London’s best street food
The Vietnamese got their baguette habit from French invaders, and Bittenclub is bringing that full circle with a menu of bánh mì sandwiches that have been given a French twist. A crisp white breadstick (baked by north London’s Celtic Bakers) is stuffed with crunchy veg, chilli and whichever protein takes your fancy. Honeyed duck confit comes highly recommended, especially on its bed of coriander and garlic pesto.
Don’t miss: Honeyed crispy duck mì (£7)
Find it at: Flat Iron Square
But first check: @bittenclub
The options at Makatcha are those of an airline kitchen: beef, chicken or veg. Fortunately their slow-cooked rendang is so completely packed with fragrant flavours that it doesn’t matter which you go for. Here the coconut and lemongrass-packed Indonesian speciality comes with a pile of fluffy white rice and some crunchy, gently pickled veg. A billion times better than plane food.
Don't miss: Eight-hour pulled beef rendang (£10)
First check: @Makatcha_Eats
Fire, meat and Asian barbecue combine to create a menu of big, sticky hunks o' lunch. Order the whole shebang in a box and you also get exemplary slaw, plus Japanese-style creamy potato salad mash. But get it in a sandwich and you can eat greedily without getting char siu glaze in your hair.
Don't miss: 8hr slow-smoked char siu ribs (£8)
But first check: @smokin_lotus
Remember when you didn’t know what tabbouleh was? Luckily, Levantine cuisine is everyday fare in London these days – although there’s nothing everyday about Oli Baba’s lunchboxes. Big piles of fresh, herby salads, crunchy sweet potato fries, smoky Turkish-style flatbreads and a heap of super creamy hummus make up the sort of meal that would make even a butcher consider going veggie.
Don't miss: Halloumi fries with pomegranate molasses, za'atar yoghurt, sumac, mint and wilderbee chilli honey (£6)
Find it at: Kerb Camden
But first check: @Oli_Babas
Venue says Find us 364 days a year at our halloumi shack in Camden.
Taking your street-food lunch to new levels of fancy, the guys at Stakehaus are grilling hot, pink, juicy slabs of beef and serving them up with the crispiest chips, a dash of salad and some very impressive sauces. The chimichurri is intensely herby and has just the right acidity to complement the rich chunks of meat. And all for less than a tenner. This one calls for a stake-out.
Don’t miss: Steak with courgette fries and chimichurri (£9)
Find it at: Kerb Camden
But first check: @STAKEhaus
Italy’s got plenty of food inventions to boast about without adding the piadina to the roster, but their version of the quesadilla is definitely worth making space for. Jack Padoan’s grandad Gianni introduced him to the northern Italian speciality, and Jack has given it a British twist. Look out for the Lincolnshire special (local sausage, burrata, streaky bacon and wasabi rocket), which was inspired by his upbringing in the aforesaid county.
Don’t miss: Bresaola piadina (£7)
But first check: @thepiadinaproject
You wouldn’t want to encounter a prawn this size in the wild – it looks like it could have your baby toe off. But on a bed of fries and drenched in Szechuan peppercorn butter, its soft pink flesh suddenly looks like the sea’s gift to your belly. Thousand Island dressing, although essentially posh burger sauce, is a fun change from your usual chip condiments, but as the name suggests, this stand is all about the prawn.
Don’t miss: XL prawn with Szechuan peppercorn butter, skinny fries and Thousand Island dressing (£14)
Find it at: Dinerama, Hawker House Street Feast
But first check: @PrawnographyLDN
Sometimes all it takes is one person to do something brilliantly to put everyone else’s efforts to shame. Such is the case with Scotchtails – take one bite of their generously meaty, perfectly gooey scotch eggs and you’ll shun the lesser offerings of your local pub for life. There are more than 10 varieties to choose from, and their crisp sweet potato fries make ideal soldiers for that bright orange yolk.
