Kenny explores Brixton Market in South London
Travel pro Kenny Porpora lands in London to uncover the blockbuster stars and up and coming gems that make up one of the best gay scenes on the globe
Some years ago, when the now-famous Borough Market in London Bridge first opened, the city found itself on the precipice of culinary reinvention. No longer would London be in the shadow of New York and Paris as a major leader of the food world; it began to shift its gastronomic sensibilities towards local, sustainable produce and ingredients, fresh and simple concepts, and in the process, broke out as a culinary tour de force to rival the foodie leaders of the world.
The Borough Market was a major contributor to that revolution, but not the only one.
In the last few years, as food markets have reinvigorated a lackluster dining scene, bringing forth a new, Western outlook to food, one in particular has been a stand-out: Brixton Market, replacing the old Granville Arcade and bringing a burst of hipster relevance to the neighborhood.
Brixton, that gritty neighborhood in South London once known for its opulence before succumbing to the ravages of crime and drugs, is on the cusp of gentrification, and its new image can largely be attributed – as so often is the case - to the success of its new, hip food scene. The influx of posh dining has brought the young professionals and hipsters, who thrive on the areas culture and history and cheaper rents.
The neighborhood is brash and still a bit rough, but with pockets of nature and gorgeous local art and international influences. Here you’ll find street markets and small corner stores with delicacies from Portugal, France, Greece, Japan, Turkey, and Morocco, to name a handful.
The main village and private market began years ago as a showcase for talented chefs who needed a platform to be recognized, as was the case with Franco Manca, a sourdough, wood-fire pizza joint that earned unanimous praise for having one of the city’s best pies, a move that brought them success and the ability to branch out outside of the market and into trendier waters.
Down the way you’ll find Elephant, a rare and delicious Pakistani restaurant serving up authentic delicacies. The food is creatively prepared and artistically presented.
Hailing from Beijing comes the family-run Mama Lan, specializing in hearty Chinese food – soups, dumplings, are stand-outs – and bringing more style to the ever-evolving market.
Federation Coffee is the cool kid café where you can chill with your laptop, book, and cup of single bean brew coffee, which is, admittedly, delicious, and worthy of the praise it's received.
But to reduce the Brixton Market to a hipster haven of Shoreditch bohemians in search of the next cool thing would radically incorrect – this is a local market run largely by folks who live in Brixton. The word 'local' hits home here, and this cuisine incubator is more than a collection of places to eat, it’s a place for the community to come together.
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