Don’t let the fact that Grace works in HR deceive you, neither one of us are the “wanky banker” types. Our travels have proven to us that the best food, drink, stories and experiences come from the places off the beaten track, that are a little bit dingey, but 100% local, where you can really immerse yourself in the atmosphere of an eatery, bar, suburb (borough) or city.
That’s why we lived and loved being in East London. To give you an idea, the closest thing you will get to East London in Sydney is Newtown or Redfern.
That’s why we will never recommend a place like Hawker House to someone who wants to truly experience London as it is today, a complete mish-mash of cultures and diverse people with an old London Town backdrop (think Jack the Ripper-esque, without the Ripper part!).
So here’s our run down of the two best markets in East London.
1. Brick Lane
- When: Every Sunday, from 10am til 4ish (best food is gone by 3pm)
- What: Food, fashion, music
- Main attraction: to watch the strong Caribbean men chop open a fresh coconut for you with a huge knife for a fiver
If you are looking to encapsulate everything that makes East London such a vibrant, quirky yet trendy part of town, then you really can look no further than Brick Lane.
The area should already be familiar to many of you for the countless curry houses down the Whitechapel Road end of the street, all hoping to offer a “special deal just for you my friend” on your favourite Indian dishes (hint: pay more than 10 pounds and you’re being robbed!).
Enter Brick Lane from Bethnal Green Road on a weekend morning however and whole new world awaits you. International food stalls, vintage clothing straight outta cringe-y 80s music videos, bric-a-brac, furniture (one guy almost convinced Blair to buy a floor tom drum coffee table), fresh fruit and veges, and a contender for some of the best coffee in London, courtesy of a reconverted black cab.
Of course there’s the usual trinkets and treasures one would expect to find at a market like jewellery and sunglasses, except most of the market sellers here are extremely talented independent designers with unique items guaranteed to help you stand out amongst Shoreditch Hipsters and wannabees alike.
A living breathing community in its own right, Brick Lane offers much more than just what’s at the market, almost every side street is filled with shops and cafes, pubs and bars, all packed with trend setters and trend followers soaking up the unique cultural vibe of the area.
Dray Walk in particularly is a goldmine, home to every musos dream store Rough Trade, the effortlessly cool Café 1001, and easily the best fried chicken in town from Mother Clucker.
Photographers are in for a treat as almost every building is adorned with street art, including pieces by well-known artists like Stick and Space Invader.
And if we haven’t convinced you enough already, 3 words that are guaranteed to convince you it’s worth checking out: BRICK. LANE. BEIGEL (Pictured above). Nuff said.
2. Broadway (Farmers) Market
- When: Saturday Mornings (til 1pm, but best cheese gone by 11am)
- What: Mostly food
- Main attraction: Fresh food, organic farmers market produce (cheaper than tescos), and gluten free goodies
A little further north-east tucked away down the south end of London Fields is Broadway Market, a cute little street frequently visited by us on Saturday mornings when we were desperately in search of something healthy to cure a hangover.
The market earns its name from the street itself and while not as easy to get to or as centrally located as Brick Lane, is definitely worth a visit if you’re in the area. The street is home to countless organic shops, café’s, restaurants and of course classic east London vintage clothing and book stores, but come Saturday morning and you’ll find one of the liveliest markets in town.
Unlike Brick Lane which largely maintains its classic alternative, edgy vibe, Broadway Market is rather quaint and charming, offering a slice of small England village life right in the heart of East London.
Another upside of this is that it never feels too ‘touristy’ here, and in many ways is the epitome of the ‘local market’. Street musicians serenade buyers and sellers alike with acoustic guitar tunes, locals chatter away in their active-wear and the food, while not as eclectic as the offerings from other markets, is amazing.
Grace particularly favoured the Gluten free donuts found at the northern end of the market, while Blair literally couldn’t leave without biting into a gourmet sausage roll.
Given its location we’d recommend making a day of it and checking out the surrounding area while you’re here. London Fields is a perfect picnic spot to munch away on your market purchases, and the walkway along Regents Call to Victoria Park is beautiful all year round.
A fantastic range of sweet and savoury foods coupled with quirky shops in the heart of Hackney make this the perfect combination for a Saturday food binge! Have a cheeky bevvy at the aptly named Pub on the Park when you’re done (like we did!).
Tell us about your experience with markets in London. Do you prefer the craziness of Brick Lane market, or the chilled out vibe of London Fields? And please tell us you think Hawker House and Dinerama are naff!