Terrible Tour Guide III: Markets

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August 19, 2012 by LeVoyageur

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Entering vacation mode with a short series on…travel!

In this third and final installment of my neighborhood tour, I will highlight three markets within walking distance of our flat. London has many outdoor markets and they largely fall into three categories: farmers’ markets, food truck markets, and household product markets.

Farmer’s markets operate once a week in several locations around the city. As you might expect, these markets feature vegetables of all sorts, locally made foods such as pies and desserts, fish, meat (including game), and dairy. The ‘household’ markets are a combination of food stalls and resale/wholesale stalls offering a wide variety products. Finally there are the lunchtime food markets where you will only find food trucks and tents that appear for a few hours and then they are gone. Many markets are a combination of all three.

The market on Leather Lane is a Monday-Friday operation which features very popular food trucks such as Daddy Donkey, a Mexican grill as well as a burger stand, many Middle-eastern offerings, and Asian food options.  Along with the food stands are temporary retail operations that sell clothes, bags, etc. Leather Lane benefits from its proximity to City, Holborn, and Clerkenwell and has numerous anonymous restaurants that cater to the lunch crowd by serving quick ready-made portable meals.

Closer to our flat is Exmouth Market. This is a Monday-Saturday market and includes only food trucks. Exmouth Market is a very popular destination. It has several well-regarded restaurants, a good bookstore, trendy cafes, and cute shops along with the usual betting agents and a CofE parish in the middle of it all. The weekday food market includes a crepe stand, German food, Indian, vegetarian, tapas, and many other types of food.  Situated on a square just across from Amnesty International’s headquarters, a nice day will see a large crowd of hungry office workers milling about, wondering if they should wash down their sausage or curry with a nice warm pint of beer.

Finally, there is Chapel Market. Chapel Market is a Tuesday-Sunday market. It is heavier on the household goods and fashion end of the market spectrum, but it does have a few food stalls. On Sunday, it is extended by the Chapel Market location of London Farmers’ Markets where we frequently stock up on fruit and veg for the week.

Chapel Market also has many proper established restaurants and shops for household products, sporting goods, and pharmacy needs. It’s home to a Manze’s Restaurant, which is famous for pie, mash, and jellied eels.  On the weekend, it doubles as the pop-up restaurant Seagrass. My favorite spots are the delicious Delhi Grill and the fascinating and incredibly cheap Indian Veg where a good meal will set you back about £7. There is also a location of the small bakery chain Euphorium, a name which defines overstatement.

These sorts of markets appear throughout London. It’s a model that I appreciate, although I rarely buy food or goods from any of them except the farmers’ markets. It’s sad to read about cities in the US that are so restrictive about food trucks. Done well, food trucks and outdoor markets can offer so much to areas that are poorly served by restaurants or retails operations. As I see it, the only risk is competition and that’s what a free market is all about, isn’t it?

This is the end of my Terrible Tour of the neighborhoods I currently frequent. I hope you’ve enjoyed getting to know some of the cafes, restaurants, pubs, and sites of interest that make up the local landscape of our part of London.

2 thoughts on “Terrible Tour Guide III: Markets

  1. rosewater12 says:

    Leather Lane sounds intriguing.
    Moving right along….. I can’t fully express myself in describing the joy your posts give me. You really are an excellent tour guide and the pictures you include with the text make me feel I am right there, enjoying the sights and sounds and smells. And I don’t have to pay for a plane ticket or get a backache! Keep up the great work.

    • James LaForest says:

      Thank you so much! I really appreciate that. As you probably know from your own writing, it means a lot to get positive feedback from people especially as I know you’ve been reading from the beginning! Cheers!

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