Located in Southwark, near London Bridge, is Borough Market, the oldest food market in the capital with a history dating back some 1,000 years. Back then trade took place closer to the river and was a chaotic affair with livestock roaming the streets often blocking the road and preventing people from getting onto London Bridge and into the City.
Today, Borough Market is a Mecca for foodies with more than 100 different market stalls selling everything from freshly shucked oysters and chorizo rolls to vast pans of paella and possibly the best cheese toastie in London. It’s easily one of the best markets in London and a great place to eat with kids and teens.
But where do you start? If you’re looking for the best food at Borough Market then we’ve got you covered. We’ve spent many a weekend scouring the street food stalls in search of the best eats – a tough task but someone’s got to do it!
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The history of Borough Market
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Borough Market hasn’t always been such a foodie destination. In fact, it wasn’t until the 1990s that Borough Market became the foodie hot spot that it is today. Cheesemonger Neal’s Yard Dairy and Spanish importer Brindisa started selling in Borough during this time and a monthly market was established to showcase their products as well as those of other UK artisans.
This quickly grew in popularity and soon became the market that it is today. These days Borough Market sees some 4.5 million visitors every year. It still operates as a wholesale market, opening at 2am to trade, and welcomes the public from 10am. It’s not only the best food market in London but one of the best markets in the capital overall.
The market underwent a thorough overhaul in 2020 making it an even more exciting place to eat and drink your way through.
The best food at Borough Market
The first thing you should do when you arrive at the market is to wander around. There are so many good places to eat that you’ll want to take a look at the many different stalls and see what tempts your taste buds before making a decision. Sharing plates between friends and family is a good way to try as many street food stalls as possible.
Don’t forget that Borough Market is also a great place to come for fruit and veggies, as well as freshly caught seafood, cheeses, breads and more. It’s also the best place to come for otherwise hard-to-find ingredients and is a fun venue for breakfast.
Richard Hawards Oysters
There is always a long line outside Richard Hawards Oysters and for good reason, they are amazing. This family run business have been cultivating oysters in Mersea Island, Essex since the 1700s and offer both West Mersea rock oysters and Colchester native oysters. The oysters are shucked on the spot and so popular is this stall that they shuck some 12,000 oysters a week!
Treat yourself and opt for a glass bubbly, too. You can also buy oysters to take home – but then you’ll need to shuck them yourself.
The Ginger Pig
Home to possibly the best sausage rolls in London (no joke!) is The Ginger Pig. This is not, perhaps, surprising given that the company is best known for its sausages. As well as serving delicious hot sausage rolls and pies, The Ginger Pig at Borough Market is also a butchers selling slow-reared meat and cold cuts, homemade salads and pastries.
Furness Food Hut
One of the most popular places to eat at Borough Market is the Furness Food Hut. You’ll see queues forming daily for their delicious Bomba Paella or their Chu Chi Chicken (a type of Thai curry).
Furness Food are based in Cumbria and sell their seasonal fish, game and poultry at Borough Market. Their stall, selling freshly delivered fish, sits next door to their food hut where enormous vats of delicious food sit simmering away. The paella comes with chicken, chorizo, mussels, squid rings, tiger prawns and more.
Furness Food Hut also serve freshly cooked mussels; choose from traditional moules marinières or mussels in a Chu Chi sauce.
For authentic Thai street food look no further than Khanom Krok, run by husband and wife team. You must try the eponymous street snack, khanom krok, small coconut pancakes but there are also a range of curries and fantastic noodle dishes on offer. Don’t miss the Pad Thai.
For a delicious salt beef bagel look no further than Nana Fanny’s. This family run business has been serving up salt beef sandwiches and bagels since 1944. If beef is not your thing, Nana Fanny also make a mean falafel bowl and falafel wraps.
Une Normande a Londres
The brilliantly named Une Normade a Londres has been selling all manner of French cheese in London for over 20 years. It’s not a food stall, rather a shop where you can stock up on hard cheese, soft cheese and stinky cheese. You’ll also find cheeses from cows, ewes, and goat’s milk.
If cheese is not your thing then don’t worry, the shop also stocks a range of saucisson, pâté, honeys and jams. It’s also just a really pretty shop!
Horn OK Please
Horn OK Please is a sign commonly seen on the back of trucks in India, written in bold, bright colours. And it’s colourful Indian vegetarian street food that you’ll find at this popular food stall. Try the moon dal dosa – a spiced potato and lentil filled pancake – or the egg kati roll.
We’re big fans of Monmouth Coffee. The company has been roasting and selling coffee since 1978 and work closely with single farms, estates and cooperatives to not only find the best-tasting coffee beans but to ensure that the farmers receive a fair trade.