Don't miss: ‘Meal box’ of a scotch egg (your choice) with sweet potato fries (£6.90)
Find it at: Borough Market
But first check: @Scotchtails
Fortunately, no birds’ mouths were used in the making of Bill or Beak’s stonking pair of burger-style sandwiches, both of which are innovative versions of much-loved poultry classics. The Beak option involves Szechuan-fried chicken, miso mayo, pickled slaw, green chilli sauce and fermented red chilli sauce, all topped with peanut crumb in a toasted brioche bun.
Don’t miss: Bill – braised duck and pork in Viet dressing with mint, coriander, spring onions and tempura shallots (£6).
But first check: @BillorBeak
They’ve referred to their carayaca arepa as ‘the Venezuelan chip butty’, but that’s kind of like calling Rio Carnival the Brazilian version of a village fete. Freshly made cornbread pockets (arepas) get stuffed with family recipes for refried black beans, guava-glazed chicken, fried plantain and plenty more. As well as their perfect avocado salsa, the little pockets of hot, salty queso fresco will certainly have us coming back for more.
Don’t miss: Venezuelan cassava chip butty (£6)
Find it at: Pop Brixton, Street Feast Hawker House
But first check: @petareuk
For what looks like a stir-fry made with leftover crêpes, the Sri Lankan street speciality kothu roti sure has a lot going on. Strips of a flatbread called godhamba roti are piled with vegetables, egg and curry on a hotplate and chopped up using a pair of metal blades, resulting in lightly curried comfort food that brings a new flavour with every mouthful.
Don't miss: Mutton kothu roti (£7)
Find it at: Boxpark Croydon
But first check: @Kothu_Kothu
These Persian-inspired vegetarian curries are so rich with flavour that they must have started as 230 percent ingredients in the way that ketchup is 148 percent tomatoes. Texture comes from fresh, crunchy garnishes and heft comes from a warm, crisp flatbread. And your taste buds will be so overwhelmed they’ll be picking up new spices long after the first bite.
Don’t miss: Pav bhaji (£8)
But first check: @devis_ldn
If you’re any kind of London street eater you’ll probably know that Yum Bun are experts in the fluffy, flavour-stuffed hirata bun. However, this second venture proves that they’re also experts in dumplings. Choose from the soft little steamed parcels – pork or mushroom or both – drizzled with sharp sauces and crunchy garnishes that really bring the flavours to life. We sure hope there are more yum-puns to come.
Don’t miss: Mushroom dumplings (£5 for three, £9 for six)
Find it at: The Kitchen Spitalfields Market, Street Feast Giant Robot, Dinerama, Public, Hawker House
But first check: @yumbun
We couldn't have told you what Andalusian cuisine involved before we tried Nazarí’s flavour-stuffed chicken wrap, but we sure like it now. The sibling owners take the best Middle Eastern and Mediterranean flavours to create dishes that have twice the taste per mouthful; the chicken’s slow-cooked with garlic, parsley and Moorish spices and wrapped up with a rainbow of Ottolenghi-ish salads.
Don’t miss: Pulled chicken wrap (£7)
Find them at: Kerb Camden
But first check: @nazarifood
Like a Eurovision entry amidst a sea of indie bands, The Grilling Greek’s truck is cheerful, colourful and fiercely patriotic. Which figures, given that it serves up a fine menu of Mediterranean classics such as giant kalamata olives, red pepper hummus and stonking souvlaki. Fresh, soft pitta holds tomato, red onion, a good dollop of ‘mama's tzatziki’ and juicy, smoky chunks of grilled meat (or halloumi).
Don't miss: Chicken souvlaki in pitta (£5.50)
But first check: @thegrillinggreek
The name doesn’t exactly whet the appetite, but don’t let it put you off. A portion of Skins’ crispy, golden little potato boats are the perfect vehicle for some calorific but completely delicious fillings and genius garnish combinations with kooky names.
