Around the world in one market
April 9, 2013 | Jewish Tribune
On a recent trip to London, England (not Ontario) I was introduced to a new section of the city that I never knew existed. Brixton Market (Tube stop: Brixton) in south London. The market occupies three streets including the famed street in Eddy Grant’s 1982 hit, Electric Avenue. Dating back to the late 1800s, the market was revitalised in 2005 and has evolved into a popular destination for foodies on a budget.
We arrived seeking dinner, so unfortunately we missed the hustle and bustle of the food trading streets. The purveyors and stalls were long cleaned up and closed for the day. However, tucked between the market stalls are Brixton Village and the Market Row, two sections of covered arcades with about 20 to 30 restaurants and small shops offering food from around the world.
A visit to Brixton Market is like stumbling upon the greatest international food district in the world; a diverse cross-section of hole-in-the-wall restaurants; nothing fancy- conveniently located under one roof. You can find every taste imaginable ranging from British to BBQ and Jamaican to Japanese. Why doesn’t Toronto have a destination like this? Brixton Market is neither like St. Lawrence market, nor the Distillery. Brixton has a gritty vibe that could easily be overlooked by those looking for something trendy. The prices are affordable. It’s eclectic. It has energy.
Selecting where to eat was a bit overwhelming. While we were deliberating whether we wanted sourdough pizza, dumplings, tapas or BBQ, we stopped at a Mexican food stand and downed a few spicy, mini chicken tacos to whet our appetites.
We finally settled on a noisy, industrial BBQ restaurant with a fluorescent pink sign called Bukowski Charcoal Grill. Between the four of us, we sampled half the menu, which included burgers (there is a vegetarian option), ribs, pulled pork, local British beers and ciders as well as side dishes such as organic triple cooked chips (aka fries) fried in beef drippings, fried chicken livers, and Cajun crayfish and shrimp popcorn. Not the most kosher of meals. If I had more time in the city, I would have liked to check out Mama Lan (Beijing street food), Okan (Osaka street food), Cornercopia (deli), Franco Manca (Neapolitan style pizza), and Bellantoni’s (handmade pasta). My taste buds will simply have to wait for my next London adventure.
Brixton Market: Brixton Station Road, SW9
SHOPS: 8:00 -19:00 Seven days a week
STREET TRADING: 8:00-18:00 Wednesday until 15:00 No Sunday trading
MARKET ARCADES: 8:00-23:30 Monday until 18:00 Open on Sunday
Sarah Lambersky was born in Toronto, Canada and caught the travel bug early on. She has lived in five countries and currently is based in Copenhagen. She runs a digital magazine called Countlan (www.countlan.com) and is a marketing lecturer at Prague College.