It’s no secret that street food has been one of the biggest food trends over the past year, renowned for being at the forefront of food innovation, its popularity only continues to grow. From vegan jackfruit chicken to pork that pulls no punches, street food markets continue to cater for more and more demanding palates. Gone are the days of street food markets popping up sporadically here and there, lasting only a few weeks with people uncertain of the quality. Now, it’s a promising career choice as demand is high, and councils have realised it’s a cost-effective way to revive an area. This means independent traders are better supported, being offered long-term residencies ultimately meaning they’re able to build a steadier stream of customers.
MALTBY ST: The Raclette Brothers
The surging growth of street food is largely owed to Instagram, as quirky food creations and aesthetically pleasing eats are incredibly popular on the app, with the right shot able to rack up 1,000s of likes within minutes and spread the word about small street food vendors who would otherwise not get the recognition they deserve. The Raclette Brothers, for example, have become a street food sensation. People will flock from all over the country to get that insta-worthy shot of the melting cheese layer being scraped over steaming garlic and rosemary potatoes, or draped over pickled vegetables, meats and more. Essentially, they melt cheese onto things, but it is the theatrics that sell this brand and got the brothers noticed on social media, having now acquired over 7,000 Instagram followers.
‘That scrape’ shot is instantly recognisable and continues to prove very popular across Instagram, and the queues at their stands speak for themselves! You will find the brothers constantly popping up at various locations, including Maltby Street Market, Bermondsey and Brick Lane. Most recently, they have even opened a permanent restaurant called Alpes, inspired by alpine dining, located in a shipping container above the entrance to Pop Brixton. They are also doing a number of festivals including the Great British Food Festival on 25th-27th August and Chelmsford Cheese Fest from 25th-26th August.
KERB: Biff’s Jack Shack
KERB is one of the biggest and most renowned street food operators in London. It has helped raise the bar for the standard of street food dramatically, curating several street food market hubs across the capital to complete its mission of transforming space through good people and good food. One vendor it is home to is Biffs Jack Shack, providing ‘filthy vegan food to London’ since late 2016. They are most famous for bringing crispy fried Jackfruit to our attention as a ridiculously moreish chicken alternative, and creating thousands of ‘oh-my-god-I-can’t-believe-that’s-vegan’ moments across London. The Jackfruit is braised, double-dipped in a panko crumb and then fried to create a unique meat-like texture.
Their must-tries include the ‘Samuel Hell Jackson’ burger, with maple chipotle hot sauce, chipotle slaw, jalapenos, burger cheese and BBQ sauce, and the ‘Father Jack’ burger, wedged between huge crispy onions rings, lettuce, smoked cheese, and topped with vegan ‘bacun’ jam and Whiskey-infused BBQ sauce! And if that wasn’t enough, they also do beer battered jackfruit wings smothered in buffalo sauce, blue cheese, slaw and fries. These are even served on a sugarcane ‘bone’ for that authentic feel.
KERB: Oli Baba’s
A sixth of Camden Market’s 72 stalls now cater almost exclusively to vegans, with seitan burgers and coconut pancakes providing tasty alternatives to the vegan falafel staple. One such brand making waves in this field ever since their launch in 2015 is Oli Baba’s, the self-proclaimed ‘original creators of halloumi fries’… but definitely not as you know them! These are a sweet and moreish treat that have given a whole new meaning to the notion of cheese for dessert. The deep-fried cheese strips are covered in za’atar yoghurt, drizzled generously with pomegranate molasses, and then decorated with scattered mint leaves, sumac, Turkish chilli and juicy pomegranate seeds. Smokey, spicy, deep and fragrant, it is a unique combination that just seems to work! Aside from being the perfect snack to enjoy whilst sat by the canal, they are also gluten-free and surprisingly low carb, and with all that pomegranate we’d argue they’re practically one of your five a day too, right? The street food sensations even did a sweet and salty special throughout December that was a chocolate cheesecake inspired combo of Canadian maple, Nutella, hobnob and pomegranate all drizzled over those famous halloumi fries, and finished off with a dusting of icing sugar of course. This is truly cheese for dessert reinvented, and is available 11-6pm Monday-Thursday and 11-7pm Friday-Sunday.
