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To really understand what makes a city tick, just tuck into its street food. There’s no better way to connect with a place – and its people – than by munching the top local snacks and meeting their talented makers. Just look to London’s Brixton Market, where British pies and pints are served beside Jamaican jerk chicken, Indian dosas and Japanese curries. More than 70 cultures are represented here – a delicious taste of South London life.
At the Edinburgh Food Festival (July 2022), visitors can try everything from East Lothian lobster to juicy Highland burgers, while Cardiff's Riverside Market combines traditional Welsh tidbits (think cheeses, breads and fruity bara brith cake) with flavours from Italy, France and Portugal. To go deeper, visitors can join a tasting tour with Loving Welsh Food: exploring Cardiff on foot, they’ll sample cured meats, cockles, laverbread (and much more) from the capital’s top producers.
In some cities, markets pop up in the unlikeliest of places, transforming little-known corners into true foodie hotspots – like Spark, in central York, which has filled shipping containers with a pizzeria, burrito bar and BBQ smokehouse. In Bristol, Boxhall (opening in June 2022) will bring a street food hall and live music to the city’s renowned harbourside, while in Manchester, Escape to Freight Island has regenerated an old railway depot in Mayfield into a spectacular spot for indie eateries, concerts and comedy nights.
What’s a visitor’s favourite tipple? Yes, Britain loves a pub and a pint, but just wait until they taste our small-batch whiskies, hand-distilled gins and artisan ciders. For discerning drinkers, there’s so much to discover – and the nation’s breweries and distilleries offer tours and tastings galore. Glasgow’s Drygate Brasserie has 23 beers on-tap, as well as a curated bottle selection – all sourced from its award-winning brewery (which some tables even overlook). In Birmingham, the Indian Brewery Taproom celebrates the city’s diverse roots, pairing its craft lagers and IPA with spicy street food.
At Glengoyne Distillery, near Glasgow, visitors can savour the honeyed tones of fine single malts, just steps from its gleaming copper stills. This welcoming, family-owned business has been producing whisky since 1833, but is full of innovative ideas – with its own beehives, wildlife wetland and 100 per cent renewable power. Meanwhile, York’s Cooper King Distillery has crafted the world’s first carbon-negative gin (it’s dry and aromatic), and the Oxford Artisan Distillery champions low-impact organic farming with its award-winning whiskies. All venues offer guided tours, so visitors can see – and sample – the results, and meet the people who make them.
Once visitors have tried Britain’s bevvies, they could even try creating their own – with a little help from the experts, of course. On a Gin Making Experience at Hensol Castle Distillery, near Cardiff, they’ll select the botanicals, get hands-on with the distilling process, and take their creation home to enjoy. If visitors prefer beer, they can become a brewing boss with London Beer Lab’s Beer Making Workshop, while whisky lovers can join a Blend Your Own session at Edinburgh’s Scotch Whisky Experience.
Eating sustainably doesn’t just help the environment: it gets visitors closer to the heart of a place, connects them to local communities, and inspires our eateries to try new and exciting things. Like Italian restaurant Contini George Street, in Edinburgh, which has its very own beehives dotted throughout the city – including two at the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art. Its menu is full of hyper-local cuisine, sourced from over 70 Scottish artisans and its kitchen garden.
In June 2021, London’s Gauthier Soho became 100 per cent vegan, with chef Alexis Gauthier issuing a rallying cry for a more “progressive, compassionate” approach to fine-dining. The result has left reviewers in raptures, celebrating Britain’s natural bounty in dishes such as black truffle risotto and sea quenelle – a salty-sweet ‘caviar’ made from kelp. Many of the capital’s Michelin-starred restaurants have developed vegan menus too, such as Galvin La Chapelle in Spitalfields and Pied à Terre in Fitzrovia, proving that plant-based gastronomy is here to stay.
But that’s not news at Brighton’s Food For Friends, which has specialised in vegetarian and vegan cuisine since 1981. Its ever-changing seasonal menu, featuring the likes of sweetcorn ‘ribs’ with tamarind BBQ sauce, or glazed aubergine and sweet chilli satay, means there’s always something new for visitors to discover. Meanwhile in Cardiff, Nook has the backing of the Michelin Guide for its organic and biodynamic wines, all perfectly paired with Welsh-sourced specialities.
Some restrictions on travel to and around Britain may be in place due to Covid-19. Visitors are encouraged to always check individual websites for the latest information, as details are subject to change.
For more information contact:
VisitBritain Media Teampressandpr@visitbritain.org