The Rise and Rise of Street Food


Once upon a time, street food in Britain meant a Mr Whippy or a dodgy kebab. Not any more. In the last few years, the UK street food scene has taken off in a big way. Inspired by the food trucks of LA and New York, as well as Asia’s night markets, young British foodies like Petra Barran []of KERB and Dominic Cools-Lartigue of Street Feast [] began organising markets and events in London. This summer, the capital played host to dozens of pop-ups like Street Feast [], The StockMKT [], Truck Stop [] and KERB Peckham [], with added extras like craft beers, live music and celeb guest chefs like Gizzi Erskine.


You’ll now find street food markets in Manchester, Birmingham and Brighton among other British cities. The cuisine on offer spans the globe, and ranges from Japanese gyoza and Indian street snacks to hip US comfort food like crisp fried chicken and creamy mac ‘n’ cheese. Visiting a street food market is a chance to sample food from exciting young chefs, made with love and quality ingredients. Some of the best-known traders, like The Bowler and Meringue Girls, now have their own cookbooks while others, like the guys behind Patty and Bun burgers, have gone on to open restaurants. Here’s our pick of the 10 best street food vans...


Yum Buns

Award-winning, marshmallow-soft steamed buns with variety of fillings. You can find Yum Buns’ pink and yellow van at Street Feast in Dalston, Jamie Oliver’s Feastival, or pop into its new Shoreditch restaurant. Don’t tell David Chang, but we think Yum Buns’ slow-roast pork buns are better than the ones at his Momofuku Ssam Bar in New York.


Yum Buns, 31 Featherstone Street, London EC1Y 2BJ

The Ribman

Head to Brick Lane or KERB in Kings Cross armed with napkins, and then get stuck into the best ribs in London. The Ribman is run by butcher Mark Gevaux. He slow cooks baby back ribs from outdoor-reared British pigs. Fans know to douse them in one of his cult BBQ sauces, including the infamous Holy F**k Hot Sauce.


Brick Lane, E1; Sundays. Also at KERB Kings Cross, dates vary.



Rainbow’s gyoza area a must eat – stuffed full of chicken, pork or tofu and with a crispy, golden underside. Get them in a box with crunchy Asian slaw, Edamame and quinoa. The young team behind Rainbo have big hearts, too – they donate 20p from every meal to help fight child labour in Nepal. Find their 1948 Ford pick-up at KERB, Street Feast, and festivals like Wilderness.


Big Apple Hotdogs

Big Apple Hotdogs is one of the first and best know street food stalls, and attract big queues wherever it goes. The formula is simple: quality beef and pork sausages and frankfurters in freshly-baked buns, with all the toppings you can handle – mustard, ketchup, Polish sauerkraut, pickled cucumbers, and plenty of butter-fried onions.


Find Big Apple Hotdogs’ Street Cart at 239 Old Street, London EC1V 9EY; Tues-Fri 12-6pm.


Anna Mae’s

For the best mac ‘n’ cheese this side of the Atlantic seek out the Anna Mae’s van. The stall is run by Anna and Tony, who gave up their day jobs to journey around the American South researching recipes. As well as their famous ‘pimped’ mac ‘n’ cheese with additions like mini hot dogs and jalapenos, they also sell southern classics like hush puppies and Texas red chilli. Find them at festivals, Zoo Lates at London Zoo, and KERB.


What The Dickens!

These tweed-wearing chaps specialise in retro British dishes made with carefully-sourced ingredients. Think kedgeree made with Grimsby smoked haddock, or hand-raised pork pies made with free-range pork. Michael, Adam and Dominic also make and grow much of their own ingredients – they keep bees and salt their own bacon.



Find them at Chatsworth Road Market, Hackney E5. Also at KERB, dates vary.

The Bowler

Jez Fowler of The Bowler dishes up irresistible meatballs. Look for his turf-covered van at markets like KERB and festivals like Wilderness and Camp Bestival. Carnivores will love The Bowler’s Smokin’ Bacon Balls – which taste like a tiny cheeseburger thanks to their mixture of Applewood cheddar, bacon and chuck steak. But veggies aren’t forgotten – go for the ‘Balafel’, made from chickpeas, spinach and ricotta.


Various locations


Horn OK Please

Seek out the Horn OK Please van for authentic Indian street food. All their dishes are vegetarian and many are gluten-free. Try the fresh dosa (savoury pancakes) filled with potato masala and topped with a mixture of chickpeas and crispy noodles. Or graze on Bhel Puri – a traditional street snack that’s a riot of different colours and textures – juicy pomegranate seeds, puffed rice, coriander and red onion with crispy chick pea noodles.

Meringue Girls

Forget macarons. For the daintiest dessert in town, seek out the Meringue Girls. Their teensy meringues are marbled with blues, pinks and yellows. The insides are wonderfully gooey while the shells are crisp. Flavours include everything from gin and tonic to Match green tea.


Various locations

Mother Flipper

There are lots of burger vans on the street food scene but Mother Flipper is one of the best. Its US-style burgers are made with Kentish beef, and are served in glossy demi-brioche buns. This is not diet food: one of the burgers comes with double cheese and candied bacon, while the ‘Pork n patty’ burger is covered in cream cheese and pulled pork.


Various locations

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