Want to try the best street-food in the UK? Here’s our pick of the best food trucks and Britain’s best street-food vans…
Nationale 7, Greater Manchester – French street-food
“French food is considered fancy and expensive, but that is completely wrong,” says Nationale 7 co-owner, Emily Bremond. “French food is simple, seasonal, fresh and that is what we’re trying to do.”
From their hut at Altrincham Market, Emily and Amaury Neury sell free-range rotisserie chickens flavoured with garlic, thyme and rosemary to take home or eat-now with roasted vegetables and swanky salads, as well as epic sandwiches such as their pulled chicken with homemade tarragon mayo and pickled red onions.
“In France,” says Emily, “there’s a rotisserie on every corner and it’s insanely popular.”
Green Label, south-west – vegan street-food
Husband and wife Jim and Kara Hayward run Green Label, serving vegan street-food across the country. Try meze boxes filled with Asian quinoa salad, smacked cucumber and cannellini beans as well as flatbreads topped with jerk jackfruit, plantain and coconut yogurt.
Click here to find out where to find it next @karasvegansoulfood
Cuban sandwich factory, Northern Ireland – Cuban street-food
Clued-up Belfast foodies love the Cubano-style pressed, toasted sandwiches at Carlos Arguelles’ friendly takeaway-café.
On Saturdays, the factory also pops-up at St George’s Market, where shoppers wolf-down his stacked beef brisket and roast pork sandwiches.
Go for anything that involves Carlos’s vibrant chimichurri sauce. It’s a zinger.
Cheese Toastie, southern England – British street-food
You already know Tom and Henry Herbert, The Fabulous Baker Brothers. But now another brother from the Hobbs House baking dynasty, Archie, is spreading the slow-fermented love with his self-explanatory Cheese Toastie stall.
You can expect tangy Hobbs House St. Martin sourdough with a cheese mix which includes Barbers’ punchy 1833 Somerset cheddar, or add home-smoked beef brisket or Wiltshire ham to what Jamie Oliver described as: “The most delicious thing I’ve ever eaten in bed.”
Click here to find out where to find it next @toastie_toastie
Listen to our podcast with Tom Herbert here…
The Little Taquero, Bristol – Mexican street-food
Bristol-based street-food truck The Little Taquero serves up Mexican- and Central American-inspired dishes. Expect soft corn tortillas piled high with refried beans and tender pork shoulder, or pieces of snapper fish topped with spicy jalapeño and guacamole.
Bertha’s pizza, south-west – Italian street-food
Like many street-food slingers, when Graham and Kate Faragher set-up Bertha’s they were searching for a way out of the 9-5 rat race. They were looking, as Kate puts it, for: “A vocation not a chore.” Their salvation came in the form of wood-fired pizza.
After a couple of years roaming the south-west in a bright yellow pizza truck, Bertha’s opened a bricks ‘n’ mortar pizzeria on Bristol’s Cumberland Road. That progress is testament to the Faraghers’ fastidious approach. Their sourdough is proved for a whopping three days, their pizzas blast-cooked in 60 seconds.
The toppings are prime British ingredients (mozzarella from Glastonbury, tomatoes from the Isle of Wight) and foraged ingredients. “When the first of the nettles appear they go straight on a white pizza with cream, cheddar and chilli,” says Kate.
Click here to read our full Bristol city guide
Mama’s Jerk Station, London – Jamaican street-food
It now has permanent sites at Deptford Market Yard and Pop Brixton, but the roots of Mama’s Jerk Station go back generations, to Jamaica. There, in her kitchen garden, owner Adrian Luckie’s great grandmother, Mama Charlotte, used to grow the ingredients that went into her jerk marinade, a secret family recipe which today puts the sweet, aromatic heat into Mama’s 48-hour marinated BBQ chicken wings or its chicken wraps with fried plantain and tropical mayo.
A jerk marinade usually includes fresh thyme, allspice berries and scotch bonnet chillies among other ingredients, but Mama’s goes that extra mile in its barbecuing, by mimicking the pimento tree wood that is the traditional BBQ fuel in Jamaica, “We add pimento flavour to the coals and wood in the drum smokers to give the food an even more authentic flavour,” says Adrian.
Mama’s also cooks at Street Feast’s Model Market, Lewisham, London SE13.
Click here to read about the best street-food stalls in London
Goody Gujarati, Leicester – Indian street-food
Leicester-based street-food vendor Goody Gujarati serves up traditional Gujarati eats from a 1950s-style caravan. Expect the likes of samosa chaat, black chickpea and potato curry, and iced masala chais.
Head to its Facebook page for updates on where to find it @goodygujarati
Yakumama, national – Chilean street-food
Best Street Food winner at the 2015 Young British Foodies awards, Yakumama takes classic Latin American dishes (many of them family recipes from Chilean co-owner, Marcello Sandoval), and gives them a compelling creative twist.
Try its beef empanadas mined with olives and sultanas, choripan sandwiches or spiced pork rind chicharrones. They’re seriously next-level pork scratchings.
Click here to find out where in the country you can find it next @yakumama00
Brother Thai, Wales – Thai street-food
Andrew Chongsathien admits that not everyone is ready for the ferocity of hardcore Thai cooking. “Spice is a very hot topic!” he says. “We try to allow people to customise the heat so long as it doesn’t compromise the dish. But with the rise of street food, this is a good time for real Thai cooking as western palates are open to new flavours.”
You can regularly find Brother Thai turning-up the heat at Cardiff’s Depot street food parties, where its dishes such as pad thai and that classic Thai street food dish, pad kra pao gai (chicken with holy basil, topped with a crispy fried egg), are winning over Wales one hot, lush, mouthful at a time.