Don’t miss: Fleetwood Mac & Cheese with crispy onions, bacon, jalapeños and sriracha butter (£6)
Find them at: Magic Roundabout Old Street
But first check: @loadedskins
At Kate De Lord and Jack Hogarth’s ‘kati roll’ stand, all the warmth and spice of fragrant homemade curry gets wrapped up in what’s basically Indian eggy bread – a flaky, soft paratha crisped in ghee and freshly cracked egg. If you’re looking for a meat-free main they don’t come more satisfying than their paneer roll; hearty but not heavy, spicy and not spendy. Also, be sure to add tamarind and date ketchup.
Don’t miss: Paneer kati roll (£7.50)
Find it at: Kerb Camden Market, Kerb West India Quay, Kerb Gherkin
But first check: @Kolkati
There are many Middle Eastern flatbreads being toasted, filled and rolled in London, but this is the only stall so committed to the wrap itself that it’s named after it. Laffa offers expertly flavoured salads, meats and sauces, cooking ingredients to order and piling them up into herby, fragrant bundles of joy. Also check out their new hummus bowls and stuffed pittas.
Don’t miss: Aubergine and halloumi wrap (£6.50)
Find them at: Flat Iron Square
But first check: @Laffastreetfood
As the blurb goes, Tom Bickers is ‘one man obsessed with truffle’. You’ll find the famously earthy fungus in the mayo served with his burgers and beef-shin nuggets, in a sauce with his wild mushroom arancini and in the gravy used to douse his chips. However, those who want a real plateful of goodness should look no further than the 5oz hanger steak, served with truffled mash made from ‘the finest ratte (potatoes) in the land’- according to Tom. We’re not about to argue with that.
Don’t miss: Hanger steak with truffled mash (£8)
Find it at: Kerb King’s Cross, Kerb West India Quay, Brooke Green Farmers’ Market, Petticoat Lane
But first check: @Trufflelondon
Jerk fish fingers in ginger beer batter is surely the sort of innovation that street-food stalls were made for, but you must try the whole menu here, because Only Jerkin’s fried chicken is freakin’ delicious. As is their homemade jerk ketchup. And their jerk fries topped with chilli and mango aïoli. Basically, save space for this one because a combo box is where it’s at.
Don’t miss: Jerk chicken nuggets triple-dipped in ginger beer batter (£7)
Find it at: Kerb Camden, Kerb King’s Cross, Street Food Union
But first check: @OnlyJerkin
We’re lucky Justin Unsworth and Ross Gardner (ex-Medcalf, RIP) chucked in their restaurant jobs to sell chicken, because their birds are seriously good. The original line was in free-range rotisserie poultry, but their fried chicken is now stealing the show – though occasional guest appearances from poutine topped with jerk pork belly see the queues lengthen considerably, too.
Don’t miss: Buttermilk fried chicken bap (£6)
But first check: @SpitandRoast
From a distance this bold little bun looks like your average burger, but its secret is that the patty isn’t a patty at all. It’s a pile of rich beef bourguignon, warmed and crisped on a hotplate then drenched in melted raclette cheese (or cheddar or blue, whichever you prefer). A bit of lettuce is the token greenery and a mystery ‘Patate sauce’ coats the top half of the brioche roll. Luscious as a velvet smoking jacket.
Don’t miss: Beef bourguignon cheese burger (£7)
Find it at: Kerb Camden, Kerb Gherkin, Kerb Paddington, Kerb Kings Cross, Kerb West India Quay, Victoria Park Market
But first check: @thepatateuk
How good can grilled vegetables be? Order the vegetarian bun from Lagom and find out, because they know how to max out a mushroom. That said, you should also order the meat, cos it’s sticky, smoky, classy and massive. Their speciality is Swedish-style fire grill, which is a new one on us, but it’s helping them knock out dishes in a blaze of glory.
