Broadway Market, London

Drawing Londoners, and in-the-know international visitors, Broadway Market has emerged as one of East London’s post-Olympics success stories: a run-down area revitalised by a thriving Saturday market.

The market was born back in 1900, when an intrepid shop owner began selling jellied eels to passing shepherds as they herded sheep into London. In the 1980s, most stalls ceased trading, and it wasn’t until 2004 that it was revived by the local community.

Ten years on, the market has transformed the area. Located between Regent’s Canal and London Fields, Broadway Market’s geographical footprint is tiny, and the area around it can still be rough. But the market’s community-driven atmosphere has made it one of London’s most vibrant hotspots. 

Approach the market from London Fields and you’ll find it packed with picnickers munching on market fare; wander in from the Regent’s Canal end, and you’ll find barges passing through the locks and kayakers cruising the canals. A mix of indie bookshops and cafes line the street, and on Saturdays the market spills over into the local schoolyard and nearby Netil Market, where a vacant lot hosts an eclectic mixture of coffee, food, vintage clothes, bike repair shops and record stalls. 

Eat

Despite the area’s rising profile, the foodie-focused Saturday market is still the main attraction, with a heavy focus on quality produce and gourmet food. Gluten-free jam donuts are sold next to pulled-pork sandwiches, pho is ladled from steaming  pots, and freshly picked artichokes are sold alongside bottles of cold-pressed olive oil and wild boar and venison sausages.

While there’s no shortage of street food, for a sit-down meal, Broadway’s brunch set head to Market Café. Overlooking Regent’s Canal, the cafe is popular for its breakfast menu featuring ham-hock hash and grapefruit mimosas. 

Proving everything old is new again, the refurbished Cat and Mutton pub, which has been in the same spot for almost 300 years, is now under new management and serving hearty food to hungry punters.

New kid on the block Franco Manca is a Napoli-style sourdough pizzeria. Despite being one of the first chains to open at Broadway Market, its cheery staff and excellent pizza mean it’s packed every weekend. If you’re still hungry, you can try the culinary sensation that started it all: F Cooke sells hot jellied eels every day. 

Drink

One of Broadway Market’s cornerstones is Climpson & Sons. After being immersed in Australia’s coffee culture for five years, the cafe’s owner established his own coffee shop in London. On Saturday, there’s always a queue out the door, as well as from the market stall — a secondary location set up to cope with the overflow. Those willing to wait claim it’s the best coffee in London. 

For a more potent brew, pop into London Fields Brewery. Its weekend tours and courses are best booked in advance, but in the Tap Room you can sample beers that play up to the brewery’s East London roots, including the Hackney Hopster (a dry pale ale) as well as the Love Not War (a red ale that, according to the tasting menu, was “first brewed barricaded in the brewery during the London riots”).

Shop

Crème de la crème of the Saturday stalls is a pop-up vintage clothing store in Broadway Market’s coin-operated laundrette, The Laundry Room. Every Saturday, racks of silk slips, mod dresses and the odd designer piece line the laundry walls (including a beautiful Diane von Furstenberg wrap dress we spied for a bargain $35).

Label lovers will want to head around the corner to London’s best-kept designer secret, Strut. Inside, you’ll find colour-coordinated racks of men’s and women’s designer clothing, handbags and shoes, from Chanel suits to Yves Saint Laurent dresses, Alexander McQueen jackets, Miu Miu shoes and Dior clutches.

Up on the high street is Fabrications, a hybrid haberdashery that sells handmade items created from recycled materials; it also runs workshops on everything from tailoring your own clothes to knitting.

Words by Shaney Hudson - Published in Voyeur January 2015
Quick Facts 
Population Approx. 8 million
Area 1,572 km²
Time Zone GMT 0
Languages English (official)
Currency Pound (£GBP)
Electricity 230V with 50Hz frequency. 240V may also be found although 230V is the official voltage
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