Where to Bite – London [The Traveling Bite]

When it comes to eating in London, a few things come to mind – fish and chips, chicken tikka masala, and markets. Being a vegetarian, I couldn’t wait to bite into some of London’s best street food.

Cheers from London! Today marks the end of my first week across the pond, and I have had so much fun exploring this incredible city. While there are is no shortage of fabulous cafes and restaurants, I have discovered that London’s markets are one of the best places to dine.

I’ve spent the past seven days frolicking from Columbia Road Flower Market to Old Spitalfields Market and down Brick Lane. Each market has its own unique atmosphere, and draws a vibrant crowd of vendors, locals, and tourists. The abundance of unique and historic markets is distinctly British, and so I can’t think of a better bite to share with you.

Recommended Dishes:  If you’re looking for a cheap, healthy meal from a street vendor, stick to the basics. As always, avoid anything deep-fried. Bento-boxes from Japanese-food vendors are often healthy choices, or, if you’re looking for something more portable, seek whole wheat or whole grain options in your crepe, wrap, or panini. At the Greenwich Market, a vendor offered fabulous crepes made with buckwheat as a healthier option.

An egg, cheese, and spinach crepe from a street vendor at Brick Lane. Made to order, vegan options include seasonal and fresh items such as mushrooms, tomatoes and even pineapple.

The Not-So-Good Bite:  Sometimes, it’s difficult to know exactly what you’re ordering. Because of the surge of various cultures and ethnicities at London’s markets, the language barrier can be problematic. When in doubt, look for signs indicating a vegetarian or vegan option. Many vendors are even offering up gluten-free concoctions. They’ll steer you in the right direction for your food preference or diet.

The Good Bite:  If you’re in London, street food is a wonderful way to save a pence – or a pound. With the cost of living in London being so high, it’s wonderful to have a whole plethora of fun, affordable options when you’re looking for a meal out.

The Best Bite:  From Morroccan to Italian, Japanese to Middle Eastern, any one of London’s markets will present a fabulous array of ethnic cuisines you might not otherwise have the opportunity to try. Today, I grabbed a sampler from a Vegetarian and Vegan Ethiopian stall at Brick Lane Market. For only 5 pounds, you can enjoy a flatbread stuffed with spinach, lentils, and a delicious thick sauce, along with a variety of sides. Okra stew, brown lentil salad, couscous with fresh cilantro, spiced cabbage and a garbanzo bean and pea salad were all included on the plate. This is definitely more food than should be consumed in a single sitting. For this reason, I peeled back the flatbread to eat its contents, and tried only to sample the sides, passing almost entirely on the additional lentils and couscous.

A plate overflowing with delicious, vegan dishes in a traditional Ethiopian preparation, for only 5 pounds, is the kind of treasure you can find at any one of London’s markets.

Fresh, affordable food and loads of vegetarian options make London’s Marketplaces wonderful dining destinations, especially for groups. Don’t let fear of the unknown sauce or mystery herb deter you from experiencing new cuisines. With so many markets to explore, try sampling a new kind of dish at each one.

Until next week, I’m off to experience more of London, and am looking forward to my next British Bite.