Eat the streets – Britain’s best streetfood

Stroll around a food market in Britain and you can walk the whole world in your lunch hour. Zoe Perrett gives you a global guided tour.


Image: © Gaztronome

If you’re still grabbing an overpriced and uninspired ‘meal deal’ from a chain store for your lunch, stop! Put down that prawn mayo and prick up your ears – the best eats are on the streets. And it’s summer, so weather woes should not be a worry. Whilst the UK’s streetfood scene might not quite rival that of countries where the culture is deeply ingrained, it is fast catching up.

Indeed, it’s precisely the lack of a staunchly British streetfood scene in recent history that’s given rise to such a vibrant hotchpot of gastronomic gems. Historically, traders hawked eel pies, English muffins and oysters on the city streets, but as time moved on, fewer and fewer folks were familiar with where to find the ‘muffin man’ of the old nursery rhyme.

The UK’s lack of indigenous streetfood mainstays has proved most liberating, quite literally opening up the marketplace to all-comers. Whereas the majority of markets in countries known for streetfood hawk local specialities, the UK scene is a veritable united nations of excellent eats. British fare has made a welcome return too; traditional items sitting happily alongside more exotic edibles.

Andy Bates is one chap who’s determined to revive interest in classic Brit fare like Scotch eggs and sausage rolls with his own streetfood stall, ‘Eat My Pies’. But he’s also keen to champion street eats from all over the globe sold in the UK as frontman of the television series Street Feasts, and sees street food as the soul of an area.

Why would you eat on the street when you could relax in a restaurant? For the answer to that question, you just need to dig in. And you won’t need to dig deep to do so – streetfood is democratic fare, served to suits and serfs alike. The best vendors are equal parts artisan and entrepreneur – enterprising, entertaining and endlessly enthused by their craft.

And when was the last time you could say the same of your sandwich bar server? Whether you munch your way around an entire market or fill your stomach from a single stall, the streets are where you’ll find traditional foods from around the world cooked and served as they should be. Not to mention some of the most innovative new edible inventions you’ll encounter.

The options can be overwhelming, and a little research can go a long way in aiding you in making an informed decision. The British Street Food website, founded by Richard Johnson, is a good place to start – anyone winning in his annual British Street Food Awards is sure to be a trusted trader.

Talking of trust, traders often find they can rely on support from their cohorts in tough times. When Manjit’s Kitchen’s Leeds-based vehicle was written off after it was vandalised, Manjit Kaur’s fellow traders rallied round to generate interest in her crowdfunder campaign to convert a blue horsebox into a mobile Indian kitchen – pledging to donate time and resources to helping one of their own.

How could you not want your next meal to come from folk like that? Whatever the weather brings this summer, use the season to pound the pavements and try out local traders. Ignore the clarion call of the ice cream van and dive in to discover some of the coolest, hottest treats you’ll ever eat on the street – or indeed, anywhere.



Dosa DeliDosa Deli (c) Gaztronome

Cuisine: South Asian-inspired vegetarian

What makes them so special? Amy Philip & Kristian Price serve India’s best-loved healthy crepe with vibrant veggie fillings. Innovative fusion recipes are Indian-inspired, not Indian.

Summer must-try? The Kerala breakfast dosa, inspired by a recent trip – featuring banana and Indian granola (toasted flat rice, roasted coconut, jaggery), drizzled with honey and yogurt.

Get it: Brockley market and summer music festivals countrywide.

More info:

More Indian sweet treats? Try masala chai ice cream from Chai Fusions

Image: © Gaztronome

Sorbitium ice creamSorbitium Ices

Cuisine: International ice cream

What makes them so special? Brazil-born Pedro and Londoner Zan love ice cream and each other. The pair met at Petersham Nurseries in Richmond, discovered their shared passion, and made sweet ice cream together.