Don’t miss: Smoked portobello bun (£7)
Find it at: Dinerama
But first check: @eatlagom
Modern street food classics such as tacos and chicken wings are given an Eritrean twist in Lemlem Kitchen, and the results are very special indeed. Spongy injera flatbread makes a fine base for the ‘Afro-taco’ toppings – perhaps Korerima beef shin, asa fish iyu or split pea timtimo.
Don’t miss: Awaze chicken wings (6.50)
Find them at: Netil Market
But first check: @lemlemkitchen
Mother Flipper’s thing is putting their patties – all served medium – onto the grill as balls, and then smashing them down with a spatula to give them a good crust. Some come topped with huge wedges of avocado, others drip oozy Swiss cheese: but they’re all pretty damned hefty. Top of the heap is the legendary Dirty Barbie double-header.
Don't miss: The Dirty Barbie – double patty, double cheese, candied bacon, candied onions, barbecue sauce (£10)
Find them at: Brockley Market, Kerb (locations vary)
But first check: @MotherFlipperuk
‘All roads lead to a kebab’ says the slogan, and the back-packing Babek Brothers leave no global stone unturned when it comes to sourcing ideas and ingredients for their flavour-packed goodies. These guys have a sense of humour too: they named their veggie riff Nigel Fromage (Cypriot halloumi, garlic yoghurt, fig jam, pickled onions, charred peppers etc etc), and you can guess what goes into their Tikka Turner. Did we mention they do small plates and cocktails too?
Don’t miss: Kim Koftashian (lamb kofta, garlic yoghurt, Babek smoky relish, £8)
Find it at: Winterville Clapham Common, Street Feast Hawker House
But first check: @babekbrothers
The best things come in small packages, or so they say. And ‘they’ would be right on this occasion, because the Gyoza Guys are packing a huge amount of pure unadulterated flavour into their dumplings. The seafood option practically bounces with great ingredients, but all four menu options are special, and the combo tray means you don’t have to choose between them anyway.
Don’t miss: Prawn, shrimp and crab dumplings (£6.50 for five)
Find it at: Maltby Street Market
But first check: @gyozaguys
Not another street-food outfit peddling grilled cheese sandwiches, we hear you cry. Well, Meltsmiths are a bit different, and their magnificent melty masterpieces are a big hit wherever they decide to pitch camp. OK, you could go for ‘ham and mustard’ or ‘the spicey boy’ (fired up with sriracha, jalapeños and crispy shallots), but we can’t get past ‘the classic’ with its combo of mature cheddar, mozzarella and onion jam. Just add some sweet-potato fries with blue-cheese dip on the side.
Don’t miss: Classic toastie (£5)
Find it at: Kerb King’s Cross, Kerb West India Quay, Victoria Park Market
But first check: @Meltsmiths
School chums James McGurn and Henry Sutton share a long of all things steak and decided to prove the point with a street-food stand serving British meat dressed in Argentinian gaucho garb. All their dry-aged beef is from grass-fed native breeds reared in Yorkshire, and even their wood and charcoal come from Kent. As well as steaks with hand-cut fries and zingy chimichurri, they also do specials including a stonking cheeseburger served with beef-fat béarnaise and crispy onions.
Don’t miss: Cheeseburger (£7)
Find it at: Street Feast Hawker House, Winterville Clapham Common
But first check: @upinmygrilluk
Even if you thought you’d reached peak burger back in 2014, you’ll want to pay Burger & Beyond a mealtime visit. You can go super-fancy and choose The Cliff, which is made from 90-day aged chuck and brisket, but all their beef is amazing; the stall was started by a farmer and a gamekeeper, so what do you expect?
Don’t Miss: ‘Hot mess’ (45-day aged beef patty, bun, pepper jack cheese, jalapeños, chipotle mayo, £8.50/£11.50)
Find it at: Street Feast Dinerama, Camden’s Daughter, Kerb Camden, Street Feast Public Woolwich
But first check: @burgerandbeyond
It may be a trend of the past these days, but sometimes all that will truly fill your belly is a big, fat burrito. Luardos stuff theirs with flavour – the chicken option is poached with garlic and bay leaves, the pork slow-cooked with fennel and orange. Traditional pico de gallo, smooth guacamole, crunchy lettuce and Monterey Jack cheese all join in to make this mealtime a food fiesta.
