With Street Feast closing its original site in Dalston Yard to make way for new flats (that old chestnut), it looks like the street-food scene is migrating south, with a new site due to open in Canary Wharf and south east London’s #Instafoodie culture rocketing…

Words: Nikki Spencer

With Street Feast set to unveil a new rooftop venue in Canary Wharf, Model Market re-opening in Lewisham in April, and a tasty array of pops-ups and new openings, now’s the time to tuck into street food.

Not that long ago, if you wanted to take your pick from candied bacon burgers with shoestring fries, mini-naan sliders topped with Goan pulled pork, or jerk veggie bean cakes with tropical mayo, you’d probably have headed for east London, but now we’re spoilt for choice on our doorstep, with Canary Wharf the latest place to get its own permanent street food venue.

Street Feast, which runs Dinerama in Shoreditch and Hawker House in Canada Water, is opening their third all-year round premises on the top of Crossrail Place this month. It will be open seven days a week and feature a combination of street food traders and bars.

‘We’ll be offering something unique and authentic for local workers and residents, as well as helping Canary Wharf become a destination for Londoners and visitors,’ explains co-founder Henry Dimbleby.

The Canary Wharf opening marks the continuing expansion of Street Feast, which operates under its parent company London Union, following a £2.5 million crowd funding campaign last year. They now have plans for five more large street food arenas in London markets over the next five years, as well as a permanent street food market in a central London location.

The Canary Wharf opening marks the continuing expansion of Street Feast following a £2.5 million crowd funding campaign last year

Street Feast’s winning formula has already proved popular in Lewisham town centre where four years ago they took over the former Model Market and created an indoor/outdoor night market, keeping many of the original shop fronts and creating ten micro-diners and five bars as well as the High Line rooftop bar. In mid-April, Model Market is back for another season of food, drink and good times on Friday and Saturday nights from 5pm-1am.

But you don’t have to wait until April to tuck into street food south of the river. Such is its popularity, some Street Feast traders like Mama’s Jerk, who cook up ‘new style Caribbean street food’, have now also opened permanent premises locally.

Roti, cocobun burgers, plantain, jerk chicken and veggie cakes - just a few items the menu at Mama's Jerk in Deptford Market Yard

Roti, cocobun burgers, plantain, jerk chicken and veggie cakes at Mama’s Jerk in Deptford Market Yard (photo: Mama’s Jerk/Facebook)

At the end of last year the family-run business moved into one of the railway arches in the new Deptford Market Yard development by Deptford station, where they serve up jerk chicken, jerk fish cakes and jerk veggie bean cakes seven days a week, all made with jerk BBQ sauce from a secret family recipe.

Street Food from across the globe is also on offer at Greenwich Market, where you can sample everything from freshly made empanadas and ravioli to dim sum and dampfnudel, and every Saturday at Brockley Market where, alongside the seasonal fruit and veg, you can get breakfast, brunch and lunch all freshly cooked up in front of you.

Street Food from across the globe is also on offer at Greenwich Market, where you can sample everything from freshly made empanadas and ravioli to dim sum and dampfnudel

The huge success of Pop Brixton has led to the development of a second site, Peckham Levels, due to open in spring. Then there’s Brockley Market, which is probably where south east London found its street-food feet, with regular traders including Luardos, with their Mexican wraps, Mother Flipper, with their burgers served with maple syrup, candied bacon and melted cheese, and tea and crumpets from Brockley’s Good and Proper Tea.

And some of the market’s stallholders have headed indoors too. Regular trader, Flavours of Spain, who sell artisan cheeses, charcuterie and small batch wines, started with a month long pop-up just up the road at No 57 Loampit Vale in August 2015 and it worked so well they have now opened as tapas bar L’Oculto, offering a Wednesday to Saturday menu that includes Galician octopus and Cantabrian anchovies.

After running pop-up supper clubs in New Cross and Camberwell, gourmet wrap maker Mike & Ollie has opened the much-lauded Queen’s restaurant in Camberwell Church Street, which serves an array of charcoal cooked dishes.

Many cafés are also opening up their premises to street food chefs after hours, particularly at weekends. Current pop-ups include Spanish Particular, which started out serving traditional homemade Spanish food with a twist at The London Particular in New Cross, and is at Space No 61 in Nunhead (1-4 March) and Brockley Mess (9-11 and 16-18 March).

On a Friday night at the Café of Good Hope in Hither Green you can find Damascus Chef, Abdullah Alawyed, who cooks food inspired by his Bedouin upbringing.

And pop-ups are proving so popular locally that Time Out Love London Award winner Saigon Streat, who offer a menu of freshly cooked Vietnamese dishes, is now doing two venues a night. On a Thursday they are at both Archibalds cafes in Lee and Catford, on Friday they’re at The Plumtree Café in Greenwich and Arlo & Moe in Brockley, and on Saturday it’s The Plum Tree Café and Arlo & Moe in Hither Green.

Jamie Mockridge from Aloe & Moe explains why pop-ups work so well. ‘We don’t open in the evening so it makes sense for someone else to use our kitchen, especially in Hither Green where you are limited where you can eat out. It gives local chefs a platform, and for them it is much more cost effective than renting out a property full time.’

Arlo & Moe also host Olly’s Turkish in Crofton Park on a Thursday evening and then at Hither Green on a Friday. ‘Olly lives in Lewisham and runs the pop-ups with his mum. It’s Turkish food, but brought up to date, so instead of stuffed vine leaves they have kale, and it’s very popular,’ Mockridge adds.

‘It means people get a choice of cuisines. Turkish one night, Vietnamese another, and then a Sunday bunch of scrambled eggs and toast, all at the same venue.’