Come for the Age UK Camden charity boutique, stay for the food stalls.
WHERE FASHION MEETS FOOD
Leather Lane has been a busy street market for more than 400 years. It still has stalls where you can choose unpackaged fruit and walk away with a bargain outfit, while street-side there are wonderful shopping discoveries ranging from Shoe Business and Pentagon Tiles to the International Magic Shop. Even so Leather Lane is really famous as the place to go for a well-priced weekday lunch. From Monday to Friday there must be 50 or more stalls offering every sort of cuisine to office workers, Bourne Estate neighbours, tourists and Londoners-in-the-know.
VISIT LONDON’S BEST CHARITY BOUTIQUE
If you turn up before the street food chefs have cooked up their lunchtime feasts try one of the independent coffee shops. Prufrock Coffee is where the cool kids hang out, but it’s always worth trying to see if your cheeky Nana wit will get you a discount. Attendant Café, nearer the Clerkenwell Road end (and behind Lou Moore’s colourful flower stall), has a lovely coffee shop vibe too. Close to Attendant Café is your must-visit destination: the famous Age UK Camden charity Boutique, at number 53. It’s open Monday to Friday from 10.30am- 4pm with a London-wide reputation as the place to go for “pre-loved” vintage clothes. And if you buy from here all the money goes back to a very good cause: us. Another bonus is the manager Jaycee and her team are super friendly – ask them anything and they’ll be as happy to locate that Mexican bowl you saw in the window or help you find something fun to do with Age UK Camden, from crochet to a computer drop-in class. It’s also the perfect place to go for this year’s Christmas shopping.
A WORLD OF FOOD CHOICES
Leather Lane’s popularity with office workers and tourists is easy to explain: it’s where you are sure to find whatever your taste buds’ favour, from katsu curry to colourful Beirut salad. Rekindle that holiday feel with a Mexican wrap, Japanese sushi or a tasty Persian kebab. Or finally try a fancy vegan dish? Favourite comfort foods such as pie, jacket potato and chips are easy to buy too.
With so much choice it’s easy to go with companions and all find the perfect take-away. Expect to pay £3.50 for a sausage baguette, falafel £4.50, Thai curry box £6 – whatever you choose there’s going to be change from a tenner. Hungry or not it’s a joy to walk the length of this atmospheric street debating what to have for lunch. Make a game of it to see if you can sniff-out the flavours and guess the cuisine.
If you haven’t been to Leather Lane for a while, then use your Freedom Pass to get yourself free to Chancery Lane tube and leave via Exit 2. Then take a short cut through the imposing arched entrance to the courtyard of the Grade 2* listed 138- 142 High Holborn (now known as De Vere Holborn Bars) where Charles Dickens once lived. After the domed skylight turn left out of Gate Number One and you’re looking at Leather Lane in all its glory.
For food stalls the tip is to join the longest queues as their food is surely the people’s choice. In contrast there is space to browse and chat at the fruit and clothing stalls. Richard, now 58, sells ladies fashion at Richie Rich, specialising in styles before they hit the high street. He started on Leather Lane when he was 17 and is a wise-cracking market man with plenty of stories about the good old days of Leather Lane.
With all the food stall holders having to shift their kitchens from van to street and back again it’s no surprise that Leather Lane’s DIY place is thriving, not just because its name – S&M Tools – makes newcomers giggle.
As the suited office workers slip back to their desks for the afternoon shift Leather Lane starts being dismantled, so aim to eat be there before 2.30pm. As the clean-up begins try exploring nearby Hatton Garden, which is still the go-to destination if you want to buy or sell a diamond. In 2015 four pensioners spent their Easter weekend emptying safes in a deposit vault, stealing items worth £200 million. They ended up in prison, but the story is well-known as it was turned into the film The Hatton Garden Job (2017).