The Borough Market branch is one of two shops that Monmouth Coffee have in London (the other one is in the original neighbourhood, Covent Garden). NB: A trip to this coffee shop is really how you should start your tour of Borough Market.
One of the original food stalls to set up in Borough Market, Brindisa is the place to come for the best chorizo roll in town. Made of nothing more than spicy chorizo, sweet pepper and fresh rocket in a fluffy white bun, these sandwiches are hard to beat.
Located next to Richard Hawards Oysters is this amazing empanada stall, Porteña. If you’ve never had an empanada before then you are missing out; they are small pastries, fried or baked, stuffed with a range of fillings. Choose from beef, ham and cheese, chicken, spinach and ricotta and provolone. They also serve an impressive steak sandwich.
Proving that Raclette cheese is not just for the ski slopes is Kappacasein. You’ll see queues of people lining up at this popular street food stall where owner Bill Oglethorpe scrapes bubbling hot Raclette cheese onto plates piled high with new potatoes. They also make a delicious toasted cheese sandwiches using Montgomery cheddar, Ogleshield cheese, London Raclette and Comte on sourdough bread.
Cinnamon Tree Bakery
A favourite with my kids is the Cinnamon Tree Bakery that specialises in handmade biscuits baked in London’s Camberwell. Using only the best ingredients (organic flour, free range eggs etc..) they produce the cutest shortbread owls, sticky heart-shaped jam tarts, happy gingerbread men and amazing cinnamon biscuits.
Elpiniki started life as Gourmet Goat, a popular eastern Mediterranean food stall that put goat firmly on the London street food map. Owners Nick and Nadia Stokes have since expanded their business and have chosen a new name to reflect that. Elpiniki means ‘hope wins’ in Greek and was also the name of Nadia’s grandmother. The focus is still very much on sustainable Cypriot food and will include old favourites (such as the free-range kid goat kofta) as well as plenty of new dishes too.
Next door to Neal’s Yard Dairy is the fabulous Gelateria 3bis. This Italian ice cream shop serves the perfect gelato using traditional Italian equipment – including an authentic machine from the 1950s. As well as gelato, 3Bis create shakes, yogurts, waffles and crepes. It’s one of our favourite places to get ice cream in London.
Taking the traditional crumble to new heights is the excellent Humble Crumble. Choose from apple or berry crumble (or a mixture of both) and then decide on your topping. Will it be traditional vanilla custard? Torched marshmallow? Or meringue? Not surprisingly, this dessert venue is popular so be prepared to queue!
Could these be the best doughnuts in London? They may well be. Bread Ahead bake all manner of delicious breads, pastries and cakes. If doughnuts are not your thing, definitely make sure you pick up a cinnamon bun.
The best restaurants at Borough Market
If you would rather sit down to enjoy your food then don’t worry, there are lots of restaurants nearby.
Roast To Go
Roast, the restaurant, sits on the top floor of Borough Market’s Floral Hall offering brilliant views over the market. This is one of the longest-serving restaurants in the market and is an elegant, sit-down, white tablecloth affair.
As the name suggests, Roast serves up traditional roast dinners – some of the best in the city. It’s especially popular for Sunday lunches. They also serve afternoon tea.
Roast To Go is the restaurant’s takeaway stall, offering the same excellent food for you to take home and enjoy (or find a good bench somewhere). Try the pork sandwich, sausage butty or even the fish finger sandwich.
El Pastor is a fun Mexican restaurant located on Stoney Street under a railway arch (if you’re a Harry Potter fan you might recognise the arch which was used as the entrance to the Leaky Cauldron in one of the Harry Potter films!). The is the original taqueria from the group and serves delicious tacos made using tortillas that are freshly made in their Bermondsey Tortilleria every morning.
Be prepared to wait if you want to dine at Padella. This tiny pasta restaurant always has a line of people waiting to get in. But if you’re willing to queue then you’l be rewarded with delicious handmade pasta. Favourites include Tagliarini with dried chilli, garlic and pangrattato, Cavatelli with broccoli, anchovy, garlic and chilli, and Pappardelle with 8 hours Dexter beef shin ragu.
The Wright Brothers
If you’re looking for a delicious, sit down seafood lunch at Borough Market then stop by the Wright Brothers on Stoney Street. Come for a glass of wine and half a dozen oysters or try the amazing fish pie, the fantastic moules mariniere or treat yourself to a half grilled lobster served with frites and salad.
How to get to Borough Market
Borough Market is located on Southwark Street, very close to Southwark Cathedral. The closest transport links are London Bridge station (rail) and London Bridge Underground station (Northern and Jubilee lines).
Borough Market Opening Hours
The market is open every day from 10am to 5pm, except on Saturday when it opens at 8am. On Sundays it closes at 3pm. The nearby restaurants hold different opening hours so check with them if you’re visiting outside of market trading hours.