KERB: Daja St Food
Although veganism has been a huge trend this year, winning over thousands of meat eaters with pure flavour and variety, sometimes only the real thing will do. But what if you’re still searching for a healthier option? We suggest you try out this delicious Asian twist on your traditional fried chicken! Daja Street Food cooks up succulent, gluten-free, crispy, crunchy Taiwanese-fried chicken, all doused in fiery gouchujang teriyaki mayo. Inspire by the best of street food from Taiwan, Hong Kong, Japan and Malaysia, the Daja secret recipe uses only British free-range chicken from Devon and the healthiest cooking oils and locally sourced ingredients available. This is what helps create the light, crunchy, almost tempura-like batter, bringing you fried chicken like you’ve never experienced before. The groundnut oil used is cholesterol free and trans-fat free, made from pink peanuts not miscellaneous ‘vegetables’, so this really it about as guilt-free as fried chicken can get whilst still punching all the flavour! You can find them at KERB West India Quay (WIQ) on Wednesday afternoons, KERB The Gherkin on Thursdays, and KERB Kings Cross on Friday afternoons – Top Tip, ask for the off-menu secret sauce to really spice up your lunch! It’s dangerously addictive but you didn’t hear it from us…
KERB: Only jerkin’
If you’re looking for some of that Caribbean spice, then Only Jerkin’ is the spot for you! These guys put a creative, fresh twist on traditional Caribbean cooking, specialising in unbelievably tasty jerk chicken nuggets, triple dipped in a ginger beer batter – need we say more? Their signature JerkBox is incredibly popular across Instagram, golden chicken drenched in gravy and served with jerk sweet potato fries and creamy coleslaw, or their mango, coconut and honey fried strips, jerk gravy, and creamy coleslaw all served over jerk fries topped with mango aioli and fresh coriander… are you hungry yet? Well good news, there are plenty of locations you can discover all the spice, including Street Food Union, Soho, KERB Paddington on Wednesdays, KERB WIQ on Thursdays, and KERB St Katherine Docks (St Kats) on Fridays. And if that’s still not enough, you can now find Only Jerkin’ every single day at KERB Camden Market! That’s right, 7 days a week, 364 days a year, so really, what are you waiting for?
Maltby Market: Bad Brownie
Maltby Street is one of London’s most picturesque markets, although fairly small there is a lot packed in, and the quality of traders is always high. Bad Brownie is one such example, offering an insane variety of mouth-watering brownies that are just about as OTT as you could get. There’s no style over substance here though, with the salted caramel option being a particular favourite as it oozes layers of sticky caramel from the centre, along with the popular super fudgy triple chocolate numbers, Fererro Rocher, peanut butter, S’mores, Oreo cookie dough, the list could go on as basically anything goes!
Broadway Market: Baggio Burger
Broadway Market is a community run Saturday street market in Hackney, and is all about the best produce and street food from around the world. Starting with only 40 stalls, it has now grown to 135 as the street food scene continues to boom. Baggio Burger is the product of chef and founder, Nino, combining his love for wholesome Italian cooking with his love of burgers and street food, and the end results certainly do not disappoint! You will only find quality artisanal ingredients at this Italian burger joint, which produces some truly *ridiculous* handmade burgers, all using 28-day dry aged chuck steak, just like the one below. Carbs do not get much better than this three cheese ‘Double Topolino’, consisting of garlic and balsamic infused patties, smothered in melting mozzarella, dolcelatte, parmesan and oozing sweet fig jam all stuffed into a brioche bun. It is unique burger perfection! Their latest additions are 3 different options of overly loaded fries – Carbonara Fries, in case your burger wasn’t quite enough of a cheesy bacon hit, Vesuvio Fries which pretty much speak for themselves (all the hot sauce and cheese!!) and last but by no means least the Bolognese Curly Fries, completely covered in a classic Bolognese sauce and, you guessed it, more cheese! These are available at Broadway Market on Saturdays from 11-5pm, and The Nags Head pub at Walthamstow Village Wednesday right through to Saturday. And if this still is not good enough, you can also head over to KERB WIQon Wednesdays, KERB Kings Cross and the brand-new location of KERB St Kats every Friday!
