The words 'Borough Market' have become synonymous with good grub – a place of pilgrimage for foodies seeking out the best of the best.
Dubbed the larder of London, Borough is the capital's oldest market, a place of food and commerce for more than a thousand years.
The market is sprawled beneath railway arches near the end of London Bridge, and thousands of tourists and locals flow through the market daily to sample food from Britain and beyond.
Aside from its well known street-food vendors, grocers and delicatessens, there is a glut of great permanent restaurants in and around the market, from the trusty steeds of Padella, Brindisa and Barrafina to exciting new openings like Cynthia Uma's Rambutan.
But where to start? With the recent announcement that the market will now open on Sundays, fresh eyes are on where to eat. There's a mind-bending amount of choice – and, it goes without saying, a huge number of some of the capital's best street-food traders if you want something quick as you stroll – but if you're after somewhere to while away the hours with the buzz of the market around you, we've picked out our favourite nine restaurants in Borough Market.
The best 9 restaurants in Borough Market
12 Stoney Street, SE1 9AD
If you forced us to write a list of the five dishes we couldn't live without, there's a high chance the Elliot's cheese puffs would feature, and probably the potato flatbread with sour cream and cod's roe, too. In fact, add on their sizable sourdough pizzas while you're at it. Basically, the whole menu is made up of entirely devourable dishes that deliver big on flavour while remaining wholly interesting and satiating. Wash their banging plates of food down with a natural-leaning wine from the menu and toast to a great find – if you'd stumbled across Elliot's on holiday, you'd think you'd hit the jackpot, so having it in your home city makes things even sweeter.
10 Stoney Street, SE1 9AD
Rambutan is a cocktail-shaking, curry-making, roti-flaking powerhouse of a restaurant . After the roaring success of British-Sri Lankan cook Cynia Uma's eponymous cookbook and series of pop-ups, its opening has been long anticipated. Rambutan's interior takes inspiration from the post-colonial style of Minnette de Silva – Sri Lanka's most famous female architect, filled with teak chairs, painted tiles and geometric textiles. Expect to eat deeply satisfying village-style Sri Lankan food focusing on regional dishes from the island's north, like mutton rolls, chicken sambol buns, turbot heads with sodhi broth and slow-braised black pork. All accompanied by cracking cocktails, of course.
6 Southwark Street, SE1 1TQ
If queues were a direct measure of restaurant success, then Padella would be winning the race. This cult, no-reservations pasta spot has acquired a dedicated following over the past decade with branches in Borough as well as Shoreditch. The menu here is short and fuss-free – four starters, six pastas, a couple of puddings and focaccia. It's a magnet for pasta heads, hypnotised by the pici cacio e pepe, dorset crab tagliolini, and beef shin pappardelle. Whet your appetite with their gargantuan balls of burrata, mopped up with piles of bread, and don’t forget to leave space for dessert. With first-class pasta, reasonable prices and a lively atmosphere, Padella really is a triple threat.
18-20 Southwark Street, SE1 1TJ
It's been more than 30 years Since Monika Linton launched Brindisa, and it has continued to fuel London's love affair with tapas ever since. There is somewhat of a Brindisa empire in the capital, with a five-strong family of restaurants; however, the original Borough Market Branch will always be the best. Brindisa celebrates authentic cooking from around Spain and is the place to go if you want to seek out the classics done well. Pop in for plates of pan con tomate; croquetas; juicy gordal olives; and arroz negro, and restock your pantry with gigantic jars of beans while you're at it. There are no reservations at Brindisa Borough, but you can queue virtually with the Dojo app.
1 Bedale Street, SE1 9AL
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The air in Beranjak is filled with both the roar of diners and fragrant smokiness of the grill, while the food is characterised by the enlivening heat, acidity and spice which make Persian cuisine so delicious. Berenjak has firmly put Persian food on the London map with its inhalable kebabs, lip-puckering dips, sabzis and gigantic breads. Alongside à la carte, two set menus are on offer – the Townhouse Feast or Persepolis, which showcase a hearty selection of Persian classics, including must-order dishes such as mast o musir, poussin kebab and mirza ghasemi. A trip here is one for elasticated trousers because, at Beranjak, you do not nibble; you feast.
Turnips by Tomas
43 Borough Market, SE1 9AH
Where better to eat at Borough Market than, er, eating in Borough Market? That's exactly what you'll find at Turnips, a historic greengrocer in the central part of the market that, as of a few years ago, turns into a restaurant over lunchtime and in the evenings, thanks to the culinary creativity of chef Tomas Lidakevicius, the former executive chef of Jason Atherton's Michelin-starred City Social. As you'd expect, the supply chain is watertight, with the grocer's exceptional vegetables complemented by the odd bit of meat and fish from partner producers, and food comes either as casual sharing plates or a slightly more fine-dining proposition, with a tasting menu available. Either way, the action takes place right at the heart of the action, with the sights and sounds of the market going on right around you and the market's industrial-looking ceiling visible from your seat. Put simply, if you're after an experience that distils Borough Market's unique identity into a meal, this is the one.
2 Dirty Lane, SE1 9AB
It's hard to mention tapas in London without mentioning Barrafina. It's yet another success story from the formidable Harts group, the restaurateurs behind El Pastor, Quo Vadis and Parrillan. At Barrafina, you can expect classic Spanish-style counter dining surrounded by the thrum of an open kitchen, with a menu of classic tapas dishes supplemented by a blackboard of specials. With some of the best oozing tortillas, crispy chipirones and devourable torreznos in town, it's no surprise there are frequent queues outside the door to bag a table. However, we urge you to wait patiently because, unlike many of the drab, touristy Tapas joints around, the food at Barrafina leaves a lasting impression.
The Borough Market Kitchen Padre, Winchester Walk, SE1 9AG
While this list was reserved for sit-down destinations in Borough Market, we couldn't not include Tacos Padre. Nick Fitzgerald's homage to everything delicious and wonderful from Mexico, informed and inspired by his extensive travels around the country, easily serves up some of the best Mexican food in the city. And while the winter months will force you to order from a more concise menu and scavenge for a spot at the bar, a summertime visit will allow you to sit down in their terrace area and order from an expanded menu which allows Fitzgerald to really show the scope of his culinary ability.
14 Borough High Street, London SE1 9QG
It's a blessing that Lobos is slightly hidden under the arches in Borough Market because if it were any more obvious you would never get a table. Expect to eat class-A tapas from a team formerly of Brindisa. The tapas at Lobos leans towards the mighty and the meaty, with much of the produce sourced from Borough Market. Expect to consume all of the classics, including a star-studded cast of croquetas, presa Iberica, grilled octopus leg, blistered padrón peppers and grilled octopus leg. Wash it all down with a glass of cava or sherry, and you have a delightful evening on your hands.
Borough Market is open 10am-5pm Monday to Saturday, 10am-4pm Sunday and closed Mondays. For more information, go to boroughmarket.org.uk