could hardly get any better, but it turns out if you replace the Mexican ingredients with Korean ones, it gets even more delicious. The slow-cooked meats are fantastic, but don’t miss the grilled aubergine and ssamjang sautéed kale, which bulks out an already amazing pile of kimchee fried rice, sesame slaw, cheese, sour cream, and spring onions. Black beans are basically dead to you now.

BBQ Dreamz

Various Kerb markets, including Camden daily

These guys have been cooking up Filipino masterpieces at markets across London since 2014, but their food hasn’t got any less unmissable. If it’s dinner you’re after, go for chicken adobo, a pile of sticky jasmine rice drenched in garlicky chicken stew and served with pickled edamame beans and carrots -- it's as hearty as it is fragrant. But it’s the lemongrass ox heart skewers that are unlike anything else out there, somehow rich and light all at once, and served with a tangy, spicy cane vinegar dip.

Richard Makin

Blu Top

Druid Street Market, Bermondsey, and various KERB markets, including Camden Daily

An ice cream sandwich is always a good treat, but the Blu Top boys are piling together some truly unusual, special flavours from their cute little truck. You could go classic -- chocolate cookies, vanilla ice cream, that sort of caper -- but it’s obviously way more fun to play Willy Wonka and pile as many flavours as you can between the squidgy homemade biscuit bookends. Who could resist a peanut butter pretzel cookie, for starters? Or the Cop Car special -- white coffee ice cream stuffed with chunks of glazed doughnut? Their new stand at Camden Market means ice cream every day of the week, with plenty of sunny canalside spots nearby to devour it in.

Courtesy of Ink

Ink

KERB (& Model Market)

Ink's owner, Lucy Mee, is one half of Bill or Beak, whose bird-packed buns are the stuff of London street food legend. Ink has just started serving up crispy strips of salt and Szechuan squid accompanied by a rotating menu of pastel-coloured homemade mayonnaise dips. The stall will be open daily at Camden Market, and never fear, they’ve got that wild garlic dip here, too.

Courtesy of Sub Cult

Sub Cult

Brockley Market, Model Market, and Leather Lane

Ben and Gaz have been livening up London’s markets with more than great dishes; their mission is to put more soul in your roll, and you’ll certainly be entertained by Motown tunes and great chat while you wait for your order. But most importantly, their sandwiches are exquisite. The take on surf & turf involves scallops, squid, pulled pork, and a crisp sprinkle of crackling. Their vegetarian option, the Subterranean, is as good as any steak sandwich, all rich with juicy wild mushrooms and gooey from chunks of melting Stilton.

Ashleigh Arnott/Thrillist

Farang

Brook Green Market, Shepherd's Bush, and Dinerama

Chef Seb Holmes has worked at The Begging Bowl and Smoking Goat, two of London’s top Thai restaurants. There are big plans in the pipeline for his new project, Farang, but for now, you can find him developing his dishes on the streets. However, they don’t really need developing; his way with spices is hard to beat, making every mouthful a taste sensation. The menu changes all the time, but the regularly appearing smoked chicken green curry is a good example of his work, the juicy meat complemented perfectly by a fiery blanket of bright green sauce.

Courtesy of Nazari

Nazari

Brockley Market and various KERB markets, including Camden

Al-Andalus Moorish cuisine isn’t one you come across every day, but if it’s all as good as Nazari’s food, it’s worth keeping an eye out for. The combination of Middle Eastern and Mediterranean flavours blended into well-stuffed wraps will leave even your favourite kebab shop in the dust. Roast chicken is tossed in its own garlic-and-parsley-soaked juices, and Moorish spices help ensure that there’s heaps of taste in every bite. The soft, crisp falafel balls are made mainly with British-grown fava beans, and za’atar-sprinkled chips make sure you’re truly stuffed… plus, it's all served with a smile from an adorable 1974 Peugeot J7 van.

Allihopa

Various KERB markets

It’s smoked fish, but not as you know it. Allihopa’s beautiful trout is smoked in Jacob’s dad’s garden in Norfolk, then presented as a sort of Scandi lunchbox, featuring open sandwiches on fresh-cut sourdough and rye breads, served with a dollop of potato salad and fresh, crunchy pickles. The smoked fish burger is pretty special, too, wedged into a potato bun with plenty of herby toppings.

Decatur

Druid Street Market (& Bermondsey)

Oysters are pretty special any day of the week, but if you track down Decatur’s chargrilled bad boys on a Saturday morning, your shellfish world will be moved, guaranteed. Wild Essex oysters are topped with garlic butter and a little pecorino cheese, a dash of hot sauce, and a sprinkle of the house spice mix, then heated on an open grill until they’re hot, melty, and better than you ever thought a mollusk could be.

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The City

Barbecoa

Address and Info

Jamie Oliver may have lead the charge for getting kids to eat healthily, but we’re all adults here, and in his steakhouse overlooking St Paul’s Cathedral, he holds nothing back with his dessert menu. White chocolate cheesecake, crème fraîche panna cotta, and some seriously epic house-made ice creams await you at the end of the meal... or just skip the meat course and go straight for the sweets; we won’t judge.

Courtesy of Fera

Mayfair

Fera

Address and Info

Simon Rogan is basically a wizard when it comes to creative dishes that make your brain explode through juxtapositions of flavour, texture, and temperature... and needless to say, his desserts at Fera fall solidly into the jaw-drop category. Everything is incredible here, but be sure you save room for dishes like smoked chocolate, Earl Grey ice cream, and sea buckthorn, or roasted pear, coffee, chestnut cake, and green mandarin.