Street Feast: Yumplings
Since 2015, London Union has run all Street Feast markets, which are some of the hottest, vibrant night markets in London, welcoming thousands of guests every weekend. These include Dinerema in Shoreditch, Giant Robot in Canary Wharf, Hawker House in Canada Water, Hawker Union in Wood Green, and most recently Public in Woolwich. For a lighter bite, we highly recommend that you try Yumplings, the street food offering from the team behind Yum Bun. These perfectly steamed dumplings are little mouthfuls of happiness, with options including steamed pork and chive with xian-style sauce sprinkled with sesame seeds, and steamed shiitake mushroom topped with cashew nuts and green oil. Available at all the Street Feast markets apart from Hawker Union, they may be small but they are absolutely packed with flavour and you won’t want to miss out on sampling the unique Taiwan spices.
Street Feast: You Doughnuts
While you’re there, especially if you’ve got a sweet tooth, make sure you don’t leave without snuggling up to a box of You Doughnuts – trust us on this one! There is guaranteed to be a queue for these hot doughnut bites, and once you’ve sampled their crunchy, sugary coating with the warm, fluffy centres, you will see why. Choose from Salted peanut Popcorn Caramel, with cinnamon sugared bites, salted caramel sauce, popcorn pieces and a peanut brittle crumb, or Malted Milk Chocolate, with vanilla sugared bites, malted milk chocolate sauce, Maltesers and malted milk crumble. What’s not to love! Great on their own, but you can really treat yourself by adding cornflake, salted caramel or rocky road ice cream on top, and watch it melt into one big pot of sweet indulgence.
Just Eat Food Fest: Indi-go Street Food
Just Eat, the online food order and delivery service, just recently returned to the streets of Shoreditch for their third ‘Just Eat Food Fest’, from July 20th-22nd. This festival at the Last Days of Shoreditch celebrates a wide variety of wild concoctions, but one definite star of the show was Indigo Street Food, providing an experience that brings authentic traditional street food of India to life with their modern twists. Their latest creation is an Onion Bhaji Burger, and it caused quite the fuss! Crowds amassed just to catch a glimpse of the jet-black squid ink and cracked pepper brioche bun that makes this burger so unique. Stuffed with a giant crispy onion bhaji and topped with sliced scotch bonnet chillies and a spicy mango jam, it’s nothing short of a feast for the eyes and a delight for the senses! Their other specials include tasty chaat bites, delicious tandoori kebabs, full-flavoured biryanis, grilled tikka wraps and a wide variety of fragrant curries. Head to Old Spitalfields Market any day of the week to see for yourself what these guys have to offer. You can also visit them at one of their restaurants in Westfield – Stratford, Westfield – White City, Rich Mix – Shoreditch or at their newest location Boxpark Croydon, where they have introduced their first fully electric Tadoor oven!
Victoria Park Market: MeltSmith
Victoria Park market is open every Sunday from 10-4pm, and offers some of the freshest local produce around. This includes seasonal fruit and veg, organic farm butchers, fresh fish, locally baked bread, charcuterie, and raw honey. However, among all this healthiness, you will find MeltSmith, grilling up a storm with some of the gooiest, most mouth-watering grilled cheese you could imagine! Some of their signatures include the ‘Spicy Boy’, which consists of cheddar, red Leicester, sriracha, jalapenos, crispy shallots and hot sauce, their ‘Ham and Mustard’ creation, combining mature cheddar, mozzarella, roast ham and English mustard, and of course the simple classic of cheddar and mozzarella with onion jam. MeltSmiths was voted no.17 in TimeOut’s top street food recently, so if you’ve ever wanted to visit cheese heaven, this is the place! If you cannot get to them on a Sunday, fear not as these delights are also available at the new KERB site St Kats on Fridays, Kings Cross on Wednesdays, and WIQ on Thursdays.
Victoria Park Market: A Pie Party
To end on a sweet note, we’re going to look at some pies! This beautiful East London park also offers some of the dirtiest desserts around, all courtesy of street food vendors A Pie Party. Better than any pie we’ve ever had in a restaurant, once you’ve had a taste of these incredible concoctions, your standards will be re defined forever! The only downside is the difficult choice you’ll have to make between all the different fillings on offer, will you be able to stick to just one? July’s special is currently a Raspberry Ripple, pictured below, other creations include the super chocolatey Oreo brownie pie, salted caramel apple pie, peanut butter brittle, black bottom pecan pie, sea salted chocolate pie and a peanut butter and jelly pie, with huge chunks of white chocolate and a thick layer of raspberry preserve running through the dangerously gooey centre. (Also available seven days a week with Omdhotdogs on Southbank.) This is serious pie paradise and definitely not one to be missed!