The most exciting Reading opening this year is almost here. Finally, after a lot of hard work and hustle, Blue Collar Corner, Reading’s first permanent street food market is ready to open.
Blue Collar Street Food started life six years ago with a one off street food market in Forbury Gardens. There were cocktails on a double decker bus, so, of course, I was there. Since then, Blue Collar, led by entrepreneurial founder Glen Dinning, has grown to be the undisputed leader of Reading’s street food scene, running the Wednesday and now Friday markets at Market Place and many Feastivals and Cheese Feasts in the Forbury.
The Blue Collar Corner is the biggest venture yet, with a dedicated site, five vendors, a bar and a market design inspired by some of the best food and drink venues in the world, including London’s Pergola and Lisbon’s Park Bar.
I got a sneak, behind-the-scenes tour last week to bring you a guide to the market. Explore the food vendors to check out, the beer to drink and the things you need to know about Blue Collar Corner before it opens on Saturday 12 March.
So, what is Blue Collar Corner?
Blue Collar Corner is a street food market that’s always there. You rock up, order your food from whichever vendor takes your fancy, get a drink from the bar and pull up a seat at the row of booths or benches.
The venue is at the back of the Broad Street Mall and brings some much needed life to Reading’s traditional market area by St Mary’s Butt’s – you know the one, with the florists, the leggings stalls and fruit and veg sellers. Built out of shipping containers, wooden decking and a pergola, Blue Collar Corner is a bright, colourful set up with a well-selected range of street food vendors, a bar and rooftop seating. There’s also nods to all Blue Collar markets past with posters and signs from the past six years.
What food vendors will I find?
Blue Collar Corner will have five street food vendors when it opens. Most have a one year contract, so don’t worry, if you find a favourite, they will be sticking around for a while.
First up is weekly market favourites and multiple Wing Fest Award winner Gurt Wings, who will be serving fried chicken tenders and, of course, those infamous, chicken wings.
The team at Youbao will be serving both savoury and sweet bao buns inspired by Taiwan street food markets (some of the best in the world, if you ask me) along with noodles and rice dishes pairing Asian flavours with an original twist.
There’s also an exciting new stall from Caversham cafe – and Blue Collar Market OG – Vegivores. Taco Tree will serve up four varieties of tacos, shareable nachos and sweet nachos. Everything is plant based and gluten free. The Sunday Tacos have long been a popular dish on the Vegivores Cafe menu, so it makes sense to see the brand branching out into a dedicated Mexican menu for their new partnership with Blue Collar.
For pizza lovers (so, all of us?) Sarv’s Slice, a brother/sister street food duo will be serving up whole thin crust pies. They’ve been offering delivery from their base in Ealing for the past two years and are now coming to Reading to start their first permanent site at Blue Collar Corner. On the menu there’s eight different varieties, including pepperoni, diavola and the classic marg. On the side they’ll have garlic bread and a burrata salad.
For those with a sweet tooth, Urban Cheesecake will be slinging their Street Food Award-winning staked slices topped with Jammy Dodgers, Terry’s Chocolate Orange and more. They will have a one month residency.
What about drinks?
There’s a fully stocked bar, and lots of fun for beer lovers. Thanks to a partnership with local favourites Double Barrelled Brewery, the bar has 10 (yes, 10!) lines of draft beer on tap, eight of which will be DBB beers, including Parka and Cagoule – other jackets are available. And there will be a signature beer – the Blue Collar Lager – created by the brewery especially for the market. The two remaining taps will have a guest ale and a cider. There’s also wine, spirits and soft drinks.
And will there be rain cover?
This is the one question I have been asked by almost everyone I have spoken to about the Blue Collar Corner. Yes, there is weather cover over the tables, so you can take shelter and your nachos won’t go soggy in the inevitable English rain. But when the sun does come out, there’s a (faux) grass-decked roof terrace, with wooden seating and cushions for drinks al fresco.
When will it be open?
Blue Collar Corner launches on Saturday 12 March. After that, it will be open from 11am-11pm Thursdays – Saturdays and from 11am-8pm Sundays.
And finally, where is Blue Collar Corner?
Find Blue Collar Corner the end of Hosier Street, opposite the side entrance to the Broad Street Mall. Find it on Google Maps.
Find out about the man behind the market in our interview with Blue Collar’s founder Glen Dinning
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.