Anyone who has travelled to the Caribbean will have experienced first hand how integral street food is to the makeup of the island group. From town centres to residential lanes, enterprising individuals pop up, selling everything from natural juices and quick fruit snacks to full meals with all the trimmings. Given the increasing overheads for a physical space, and a London street food boom in recent years, the relatively low set up costs of a market stall often allow for innovation and experimentation not readily viable in the dine-ins and takeaways. Throughout London, a growing number of stalls are pushing the boundaries of Caribbean food.Read More
The Ultimate Guide to Caribbean Street Food in London
Where to find hot and fruity jerk, curry goat, sweet festival dumplings, and more at London’s food markets
Shellybelly’s warns you its food isn’t for the faint hearted. This is no joke. Meat from east London’s famous Smithfield Market is bathed in homemade pimento and scallion jerk for two days, before being cooked on a proper jerk drum and served with rice and peas. The Big Bamboo offering takes this jerk, and rips it up into tender strips, nestled with lettuce, tomatoes, mango sauce, mayonnaise, and a top secret sauce all wrapped up in a soft tortilla.
Mama Gee’s Pop Up Kitchen
In the sleepy confines of north London’s Hornsey, Mama Gee’s has brought a rare glimpse of Caribbean taste to an area more densely populated with corner shops than food offerings. In addition to Jamaican jerk and curry staples, Mama Gee’s tender oxtail meat swims in a gravy teeming with soft butter beans and mini ‘spinner’ boiled dumplings — a prize winner. Wrap it up in a tortilla for a quick meal on the go.
Though it’s Caribbean Kitchen, the stall proudly proclaims its an “Afro Caribbean Kitchen,” and with this serves a wide range of Afro foods from around the world. In addition to Jamaican dishes like curry goat and ackee and saltfish, homage to Afro food of the American Deep South produces mouth watering options like the newly honed grilled lobster, that can be plated with jerk chicken in a incredible surf and turf option before being saddled with rice, plantain and mac n cheese. Those with time should find a place to sit down and get up close and personal with the dangerously sweet waffles and maple syrup glazed fried chicken.
Only Jerkin’s island take on the London favourite, chicken and chips, will have likely caused many to nearly eat their phones due to spending too much time perusing their ravishing social media. The hallowed chicken strips are marinated mango, coconut and honey, before being submerged into a cream soda batter; chicken nuggets are dunked in a homemade ginger beer batter. Chips and gravy gets taken to another level with jerk gravy and more jerk seasoning on those fries.
Monday — Friday, 11a.m. — 6p.m
Saturday, 11a.m. — 7p.m.
Sunday, 11a.m. — 7p.m.
Legacy Food Truck
As brick and mortar Caribbean food spots are relatively hard to find around anywhere encroaching on central London, Legacy Caribbean Food Truck formerly — and still, by many— referred to as Shades has helped to fill the gap for lunchtime workers seeking belly filling island comforts. Flying the Jamaican flag high, the island’s favourites are on offer in the handy lunchtime meal deals, curry goat, jerk, and brown rice chicken.
The Cane Press @ Mama’s Jerk Jubilee Place
Sugar cane holds a special place in the heart of those who grew up in the Caribbean or within diaspora families. Chomping and hoovering up all the drips of the tough root until dry, hoping to squeeze just a bit more juice out of it. Never fear: Cane Press literally do all the hard graft, to bottle up the magic juice for easy consumption, infused with an array of fruit and veg from ginger and lime to kale, cucumber and celery, or just straight up. Check social media for locations, but can be found daily at Mama’s Jerk in Canary Wharf.
Lagniappe @ Lower Marsh Market
Lagniappe, a French term that refers to a small treat, is probably one of the best ways to describe the joy that the breadth of Trinidadian food provides. Pelau rice or sada roti provide the base for the variety of mains, from pulled pork simmered in the national staple tamarind sauce to a stew chicken that proves an easy gateway for first timers and those with a less spice tolerant palate. For the literally seasoned veterans of island food, the geera lamb option steeped in coriander and pimento gives that needed island spice and kick to food not often found in the nearby area.
Wednesday — Friday, 11:30a.m. — 2:30p.m.
Bokit’la @ Oval Farmers' Market
Caribbean cuisine in the U.K. has long been dominated by the people and culture of Jamaica, with jerk chicken at the forefront. Enter Bokit’la, the U.K.’s first French-Caribbean street food stall, waving the flag high for Guadeloupe. The joy is in the simplicity of the freshly fried dough pocket snack: a choice of size is made first, before the option of filling from chicken, saltfish or aubergine. After this, the addition of a range of spices, plus myriad extras such as avocado, vegetables, and more, all sumptuously tucked in before hungry eyes.
Thursday: 10a.m. — 3p.m. @ Lyric Square, W6 0NB
Friday: 11a.m. — 3p.m. @ Brixton Station Road, SW9 8PD
12p.m. — 10p.m. @ Elephant and Castle Underground Station
Saturday: 10a.m. — 3p.m. @ Oval Farmers Market, SE11 4PW
Sunday: 10a.m. — 3p.m. @ Alexandra Palace Farmers Market, N8 7FW
Bushman’s Kitchen @ Brixton Station Road Market
At the height of lunchtime, queues snake far outside this shop for the day’s servings. Oven grilled jerk chicken sits alongside sticky bbq chicken, but it’s the freshly made sides that make the real difference to the meals. With all produce sourced direct from the nearby market on Electric Avenue, fried sweet festival dumplings and savoury dumplings are constantly being trayed up, as well as bubbling baked mac n cheese being pulled out the oven.
Jerk Off @ Catford Food Market
While some Caribbean food based vendors are keen to illustrate the whole wealth of the culture’s cuisine, others are more focussed on perfecting certain streams. For Jerk Off, it’s obvious which is the priority. The increasingly popular jackfruit gets the slow-heated authentic wood jerk treatment alongside more traditional meats, while the house soup of pumpkin, butternut squash, coconut and scotch bonnet for extra heat warms the belly in hard winter. In true Caribbean style, it is served up with soft, dunkable Hard Do (hard dough) bread.
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George’s First Jerk @ Surrey Street Market
Everyday is like a lottery at George’s First Jerk Catering, located on Croydon’s Surrey Street market. He doesn’t do jerk chicken everyday, but on the days he does, Croydon’s locals and visitors count themselves fortunate, with workers pouring out of offices to form a rowdy queue for his wares. There’s no kitchen backing the stall, so as George likes to tout, “once it’s gone, it’s gone.”