The growing popularity of casual outdoor dining and drinking is here and lots of sites around London are continually popping up. Typically places like these have a courtyard style dining with picnic tables through the middle and the street food vendors and bars on the outer edge. People flock to these spots for lunch breaks and over the weekend but prime time is definitely for a post work drink and bite. The range of food and drink varies but typically include cuisines from all over the world, using locally sourced ingredients and producing high quality street food and local beverages. There's usually something for everyone whatever your taste or preferences.
My first pick is Mercato Metropolitano in Elephant & Castle this is definitely the biggest of the three places I cover and has the most variety of all food and drinks. Most importantly if you're fan of craft beer then this is the place for you!
But first let's talk about food...
As I mentioned this market has many different cuisines and food vendors, ranging from, Vietnamese, Lebanese, Mexican, Japanese ramen & don buri, Neapolitan pizza, handmade pasta, to burgers, barbecue, kebabs, ceviche, churros and waffles, just to name a few.
From here I tried some delicious beetroot infused pasta with mushrooms and truffle oil, which was absolutely delicious, I also tried the Neapolitan margarita pizza which was definitely tasty but the crust lacked resilience and the middle was a bit sloppy. However with the amount of choice you have you're more likely to strike gold than not.
The most unique part of this market is the onsite micro brewery called German Kraft Beer, which is an interesting experience for anyone who hasn't been to a brewery before as they have the huge fermenting tanks on display and you can smell the malts creating a whole different atmosphere in their little section of the market. They have a great assortment of beers for everyone to try. Along with these guys there's also a slew of other mini craft beer stalls, and a garden bar that offers wines, mixed drinks and cocktails for those who don't fancy beer.
Additionally there's small cafe and artisan food market inside an enclosed area in the middle. When I was there on a Friday night they even had live music and few people were even dancing!
The next one up is Vinegar Yard in London Bridge, which attracts a huge post work crowd with its central location. Its set up with a huge central area with rows of benches and tables and much more concentrated amount of food to choose from. Theres delicious American style burgers, sourdough pizzas, Argentinean steak, Italian Street food and Indian style burger fusion by the one and only Baba G's.
Upon my visit I tried the Chicken tikka burger from Baba G's and the double bacon cheese burger and mac n' cheese croquettes from Nanny Bill's. Both were indulgent and full of flavour, but when comparing the two I couldn't choose, because they were such different styles, but something I would definitely recommend! The sourdough pizza's also looked particularly tempting.
Vinegar yard also seems to only have one bar with a rather limited selection of beer styles in comparison to Mercato Metropolitano. Yet they offer all the basics including wine and cocktails so you can't really go wrong. This eatery also has small boutique shops in shipping containers further in at the back and a flea and makers market on the weekends.
My last recommendation is Dinerama in the hip neighbourhood of Shoreditch, a short bus or tube from the city centre. Much like Vinegar Yard this is a slightly smaller more intimate set up, with a handful of food and drink traders. What sets this street food arena, as they call it, apart is that it's host to a mezzanine level with, a tiki bar, cocktail bar, rum rooftop bar and wine garden all available for hire.
If you can't already tell the beer is not exactly the focus here, with cocktails as the forefront there's a wide variety to choose from, there's even a gin bar if that's your thing.
The food at Dinerama was the best by far of the three I've covered. Here you can find baos, burgers, jerk chicken, fried chicken, Mexican, wood fire pizza, dumplings and more. On my visit I tasted pork dumplings with chilli oil from Yumplings, which were succulent and tasty, a pork belly bao and fried chicken bao from Yum Bun, some of the best I've ever had and a juicy beef burger from Tucka Burger to round out the arrangement. This is definitely my top choice of the three mainly for the food! The one catch is its £3 entry fee after 7pm, except for Wednesdays, it's free.
Things to note:
- Most of the food traders at these places offer a range of vegan, vegetarian and gluten free foods so I'm sure you'll be able to find something you like!
- The price ranges are as follows: Beer & Wine £4 - £6, Cocktails £8 - £12, mains £8 - £12, bites/sides £4 - £7
- There's a security guard at the entrances who may ask to check your bag or ID.
- Mercato Metropolitano and Dinerama have ample covered space to use if needed in adverse weather conditions, however Vinegar Yard's indoor area is not nearly as appealing as the outdoor area.
- MOST IMPORTANTLY GET OUT AND ENJOY IT BEFORE SUMMER IS OVER!