Raven Takes You On A Tour Of Camden Market’s Culinary Outlets
Street food in my opinion, is the best kind of food wherever it is. And when referring to the vast sprawl that is Camden Market, it is difficult not to use the phrase “melting pot”. Come to Camden Market on a Saturday afternoon with an appetite and a few quid in your pocket, and see for yourself as you wander through alcove after alcove, being offered just about every kind of food under the sun.
I’ve been coming to Camden for years now, and I’m always discovering new places to eat. By now I instinctively know know which ones to avoid – namely the seemingly endless onslaught of generic Chinese places offering almost identical menus that try to entice you with a free sample on a plastic fork shoved right under your nose. They’ll pester you as you walk by, even if you’re already eating. They don’t give up. There is one alleyway in particular which is full of seven or eight of them – each claiming to be a different style of food (Indonesian, Malaysian, Thai, Japanese) even though they practically serve the same stuff and are all staffed by the same people. There’s even an Indian place staffed by Chinese people which is a bit strange. Not to say there isn’t good Chinese food about in Camden – there is if you know where to find it. Try the Dim Sum restaurant opposite the entrance to the Stables Market (pictured below), but avoid these other places like the plague.
You could eat at Camden Market every day for a whole year and never have the same meal twice. I have tried to sample the cuisine from as many different outlets as possible but have merely scratched the surface. With new ones being set up all the time, you’ll never leave Camden Market hungry. Below are some of my favourites, coupled with a few of the newer ones that I haven’t yet tried but intend to.
The Donut Stand
This guy has an amazing array of donuts, and I have to say they’re pretty good. My personal favourite is the black forest cherry filled topped with chocolate, whereas my friend Wesley goes crazy for the caramel and chocolate rings (Or so I’m told). You can find the Donut Stand just before the railway bridge, on your left if you’re heading up from Camden Tube.
Argentine Steak Sandwiches
This place can be found at the bottom of the steps leading down from the comedy club. The steak sandwiches (naturally) are the specialty, but they also do empanadas which, for only £1, are a handy little snack.
A’La Turk Meze & Barbecue
This place offers a wide range of Turkish treats, and what sets them apart from your local kebab house is that all thier stuff is freshly made, rather than the slow-turning hunks of processed doner meat that look like elephant’s legs. They do lamb & chicken shish as well as kofte, with salad and also baklava.
Nochia West African Food
This place is my very favourite. On the other side of the small inlet, across from the Argentine Steak Sandwich place, this place is usually one of the busiest and having tasted thier food on a number of occasions, it’s easy to see why. An ENORMOUS pan of chicken curry sizzles on the table, accompanied by a lamb curry and always a vegetarian option as well. For an accompaniment to your main meal you can have some fried plantain and a bean cake too (the bean cakes are delicious), all served with jollof rice (which is a meal in itself) and your choice of salads, fiery chilli sauce and also a yoghurt-based sauce to cool your pallette. Excellent food, friendly service and great value for money. I highly recommend this place.
The Cornbread House
Just opposite the West African place is this fixture. Venezuelan cuisine is under-represented, but this place flies the flag offering “Venezuelan food with a hint of love”. Cornbreads (arepas), filled with various choices of meat or vegetables, cheese and black beans. They also serve pabellon, which is the national dish of Venezuela, but you’ll have to get there early for that as I’m told it runs out fast.
This place has only just recently opened. I haven’t yet had a chance to try it, but it certainly looks nice. German bratwurst sausages, simple but tasty fayre. I’ll give you an update when I’ve had the chance to try it myself.
Pizza & Pasta Napoli
Another one I personally haven’t tried yet, though my friend Wesley insisted I include this one in my article. Pizza and pasta when they’re done really well can be an art form. Authentic and reasonably priced, this place is worth a visit. Wesley recommends the pasta arrabiata, although apparently it’s a bit on the spicy side.
The Moroccan Place
As this place doesn’t seem to have an official name or any signage of any kind, I’ll simply refer to it as “The Moroccan Place”. One of a few Moroccan places in Camden, this one has it’s own (albeit small) seating area. The tajines are above average – particularly the meatball tajine – however the couscous (which is the most important part of any Moroccan meal) was a little on the dry side and a bit lumpy. But still an okay place. They also offer shisha pipes in various flavours where if you are lucky enough to get a seat, you can chill with a pipe and a soft drink. If it’s simply the shisha you’re after, I’d recommend this place over the larger one at the entrance to the Stables Market because it’s a bit cheaper, a bit more private and they don’t get arsey if you’re not ordering food as well (Though we did get told off for taking photos).
The Mexican Grill
Another of my personal favourites. This place is always busy which is the mark of a good eatery. The menu is simple Mexican fayre cooked on a plancha and served by friendly, lively staff. For a fiver you’ll get a decent enchilada, fajita or burrito be it chicken, steak, ground minced beef or vegetarian (which I suspect is probably just cheese and salad). They also do nachos as well. Served with your choice of sauces – tomato salsa, sour cream, guacamole and bean sauce (the recipe of which I’m told is a closely-guarded secret). One downfall is it’s location- right in the middle of arguably the busiest alleyway in Camden and next to the notorious Asian food corridor I mentioned above. But it is worth a shot.
Exactly what it says on the tin. Good quality sweet and savoury crepes, cooked right in front of you. My personal favourite is almond, maple syrup and cream, but be warned: take plenty of napkins as it can get a bit messy. A little overpriced in my opinion but they are decent crepes.There’s also fresh homemade lemonade on offer as well.
South African BBQ
It’s nice to see South African food represented. This place is in the newly reopened Stables Market section and is therefore one of the newer food places in Camden. While I am against cannibalism, I tried the “Mandela Cheeseburger”, unaware that the great South African leader had been turned into a burger. But if you’re going to eat someone, who better than one of the greatest people to have ever lived? I have to say he was pretty tasty. Also on offer are boerewors sandwiches, peri-peri chicken burgers, chunky fries and coleslaw. They also sell a few South African products as well, I was able to pick up a Nestlé Peppermint Crisp bar which you can’t get in the UK.
Yemama Gojjo Ethiopian Vegetarian Cuisine
Tucked away in a quiet corner just down from the South African BBQ is another African eatery. Again, a newcomer to Camden Market, this lady was very friendly and gave us a free taste. Whilst I could never be a vegetarian, if for some reason I was forced to be one then I would become a regular here because the food is exceptional. It was my first taste of Ethiopian food and now I’d like to try some more. There are Injera (Flatbreads), Wat (Stews) and salads. I’d recommend it for any veggies looking for something a bit exotic.
So, that wraps up this “smorgasbord” of the best Camden has to offer food-wise. Hopefully this article will be a handy guide for you if you’re new to Camden Market and looking for a bite to eat on the cheap. Bon Appetit!