London’s Best Pop Up Restaurants

Ah, London Pop-Ups. How much I love them. The street food scene in London has evolved a lot in a recent couple of years. It is now well and truly on its way to becoming phenomenal.
I love food and I love what Pop-Ups offer… a simple stroll in Broadway Market can easily end up becoming a gourmet feast thanks to all the food trucks and stalls. The competition is stiff and not everyone can last long in the game. The trick is to pick a niche, do it well and just hang in there. If you hit the right notes you get a lot of rewards like a loyal fan base, word of mouth marketing, a presence in the food scene minus the risks of a full-time establishment along with plenty of time to try and test out the popularity of various items on your menu (just write it on a chalkboard and if it doesn’t work…erase it). In fact, some Pop Ups have actually done so well that they’ve gone on to set up their own restaurants.

If you’re overwhelmed by the sheer numbers of Pop Ups in London, allow my happy belly and me to guide you. Here are some of our favourites:

Yum Bun: Steamed soft buns filled with Slow Roasted Pork Belly, Cucumber, Spring Onions, Hoi Sin sauce and of course, some Sriracha. These guys first started making an appearance at Broadway Market 3 years ago and now after winning a fair few Food Awards along the way have set up their own restaurant on Featherston St, East London. Street Food wise I am not sure if they’re still setting up shop in Broadway Market (didn’t see them the last few times I was there) but you can find them in Kerb, the Street  Market in Kings Cross every now and then. Oh, and their restaurant also has a more varied menu with Beef Rendang, Portobello Mushroom, Japanese Chicken and Fish Yum Bun among others. Check out where they are and what they’re dishing out here.

Add captionThe truly YUM bun: Winner of the People’s Choice Award at the British Street Food Awards.
Photo Credit: Time Out London

Midnight Apothecary: This is more of a Cocktail Pop Up than a food one and nothing wrong with a yummy cocktail to accompany all this good food, right? Midnight Apothecary is the brainchild of Lottie Muir AKA The Cocktail Gardener. MA has taken up residency every Saturday night and Sunday afternoon at the Brunel Museum (who happen to be one of my top London secrets). The herbs for the cocktails are picked from the museum garden which has been planted by the Cocktail Gardener herself. It’s often been called one of London’s Hottest Pop Up Bars and I am not arguing that one bit.

The Midnight Apothecary/ Brunel Museum Gardens, London. Photo Credit: The Cocktail Gardener

Rib Man: THE Rib Man is a butcher by profession and makes a mean Rib Roll but you can also buy ’em as racks and wraps . The piggies are from Norfolk and  the sauces are made by the man himself. There is the Smokey BBQ, A Hot Sauce and an extra hot sauce that you have to ask for cause it’s too dangerous to be out in the open. This sauce is called the Holy F#@! and rightly so. I’ve seen my 6ft 2in tall buddy run around like a little kid flailing his arms while yelling “I feel like I’ve eaten the sun”. It’s the diabolo of  sauces and it’s awesome. You can find Rib Man at the Brick Lane Markets every Sunday.

Rib Man at work.. these rolls sell out super quick so get there early. Photo Credit: The Rib Man
SO good, this slow roasted pork is brought to you by The Rib Man. Photo Credit: Kerb

Death by Burritos: “There is no good Mexican in London” my Californian friend always complains. I don’t think she’d be saying that if she indulged in one of these babies. I tasted one of their delicious Burritos at the Street Feast in Merchant Yard early on in the summer and there was a long queue of foodies like me. The crew at the stall always works efficiently and churns out those Burritos to salivating souls faster than the speed of light. Having Indian blood running through my veins I have this innate need to test the power of chili. So when I was asked, “How hot would you like it?” , I replied “As hot as you can go”. OW.

