LONDON – Mary Poppins took the Banks children to Portobello Road, where they were hounded and sung at by street sellers flagging everything from worn-out books to rusty needles. Back then, Portobello may have been the market of the times, but across town, hidden deep in the concrete jungle of Hackney, a new market was quietly waiting for its time to shine.
For over a century, has been providing fresh produce and a place of leisure to East End locals. Today, after a few highs and lows — including the '90s gangster takeover — it remains very much the community market it started out as. But it has also become a thriving hub for creative, cutting-edge Londoners — and a place of charm few tourists get to experience.
Ever since the eastern migration of cool kids and artistes to Shoreditch and beyond, the little pedestrian-only street fair has been a breeding ground for young bohemians. This is what London does best: maintain old traditions, while bright young things add a little something more. Balled and big-bellied merchants selling cured meats shout cockney rhymes to the sky as delicate, bashful girls play sweet music to brogue-adorned twentysomethings smoking rollies. Broadway Market, which is only open on Saturdays, is the perfect place for anyone wanting to freshen up on the latest trends by taking tips from passers-by who embody incredibly effortless chic.
Beyond the vintage clothing and scenester pubs, it is also a foodie heaven of street stalls and shops. gourmet cupcakes are worth the weight on the hips, cafe serves delicious Antipodean flat-whites, MacBlack & Vine (47 Broadway Market; +44-20-7254-0219) sells vintage furniture and wine, and delicatessens sell fresh loaves of gourmet breads to swoon over. On a perfect day, munchies in hand, cross the road to London Fields and nap in the sunshine, listening to the sweet harmony of prideful rough-and-ready Londoners mixing with a new breed of youngsters.
Broadway Market, between Westgate St. (London Fields) and Andrew's Rd. (Regents Canal)
London E8 4PH