Don't miss: Chipotle brisket burrito (£5)
But first check: @Luardos
Bucking the trend for bao buns, Bian Dang makes its living by serving up big-value Taiwanese boxes loaded with fluffy rice, ‘zingy zangy’ pickles, stir-fried vegetables and marbled tea eggs to go with its headline components. We rate the (boneless) pork chop version very highly, but the crumbed oyster mushrooms are a cute veggie option – although greedy omnivores should spend an extra £1 and get 'the beast' (a bit of everything)! Meanwhile, those who can’t live without bao buns can get satisfaction at BD’s Kerb Camden pitch.
Don’t miss: BD box with crumbed oyster mushrooms (£7)
Find it at: Kerb Camden, Kerb King’s Cross, Kerb Gherkin, Kerb West India Quay
But first check: @biandangUk
Nice buns just don’t cut it for these guys; the carbs they’re cooking up are nothing short of fantastic. Each fluffy, steamed pocket holds a stack of ingredients that’s more enticing than a bacon sandwich on a hangover. Choose from charming little flavour grenades such as slow-roast pork belly, crispy fish, fried chicken, the not-to-be-overlooked portobello mushrooms with miso glaze or aromatic tofu with black bean mayo. You can even get ice-cream buns (mango, apple or choco-peanut) at Giant Robot.
Don’t miss: Slow-roasted pork belly with cucumber, spring onions and hoi sin sauce (£4 each, two for £7.50)
Find it at: The Kitchen Spitalfields Market, Street Feast Giant Robot, Dinerama, Public, Hawker House
But first check: @yumbun
London’s taco obsession is bound to root up some substandard hand-held Mexican discs, so it’s more than a pleasure to bite into this little parcel of joy. In fact, each beauty has so many layers of flavour it’s like a game of pass the parcel where your mouth wins every time. Elote founder Alex Hutton has been head chef at Caravan King’s Cross, which helps to explain the expertise on show here. Even the most confident taco slinger would be pleased with these results.
Don’t miss: Fish taco with pickled veg (£4.50)
Find it at: Maltby Street Market
But first check: @elote.co.uk
Taco Juan, sure. Taco Tomas? Maybe. Taco Dave? Not the sort of first name that has you shouting ‘sí, señor!’ But one mouthful of Dave’s meltingly tender beef brisket, all sticky with Dr Pepper glaze, and his name will be etched into your taste buds. The Dr Pepper thing is more than a gimmick, too – you can’t taste the mysterious fizzy drink as such, but you can certainly tell it’s been there. Perhaps it was misunderstood, after all?
Don’t miss: Dr Pepper and chipotle beef brisket taco (£6 for two, £8 for three)
Find it at: Kerb King’s Cross, Kerb Gherkin
But first check: @taco__dave
You’d think a low-calorie vegan curry would be the least enticing dish on the market, but from the moment they piled on the pickles we knew that SpiceBox was serving something special. There’s so much flavour in their colourful curries you’ll never go back to vindaloo, and with the option of quinoa pilau as your ‘carb’ it’s pretty much Weight Watchers-approved.
Don’t miss: All-in-box with sweet potato, summer greens and peanut curry (£6)
Find it at: Kerb Camden
But first check: @SpiceBox_UK
Just because it’s healthy doesn’t mean it sucks, and these guys aren’t half proving it. Using hearty ingredients, Savage Salads sell lunchboxes that are full of food to make your mouth water and your mum proud. The queue for their stand is always worth the effort – the results are incomparably better than the supermarket salad bar equivalent and you get a welcoming smile rather than a self-service checkout at the end of it.
