Home » Places to Visit

Top 5 Reasons to Visit Borough Market

BY Boon Koh
Published 2 March 2010

Borough Market is one of my favorite places to visit in London on a Saturday afternoon. Despite its massive crowds and short opening hours (stalls close at 4pm), there’s nothing quite like an afternoon at Borough Market, especially if you go there having woken up late and skipped breakfast!

Borough market has always been about the food since a market started at some form since the 13th century. However, in recent years, there has been a shift away from the traditional fruit & veg to organic & fine foods, and from raw to ready-to-eat cooked food. However, its modern consumer-focused approach only applies to the afternoon markets on Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays. On weekday mornings, wholesale fruit & vegetable traders gather from 2am till 8am to sell the freshest tomatoes or potatoes that have only seen light for a few hours.

Below are the 5 things that you must see, do, or eat if you visit Borough Market:

1) Try some jamón serrano at Brindisa
Brindisa is one of the most famous shops at Borough Market, selling all kinds of imported Spanish food and ingredients. One of their specialties is the jamón serrano, which is the best of Spanish cured ham. At the counter, they have the actual cured pig legs laid out. Its not cheap, with about 50 grams of ham costing more than a fiver, but anyone who has tried either the jamón serrano or the jamón iberico has never looked back. For those looking for a proper dining place, Brindisa has opened a tapas bar round the back from Borough Market called Tierra Brindisa.

2) Buy some fruit and veg for the week
True to Borough Market’s history, the fruit and veg here are some of the freshest in the country and many of them are sold direct by the farmers. Don’t expect extremely cheap prices though – the majority of the produce is organic or rare varieties, and even the regular greens are a bit pricier than from a supermarket. But there’s something quaint about getting your plums in a brown paper bag from a human rather than in a plastic punnet tray from Tescos.

3) Get a hot takeaway lunch
Along with stalls selling fine food, there are plenty that cater to the hungry among the throngs of visitors they get. One of the most tempting stalls is the café by the small entrance across the road from Borough Tube Station. There’s this huge pile of prawn paella, enough to feed hundreds, just piled up high on a paella pan. Further inside the market though, there are all kinds of vedors eager to sell you your lunch, from ostrich burgers to a vegan lunch box to the standard fish and chips.

Then wash it all down with an espresso from the Monmouth Coffee Company, who serve some of the best coffee blends in London. You might have  wait a bit though – there always seems to be a long line snaking out the door of this place!

4) Visit the new Jubilee Market
Just completed last year, this new extension to Borough Market sees a modern glass roof sheltering tens of new stalls, from a fishmonger to an artisan baker to a Swiss cheese seller.  Particularly interesting in this section was a stall selling mushroom pate, which actually tasted rather good.

5) Buy some random cheese
Rarely do you find so many varieties of cheese in London, with the exception of dedicated cheese shops like Cave au Fromage in South Kensington. There is a branch of Neal’s Yard Dairy here at the far end of the market, with some of the most bizarre and strangest cheeses available. For those with more conventional tastes, there are cheese stalls all over Borough Market where you can buy a slice off a big wheel of cheese.

Address: Borough Market, Borough High Street / Southwark Street, London SE1 1TL
Website: www.boroughmarket.org.uk

More pictures of Borough Market in the photo gallery below:

Article written by Boon Koh.