Put down the pulled pork roll and step away from the turkey and stuffing sandwich. As much as we love these holiday staples, tis the season to try something new. In London everything runs at double speed so street food is the optimum way to cram in a great tasting meal while consuming just minutes of your day. Of course you should grab a couple of those festive bakes you've been gasping over for the last 10 months but if you fancy a break from the taste of Christmas, now is the optimum time to sample the infamous street food of London.
Veganism has taken the world by storm and now more than ever plant based food options have been permeating the street food arena. Gone are the days when meat free options were considered bland and unappetising with vendors helping to give traditional vegan food a good old shake-up!
London Street Food: A Brief History
London is a melting pot of people from the world over and is saturated in rich culture. Street food can be traced way back to Roman times and their fondness for street sellers purveying British oysters. Through medieval times, fruit and berry sales became increasingly popular and after that, the Victorians attempted street snacks serving a questionable array of seafood like hot eels and winkles.
The past few decades brought us ice cream vans, fish and chips and hot chestnuts, but food is changing and we should grab it - all of it - with both hands! London is proudly home to a wide range of multi-ethnic communities therefore many food stalls in the city now reflect its vibrant population.
This is good news for the British public who are known for their love of ethnic foods; from fragrant Indian curries to sweetly spiced oriental dishes, a taste from afar has defined the British palate for decades.
For A Feel-Good Fiesta
If you're searching for vegan friendly food with a proper kick, then look no further than Club Mexicana! The use of BBQ jackfruit satisfies the desire to eat healthy fast-food, without the arduous feeling. Substantial portions leave you feeling refreshed and energized rather than sluggish and lethargic, perfectly seasoned with traditional Mexican flavours, offering up the perfect snack. Other great grabs include nachos covered in absolutely every kind of tasty toppings you can imagine - whoever said cheese was the only great nacho topping, clearly never visited Club Mexicana! Club Mexicana can be found at Hawker House in Canada Water, Kings Cross Kerb and across London and UK based events and markets.
For the Massive Meat-Free Monster Burger
We've all become increasingly conscious of the food we eat and the way in which it was produced; but we still all love a big, juicy burger from time to time. Therefore the ideal choice when visiting London has to be Rupert's Street, serving up the ideal solutions to your burger cravings. The beetroot and chickpea burger is presented in a soft wholemeal bun. A side of seasonal salad breaks up some of the richer flavours, leaving you with a flavourful melody fit for any fast-food fiend. Rupert's Street can be found at Merchant Square in Paddington and across London and UK based events and markets.
For A Little Grecian Goodness
Often found front and centre at Kings Cross, The Grilling Greek is a welcome port in storm when visiting blustery London, with its bright colours and hanging baskets, right down to the matching patio tables and chairs. The welcoming aura and general atmosphere is enough to warm you through, before even sampling the food!
Traditional homemade dishes, that have been tried and tested all over London, offer up a filling option, particularly if you're strapped for time. Pick up one of their herb, lemon and black pepper humus with roasted pitta, for a warming and authentic taste of Greece whilst keeping it light and flavourful, that will make you say 'Oopah!'
The Grilling Greek can be found at Kings Cross Kerb, West India Quay and across London and UK based events and markets.
For The Tropical Taste Traveller
When you need a pick-me-up, base your food choice on vibrancy and flavour. After a week of bleak weather and your colleagues repeating the same Christmas songs all day long, an uplifting visit to Rainforest Creations will get you out of your festive funk.
Caribbean influences designed to nourish the body and soul, can act as the ideal super snack during the bleak winter. Rainforest Creations are currently making a name for themselves, using ethically sourced ingredients to rustle up a whole host of vibrant dishes, including filling but flavourful Roti wraps in a variety of flavours teamed with a delectable house hummus. Rainforest Creations can be found at Chelsea Market, Hammersmith Market and across London and UK based events and markets.
For The Alternative Asian Cuisine
On the surface, Yum Bun are not the prime location for vegans, but scratch a little deeper and you'll discover that Yum Bun offer some great vegan soup dishes. Broths offering a warming port in a storm, in the recent blistering cold, Yum Bun should be your go to soup street foodie, when in London.
Yum Bun can be found at Dinerama, Shoreditch, Hawker House in Canada Water and across London and UK based events and markets.
Noodle pots are the ultimate lazy lunch; drab flavours combined with half a cup of boiled water is enough to make you fill the remaining half cup with tears, although perhaps that would add more flavour. Hanoi Kitchen consists of a couple of friendly guys serving up hot and spicy noodle boxes, jammed to the gills with Vietnamese goodness. In the past tofu might have been considered a reasonably dull flavour, but Hanoi Kitchen has taken it to a whole new level offering a spicy honey infused vegetarian option that could entice even the most avid meat eater.
Hanoi Kitchen can be found at Kings Cross, West India Quay, Broadway Market and across London and UK based events and markets.
For Home Away From Home Heartiness
Sicilian food is the perfect option when you need a hearty and warming meal. Just Fab have brought a refined selection of family favourite Italian dishes and turned them into specialist vegan friendly feasts. Hearty dishes to warm you through, during this biting winter, include lasagne and Schiacciata also known as Sicilian pizza, infused with sundry tomatoes, black olives and vegan cheese.
Ethical sourcing of ingredients, includes opting for organic and local produce under a 'zero-mileage' policy' in order to support community businesses and keeping their carbon footprint under wraps. A true family venture, Just Fab is dishing out the true taste of Italy, from their double decker food bus, to the streets and stomachs of London.
Just Fab can be found at Hackney Road and across London and UK based events and markets.
For The Replacement Pastry Pick-Me-Up
If the weather isn't ideal for ice cream, Cookies and Scream have got your back. Nestled in Camden Market, these guys are serving up every kind of cake, whilst remaining dairy, egg, wheat and gluten free - it's a truly magic!
Never go without those sweet treats again; with such a wide offering of products which are strictly soya and nut based, are the perfect pairing for one of the uniquely flavoured milkshakes, the perfect treat for any socially-conscious sweet tooth seeker.
Cookies and Scream can be found at Camden Market and across London and UK based events and markets.
Why Street Food?
These culinary connoisseurs are responsible for creating some of the best food in London, in tiny spaces. Utilising their prep kitchens before the day's trading begins means they can create enough dishes to easily distribute incredible food to the hungry masses, day in, day out. Working tirelessly in tight kitchens to be able to deliver constantly evolving flavours and ingredients, the London locals have never had it so good. Street food is a great way to experience cultures and tastes from around the world, often exceeding restaurant quality in half the time. As many vendors articulated, it is important to be able to create one or two dishes very well, rather than offer an extensive menu that is sub-par. Safestore chose to profile some of the best street food in London, to highlight how great things can truly come in small packages… or airstreams… or a vintage H van! We love to see the great use of space and this way of working allows people to compete in the foody arena with ease, complete freedom and lower overheads. Incredible cooks with a savvy business mind are now able to share their skills and creations with wider communities without the need for large restaurant spaces to showcase their talents. A simple idea that we love!