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Photograph: Andy Parsons
Photograph: Andy Parsons

Top chefs select their favourite cornershops in London

Very good cooks reveal the local stores and mini-supermarkets where they buy very good food

By Kate Lloyd
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Our new Local Lifesavers series is all about celebrating the shops and caffs that have saved our skin during lockdown. First up: it’s cornershops, local stores and mini-supermarkets. We’ve asked some of our favourite chefs to reveal which ones they love. Their answers reveal hidden gems on London’s high streets – from sustainability heroes to spots with top fruit and veg to places to go for unusual ingredients. Do you have a favourite local store? Let us know at hello@timeout.com. We’ll be rounding up readers’ favourites in a few weeks. 

Hilal Food Centre in Kilburn

Chosen by Karan Gokani, Hoppers

‘During Lockdown 1 I’d skip the queues at supermarkets and shop at Hilal Food Centre, the 24-hour Turkish store on Kilburn High Road. Along with stocking a huge array of spices, they also have exotic fruits and fantastic lamb chops.’ 322-324 Kilburn High Rd, NW6 2QN.

Lucky Wines & Newsagent in Tottenham

Chosen by Holly Chaves, Wine & Rind

‘From the outside, Lucky Wines & Newsagent is a regular cornershop. But inside you’ll find a concise selection of Irish produce. There’s a fridge with three different types of black pudding, the elusive white pudding and a shelf stacked deep with Jam Mallow biscuits.’ 81 Bruce Grove, N17 6UZ.

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Milad in Maida Vale

Chosen by Marwa Alkhalaf, Nutshell

‘It's tiny and like a maze but it’s filled with Iranian and Middle Eastern gems at very reasonable prices. Check the freezer sections for sour cherries and Iranian mixed herbs, and the fridges for kashk and their fresh clotted cream or pre-cooked Middle Eastern food for a lazy meal.’ 235-239 Maida Vale, NW9 1QJ.

West Green in Tottenham

Chosen by Emeka Frederick, Chuku’s

‘It serves us well with yam, plantain and now all our other fresh fruit and vegetables. It even has cassava flour and Nigerian spices we need, like suya.’ 27-29 West Green Rd, N15 5BX.

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Nour Cash & Carry in Brixton

Chosen by Aaron Webster and Remi Williams, Smoke & Salt

‘When we were cooking out of Pop Brixton, the shops of Electric Avenue became a godsend for produce. Our favourite is Nour Cash & Carry. What you think is a crowded bolthole full of fruit and vegetables, opens out to a wonderland of spices and oils.’ 23 Market Row, SW9 8LB.

SMBS Foods in East Dulwich

Chosen by Shuko Oda, Koya

'It's a family-run grocers that I have been going to for many years. I think of it as Whole Foods without the branding and added margin.’ 75 Lordship Lane, SE22 8EP.

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Photograph: Cups and Jars
Photograph: Cups and Jars
Photograph: Cups and Jars

Cups and Jars in Forest Gate

Chosen by Joe Fox, Townsend

‘I like going to indie grocery store to refill my soaps and laundry detergent. Adjusting to zero waste is new to a lot of people and I’ve seen how patient they are with customers, taking time to explain the products properly and advising what’s best.’ 108 Woodgrange Rd, E7 0EW.

The Grainmill in Queensbury

Chosen by Ravinder Bhogal, Jikoni and Comfort & Joy 

‘It’s a sort of idiosyncratic, endangered, family operation run by a Gujarati couple with the kind of stout, dependable immigrant work ethic I love and respect. I don’t know their names but have always called them Auntie and Uncle. It is an organised chaos of spices, pickles, all kinds of ancient grain flours, mini Hindu deities, and my favourite East African Indian snacks, especially baobab candies which for me are the taste of home. They have been closed since the pandemic began in March because I guess they are at an age where they need to shield. I miss them.’ 489 Kingsbury Rd, NW9 9ED.

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Premier in Hackney Wick

Chosen by Tom Brown, Cornerstone

‘The fruit and veg here seriously stands out, I’m pretty sure we have the same local supplier. We often dash in there mid-service because we have run out of mint or parsley and they drop everything to sort us out.’ 22-26 Felstead St, E9 5LT.

New Continental Stores in Shepherd’s Bush Market

Chosen by Avinash Shashidhara, Pali Hill

‘Everything this store reminds me of the shops in India. The smell when you walk in is a combination of spices, soaps and incense. You can buy flours, pulses, spices, condiments, cosmetics and oils from India, the Middle East and the Caribbean. They even stock some salt cod and dried prawns.’ 167 Shepherd’s Bush Market, W12 8DF.

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Photograph: Hop, Burns and Black
Photograph: Hop, Burns and Black
Photograph: Hop, Burns and Black

Hop Burns & Black in Dulwich

Chosen by James Cochran, 12:51

‘My favourite cornershop has to this one. It has everything you need, from hot sauce to independent beers. It never disappoints.’ 38 E Dulwich Rd, SE22 9AX.

Patel Brothers in Tooting

Chosen by Dom Fernando, Paradise Soho

‘They do anything and everything, from fresh South Asian fruit and vegetables to spices and even the Sri Lankan version of Hello magazine. Necessary for a well-rounded Asian trip to the shops.’ 187-189 Upper Tooting Rd, SW17 7TG.

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St. J’s in Walthamstow

Chosen by Will Blank, Top Cuvée

‘My local cornershop is fantastic. They focus on local producers like Wood St Coffee, Wild Card Brewery, Chocolatine Bakery, all within a mile of the shop.’ 18-20 St James St, E17 7PF.

Bangla Bazar in Limehouse

Chosen by Ben Tish, Norma

‘It’s ideal for super-cheap and fresh fruits, spices and sauces. I’ll buy a whole load and prepare an Indian feast at home. It’s brilliant if you love Indian food – the best place I know when it comes to value and range. I could spend all day in there.’ 132 Salmon Lane, E14 7PQ.

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Simply Fresh in Bethnal Green

Chosen by Farika Holden, Grateful Pies

‘They serve bread from Little Bread Pedlar and they also bake fresh bread on site, so the place always smells super.’ 201-203 Roman Rd, E2 0QY.

Westferry Food & Wine in the Isle of Dogs

Chosen by Bin Li, Murger Han

‘It's at the bottom of my building. I like to get some soy milk and English chocolate (Lion bars and Bournville) and have the two together when I get in from long days of working.’ Ocean Wharf, 54 Westferry Rd, E14 8LW.

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