Forget Big Ben or Buckingham Palace. London’s real attractions comprise the litany of rickety carts and pop-up shelves that appear, like clockwork, every weekend: the city’s food markets. It’s here that England’s superlative produce – locally made cheeses, wild mushrooms from the woodlands, plump oysters from the coast – converges. What’s more, the orbiting galaxy of ethnic restaurants, food trucks, and gourmet stalls elevates a weekend grocery trip to an incomparable noshing experience.


Oldie but goldie: Borough Market

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London’s oldest food market has lots going for it. Soaring, atmospheric glass awnings and cobblestone alleyways. An unending parade of artisanal fare: giant wheels of Parmigiano Reggiano, baby-soft fresh pasta, and just-picked morels from the English woodlands. And not least, the litany of stalls peddling ready-to-eat wonders, such as a pork belly and crackling sandwich from Roast-to-Go and steak and craft ale pies from Pieminister.


International flavours: KERB at Camden Market

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Camden Market’s sprawling complex straddles Regent’s Canal in Central London, and boasts more than a thousand stores selling crafts, vintage fashion and antiques. For a quick respite from the retail frenzy, head straight to KERB, the market’s globe-spanning street food section. Here, you can fuel up on Venezuelan arepas and Sri Lankan kothu roti; crab rolls from the Kent coast and Filipino pork burgers. The world, at Camden Market, is literally your oyster.

Community fare: Broadway Market

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If the tourist hordes get you down, the smaller, community-driven gourmet markets in further-flung parts of the city are the perfect respite. One of them is Broadway Market in East London’s trendy Hackney district. On weekends, pop-ups line the picturesque street, hawking all manner of treats such as Butchie’s fried chicken sandwiches and organic, seasonal ice cream from Nonna’s Gelato. But the permanent shops deserve a gander, too. Yeast Bakery’s buttery kouign amanns and Australian café Climpson and Sons’ cold brews, for one, are the perfect Sunday pick-me-up.

Refreshments by the railway: Maltby St Market

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Still hungry? More prime produce can be found in southeast London at Maltby St Market, a wholesale market that transforms on Saturday mornings into a haven of food stalls purveying their wares to the public. Along the Ropewalk – the pedestrian-only drag that runs between old railway arches – nibble on all manner of top-notch produce such as urban heather honey from the London Honey Company and gooey grilled cheese sandwiches (made only with British cheese!) from The Cheese Truck. We insist on a stop at St. JOHN Bakery for its classic lemon-dusted vanilla cream donuts, and brown crusty loaves of sourdough bread.

Diverse eats: Brixton Village and Market Row

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To truly immerse yourself in the city’s kaleidoscopic diversity, try Brixton Village and Market Row in south London. The complex of covered arcades boasts a history as the epicentre of London’s Afro-Caribbean community, and has been preserved as a site of cultural significance. Today, stalls selling giant African snails and pig heads jostle alongside those selling gourmet burgers and Japanese curries. A day at Brixton could very well start at Carioca with a Brazilian favela de rossa – fried plantain, poached egg, mozzarella, tomatoes, and hollandaise. Alternatively, sip some house espresso blend from specialty café Federation, followed by a warm red velvet cake at Sponge and Cream.