If you’re visiting London and are still planning to enjoy all your meals in brick-and-mortar restaurants, it’s time to veer off course. These days, you’re liable to find some of the capital’s most delectable eats dished out of vans, trucks, and other pavement-based venues. From fresh báhn mì at Hanoi Kitchen and lightening fast Napolis at Fundi Pizza to venison burgers and steak salads courtesy of Wild Game Co and sea salt caramel galettes served from Suzette Crepes’ roaming Renault Estafette, top London street food traders can be found all over town.
Just because it’s sold on the street doesn’t mean it’ll be packed with artery-clogging greasiness. It doesn’t get much fresher, lighter, or more flavourful than Hanoi Kitchen. The specialists in Vietnamese fare dish up vermicelli noodle bowls covered with crosshatched ribbons of fiery Sriracha, as well as satisfying báhn mì baguette sandwiches and veggie-filled summer rolls.
Almost single-handedly saving London from the scourge of mediocre Mexican fare is the stellar Luardos. A regular participant in markets across the city, including the centrally located Kerb Kings Cross, the taco and burrito slinger’s cheery magenta truck is wonderfully easy to spot.
Suzette founder Karen Mahe has crêpe-making in her blood: Breton by birth, she recounts stories of her grandmother making crêpes and galettes in the chimney over burning logs. These days, her enterprise is based in a retro van, out of which she serves Suzette Crepes’ savoury galettes (with ingredients like Comté and watercress) or sweet classics like the house specialty, dosed with homemade sea salt caramel sauce. Mon dieu!
The deer in Richmond Park may not be subject to open season, but if you’ve got a craving for venison, it’s Wild Game Co to the rescue. Supplied by the family farm in the Scottish Highlands, the carnivorous street food trader serves up everything from steak salads to dripping burgers. And while they rove across London, they’ve also got a new permanent space in Fitzrovia.
Perhaps it’s paradoxical to go to the streets when you’re after exceptional chicken, but Spit & Roast’s fowl is far from pedestrian. This is the fried chicken of your dreams: cracklingly crisp on the outside, juicy on the inside, served with companionable coleslaw and Korean hot sauce. For those after something just a wee bit leaner, the rotisserie chicken is also a knockout.
Korean flavours are clearly enjoying their time in the sun. Additional evidence? Kimchinary, one of the best London street food traders in the business. The vendor marries ingredients like kimchi with burritos and other Mexican-inspired fare, making for a happy, cross-cultural marriage.
The secret to success for the street-side pizzaiolo? An oven that’s as serious as it is portable. At Fundi Pizza, the vendors haven’t only perfected their own dough recipe, but they’ve also built their wood-fired ovens from scratch. The temperatures are hot enough to blister a freshly stretched pizza in 90 seconds flat, meaning no long waits between ordering and sampling.
It’s no secret that some of the best London street food can be found in Borough Market, and B.O.B.’s Lobster is no exception. Thread through the crowds and make a beeline for the red and white Volkswagen van. Though lobster mac and cheese and ahi tuna tacos are worth trying, it’s the generously filled lobster roll – certainly one of the city’s best – that’s worth seeking out.
These days, London is famous for its burgers – but even amidst the beef-and-bun saturation, Tongue ’n Cheek’s lusty Heartbreaker stands out. Using a patty made from ground chuck and ox heart, it’s a gloriously meaty concoction. But even if you’re looking to go beyond the burger, their porky sub is gloriously moreish, while the cheekily named No Lobster Roll subs out the crustaceans for tender cod cheeks.
There’s no artifice with Yum Bun: the vendor trades in, yes, yummy buns. These are hirata-style, East Asian buns, specifically, which hide fillings from slowly roasted pork belly with hoi sin sauce to pieces of roast duck and duck scratchings.