Here today, gone tomorrow? That’s no longer the case for these former pop-up restaurants and bars that have outgrown their market stalls and food trucks and settled down with their very own bricks-and-mortar venues…
David Carter, founder of SMOKESTAK, launched his meat lover’s haven onto the London street food scene in 2013. He has since carved his way through the UK festival circuit, as well as becoming a mainstay at many of the Street Feast sites. And this November, SMOKESTAK opened its first permanent restaurant site in Shoreditch, just around the corner from Brick Lane.
Now, David and his team will be serving simple, no-nonsense ‘cue to the masses’, prime USDA brisket, pork and beef ribs in a warmer, indoor spot. Working alongside architecture studios Box-9 and Red Deer, the restaurant has been designed to feel like the inside of the smoker, with black carbon stained concrete walls, mild steel panelling and old workshop furnishings; offering a utilitarian feel. It is the perfect setting for a meaty feast and exactly what such great tasting food deserves.
35 Sclater Street, Shoreditch E1 6LB; smokestak.co.uk
2 The Cheese Truck
In 2014, founder Mathew Carver and his converted 70s ice cream van, Alfie, set out to celebrate and promote British cheese with the most irresistible grilled cheese sandwiches in London. Fast forward thee years and after a successful crowdfunding campaign (reaching his funding target of £130,000 in just five days), Mathew will open his first permanent restaurant, The Cheese Bar, in the historic Grade 1 listed Camden Stables Market in February 2017. Expect some of your favourites such as the Alfie classic with Cropwell Bishop Stilton, Bacon & Pear Chutney, as well as a few new surprises.
‘I can’t wait to be opening The Cheese Bar,’ says founder Mathew Carver, ‘it’s a dream come true! Alfie and I have had some amazing adventures over the last three years; from the fields of Glastonbury to the deserts of the middle East. We’ve served over 150,000 sandwiches and melted over 20 tonnes of British cheese. Now we’re ready to leave the trucks at home and set up shop in Camden Town.’
Chalk Farm Road, Camden Town NW1; thecheesetruck.co.uk
3 Poco Tapas Bar
Poco started out as Tom Hunt’s very own travelling festival food stall in 2004, serving charcoal grilled fish, meats and wraps bursting with colourful superfood salads. It was also how Tom roadtested the feasibility of his sustainable and ethical ethos. From the very outset, Tom and his team have worked tirelessly to ensure all their produce is organic, locally sourced and comes from ethical farmers. And they have managed to make it a roaring success.
In 2011, Poco opened up their first permanent location in Bristol, creating astounding tapas sensations and has continued to grow ever since. They now have another permanent restaurant on Broadway Market in London as well as two successful festival trucks – Poco Loco and Poco Morocco. And even more impressively, Poco won the prestigious 2016 Best English Restaurant, Best Independent Restaurant and Best Overall Restaurant at the Sustainable Restaurant Awards. They are a forced to be reckoned with.
Broadway Market, 129 Pritchard’s Road E2 9AP; pocotapasbar.com
4 Victoria Yum
Starting out in a 3×3 metres box in an East London car park, the Queen of Cakes managed to sell out of her ornately decorated desserts every Saturday to a mixture of clientele – from Cockneys and Rude Boys to Gentrified Hipsters and Businessmen. She was hidden away in her tiny wooden box seven days a week, baking cakes for local cafes, weddings and exhibitions but she wasn’t able to keep up with demand because of her tiny workspace.
And so, this very year, Victoria Yum opened its first café in Hackney Downs, catering to an even broader range of food lovers. Great coffee works well with the crowd who come in to enjoy their moist and rich salted caramel brownies as well the all-important cakes. Our favourites are the courgette, lime and pistachio cake, and the festive spiced vanilla and eggnog cake. And these guys are feeders for just £3 you’ll get a slice of cake the size of your face. The café is open Monday to Friday and the cake stall on Netil Market in Hackney still sells out every Saturday.
