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Why a foodie should walk down Portobello Road

Written by
What Dad Cooked

Portobello Road was once famous for its antique market, but it’s actually so much more. On Saturdays the road goes into full selling mode and party swing – you name it, you can find it: crafts, fashions, music, books, collectables, specialist antiques and bric-a-brac. Navigate through haggling crowds and you’ll also find plenty of food.  

Popina’s vegetarian stall promises food artistry from the soul

Vegan nosh and fresh coconuts 

Pitches squeeze into the impossibly busy top end of the road and sprawl everywhere under and around the overpass. You’ll find every imaginable kind of food on sale. Popina has good-looking vegetarian and vegan food, but our pick of the bunch is the jelly nut stall. Coco-traders skillfully hack away at the end of the young coconuts and the final chop exposes a hole big enough to poke a straw through and suck up the delicious coconut milk. It’s a great tonic for £3.

Burgers and ramen

Boom Burger reminds us that Portobello is in the heart of London’s carnival district. Head here for boom tunes and explosive and vibrant Jamaican flavours. There’s also another branch of Honest Burgers worth checking out, while Electric Diner gets top marks for its Americana atmosphere and menu.

As for ramen, Tokotsu is just off Portobello Road, and well worth the price for silky-smooth noodles in a rich and unctuous broth.

R Garcias & Sons – a Spanish grocer with real character

Polpo and paella

A cluster of Spanish and Portuguese restaurants and grocers at the top of the road is a sign that the area has long supported a thriving Spanish community. Galicia restaurant is an old-fashioned local that serves excellent tapas. Try the polpo a la gallega – melt-in-the-mouth octopus with olive oil and pimento.

La Bodega restaurant is another gem offering good value tapas and paellas (a What Dad Cooked fave). And while you’re there you can stock up on your Spanish delicacies and ingredients at R Garcias & Sons – a real find and a great place to hang out.  

The Spice Shop offers thousands of herbs and spices.

Spices and books

The Spice Shop is a gold-plated emporium of spice. Stock is bought from ethical producers and ground in small batches to stay fresh. 

Books for Cooks is a foodie’s haven and once run by Clarissa Dixon Wright (of TV’s ‘Two Fat Ladies’ fame). The shop also has a test kitchen where recipes from the books are put to the test and sold in the café. 

Try the gourtes – Greek snacks filled with mushrooms or mincemeat.  

Greek snacks

While walking from the bottom of Portobello to Bayswater tube pop into the Athenian Grocery – it’s a must for any Grecophile. You can get Greek honey, halva (sweet sesame paste), and a ‘gourta’ – a deep-fried snack filled with mushrooms or mincemeat. To cap off the Greek experience, order a Greek coffee at the nearby Byzantium café.

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