Nothing stands between a Londoner and a good meal, not even a drop in temperature. In this city, chillier evenings are the time to seek out the best comfort food. Many diners refuse to be confined indoors, as crisp, wintry air can be the perfect accompaniment to a memorable meal. The capital’s street-food scene continues to grow, and this season offers drinkers and diners a little more luxury and seriously stylish shelter. London’s winter markets are now spaces worth lingering in all night.
Borough Market (boroughmarket.org.uk), just south of the Thames, is the grande dame of London’s foodie scene. Dating to the 13th century, it provides the perfect finish to a day at the nearby Tate Modern and Southbank Centre (southbankcentre.co.uk). Queuing at Monmouth Coffee (which is so resolutely British and no-nonsense that it doesn’t offer almond or soy milk) is a staple of London life (monmouthcoffee.co.uk). There’s also a perennial line for gooey Swiss raclette sandwiches at Kappacasein Dairy (kappacasein.com). Some vendors close up shop at 6 pm, but enough fringe food trucks and covered eateries stay open long after dark to keep the area buzzing and the air fragrant with everything from sourdough pizza and smoked ribs to paella and mulled wine. The most decadent way to do Borough by night is to dine on slow-roasted pork belly or rosemary partridge at Roast (roast-restaurant.com), in a glass-fronted conservatoire atop the Floral Hall overlooking the market in all its Dickensian glory.
[caption id="" align="alignnone" width="620"] The Maltby Street Market[/caption]
Just a short stroll from Borough is Maltby Market (maltby.st), on Ropewalk, one of the most charming stretches of Bermondsey. Weekends, the market is a mecca for those yearning to sample honey from urban beekeepers, local dairy goods and plentiful pastries—the Instagram trophy du jour is a custard donut from St John Bakery (stjohngroup.uk.com). Again, some vendors shut down at sunset, but Bermondsey is a freshly minted foodie hub, so visitors can sustain themselves at the St John eatery (41 Maltby Street) or the wine bar and restaurant 40 Maltby St (40maltbystreet.com).
A little farther south is one of the city’s newest artisan markets, Mercato Metropolitano (mercatometropolitano.co.uk), dedicated to Italian dishes and produce and open till 11 pm every night except Monday. Start with the famously oozy Focaccia di Recco, stracciatella cheese sandwiched between light, thin focaccia. Pop in to the family-run Sicilian supermarket Prezzemolo & Vitale (prezzemolovitale.com) to sip a few choice Italian vintages, then savor black sesame gelato at Gelato Badiani (gelateriabadiani.it), London’s ice-cream obsession of the moment. The market even contains an art movie house, Backyard Cinema (backyardcinema.co.uk), so you can really make a night of it.
[caption id="" align="alignnone" width="620"] Courtesy Sara Montali[/caption]
On a rainy weekday evening, Brixton Village (brixtonmarket.net), housed in an old covered arcade, rules supreme. Franco Manca (francomanca.co.uk) serves arguably the best sourdough pizza in town with tumblers of organic wine to wash it down. Those in search of dumplings and Chinese street food flock to Mama Lan (mamalan.co.uk), which evolved from an obscure supper club to a full-on restaurant.
StreetFeast (streetfeast.com) and KERB (kerbfood.com) are the street-food kings of London. Hipster fave StreetFeast operates a number of venues housing food carts around town, but the best for winter outings is Dinerama, in Shoreditch, open Thursday, Friday and Saturday evenings from 5 pm until late. Try sticky ribs at Smokestak (smokestak.co.uk), the tacos at Breddo's (breddostacos.com) and hot wine served with an ironic après-ski vibe upstairs at Dick’s Magic T-Bar.
Food truck collective KERB (kerbfood.com), which has been drawing hungry crowds to King’s Cross, Paddington, West India Quay and the Gherkin for four years now, recently added KERB Camden Market to its portfolio. Hawaiian Pokē (eatpoke.co.uk) is London’s latest healthy-cuisine sensation (so long, sushi), but the vendor with the longest line is still Bleecker St Burger (bleeckerburger.co.uk). Order a cheeseburger with angry fries — topped with hot sauce and blue cheese — to see what all the fuss is about.
[caption id="" align="alignnone" width="620"] Courtesy Hoda Davaine[/caption]
For Culture Lovers: Southbank Centre Winter Carnival (November 25–December 24, 2016) A short riverside stroll from the Tate Modern Christmas Market, the Southbank’s carnival enlivens this already buzzy cultural quarter with its chalets and fairy lights. You can get your fill of bratwurst, crèpes, roasted chestnuts and glühwein while perusing local crafts. southbankcentre.co.uk
For Unashamed Romantics: Winter Wonderland in Hyde Park (November 18, 2016– January 2, 2017) Now in it’s tenth year, this quaint food and craft market transforms Hyde Park into an atmospheric drinking and dining hub for Kensington families and local workers alike. A fun fair (complete with miniature London Eye) and an ice rink add to the Tivoli-like atmosphere. hydeparkwinterwonderland.com
For Design Lovers: Fortnum’s Lodge at Somerset House (until January 8, 2017) Fortnum & Mason has decked the halls of Somerset House with beautifully packaged delicacies and gifts. Champagne, fondue, boozy hot chocolate and mulled cider are on offer in convivial surroundings, right next to an ice rink. somersethouse.org.uk
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