Summer must-try? Fresh seasonal produce inspires an ever-changing menu, but this summer‘s flavours include lavender and pistachio brittle, fig leaf and ricotta, and rose geranium-raspberry ripple.

Get it: London markets including KERB, Dalston Yard and Hawker House.

Find out more:

More mobile heat-busters? Try Tatty Bojangles’ cold-brew iced Columbian coffee with condensed milk and vanilla ice cream in East Anglia.

Ice Kitchen

Cuisine: Artisan ice lolliesIce Kitchen raspberry lime pop

What makes them so special? Cesar Roden and his Aunt Nadia turn superior, seasonal fresh ingredients into small batches of iced treats by hand in a small North London kitchen on a daily basis, without an additive in sight.

Summer must-try? A gourmet ice pop of your choice given a cheeky chocolate coating. Summer flavours might include peach and hibiscus, Vietnamese coffee, or pistachio and rose.

Get it: Selected KERB markets in London

Find out more:

More seasonal fruity beauties? Chinampas’s Mexican agua frescas – ‘fresh waters’ – made in Yorkshire with flavours like hibiscus or pineapple, jalapeño and lime.


El KantinaEl Kantina 99

Cuisine: ‘Twisted Tex Mex’

What makes them so special? Local Yorkshire produce, biodegradable servingware and a quirky, innovative approach to Tex-Mex classics means El Kantina already has private events booked through to 2016.

Summer must-try? The ‘El Kantina 99’ – A waffle cone filled with sticky-sweet BBQ and chilli sauces, homemade slaw and pulled pork, finished with a Chorizo flake.

Get it: Markets and foodie events in Yorkshire.

Find out more:

More South American spice? Try Arepa! Arepa! Arepa!’s Columbian arepas (maize flour flatbreads) filled with spago chicken, salsa and guacamole.


Cuisine: Korean-Mexican fusionKimchinary (c) Aliona Shi DSCF4298

What makes them so special? Founder Hanna Söderlund is obsessed with the essential Korean fermented condiment, kimchi. Kimchinary’s menu is vibrant, diverse and surprising, offering uniquely tasty tacos and burritos.

Summer must-try? Toasted Korean burrito with kimchi fried rice, cheddar, gochujang special sauce, pickled coleslaw, spring onion sour cream and spicy confit Blythburgh pork belly.

Get it: Various KERB markets in London.

Find out more:

More funky fusion? Try a bulgogi burger from London’s ‘Amerikorean’ Busan BBQ

Image: © Aliona Shi

Vinn Goute octopus curryVinn Goute

Cuisine: Seychelles-inspired

What makes them so special? Growing up with his grandma’s Seychelles cuisine in Mahe Island, Kristofer Adelaide knew good food. Arriving in the UK in 1999, he decided to share the flavours by starting his own streetfood business.

Summer must-try? Octopus coconut kari served with safran rice and papaya and carrot chutney or fresh salad.

Get it: London’s Street Feast (and different dishes at KERB markets)

Find out

More sunshine seafood? Try Bake’n’shark in East London from Nyam

Check out a collective…

Some traders are lone wolves, popping up kerbside as the mood takes them. But the social nature of the streetfood scene means most quickly find their crew. Collectives are groups of traders who move as a pack, allowing you to explore more by visiting a single location. You’ll also find static street food pop-ups which host a regularly-changing roster of vendors.

In London, look out for regular markets from KERB; Dalston Yard and Hawker House events by Street Feast London; seek night-time nibbles at The StockMKT ; or check out viral get-togethers like #Ginstock arranged by the @Tweat_Up account.

Up North, you’ll find Leeds-based Trinity Kitchen, Manchester’s GuerrillaEatsBrumYumYum in Birmingham, and Northern StrEATS, whilst in Scotland there’s Street Food Cartel.

Out in East Anglia, look up Feast On The Street and in the Southwest, Bristol Eats is where you’ll find superb streetfood.

The online lowdown on street eats:

Share Button