Don’t miss: Anything – perhaps roast chicken, halloumi and all the salads (£6)
But first check: @savagesalads
Given that they’re the only ‘luxury flat’ your average Londoner can afford, it’s a good job these fat flatbreads stuffed with fresh, crisp salads and generous chunks of tender meat are every bit as desirable as their bricks-and-mortar namesakes. The bread comes from legendary Dalston bakery Ararat Breads, while the already impressive headline slots (koji fried chicken/miso-braised beef) are matched by additions including fennel kimchi and mirin yoghurt – all piled up high-rise style. Definitely avoid shared ownership.
Don’t miss: Miso-braised beef flatbread (£6)
But first check: @lxryflats
Mother Clucker’s soul food specialists do crispy, spicy coating and tender, juicy chicken like no-one else. This is Southern cooking the way it should be – and very few people in London do it as well. Combined with a side of mac ‘n’ cheese, it may not be diet food, but who wants to eat diet food? That rubbish is for rabbits.
Don't miss: Tea-brined buttermilk-dredged fried chicken strips (£6 for three)
But first check: @motherclucker
Mark Gevaux is living proof that you’re better off starting a business because you’re really good at it rather than because you think it’s on-trend. While working as a butcher, he began cooking ribs on disposable barbecues at farmers’ markets; demand was high and in 2007 The Rib Man was born. His smoky, succulent baby backs have been shredded, piled high into white baps and drizzled with insanely spicy sauces ever since.
Don’t miss: the chance to prove your heat tolerance with loads of Holy Fuck sauce on your rib roll (£7)
Find it at: Outside the Boleyn Tavern (every West Ham home game), Brick Lane every Sunday (but beware it usually sells out before 2pm).
Mike Richardson studied design at Goldsmiths before realising that his real calling was creating magnificent handmade, organic flatbreads. Ollie is no longer a part of the set-up but the name had already stuck, and let’s be honest, calling a food stand just ‘Mike’ would be pretty ballsy. His freshly made wraps are brimming with seasonal treats such as pan-fried Eastbourne mackerel fillet, beetroot-braised shallots, homemade pickles and horseradish cream.
Don’t miss: Slow-cooked lamb flatbread (£7)
Find it at: Brockley Market
But first check: @mikeandollie
Ben Chancellor and ‘Gaz’ Phillips have been putting soul into submarine rolls since 2014. Things generally kick off with a fist bump, then there’s the difficult menu decision while Ben wafts a freshly made sub under your nose; a dash of silly small talk keeps you entertained while you wait; and finally there’s a delicious party in your mouth. Combinations include a gentle but winning version of surf and turf: seared scallops, pulled pork, calamari and parsley mayo.
Don’t miss: The veggie Subterranean (griddled woodland mushroom, roast garlic, thyme, truffle mayo and Stilton, £6)
But first check: @subcultsubs
The name says it all – Filipino backyard barbecue on the streets of London, a carnival of sophisticated textures and contrasts. There’s so much action going on in of one their boxes – try the chicken satay curry or the crispy ‘baboy’ (pork belly loaded up with sesame green beans, pickled cucumber, spring onions and coriander sauce). Even better, stump up an extra quid and order the ‘mega’ box containing both items. They also do the same combos stuffed into wraps, along with specials such as adobo-glazed chicken wings. Such exciting flavours – and such lovely people too.
Don’t miss: Chicken satay curry with pineapple and peanuts (£7)
But first check: @BbqDreamz
What’s in a name? Judging by the sign above this burrito merchant’s stand, you might think that it was simply another Tex-Mex peddler. Hell, taste the melty deliciousness that is their beer-battered ‘cheeze’ fries and you’d probably come to the same conclusion. But this is actually an entirely vegan outfit, whose South American cuisine is nigh-on indistinguishable from the carnivore-friendly stuff. A ‘to-fish’ taco features seaweed-wrapped, deep-fried tofu that could’ve come out of the sea.
Don't miss: Beer-battered ‘cheeze’ fries with hot sauce (£5)
But first check: @clubmexicana