Balthazar

Covent Garden

Balthazar

Address and Info

This Parisian-styled NYC import understands the importance of sugar at the end of a meal. Or the start. Or on it’s own randomly throughout the day. Their killer bakery pumps out ridiculously tasty breads, pastries, and cakes all day... plus their decadent dessert menu is filled with classics like tarte tatin, profiteroles, and a lemon and verbena panna cotta that might make your last-meal list.

The Duke

Richmond

The Duke

Address and Info

When you find yourself out in the wild (aka Richmond Park) and want really good food, you’d be a bit of a moron not to go to The Duke. This gastropub is stylish and comfortable and will put you into a happy food coma without even trying. We dare you to leave behind a single bite behind of their boozy Jameson’s mousse & homemade Guinness ice cream... or their salted chocolate mousse, paired with roasted nuts and passion fruit sorbet.

Courtesy of Hawksmoor

Shoreditch

Hawksmoor

Address and Info

Sure, you know they do some of the best steak in town plus award-winning cocktails, but have you OD'd on their puddings yet? Iit might be hard to look that far ahead when you’re eating a massive plate of meat, but you absolutely need to try their peanut butter shortbread with salted caramel ice cream... and sticky toffee pudding with clotted cream... plus their insane Crunchy Bar. Basically, it would be wise to start planning for the future of your mouth.

Clerkenwell

POLPO Smithfield

Address and Info

Two words for you: Nutella pizzetta. Yeah, it’s exactly what you’d think: neapolitan pizza crust smothered in chocolate-hazelnut creaminess... it’s so rich, you really should share. Eat it with a knife and fork, by the slice... or just fold the damn thing in half and shove it directly into your eager mouth.

Flickr/andreasivarsson

Soho

Gelupo

Address and Info

Eating good Gelato is one of those nostalgic activities that makes everything better, and few places in London do the cold & creamy stuff better. This Gelateria is from the same cats at Bocca di Lupo (located just across the street) and everything they do is outstanding... so go stuff your face while trying to avoid brain freeze.

Angel/Islington

Zilouf’s

Address and Info

On the Islington side of Upper St, Zilouf’s ticks so many boxes: cocktails, roasts, amazing small plates, and desserts that’ll leave you shamelessly licking the plate for every last crumb. Regardless of whether you’re going for the chocolate chilli cashew brownie served with coconut ice cream, steamed ginger pudding paired with a rum and brownie ice cream, or their insane Tropical Mess, your sugar fix is sorted.

Rivington Grill Greenwich

Greenwich

Rivington

Address and Info

From the same people as J Sheekey, The Ivy, and Sexy Fish, this Greenwich outpost of their bar and grill wants to make sure that when you leave, you have enough of a sugar rush to make the trek back to central London. Take your pick from a pistachio and almond tart loaded with clotted cream ice cream, cider brandy truffles, chocolate and walnut fudge, and more, then ride the happy sugar train home.

Notting Hill

Melt

Address and Info

These guys are obsessed with the process of making chocolate and love to share. So go and stop by for just one (like the sea salted caramel bon bon or green tea truffle)... and try to not buy a whole box to take home.

Courtesy of Restaurant Gordon Ramsay

Chelsea

Restaurant Gordon Ramsay

Address and Info

After hanging on to three Michelin Stars for a while now, you had best believe the Hell’s Kitchen namesake spot knows how to make some serious puddings. Find an excuse, class it up, and go big for an extravagant tasting menu... or just focus on the real deal, like the lemon parfait with honey, bergamot, and a sheep’s milk yoghurt, or the carrot cake with bee pollen, mead, and cream cheese ice cream.

Chinatown

Candy Cafe

Address and Info

The sweet stuff is really in the name here, although to call their bites "candy" is kind of selling it short. Known for their bubble tea and Keya Toast --  a coconut spread involving eggs, sugar, and pandan leaves -- this charming cafe hidden on the first floor next to Leong's Legends is almost out-of-place in busy London (and we’re so glad it’s here).

Courtesy of Koffmans

Knightsbridge

Koffmann's

Address and Info

We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again: the pistachio soufflé at Koffmann’s at The Berkeley Hotel is completely freaking amazing. It’s like a pastel holiday to the South of France, loaded with nutty flavour... and at a height that would make most frustrated bakers cry tears of wonder.

Camden

The Diner

Address and Info

Camden is kind of overrun with wannabe punk ravers, tourists, and frustrated locals just trying to live life, but The Diner is your oasis from all that. Filled with loads of Americana, quirky waitstaff, a bangin’ soundtrack, and cracktastic sweet stuff, you will be set to brave the crowds once more. Seriously, you need cookies & cream cake in your life. Trust.

Ed Reeve

Hackney

The Richmond

Address and Info

Sister restaurant to Elliot's in Borough Market, it’s no surprise the food here is outstanding. Super fresh, seasonal, and full of flavour, Chef Brett Redman keeps the quality high from raw bar start to super-sweet finish, with dishes like olive oil ice cream, poached rhubarb & blood orange granita (trust us, it’s amazing) as well as a panna cotta with strawberries & crumble. Wash it all down with a bottle of natural wine, and you’ll be ready to take on the world.