12 of the best food and drink stalls on Norwich Market
- Credit: Archant/Jon Williamson
“Where should we go to eat?”
This is one of the questions I get asked most frequently. By friends. Neighbours. Colleagues. People I bump into in the street.
And when it comes to suggestions for Norwich this poses quite a quandary for me – there's just too much choice. The city is an absolute melting pot for fantastic food.
But the place I am drawn to over and over again, is the award-winning market. Boasting more than 150 stalls, and fashioned like an enclave of candy-striped beach huts, the food and drink offering here is tremendous. It’s as if someone closed their eyes, dreamt of all the delicious things they could possibly eat, and pulled them together.
I just love everything about it. The buzz. The smell. The choice. Queuing in hungry anticipation.
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So here, in our foodie special, are some of my most favourite stalls to whet your appetite. It’s by no means exhaustive. There are many many more to visit, selling everything from fresh fish and meat, to churros, ice cream, mushy peas, dim sum, fruit and veg and wine.
Cuppie Hut: Yes. Yes. And yes again! I dream of Cuppie Hut’s Mars Bar slices. A hark back to childhood. The kind of tray bake that could be found under a gazebo on sports day alongside an urn of lukewarm orange squash. This thick, toothsome and generously sized treat is gooey, crunchy and sweet underneath, with a layer of chocolate on top. I have to confess, I rarely order anything else from here as this has got me hooked, but my daughter reliably informs me the brownie ‘bombs’ and layered cake jars are ‘amazing’.
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Birchley’s Loose Leaf Tea: I approach this stall with the same fervour and anticipation as a child in a sweetie shop. I have a thing for fruit teas and tisanes, and the selection is dizzying. Shelves are lined with all kinds of tea, and the wherewithal for making a decent brew. Additionally, they deal directly with the tea plantations so everything is super fresh. One of my favourites is Malibu Dream – a fruity, coconutty concoction. I often make a big batch of it, and pop it in a large bottle in the fridge. Served over ice it’s the perfect sugar-free summer drink.
Bread Source: There are obviously other outlets for this bakery in the city (I adore sitting in the garden of their flagship café with pastries on a weekend), but this central location is ideal if, like me, you’re a bit lazy. We often stop here to buy their fantastic bread, putting it together with other bits and pieces from the market for an impromptu picnic. Do not miss their plump, cinnamon-spiced, sweet-glazed buns. I think these are best earlier in the day, so grab them (with a coffee from the market) before you hit the shops.
Walsingham Farms Shop: If you haven’t visited the farm shop up near the North Norfolk coast – go. It really is a celebration of the best of Norfolk produce – and, oh, the deli counter. A distilled version is found at Norwich Market, selling the best of the county. But what I go for are the pies – something the main store is known for. You can buy them to take away and eat at home, or they’ll heat them up with mash and gravy. One of the best I’ve tried was stuffed with sausage and white pudding, but I highly recommend the vegan curried lentil version too, and The Nelson, deep-filled with minced beef ale and melting onion.
And Eat It: I have a massive obsession for And Eat It’s rocky road. I cannot explain to you how good it is. It’s more chocolate than biscuit, and has a slightly fudgy texture. Plus, it comes in flavours from Biscoff to Freddo. My choice is the Nutella slice, with wafers of Kinder Bueno through the middle. Their insanely chunky cookies are magnificent too. And the bakes are so big you might want to share.
Taste of the Punjab: Inexpensive, and exploding with flavour. The tantalising scent of spice often draws me to this stall, where I’ll indulge in a daal-like curry over rice which can be topped with crushed spiced potato cake or veggie samosa. (I usually pick one and get the other on the side). They then sprinkle over onion salad and a dash of both tamarind and coriander chutney. This is a party in your mouth. The flavours so distinctive. A must-try for non-meat-eaters.
Sir Toby’s Beers: These guys are all over the craft beer market, and well stocked with something to tickle the tastebuds of all kinds of beer aficionado – whether you have a penchant for stout, sours or lager. There’s a small collection on tap to drink on site, or have a rummage in the fridges. They’re pleased to advise and help you find the beer for you, all sourced locally or from craft brewers UK-wide and globally. My go-tos are Ampersand’s Cocow, and Hammerton Crunch Peanut Butter Milk Stout.
The Cheeseman: A little something to go with bread, cured meats and more from the market for an easy dinner or (as mentioned before) picnic. They have a huge range here, of East Anglian, British and continental cheeses, from lusciously creamy Baron Bigod brie, to spicy Binham Blue. They’ll happily take orders for anything else. And this is one of the only places in the winter months where I’ve been able to get my hands on my husband’s favourite cheese – Red Windsor. Resembling a solid block of salami, it’s infused with Port and brandy.
Falafel and Friends and Falafel and More: One of the market’s most popular stalls - and rightly so. Their vegan and vegetarian snacks and meals are so inventive and layered with taste that you really won’t miss the meat. I highly recommend the falafel hot dog, spicy seiten chicken, and the aubergine schnitzel. My kids will go for the crispy tornado potatoes on sticks.
Bun Box: There’s always a long queue at this stall (which has seating) - and that’s because their take on Japanese food is gorgeous. We always go for the katsu chicken, topped with their handmade pickles and served with sticky rice. Dare I say, it’s a darn site cheaper than the well-known chain I shall not mention. And their gyoza (go for chicken and spring onion) with sharp, salty dressing,
Cocina Mia: Bold Chilean flavours aplenty here, based on traditional family recipes. The chicken and chorizo empanadas are out-of-this-world good and they also make a mean Chilean sandwich of chimichurri-rubbed rump steak, with their own mayonnaise and pebre (a vinegar, garlic and tomato salad/dressing) served in ciabatta.
The Banger Stop: Sometimes you just need a plain, simple bite without frills. And this is one of the best places on the market for just that. We’ll grab some chips from Lucy’s and head here where the hot dogs (sausages) are, remarkably handmade. They’re huge too and really very meaty. The guys make their own sauces – from spicy to tomato – or go for a plain one topped with grilled onions.