So many stalls. So many people.
Camden Lock Market is a hub of frenzied activity, full of stalls, stores, bars, and restaurants, all with crowds eager to take it all in. It is known for its nightlife and music scene, with the likes of Amy Winehouse, Blur, Oasis, and many more having called Camden home at some point. Punk, rock, goth. You can see it all in Camden.
Camden is also now renowned for its various markets, sprinkled along Camden High Street. While the Stables Market is fun for clothing shopping, I head to Camden Lock Market, nestled along the canal, for eating. It is probably one of the most daunting food markets in London, with a obscene number of stalls crammed into a relatively tiny space that is perpetually packed. You need a game plan if you want to eat well at Camden Lock Market.
Here is my guide to eating well at Camden Lock Market, ensuring a quality meal amidst the chaos and fun of Camden.
Mama’s Jerk Station
If you are craving some Jamaican food, head to Mama’s Jerk for great jerk chicken. The grill will be covered with chicken, coated in the spicy, Jamaican jerk spices. You can get the jerk chicken in a wrap or a box with salad. For ease of eating, the wrap might be the way to go. Mama’s also has a delicious jerk veggie bean cake for any vegetarians, crammed with sweet potatoes, kidney beans, black eyed peas, coconut and some of those tasty jerk seasonings.
Louisiana Chilli Shack
This is usually a perfect spot to start your food journey, and you are starving. It is quick and easy to grab, and Louisiana Chilli Shack makes some mighty fine chilli (BTW, the company uses two “L’s”, we’re just copying their spelling). The BBQ beef option is smokey without being spicy, and the chicken ‘n’ cheese is pure indulgence. You can get the chilli alone, but I prefer it over some tortilla chips, perfect for scooping up the chilli. Don’t miss the lime and coriander salsa, which you can add on top. And, as a bonus, everything here is gluten free!
Belly N Bao
Baos (those small delicious Chinese bun sandwiches) are one of my favorite things on the planet, and Belly N Bao does a pretty solid rendition. Their baos, steamed Taiwanese buns, are crammed with sticky, sweet, braised pork belly, along with Asian salad, Korean kimchi, and pork crackling, all sauced with a soy caramel glaze. Be prepared: these sandwiches will get a little messy!
Cookies and Scream
A dairy, egg, wheat, and gluten-free bakery sounds like a total nightmare. Amazingly, Cookies and Scream makes spectacular ice cream from soy milk, which gets even better when sandwiched between two of their peanut butter cookies. The shop is located inside as well, and has nearby seating, so if it begins to rain, there are few better places to seek shelter than Cookies and Scream.
Bit Bourbon Steamed Burgers
Bourbon steamed burgers? Yes, it is a thing apparently. These are some delectable burgers though, piled high with lettuce, red onion, tomato, bacon, cheese, and if you are feeling particularly indulgent, a fried egg. Get to Bit Bourbon early and be prepared to wait, as there tends to be a perpetual queue for these burgers at Camden Lock Market.
Shrimpy’s specializes in, guess what, shrimp! To be fair, they do typically have a few other seafood options on offer, like swordfish or trout, but the go-to order is the Shrimpster, a sandwich packed with perfectly fried shrimp with mayo, caramelized red onions, cucumber and dill salad, and samphire, all on a toasted brioche bun.
Brazilian Churrasco & Wild Game BBQ
If you are a meat-eater, this is your paradise. This stall has piles of large cuts of roasting meat over a rotisserie, from beef and lamb, to wild game like boar and deer. They slice the meat to order, which comes as a salad or as a sandwich. Either way, the meat is topped with their own chimichurri sauce, an Argentinean herb pesto, which is available in medium or spicy.
Who doesn’t love mac and cheese? The Mac Factory makes a variety of exquisite bowls of mac and cheese, from the basic with cheddar, parmesan, and mozzarella, to funkier version like the Super Mario (with portabello mushrooms, truffle oil, and garlic) and Posh Spice (chorizo, harissa, and onions). All are topped with their signature parmesan and thyme crumble, which adds a little crunch to the super rich and smooth mac and cheese.
Camden Lock Market is located in Camden, about a five minute walk from the Camden Underground Station on the Northern Line. Unlike most of London’s markets, Camden Lock Market is open 7 days a week, and most vendors are open each day as well, from usually 11am-6pm. The best time to go is during the week if possible, when the area is a little less jammed with hungry hoards. If you must go on a Saturday or Sunday, be prepared for long lines and a lack of personal space. For an additional time saver, bring cash, as the free ATM’s nearby are all swarmed with cashless market goers.
Camden Lock Market has no seating, so the best plan is to grab some food and head to the area along the canal, to eat while leaning up against the railing, watching the canal boats pass. Once finished, head back in for the next round of food. Also, keep an eye out for events, as the area around the market has some fun nighttime activities, like the summertime Backyard Cinemas, which airs outdoor movies at night in the alley next to Camden Lock Market.