Friends in search of gastronomic delights on a Saturday usually head to Borough Market, and for good reason–it’s been the place to go in London to find fresh produce and a festive atmosphere for a thousand years. But if you’re ready for an equally rewarding taste experience nearby, head east from London Bridge station toward Tower Bridge. There, tucked away under the railway arches in Bermondsey, you’ll find the small-but-perfect Maltby Street Market. Once a local secret, this now-thriving market is a wonderland of artisan street food, top-notch restaurants, freshly brewed coffee, cocktails, and antiques, making it perfect for an outing with friends.
Tell your friends to set their alarms, because you’ll all want to get started early to maximise your time there. Print off a map to make sure you hit all the vendors you’re most excited about, and take a tote bag with you to carry your trinkets. Once you hit Ropewalk – the narrow, pedestrian street where all the action happens – you might feel like you’ve stumbled upon a British street party. There’s Union Jack bunting hanging from the walls, traders whistling while they set out their stalls, and a palpable sense of excitement in the air.
Grab a flat white coffee from Craft Coffee and follow the smell of freshly baked bread into the famous St. John bakery to pick up a loaf straight from the oven (or, if you and your pals are feeling naughty, a custard donut). Now go for a wander around LASSCO: an enormous warehouse of architectural antiques and curiosities – all cleverly arranged like a beautiful treasure trove. Amongst the taxidermy, brass doorknobs, and period furniture, you might uncover something special. If you haven’t eaten yet (although this is highly unlikely), head to the front of the shop where you’ll find Waffle On serving breakfast waffles with dry-cured bacon and maple syrup, or cured salmon served with lemon crème fraiche.
Too sweet? You’re a few steps away from The Cheese Truck, which serves the cheesiest grilled cheese sandwiches you can find, made with fresh pagnotta sourdough and British farmhouse cheeses. Or how about a scotch egg from Finest Fayre? If you just want to try a bit of everything, you could grab some free samples: organic Spanish extra virgin olive oil from The Gay Farmer, jamon from Tozino, and some crackers and exotic chutneys from Newton & Pott.
After all the wandering and snacking, you might be ready for a lunchtime tipple. Try a craft beer made with honey from Hiver, or if you want to sit and chat, take a seat at Little Bird‘s pop-up bar and order a spicy Bloody Mary or a host of cocktails made with their eponymous gin. You could quite easily while away the afternoon here at Maltby Street, refuelling on street food – then shopping, getting hungry again, and repeating – until the market closes at four. You can always come back tomorrow.