Whether you’re looking for an international lunch time snack, want to stock up on locally-sourced produce or just fancy a spot of al fresco day-drinking, there’s a food market in Reading for you. Get your fill with our guide to the best food markets in Reading including street food festivals, farmers’ markets and community food fairs.
Blue Collar Street Food
Every Wednesday | 12-4pm | Market Place, Reading | Find out more
Reading-native brand Blue Collar Street Food (main image) took over the Wednesday lunch slot at the Market Place back in November with the goal to, “make our hometown even more special than it already is.” Which is a mission Explore Reading can get behind.
Since then they’ve set about building quite a buzz for their line up of passionate local food vendors set beside their signature blue tables and chairs.
Stalls rotate regularly but Berkshire-based Peru Sabor are a constant. They’re frequently turning up the flames on the chargrill for Peruvian ox heart anticucho or chicken in mojo picon. Elsewhere there’s been Spanish paella, chilli dogs, pie and mash and burgers. Don’t miss the souvlaki from John the Greek though, it’s full of tender and delicate mountain tea-smoked chicken and crunchy chips.
But if you only take in one stall, make it Georgian Feast. They’re the only Georgian street food vendors in Reading, and, if their Twitter bio is to be believed, the whole of the UK. The grilled chicken wrap is so divine it usually sells out before 1pm and the Khachapuri cheese bread is our new favourite addiction. For vegetarians, get your hands on the aubergine, walnut and pomegranate wrap.
Wraps are made by hand with a side of cheerful recipe-led conversation, so there’s usually a bit of a slow-moving queue ahead of you. But trust us, it’s worth the wait. Georgian Feast also recently finished up a stint running the kitchen at The Turk’s Head but are looking for a new venue to expand soon. Watch this space.
Every Friday | 12-4pm | Market Place, Reading
Chow has been running in Reading’s Market Place every Friday since 2015. It’s slipped under the radar somewhat in recent months compared to its nippy Wednesday challenger, Blue Collar, but is still the bigger and more established of the two weekly markets in Reading.
Run by Reading CIC, in conjunction with Southern Market Traders, their social media and promotion game isn’t as on point, but they bring in a wider range of international cuisine stalls from across the south east. There’s often less local vendors, but a much more varied selection of dishes on offer.
Usually you can find everything from Mexican tacos and Spanish Paella to Bratwurst and burgers. I love Momo’s Chinese jiaozi dumplings with chilli oil or Leymoun’s Lebanese halloumi wraps. There’s also always an enticing aroma, and a long queue, around the Jerk Chicken stand, who barbecue their wares fresh to order.
Chow also features goodies to buy for home, or take back to the office for a teatime treat. In the past we’ve sampled cakes from The Pantry and oils from The Olive Shop. Last time, I even spotted a bubble tea stand.
Reading Farmer’s Market
The first and third Saturdays of the month | 8.30am – midday | The Cattle Market, Great Knolly’s Street | Find out more
One of the few things I’ll get up early for on a Saturday morning is this bustling twice-monthly fair at the old cattle market, where farms from the Berkshire and Oxfordshire areas sell their produce.
There’s vibrant seasonal fruit and veg from Oxfordshire’s Q Gardens, fresh fish from Brookleas Fish Farm, bread from The Old Farmhouse Bakery and huge free range eggs from Beechwood Eggs. As well as produce, there are goods from Marlow Cheeses, Hartland Fudge, Stainswick Farm cold pressed oils and more on rotation.
The market’s not just a great chance to stock up on organic, locally-sourced produce though, it also has a real village community feel.
After purchasing oak smoked back bacon from the Dews Meadow Farm stall, I not only discovered the breed of pigs behind my product, but that the family farm recently purchased an exciting new plot of land and took their first ever week off market duty last month to attend their son’s wedding. And I got pictures. You don’t get that at the supermarket.
There’s also the very tempting smell of a grill going next to the entrance, where you can get a bacon or sausage bap or a full English to keep you going until lunch – all made with farm fresh produce of course.
Eat Local Love Local
One Saturday a month | 10am-1pm | St Luke’s Parish Hall, Erleigh Road | Find out more
Billed as a community artisan food fair, Eat Local Love Local is a monthly market celebrating local producers.
As well as freshly baked sourdough loaves from Nomad Bakery, you can pick up a pie from the Woodley-based Rural Pie Company (I really like their steak and ale pie). On my visit I also saw stalls selling cheese, dried fruits, fresh farm eggs and even some crafts. And if you get peckish while you’re browsing, you can also get a cuppa and a bacon sarnie to keep you going while you walk around, from the Rural Pie Company.
Friday 25 May – Sunday 17 June | 11am-late | Forbury Gardens | Find out more
For three weeks this summer the signature azure chairs from Blue Collar will take over Forbury Gardens for the return of Feastival, an expanded version of last summer’s weekend events.
This year Blue Collar are going bigger and bolder with two-tiered platform stage including a bar, fire pits and hay bale sofas as well as art displays and live music sessions.
The bar sells summery cocktails in plastic cups (including Pimms, Aperol spritzes and mojitos) as well as pints of Hogs Back Brewery’s craft beers and summer-favourite Prosecco.
Food-wise, there’s usually over 20 stalls featuring a real mix of international grub. Local regulars from the Wednesday markets include Peru Sabor, John the Greek and Georgian Feast. They also bring in local coffee specialists Tamp Culture Coffee.
Previous Feastival special additions include hefty patties from Rad Burger, American-style BBQ brisket from Passion Soul, and the ever popular Crispy Squid from South Street Kitchen – who do gloriously crunchy fried squid pieces mixed with chorizo, potato and your choice of potent spicy sauce.
On Thursdays and Fridays, queues fill up fast with office lunch-breakers and post-work diners. Saturdays buzz with families, al fresco drinkers and casual foodies. The crowd is usually relaxed and in high spirits, with the bar adding a cheeky, school’s out atmosphere to proceedings. Do be prepared to queue though: you’re waiting at least 10-15 minutes to get served no matter when you rock up.
Hello! I'm Claire, the founding editor of Explore Reading. I'm a Reading native and former digital director of Time Out Shanghai. I founded Explore Reading so no one can say, ‘there’s nothing to do in Reading’, again. When not editing Explore Reading, I'm probably drinking a Manhattan.