My mouth was on fire and it took me over an hour to get to the end of the burrito because of how hot it was. It very nearly was “Death by Burritos”. Don’t get me wrong, though, it was delicious and I did get to the end of it but I am not getting cocky about my chili eating prowess anytime soon. These guys do their rounds at the Street Food festivals et all but if you’re looking for their more permanent establishment you’ll find it in Shoreditch on 22 Kingsland Road.

The Death by Burritos stall at the Street Feast, Merchant Yard, London.

The Foragers:
What an amazing concept, all the ingredients are foraged from the countryside in Hertfordshire. They call themselves a “team of hunters and gatherers” .. that’s pretty bad ass already. Their base is in St. Albans (any foodie/beer lover should head to Albs for a day of pure decadence) but they run a mobile kitchen in London and other cities. I tired their delicious Venison Sandwich at a street party in Shoreditch and each ingredient tasted so fresh… as though it was made for my hungry belly alone. They also do some divine brownies albeit a tad on the pricier side. They often team up with some others on this list, for instance, you can find them at the Midnight Apothecary sometimes. In the past, they’ve also set up short term shop at the Dead Dolls Club , another unique Cocktail Bar in Shoreditch (used to be a Pop Up too) and one that despite its modest size is done up like an opulent Victorian manor.

A foraged smorgasbord? Yes, please. Photo Credit: The Foragers

Bahn Mi 11: Good Vietnamese food always makes my heart go boom, boom, boom and Bahn Mi 11 manage to strikes the right chords with their tasty, wholesome and healthy dishes. They do have their restaurants but I always pay them a visit on Saturdays at the Broadway Market. Then I eat it all while sitting by the canal with my closest friends and my legs dangling over the water. Though they’re known for their traditional Banh Mis, I always tend to get the Imperial Pork BBQ Noodle Salad. It is the best dish on the menu in my opinion. The prices are super affordable and on a sunny Saturday, food at Bahn Mi is what I choose to indulge in.

“Wholesome and Healthy” is the way things roll at Bahn Mi 11. Photo Credit: Bahn Mi
Ca Phe Vn: The couple behind this delicious coffee stall are also the ones behind Bahn Mi 11. The Vietnamese Iced Coffee is basically a plastic glass full of joy. Made the traditional way with sweet condensed milk and Vietnamese coffee, if you closed your eyes you might as well be in the crowded streets of Ho Chi Minh instead of in Broadway Market. Coffee lovers you just have to get a beverage here. HAVE to. O and should the hunger pangs strike …they also dish out some yummy Pho here. Everyone knows that is a perfect hangover cure.

You’ll find the unassuming little Cha Phe Vn stall in Broadway Market
The Good Egg: These guys introduced me to the wonders of Shakshuka: a traditional North African dish made in a big pan with eggs, tomatoes, sausages, and spices. Serve that goodness up with a side of Sourdough bread and you have in front of you the best breakfast ever. They took up residency at The Hangover Club in the Skyroom, a pretty neat venue with outdoor seating and river views near London Bridge.  This month was their last brunch of the year in the Skyroom sadly but they’re going to go far so keep an eye on them. I think their next step is to focus on coming up with a permanent home for the Good Egg and what a good idea that is. Also on their menu is Breakfast Burritos and Egg White Omelettes but it is that god sent Shakshuka that wins hands down. Also provided by the Hangover Club are some delicious Detox and Re-tox drinks. Give their Bloody Marys a chance! What else are weekend mornings for?

Detoxing with a cucumber drink while indulging in a Good Egg Brunch, London
This was my first “meet cute” with  Mr. Shakshuka. Tried replicating the magic in my kitchen but it was nothing like this.
The list of Pop Ups in London is endless but these are some of my favourite ones. True to their name new ones keep popping up and sometimes old ones pop down. Check them out while you spot them because you might not get the opportunity again. These street food stalls and pop-ups have become a big part of the London culture and to give them a miss is to give a full “London Experience” a miss.
As always, Happy Exploring! And if you have a favourite Pop Up then share it with me. I’m always on the look out for good food.

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