For a city with treacherously changeable weather and a reputation for reserve, we are so, so brilliant at markets. Not just at the height of summer heat, either. Find us in the grimmest weather, defiantly queuing for Borough's chorizo rolls or Broadway Market's fried pizza, willingly and determinedly getting squashed up against each other in the hot pursuit of great food.
This market-style collection of shipping containers was brought to life in 2015 as a community project with discounted rates for local food start-ups and artists. All those virtues aside, it's a brilliant addition to the already long list of reasons to eat every meal of every day in Brixton.
Built around a courtyard space, there are strips of benches wedged in anywhere there's room and sections of upper levels with shelter. Even in the filthiest weather Pop Brixton's still busy in the evenings, draped in fairy-lights and trees growing out of barrels. It's pretty lovely.
It's hard to pick a favourite stall at Pop, but among them are the Made of Dough kiosk by the courtyard, with a short menu of phenomenal pizzas — try the Serrano and stracciatella. And don't miss Ghana Kitchen in a nook of one of the upper levels, doing great okra fries and red-red, a spiced bean stew.
Pop Brixton 53, Brixton Station Road, SW9 8PQ. Every day 9am-11pm, open till midnight at the weekend.
Broadway Market and Schoolyard Market
This part of Hackney is rich in weekend markets — of the three close together Broadway Market has the largest collection of food stalls, several of the regulars with restaurants elsewhere in Hackney, including vegetarian Indian Gujurati Rasoi. In all but the depths of winter you'll see people buying the makings of a picnic lunch to take over the road to London Fields.
Technically an offshoot of Broadway Market proper, Schoolyard Market's a bit more self-contained, housed in a school playground and with green space of its own to picnic in. Like its bigger brother, the Schoolyard site has a changing line-up, but regulars we recommend include fried Neapolitan-style pizza from Na Pizza Fritt and the flamboyant fillings of Crosstown Donuts.
Broadway Market E8 4QJ. Saturdays, 9am-5pm
A small courtyard with a mix of permanent shops and market stalls, Netil Market has a bit of park bench seating and a touch less hustle than Broadway Market. Successful stalls at Netil have a tendency to turn up as permanent sites elsewhere in London with queues round the block — Bao and Lucky Chip being recent examples — so try them out while they’re still accessible. We recommend the afro-tacos from Lemlem Kitchen, Eritrean stew toppings piled on sour, spongy injera bread to catch all the sauce.
Netil Market 23, Westgate Street, E8 3RL. Saturdays 11am-6pm for the market stalls; the permanent traders are there seven days a week.
Head west for great falafels all year at New Shepherd's Bush Market, as well as the seasonal offshoots of StreetFeast just round the corner. Little Feast pop-up's open through the summer, Wednesday to Sunday, and crops up again in the winter with a Scandi-Christmas theme. The line-up for this summer features Nanny Bill's beef and ale croquettes and smoked swordfish from The Hawaiian Fish Company.
Little Feast Shepherd’s Bush Yard, W12 8HA
Street Feast Dalston
This Dalston night market has sister Street Feasts all over London — including Hawker House in Canada Water, also hosting seasonal spin-off Oktober Feast, and Dinerama in Shoreditch — so you never have to go too far for your hit of late-night tacos or steamed bao.
Dalston Yard's dangerously easy to think you're wandering into for a quick bao and beer. Odds are good you'll find yourself still there hours later, smelling like barbecue from the smoke of the fire-pit barrels and with empty Baba G’s lamb jalfrezi pachos (poppadom nachos) boxes stacked up around you.
Southbank Centre Market
What's not to love about this weekend market behind the Southbank Centre? There's some seating among the stalls, a few barrels to balance your food on, and people perch in the broad stairwell running up to the Hayward Gallery. The rest of the space is taken up with food stalls, and although the traders change daily you can expect everything from mobile pizza vans, craft beer specialist stalls and fiercely-hot Indian street food.
Southbank Centre Market Sutton Walk, SE1 8XX. Fridays and Saturdays, noon-8pm, and Sundays noon-6pm
Druid Street Market
Although it’s relatively young among London food markets, Druid Street still manages to yoke together some great food stalls. The incredible Decatur got their start here, selling gumbo and Deep South BBQ, and that or The Snapery cardamom buns are a perfect way to soak up the craft beer from Anspach and Hobday's railway arch brewery and taproom. It's also right next to the wonderful Maltby Street Market.
Druid Street Market 126, Druid Street, SE1 2HH. Saturdays, 10am-4pm
Part of the attraction of Borough Market is the beauty of the sprawling area it spreads across — some open-air, overlooked by a church, some sheltered under wrought ironwork and scattered with enormous pillars. Part art deco, part steampunk, entirely full of good food and a stone's throw from a spot to perch by the river and eat your Brindisa chorizo roll — you can see why Borough's so packed with tourists and Londoners during the day. Although it's just a daytime market there are plenty of good spots edging Borough as well, with Elliot's Café or Padella a safe bet for a post-market drink or pasta.