Twisted Chip Company, Brighton – Korean street-food
Influenced by Korean street food, Renee Keeffe set up Brighton’s Twisted Chip van as a way to jazz up the humble spud. The menu is simple, with Wilja and Yukon Gold potatoes (all sourced from Kent) being fed through a spiral cutter and then handshaped onto wooden skewers.
After being fried, you can dust the chips with classic crisp flavourings, from cheese and onion to barbecue and their famous chicken salt. Find the van at festivals across Sussex.
Read our full guide on where to eat and drink in Brighton here
Manjit’s Kitchen, Yorkshire – Indian street-food
Given the burgers ‘n’ ribs boisterousness of early street food, Manjit Kaur sometimes felt she was swimming against the tide with her vegetarian Punjabi snacks. Not anymore.
Such is Manjit’s popularity these days that you’ll find her café within Leeds Kirkgate Market. It’s been hard work (the masala that dresses the paneer in her chilli wraps begins in the cooking down of 50kg of onions to make a base sauce!), but it’s well worth it.
“Watching carnivores munch on a cone of bhel puri gives me immense pleasure,” says Manjit.
Click here for more places to eat and drink in Leeds
Bleecker St., London – American street-food
A New York corporate lawyer-turned-burger evangelist, Zan Kaufman’s uncompromising approach (50 day-aged grass-fed beef; handmade sesame seed buns; homemade burger sauce), has very much impressed London’s patty perfectionists. Refreshingly, Zan likes to keep her burgers relatively simple.
The Bleecker Black which sandwiches black pudding between two chunky, loosely ground medium-rare burgers swaddled in gooey American cheese is about as elaborate as her burgers get. Bleecker has quickly spawned a mini-empire that includes sites at Old Spitalfields Market and a Bloomberg Arcade in the City.
Eat like a Greek, south-west – Greek street-food
“It’s all about transporting people back to Greece, even for a few minutes,” says Ruth Petralifis who, with husband Michalis, goes that extra mile (or thousand) to ensure that their grilled souvlaki meat wraps carry an authentic taste of the Aegean.
The meats may come from Devon, but they’re marinated in organic olive oil, herbs and spices from the Petralifis’s family farm on the island of Samos.
Click here to find out where you can find it next eatlikeagreek.co.uk
La Petit Crêperie, Newcastle – French street-food
After learning how to make crepes at École Maitre Crêpier just outside of Brittany, Julien Poulalion opened La Petite Crêperie on the corner of alley four in Newcastle’s Grainger Market.
Watch the sweet crêpes and buckwheat galettes being made in the large open window before they’re topped with rich chestnut spread, sweet spicy speculoos biscuits or goat’s cheese, fresh spinach, honey and roasted pine nuts.
Find them at Grainger Market and Tynemouth Market on a Sunday.
Find out where else to eat in Newcastle here
Alplings, Scotland – Austrian street-food
Martin Auer’s native South Tyrol is officially part of Italy, but the region retains its distinctive Austrian character. Knödel bread dumplings are huge there, and in Edinburgh now too, thanks to Martin’s Alplings stall. It sells three dumpling varieties (beetroot, spinach and cheese) dressed with nutty butter, parmesan and served with cabbage salad. It is a veggie dish with a “satisfying, oomph factor” says Martin.
Catch him at Portobello Farmer’s Market and Stockbridge Market.
Ah Ma’s Dumplings, south-west – Chinese street-food
Anita Cheung is on a mission to popularise fresh, delicate, full-flavoured Cantonese cooking. A regular at several Bristol markets, Anita’s silky, ginger-laced prawn, scallop and leek dumplings or her slow-roasted pork belly bao, wow everyone who tastes them. As do her meat-free dishes: “We once had a vegan come back to check there was no meat in the shiitake and cashew dumplings, presumably because the shiitake makes them taste so umami and meaty.”
Listen to our podcast with Anita here…
Habaneros, Birmingham – Mexican street-food
Blame the British weather (and councils), but most UK street food traders don’t trade on the street. Habaneros, however, is keeping it real. Located on Temple Row, it dispenses top-quality burritos Monday to Friday, packed with slow-cooked beans, salsas, hot sauces and chipotle slaw.
Look out for specials such as slow-cooked mutton or try its tasty pulled pork. It uses free-range Saddleback pigs from 19 Gales farm near Tamworth.
Find out where else to eat and drink in Birmingham here
Word on the street
The coolest street food markets and parties across the UK…
Corner 77, Bristol – Stokes Croft has welcomed a new bar, street-food and events space from the team behind Bravas and Cargo Cantina. By day a café, at night the venue will see an ever-changing rotation of street-food traders; corner77.co.uk
Grub, Manchester – a feast of street-food and DJs every Friday and Saturday night; grubmcr.com
Street Feast, London – undisputed kings of the night market at Giant Robot, Hawker House, Dinerama, Model Market and Public; streetfeastlondon.com
foodPark, Cambridge – roving weekly lunchtime markets and pop-up parties after-dark; foodparkcam.com
Digbeth Dining Club, Birmingham – Birmingham’s original street-food market taking place every Friday and Saturday night; digbethdiningclub.co.uk
At The Market Ltd, Edinburgh – top weekly markets in Stockbridge, Grassmarket, Leith and Potterrow; stockbridgemarket.com
Street Diner, Brighton – a raft of traders offering Friday lunchtime treats in Brighthelm Garden; streetdiner.co.uk
Depot, Cardiff – weekly Saturday warehouse shindig with Welsh street-food stars; depotcardiff.com
Kerb, London – saving the capital’s office workers from sad lunches in Paddington, King’s Cross and more; kerbfood.com