MUST DO: Leyton Food Market

Crumb by crumb, it’s taking E10 by storm. And there’s a big summer bash tomorrow

Local beer: Signature Brew. Photo: Facebook
Local beer: Signature Brew. Photo: Facebook
It’s hard to believe that Leyton Market has only been around since 21st May: already I can’t remember what my weekends were like without a trip to the food-focused strip that happens every Saturday in Coronation Gardens (just beyond the Sainsbury’s Local on High Road Leyton, a five-minute walk from Leyton tube).

Whether it’s for a caffeine fix, a lazy street food lunch, a sunny early evening drink, or a handmade gift, Leyton Street Food Market seems to have it all – and it doesn’t involve a tube journey to get there. Hurrah.

You can browse and buy from around 30 stalls arranged in two circles around the bandstand in the middle of the gardens. Set back from the main road, surrounded by trees and with many stalls under red and white striped canvas, the market has a surprisingly villagey vibe, given its location.

The stalls are run by a mixture of well-established and brand new traders, many of whom live not more than a couple of miles away. There’s food you can eat now and food to take home and enjoy later, plus stalls selling arts and crafts from local artists and makers. With a DJ playing a retro vinyl soundtrack and a bar serving up beer, cider, wine and cocktails, the weekly bash has a laidback stay-all-day garden party feel.

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Leyton Food Market. Photo: Facebook
Leyton Food Market. Photo: Facebook
It could all have been very different. Two years ago, when founder Steve Lodge (and owner of Muga Pizza) first thought of starting a market in the area, he was going to do it in a carpark in Leytonstone, the site of the original Muga Pizza. The council was on board and traders secured when the owner of the site pulled out and Steve had to put the idea on hold.

However, not long afterwards, a Muga Pizza customer mentioned Coronation Gardens as a possible market venue and “two business plans and a lot of lonely nights in Barkingside library later,” Leyton Street Food Market was born.

There’s space for up to 70 stalls, and a mix of regular, occasional and brand new traders so even if you visit every week, there’s always something new to discover.

The plan is for the market to run year round, “with a question mark over January and February at this point,” says Steve. It will change with the seasons: there are already ideas for Oktoberfest and a winter wonderland and, from this weekend, expect Victorian games such as a coconut shy and hoopla.

Spud Brothers. Photo: Miranda Eason
Spud Brothers and a slice of Cubanos. Photo: Miranda Eason
There have been issues to deal with along with way, such as the moat that forms around the bandstand on rainy days, and a petition against the market getting an alcohol license, both now sorted. “There’s always going to be something,” says Steve, with a smile. “Last weekend we found a Pokémon over by the Chiang Mai stall.”

So whether you’re after pizza or a Pokémon, this is surely a weekend Must Do. As Steve says: “Going to an outdoor market is my favourite day out: eating, drinking and buying lovely produce, there probably are other great days, but that’s the one for me.” Couldn’t agree more.

And if you need one more reason to go tomorrow? It’s their big summer festie, with all the usual food stalls plus live music all day in the gardens (10am-630pm) featuring The Swingles, Silk Street Singers, Beatbox Collective, The Reggae Choir and more.

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Our Leyton Street Food faves

A Taco Dave Yucatan breakfast bun and Husvagn coffee. Photo: ME
A Taco Dave Yucatan breakfast bun and Husvagn coffee. Photo: ME

Perfect cappuccino from Husvagn (£2.50), made with beans from Falmouth-based Yallah Coffee Roasters.

Breakfast like a Mexican with Taco Dave’s Yucutan breakfast bun (£6), brioche filled to bursting with pork pibil, chipotle and toasted pumpkin seed slaw.

Try chips with benefits with a portion of homefries topped with Korean BBQ short rib and sriracha (£7) from Spud Brothers (a potato obsessed twosome, not actually brothers).

Spice up your Saturday with a portion of krapow, spicy minced pork and rice, topped with a fried egg (£6) from Krapow Ldn.

Eat a toastie with history at Cubanos: their namesake sandwich of slow roast pork shoulder, cola ham, mustard mayo, dill pickle, jalapeno mustard in Cuban bread is inspired by the sarnies Cubans introduced to Florida over 100 years ago.

Earl of East London. Photo: ME
Earl of East London. Photo: ME

Buy gifts from local makers and artists such as Earl of East London (cool candles and cacti) and Tiff Howick (animal themed prints and cards).

Tick off Leytonstoner-loved dishes including the Chairman cheeseburger at We Serve Humans (£8.50), the Macbeth or Lady Macbeth Haggis toasties at Deeney’s (£5), or any of the pizzas from Muga (from £5).

Go Greek with a grilled pitta filled with slow roasted lamb, spicy whipped feta, peppers and a herby bulgar salad from Pan (£8).

Treat yourself to something sweet and a little bit savoury with a salted caramel tart at Pearl’s Kitchen (around £2).

Find Leyton Street Food Market in Coronation Gardens every Saturday between 9am and 5pm. The festival this weekend will run a little later. Keep up to date with all the LSFM news here @LeytonFood

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