London street food: where to eat at night
London street food, in all shapes and sizes, provides an alternative to dining in restaurants and allows chefs to experiment, by focusing on new dishes
Chefs share our fanaticism with this new casual attitude and food markets are their theatre of experimentation. It is there – away from the rental hikes of the high street where running a restaurant is a pursuit of the lucky few – that they innovate.
The Hipster One: Last Days of Shoreditch
Last Days of Shoreditch owes its name to the fact that, when it started, its spot was to become a five star hotel. But, a few years on, the market's still going strong. Open from late May to late August each year, it is located at the corner of Old Street and Great Eastern Street, just moments from Dinerama. A selection of burgers, dumplings, and bao as well as festival-style cocktails to wash them down, make this east-end open air eatery the perfect evening destination. It's also backed by people from the music world and features a line up of on-the-pulse DJs, as well as bookable private karaoke rooms making it a great place for a night out. But late-night partiers be aware: it closes at 11:30 pm on Thursdays, and midnight on Fridays and Saturdays. This year, Last Days of Shoreditch will close its doors on the 27 August.
Open: Thurs: 5pm-11:30pm, Fri: 5pm-12:00am, Sat: 3pm-12:00am
Location: 288 Old St, London EC1V 9LA
Website: Last Days of Shoreditch
The Italian One: Mercato Metropolitano
Food, talks, workshops, and masterclasses on sustainability, all through an Italian lens: this new London street food hub offers more than just restaurant-quality food from top street food names. A particular standout is the upcycled waste food from zero food waste pioneers Tiny Leaf, but there's a panoply of foods from Italian-based kitchens on offer. There are also producers, and a flurry of weekly events mostly concerned with sustainability in the capital, and what we can do as a community to change things.
Open: Tue-Sat: 11am-11pm, Sun: 11am-10pm
Location: 42 Newington Causeway, London SE1 6DR
Website: Mercato Metropolitano
The Community One: Pop Brixton
Like eating and supporting the community? Interested in talks, film screenings, and live music? Well, head south to Pop Brixton, a temporary space designed to ignite conversation. Located at the heart of Brixton Market, Pop Brixton offers a rotating roster of street food, all of which helps support the surrounding community, including pizzas from wood fired ovens, gyoza, tacos, jerk chicken, banh mi, and much more. There is also a selection of craft beer, and refreshing cocktails to wash it all down. If you want more of a sit-down meal, head upstairs where there are a handful of tiny restaurants promising a delicious foods from across the world – Zoe's Ghana Kitchen is a particular highlight. Made from shipping containers, the roof is removed for summer so it can be hit-and-miss with the weather – avoid at all costs unless you've got clear skies.
Open: Mon-Wed and Sun: 9am-11pm, Thurs-Sat: 9am-12:00am
Location: 49 Brixton Station Rd, Brixton, London SW9 8PQ
Website: Pop Brixton
The Singaporean One: Hawker House
A British interpretation of Singaporean Hawker Markets, this is also the biggest London street food market. Weirdly, it's in a bit of a no man's land but it is close enough to Canada Water Overground to be practical to get to via the Tube. If you want to avoid the larger, bustling crowds of Dinerama, this is a great destination. Among the dumplings, bao, arepas, jerk chicken, dumpings, ribs and steak offered by Hawker Market, Club Mexicana's 'Mother Clucker' buttermilk-soaked crispy chicken is a particular standout – as are many of their meat-free takes on Mexican classics. A variety of specialised bars can provide you with a panoply of refreshments to accompany your food including a vast array of cocktails, wines, craft beers, and aperitifs.
Open: Friday and Saturday, from 5pm until late,
Location: Canada Street, SE16 7PJ
Website: Hawker House
The Most Impressive One: Dinerama
Located in the middle of Shoreditch, Dinerama is London's most elaborate street food hub. If you make the mistake of arriving at the most popular times you'll probably be queuing longer than you'll be eating. So, go for a drink first and arrive for around 8.30pm for plenty of choices, without the intensity. Highlights include Yumplings, the new Yum Bun spinoff, BBG Lab's world-class wings and, for those of us who like a drink at the end of a long day, Winerama's selection of wines and the whisky and beer from a bar named the German Sex Dungeon. With built-in viewing platforms, full-scale bars and neon-lit signs, Dinerama is a true pinnacle of London street food.
Open: Thursday, Sun 5pm-late, Saturday, 12pm-late
Location: 19 Great Eastern Street, EC2A 3EJ
The Vintage One: Model Market
Model Market offers a modern culinary experience in a distinctly retro setting – a re-purposed Fifties shopping centre. It may be a little way out of town, but the rail connections work well, so long as you don't miss the last Tube at night. The relaxed atmosphere, fire pits, and upstairs lounging beds make Model Market worth the journey. Oh, and the food, did we mention the food? From fiery Caribbean BBQ courtesy of Mama's Jerk, to crispy squid from Ink, to Up In My Grill's British take on Argentinian beef, this south London street food mall has plenty to offer. Stop by the Rum Shack, the Can Bar, or Winyl wine bar for a drink, if you're so inclined.
Open: Fri & Sat 5pm-late
Located: 196 Lewisham High Street, SE13 6LS
Website: Model Market
The Mon-Fri One: 'Giant Robot', Street Feast Canary Wharf
For anyone who finds themselves around Canary Wharf, Giant Robot is the perfect place to stave off the overpriced chain restaurants in favour of good food. This is Street Feast-style eating for the week, featuring established names such as bao merchants Yum Bun, BOB's Lobster's glorious seafood, and a miniature Jose Pizzaro's Tapas. Giant Robot also has a large rooftop garden with a panoramic view of the city – which might just be the perfect place to enjoy a few pints of the 38 craft beers available on draught.
Open: Sun - Wednesday 11am-10pm, Thursday-Saturday 11am-1am
Location: Crossrail Place, E14
Website: Giant Robot