If you live in London, you’ll end up browsing Borough Market food at least once a year. It’s just a fact of living here, like being indescribably terrified of getting barged onto the tracks while you’re waiting for a tube.
Accepting this inevitability means that you also need a plan of attack before you head for the market. Ideally, you’ll be able to get to all the best stuff without joining any old queue because you’re worried that you’ll miss out, and you’ll minimise the time you spend sandwiched between French tour groups. Here’s our guide to make sure that happens.
The chorizo roll at Brindisa is one of London’s best sandwiches, full stop. All you need to know is that there’s some sweet pepper, some spicy chorizo, and rocket in a white bun and that you definitely won’t be mad that you ate it. Double up on the chorizo if you like to live dangerously.
Speaking of sandwiches, we love the cheese toastie at Kappacasein. If you want to keep your hands kind of clean, get the new potatoes with melted cheese instead. There will be a line at all times of day, but it moves fast.
We’re a nation of pastry lovers, so stopping by Portena for a few empanadas is essential when you’re in Borough Market. Admittedly, this Argentinian street food spot doesn’t have a vegan sausage-based empanada on offer, but as well as the three go-to meat numbers: beef, chicken, or chorizo, there are two vegetarian options: provolone and caramelised onion, and spinach and ricotta. They’re spicy, delicious, and great value at £6.60 for three pasties.
We’re big fans of alliteration. But we’re even bigger fans of this stall. Gourmet Goat serves eastern Mediterranean dishes made with seasonal vegetables and British meat, shockingly, including a lot of goat. Although they serve everything from slow roast veal salads, to bulghar wheat pilaf bowls, to breakfast yogurt pots, the kid goat kofta pita is what you really want to get involved in. We challenge anyone to come here and try this bad boy without entering a very serious, entirely sincere, slightly obsessive conversation about tzatziki.
Horn OK Please is a phrase that’s seen on the back of cars and trucks in India when overtaking, and you’ll understand the relevance of this name as you try to slyly get in front of a daydreaming tourist in front of you. The reason being is this spot’s moong daal dosa - a spiced potato and lentil filled pancake served with channa chaat - is really quite brilliant. It’s gently spiced (though you can ask for ba hotter version if you fancy) and for £6 is one of the best vegetable-filled meals you can get in the market.
Monmouth has some of the best coffee in Borough (if not all of London), and their filter coffee is especially good. Just try to get here in the morning or mid-afternoon if you want to avoid the peak time queues. It’s especially nice to stroll around with a hot cup of caffeine while fantasising that you might actually do something with those expensive vegetables you just bought.
If you’re able to walk away from the Hobbs Roast Meat without apple sauce on your chin and pulled pork down your top, then you’re doing it wrong. This roast meat spot serves baguettes, wraps, and buns full of things you’d usually find in a roast. Think roasted pork, stuffing, turkey breast, and cranberry sauce all crammed between bread. You might be tempted to try out the salt beef and the roast loin of pork, but resist the urge, this place believes in big portions - you’ll only need one.
Good cheese is basically proof that God exists, and there aren’t many better places to get the heavenly stuff than at Neal’s Yard. Just off the main part of Borough market, you can get everything here, from a nice Gruyere for that dinner party you’re dreading, to a ridiculously good Stichelton (the original Stilton) that you can eat at home on the sofa.
You can get fresh shucked oysters at Richard Haward in the market, and you’re going to want to do that. Grab a seat and order up a few along with a chilled glass of wine. For feeling like a baller on the cheap, this is pretty much unbeatable - just don’t take a date here if you’ve promised them a slap-up seafood meal.
We like to hit this Indian place up when we’re pretending that we’re being a bit healthy, as we often conveniently forget that ‘vegetarian’ isn’t the same as ‘healthy’. Even if you’re not familiar with half the menu (Indian street food dishes like papdi chaat, pau bhaji), rest assured that it’s all excellent and it’ll just mean you can eat more free salami samples later on.
A market isn’t a real market without donuts, and the donuts at Bread Ahead are properly good. If you bring a box into work, you’ll pretty much be guaranteed a raise. Your boss said so.
The pad thai at Khanom Krok is the kind of dish that pops up in your psyche every time you’re hungry and within 2 miles of Borough Market. ‘Could just swing by, right? A few prawns would do me good, after all. I haven’t had any noodles in the last four, maybe even five, hours’. This Thai spot serves traditional Bangkok street food, and although they’re named after a coconut snack called khanom krok which is their most popular dish, there’s also mango and coconut sticky rice on offer. And that pad thai.
When you walk into Borough Market, one of the first things you’ll see is the massive beer and wine stall. What you might not notice is that the owners also have a pub behind the market, which is where you should go if you want to do some serious beer drinking It’s a tiny bar but they have a small outdoor bit for warm days, and the staff are freakishly knowledgeable about their craft and proper ales. The Rake is a perfect escape while your other half is cooing over some wild mushrooms.
One of the many meals we’ve taken home in a doggy bag is a Sunday roast but, thankfully, that’s not what Roast To Go offers. This spot is the takeaway stall for Roast, the stalwart British restaurant in Borough Market. Although there’s lots on offer here, our go-to is the pork sandwich which involves crispy, crackling covered, roast pork.
There are enough stalls at Borough that you could spend an entire day there if you tried to hit at each one. But the market also has some very good sit-down restaurants that are worth slowing things down for, and Elliot’s is one of them. Elliot’s is a wine bar/cafe with French and Italian-influenced sharing plates and a killer cheeseburger at lunch that’s definitely better than any of the burgers in the market itself.
Don’t let the weather put you off - the ice cream at Gelateria 3BIS tastes just as good in the rain as it does in the sunshine. The stracciatella and hazelnut flavours are our favourites, and the answer should be ‘yes’ if they ask if you’d like some chocolate sauce. Wandering around the market with one of these is a pleasure, especially if you happen to be around when the crowds thin a little.
Whenever we want to get away from the crowds for a meal that doesn’t involve standing up, we head to Padella. Here, you can sit at the bar and eat handmade pasta for a fiver that’s as good as any in London these days. Get the pappardelle with slow-cooked meat, or the ravioli with herb butter and goat’s cheese. Though you can grab a seat, there’s still a chance you’ll have to queue, but unlike half of the stuff at the market, the food here is actually worth it.
Despite sounding like a period drama off BBC Scotland, Scotchtail is actually the must-visit scotch egg stall in Borough Market. You can either have your egg plain with a bit of dressed salad, with little to distract you from the gooey orange yolk and the excellently herby and crispy pork. Or you can get all this with sweet potato fries as well. Either way you’re going to be very happy.
Wright Brothers is our favourite spot to perch with a beer and a pint of prawns, because it feels like you’re in Borough market without having to actually deal with the craziness of the market itself. It overlooks the stalls and specialises in seafood, so you can get everything from a snack to a full-blown seafood tower if you’ve had a bit too much too drink / have lost a bet. Sitting here in the sunshine with a cold tipple is a quintessentially London experience and perhaps the one thing we’d unequivocally travel to Borough for.