Where to find London's finest food markets

Author: Guy Dimond
Photography: Lauren Maccabee

Extending the adage that two is a coincidence and three is a trend, the confluence of four food markets is drawing new crowds to south London.

Related: Skye Gyngell's guide to London 

Borough Market, which reinvented itself from wholesale to food-lovers' market in the early 2000s, is a well-established hotspot near London Bridge that attracts crowds of resident and visiting Instagrammers and shoppers from Mondays to Saturdays. The nearby Maltby Street Market has built a busy weekend-only trade since its launch in 2010. And late last year two new daily food markets opened within a kilometre of the Borough behemoth.

Mercato Metropolitano occupies a former paper factory, used for many years as a taxi- and bus-washing depot. Now it has been converted by its Italian parent company into a collection of 30 stall franchises, caf├ęs and bars, some manned by staff who have moved from Italy to work at the London outpost. The stalls include a wood-fired pizzeria and an enoteca with an impressive selection of Italian wines by the glass, as well as a gelateria, espresso counters, and a craft-beer bar. It also houses one of the best Italian delis in London, run by Palermo-based Prezzemolo e Vitale, stocking charcuterie, cheeses, pastas and vegetables with a Sicilian and southern Italian focus.

Flat Iron Square's Where The Pancakes Are.

Flat Iron Square, built into a series of railway arches in tracks between London Bridge and Waterloo near Tate Modern, opened a few weeks after Mercato. It's smaller than its new rival, with a predominance of independent start-ups among the tenants. One of them is Burnt Lemon Bakery, where owner Matthew Dryden bakes excellent sourdough breads. Among the takeaway venues is Baz and Fred, a pizzeria that uses flying saucer-shaped Chadwick ovens to turn out pizze to order in minutes, and Laffa, a converted horse trailer serving Israeli-style grills. Laffa's co-owner Gabriel Langford believes the new market has staying power. "We started out doing a weekly street-food stall in Soho, but having this as a permanent site is so much better, and the customers are so friendly." 

mercatometropolitano.co.uk, flatironsquare.co.uk

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