A street food revolution is happening. Some of the best food in the capital is being served on plastic plates, in paper napkins or between slices of crusty bread - on the street. Here are the top spots in East London.
Big Apple Hot Dogs
When and Where: They are based mainly in Old Street (239 Old St, near the station) but they pop up all over the city, including at Street Feast in Dalston and Portobello. They are even doing a stint at Edinburgh Fringe!
Serves: Artisan hot dogs made with freshly-baked buns and unbelievable sausages, expertly smoked by an enigmatic Polish sausage man. When we went to try it, the owner of this food cart in Old Street proudly announced that he has converted ten vegetarians and one vegan with his dawg.
Order this: A hot dog will succeed or fail on the quality of its sausage. The Big Apple Hot Dogs Big Dog sausage is the best of the best. It is a blend of pork and beef, double-smoked over German beech wood and flavoured with marjoram, garlic and black pepper. If possible, it tastes better than it sounds.
When and Where: The Sebright Arms (E2), Mon 7pm-11pm, London Fields Primary School (nr. Broadway Market, E8), Sat 11am-5pm and Ridley Road Market Bar (E8), Sun 6pm-11pm.
Serves: Pizza so good it’s hard to believe they make it in the back of a van. Delicious crispy bases with exciting and delicious toppings, served by the slice. You won’t stop at one.
Order This: Dishes are seasonal and at the expert whim of the pizza-makers. But everything we’ve had, from Pumpkin, Bacon & Stilton to Broccoli, Sugar Snaps & Pecorino (via a strange but delightful Chocolate, Raspberries & Toasted Marshmallows) has been amazing.
Spit and Roast
Where and When: Netil Market, E8, Sundays 11am-3pm, and they pop up at Street Feast LDN (currently appearing in Dalston and Portobello), eat.st at King’s Boulevard (N1) and elsewhere in London.
Serves: In a word: Chicken. In a few more words: Spit-roasted chicken with chips – moist and succulent and delicious – or buttermilk fried chicken, plus a rotating menu of other meats including hogget and lamb.
Order This: The fried chicken is dipped in a seasoned buttermilk batter, and then deep-fried for an unbelievable bite. It is crunchy and moist, and it tastes totally glorious. Served with garlic mash and a complex-flavoured creamy gravy, this is food fit for a Colonel.
Big Apple Hot Dogs
When and Where: 239 Old Street (EC1, near the roundabout), Tues – Fri 12pm–6pm, plus pop ups all over London.
Serves: New-York inspired hot dogs, without the nasties (in their words, ‘No brains, no bones, no butts’). Served in a freshly-baked dawg bun, with optional onions and plenty of condiments, this place is all about the sausage.
Order This: There’s no point going without trying their Big Dog. A blend of pork and beef, the sausage is seasoned with marjoram, garlic and pepper, and then double-smoked over German beech wood.
When and Where: London Fields Primary School (nr. Broadway Market, E8) every Saturday 10am-4pm, plus they pop up at eat.st on King's Boulevard (N1).
Serves: Hand-made soft steamed buns, filled with an array of quality ingredients. They taste how we imagine a cloud would taste, if clouds were filled with pork belly, cucumber and hoisin sauce.
Order This: Either the pork belly bun (slow-roasted pork belly and crunchy veg) or the veggie bun (Portobello mushroom and toasted walnuts with a miso glaze), both are utterly scrumptious.
When and Where: They’re not always simple to track down, but follow them on Twitter to find them. Currently popping up at The Sebright Arms (E2) Tue-Thu 6-10pm, Fri-Sat 6-11pm & Sun 1pm-6pm, and Netil Market (nr. Broadway Market, E8) Sat 12.30pm–5pm.
Serves: Burgers! Amazing burgers. Plus hand-cut chips with home-made sauces, and a couple of kinds of hot dog.
Order This: The burgers are named after an ecletic bunch of celebs, and rotate to keep things fresh. In our experience, the Bill Murray Life Aquatic (beef patty, deep-fried soft shell crab, guacamole, spicy mayo and ginger sweet chilli) was flipping phenomenal.
Photo by Leanne Yee.
When and Where: eat.st on King’s Boulevard (N1), Tues 11am-3pm and Brick Lane (E1) on Sundays (until he runs out). He also pops up all over London.
Serves: Hmm… Have a guess?! Mark Gevaux (aka The Ribman) serves up piles and piles of baby back ribs, from pigs that are outdoor reared on Norfolk and Suffolk farms. You can buy them as full racks, half racks, rib meat rolls and rib meat wraps.
Order This: Anything! As long as it’s drizzled in one of his signature spicy sauces – especially the new stupendously zingy ‘Christ on a Bike’ - named after the reaction you will definitely have to it.
Eat My Pies
When and Where: Whitecross Street Market (EC1), Thurs & Fri 10am-3pm and Broadway Market (E8), Sat 10am-4pm. He also pops up at eat.st on King's Boulevard, Wednesday 12pm - 3pm.
Serves: A mix of great British classics, such as pork pies, Scotch eggs, beef and Yorkshire pudding sandwiches - and who could forget his tarts!
Order This: You haven’t lived until you’ve had a slice of his ham and chicken pie. Layer upon layer of succulent meat encased in a wedge of jelly before crumbling into the thick pastry case. It’s no wonder he’s called the Pie Man.
La Piadina Pronta
When and Where: Ely’s Yard (E1), Friday 12pm-3pm and Netil Market (E8) on Sunday’s.
Serves: Hot, made-to-order Piadinas – Italian flatbreads to me and you. Each one comes smothered in their special homemade sundried tomato paste and is then topped with your choice of Italian meats and cheeses. It’s worth asking to sample their salami just to see them slice it.
Order This: The buffalo mozzarella, Parma ham, tomato and rocket Piadina is not to be laughed at. It doesn’t look like the biggest portion but don’t be fooled, this will leave you sufficiently satisfied for the rest of the day.
Try the best street food vendors south of the river.
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Up North, the variety of street food is astounding. Worth pounding the streets for.
Can't get to London? Try these 30 slap-up street feasts in your kitchen.
Note: Although we've tried to provide you with everything you'll need, street food locations are subject to change so check the vendors' websites or Twitter feeds for the most up-to-date info.