163 Dalston Lane E8 1AL; victoriayum.com
5 NT’s Bar
Night Tales has been a well-established award winning pop-up event company for over two years now. They combine experimental bar culture and street food style cooking with high quality music and theatrical design in order to create unique interactive experiences all around London. They’re best known for transforming derelict spaces into festival style hangouts every season.
And following this success, they’ve taken the leap into bricks and mortar with the launch of NT’s Bar in 2016. Their new cocktail bar and restaurant in the heart of London Fields is situated down a small alley way, lined by cool galleries and work spaces. Simply buzz NT’s call button and head up to this secret food and drink paradise. Give their all-day breakfast out on the terrace a go or stay up late with their ever-changing cocktail menu and long line-up of DJ’s and live performances. This Night Tales pop-up is here to stay for good.
1 Westgate Street, Hackney E8 3RL; ntbar.co.uk
6 Patty and Bun
The notorious masters of burgers need no introduction but it may surprise Patty and Bun fans to know that this burger empire also started out as yet another London pop-up. Gaining inspiration from a road trip across America, founder Joe Grossmann collaborated with Street Kitchen at Test bed in Battersea back in 2013 before setting up his first permanent residence on St James’s Street.
Patty and Bun has since spread across the city, selling the signature ‘ari gold’ burger boasting a generous patty slathered in a winning combination of ketchup and smoky mayo, before being smooshed together in a glazed brioche bun. The more original is the ‘lamb-shank redemption’, a firm lamb burger with coriander, chilli and cumin aioli. The no-fuss downright delicious burgers draw in the crowds and the extra special cocktails served from their tiny bars have made this once fleeting street food stall into a permanent edition to the diverse London restaurant industry.
Various locations, see pattyandbun.co.uk
7 Violet’s Bakery
After working at the notorious Moro restaurant on Exmouth Market, the self-taught chef, Claire Ptak, set up a small cake stall at Broadway Market. Her cream-filled doughnuts, cupcakes, biscuits and other tasty treats quickly made her stand one of East London’s favourite sweet spots. But her regulars wanted more.
And they got what they asked for when Violet Bakery’s permanent café opened up in 2010, just a 10 minute walk from the market it started out at. Now, from Tuesday through to Sunday, locals can grab their morning coffee as well an indulgent sweet at this special little hot spot by London Fields. And don’t miss their impressive stall on Broadway Market every Saturday to see just how far they’ve come.
47 Wilton Way, Hackney E8 3ED; violetcakes.com
8 Pizza Pilgrims
Brothers, Thom and James Elliot, came up with their ingenious street food idea over a few drinks at the pub. To raised eyebrows, they decided to build a 650kg stone oven into a tiny three-wheeled van and sell authentic Neapolitan pizzas. They claim, ‘we came to the extremely unscientific conclusion that it could be done and most importantly that no one had done it yet. Our idea was born’.
They then took their newly built van, Concetta, on a pilgrimage around Italy in order to perfect their pizza recipes and come back to London with an even more impressive result. They then set up at Berwick Street market, selling some of the best pizza in all of London. Fast forward to today and you can find their pizzerias in five separate locations in the city while Concetta continues to make her way around London for their most special occasions.
Various locations, see pizzapilgrims.co.uk
Wahaca’s Mexican restaurants are currently spread over 15 different locations around London but started out with very humble beginnings as a small London pop-up in 2007. The founders Thomasina Miers and Mark Selby were constantly disappointed by London Mexican food and so decided to recreate the cuisine’s vibrant flavours and social dining culture at home in the UK.
Now, thanks to much success, Wahaca has been able to spread throughout the city, while being able to ensure the quality of their food is never lost. They continue to serve dishes conducive to sharing, such as freshly made guacamole with lime juice, coriander and ripe Hass avocados and their signature pork pibil tacos made with outdoor-reared British pork and locally made tortillas. The food is as delicious as ever, sustainable whenever possible and most certainly permanent.
Various locations, see wahaca.co.uk