Gourmet food trucks are rolling out of their winter garages and on to some tarmac near you. It’s time to take to the street to eat…
The car park market
Urban Food Fest
A barren Shoreditch car park may not sound like the most enticing dining destination in London, but Urban Food Fest’s spring-long street party is filled with enough global cuisine to get you drooling on the asphalt. Located smack-dab between a Texaco and a derelict building, UFF is like one of those people who hangs around with ugly friends to make themselves look more attractive. But there’s no need, because every Saturday (until June 21) organisers pull together a rotating cast of 15 top-notch food vans hawking a mind-boggling variety, from jerk chicken and wood-fired pizza to sushi and macaroons. Ain’t nothing ugly about that.Other features include a vegan corner, a shot bar and enough craft beer to drown half of Hoxton. Brilliantly, every dish is exclusive to the fest, and vans change every week – so your mouth will never get bored. Euro Car Parks, 162-175 Shoreditch High St, E1 6HU. Shoreditch High St Overground.
The street market
Not everything in London these days is a pop-up, nighttime, top-secret,warehouse/cinema/supperclub in a hot tub. Most things, sure, but not everything. There are still places like Whitecross Street Market which manage to avoid being try-hard trendy, while providing the very best in lunchtime fulfilment. There are no late-night DJs or fancy cocktail bars here, just street food in the truest and tastiest sense.Don’t take our word for it: just check out the scores of Clerkenwell and Hoxton office workers who flood this street every Thursday and Friday, sending queues snaking around the block as they wait impatiently for global gustatory delights. Burritos from Luardo, cheerfully cheap Thai curries from Sawadee and indulgent confit duck brioches from Frenchie should be enough to get you started. And with most dishes at just £5, it’s a damn sight easier on the wallet than most street food parties. Plus, there’s a pretty little park nearby to eat in – this is the civilised face of lunchtime satisfaction. Whitecross St, EC1. Barbican.
The roving market
Kerb is a multi-part beast, like when the Power Rangers all combine to create one giant, all-powerful Megazord. Because instead of setting up in a single location for a given period of time, Kerb takes its conglomerate of food trucks roving across the city, delivering tasty justice wherever they see hunger and thirst. See what we mean? It’s totally like a food-based Megazord. There are currently five London locations where you can catch Kerb on various days: Canary Wharf, the Gherkin, the Southbank Centre, King’s Cross and UCL. Arrive on the right day to find a selection of Kerb’s huge gathering of vans – and look out for some of our favourites, including souvlaki salesmen the Grilling Greek, fried chicken traders Spit + Roast, schnitzel merchants Fleisch Mob and the quite incredible Chinese bun dealers Bao. Details of all locations at www.kerbfood.com.
The covered market
Street food doesn’t always have to be alfresco. Sometimes you get to enjoy the flavours and spirit of the open air in the comfort of a sit-down eaterie,free from the choking pollution and rushing passers-by of on-the-road dining. Brixton Village market is a cornucopia of bustling butcheries and pungent dried-fish hawkers, but find your way down the right arcades and you’ll encounter worldwide edibles, almost all inspired by the street food of other nations. The restaurants themselves are small: mostly a few tables in the covered market’s ‘streets’, so it feels just like outdoor dining without inclement weather ruining your plate of ribs. Places like dim sum emporium Mama Lan, okonomiyaki specialists Okan, fried-chicken masters Wishbone and the original outpost of sourdough pizza maker Franco Manca make this one of London’s best cheap dining destinations. The streets here are paved with gourmet gold. Coldharbour Lane, SW9 8P. Brixton.
The party market
Over the summer, the people behind Street Feast will once again turn a grimy back alley in deepest Dalston into a twinkling path toward street food nirvana. Every Friday and Saturday (from May 16 to September 20), the open-air lot at the end of the alley will be filled with food stalls, a massive bar and a carnival atmosphere to keep you rocking and noshing past midnight. New this year will be proper, restaurant-style areas (with a place to sit and table service) and more roof so that the elements don’t rain on your food parade. The organisers are expanding south of the river: Model Market will open in mid-May on Lewisham High Street with ten traders a week, a shandy bar in an abandoned hair salon and an alcoholic slushy dispenser. Finally, the Southside gets its own slice of east London’s delicious street food pie. Dalston Yard, Hartwell St, E8 3DU. Dalston Junction Overground.