With Borough Market now opening seven days of the week for the first time in over two decades, now is the perfect time to plan your next trip over. Borough Market has a special place in my heart: it reminds me of trips with my dad into central London where I was a little smaller, and every stand seemed so big to me and full of so many different treats (my eyes were set on the cookies). As I grew older, the trips every year or so continued, but the market is no less interesting to me. Visiting Borough Market is almost like an activity for me – a chance to explore the stalls brimmed with foods from many different cultures, and hopefully for me to try something new along the way. It’s on my list of possibly one of my most unique London activities, and I love to take people who haven’t been or are from out of town, although I’m sure to the Southwark locals, passing through this market is an every day activity.
We were greeted at the London Bridge Station opening with the sound of the bustling London streets: buses whirring back and forth on their route, and the footsteps and chatter of people expertly dodging each other while walking along the pavement during the lunch time rush. On our left, we’re faced with the huge glass structure that is The Shard, and making a 180 degree turn to our right, we’re just round the corner from the infamous Borough Market.
With mentions of the market dating back over 1,000 years, Borough Market is one of the oldest and largest food markets in London. It prides itself on selling only the best quality, allowing traders to share their stories, and being sustainable, including requiring supply chains to be short and transparent. Upon entering the market, you’ll see an array of different stalls, bars and restaurants, with different pathways twisting and turning its way around the vicinity (yes, I got lost).
The easiest way to explore Borough Market is simply just to start walking in any direction. Depending on what you’re looking to do, you’ll find fresh produce, food to takeaway, and places to eat in scattered amongst each other. I would definitely advise going on a weekday if you can to avoid any queues or crowding. On our most recent trip, we decided (or rather, I – it was a surprise trip), we were going to try different stalls for a takeaway lunch. The fun part about this market is that you can try lots of small bits from separate stalls to experience more, or if you’re on a tighter budget, just get one small treat or just walk around for free!
What I ate recently
For this trip, everything I tried was all new for me, which was a fun as it meant we were both experiencing these stalls for the first time. We first headed around towards the back of the market (but I guess it depends which way you entered from), and found Ginger Pig. We were immediately drawn in by how huge the sausage rolls looked. At £4.50, we decided to get just one, and they were certainly not a disappointment. I can safely say that this was one of the most delicious sausage rolls I’ve ever had, and all I had was a bite – I almost immediately went back to get a second! There was just the right amount of pastry, not too thick or too thin, but the star for me was the sausage itself: the texture of the meat and the flavour that oozed from this one bite just screamed good quality, so this was an absolute winner for me. However, I wanted to try a new cuisine today, so didn’t reach for a second, but I definitely will next time! In regard to their produce, their Borough Market page actually states that the meat they use and sell is either from their Yorkshire farms with slowly reared British rare breed livestock or other similarly ethically-minded farms.
Up next, we had Bao Borough. I had seen on Instagram a picture of a bao bun with pulled pork from the market, but had never seen or tried one in real life before. I initially went up and saw that their classic option with pulled pork had peanut in, and I decided to look elsewhere because I’m not a huge fan of nuts. However, I came to the conclusion that I will always try things once and it’s always good to challenge yourself when it comes to new cuisines. Their Borough Market page states that their food is inspired by the flavours of Asia, but has a lot of Taiwanese street food options too. Bao Borough is a restaurant, however has a window for takeaway orders. I ordered the bun for £5.50, and was told there would be a 5-10 minute wait, so we grabbed a drink elsewhere in the mean time (discussed in the next paragraph!). I came back, and they called my name, so it was really only around a 5 minute wait. It was smaller than I imagined, and the peanut crumble covered a good portion of the filling, which was a surprise. My initial impression was that it had more of a peanut flavour than I would’ve hoped, however getting into the bun, I realised that for someone who doesn’t like peanut, I actually was enjoying this quite a lot. The bun was a soft, almost airy texture, and the pork and the peanut together was a nice combination. I would maybe go here again and try another bun, although I would rate this one around a 3.5 or 4 out of 5.
Our mid-Bao interval saw us stop at Turnips Juice Bar. I remember this stall from a few years ago (or at least something very similar) due to the colourful array of drinks that lined the stall. Although each drink was £3.00, which may be a bit pricey for some, it does compensate with how good it tastes. I got the classic apple juice, and it just tasted so refreshing and sweet, and, always a bonus for me, it didn’t taste the slightest bit concentrated! The Turnips Borough page on Instagram does highlight how all the drinks are freshly made, which explains it. The other drink we got was the cranberry lemonade, which did taste like it had a lime blend in it, so had a sharper taste. We had our drinks and the remainder of our food over on this wooden stair-like seating area which overlooked some of the open air stalls.
It was only right that we now looked at some sweeter options. We stopped by The Flour Station, after gaining sight of these circular-swirled Kouignan Amann. Although I didn’t try the Kouignan Amann, my boyfriend raved about how great it tasted, so I’ll definitely take his word for it. Now, I had a bit of déjà vu when it came to the chocolate brownies: he had purchased both and given me half the brownie to try, and after one bite, I caved in and ran back to get another one for him so I could have a full one to myself. There was something about the way the chocolate melted away on my tongue, and the fact it had just the right amount of chocolatiness that made this such an amazing brownie. I unfortunately can’t remember the price of the Kouignan Amann (maybe around £4?), the brownie, for a decently sized one, might I add, was £2.
Our last stop on our trip was Gastronomica, an Italian deli-style shop. We had passed Gastronomica a couple of times already, but what caught my eye were the cannoli. I decided to get some to bring home, so I purchased 4: 2 vanilla and 2 pistachio, for £1.50 each. Being part Italian, I love being in the midst of Italian food, so seeing all these typical Italian hams, cheeses and sweet treats just made me smile. For all you Italians or Mulino Bianco product lovers, they sell a range of Mulino Bianco biscuits for a great price! But besides that, I tried one of the vanilla cannoli later on in the day, and it was just perfect: the pastry was the perfect thickness and had a good crunch to it, and the vanilla flavour was just right.
Opening/closing times: 10am-5pm (Monday to Friday), 8am-5pm (Saturday), 10am-2pm (Sunday)
Location: 8 Southwark Street, London, SE1 1TL
Nearest stations: London Bridge (train); number 17, 21, 35, 43, 47, 133, 141, 149, 344, 388 (bus to London Bridge Borough High St)
I would love to know what your favourite stall at Borough Market is, and what your favourite part about it is in the comments below! I really loved the ones I recently visited, but I also remember one paella takeaway stall being really good. Thanks for reading!
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