When I travel I love to eat at food carts, from Clover in Boston to Arlo's in Austin some of my favourite dining experiences have been at these al fresco mobile kitchens. Thanks to the people behind Street Diner this outdoor dining experience has finally made it to my city. I headed there on opening day to check it out.
Street Diner is located in Brighthelm Gardens on what used to be a slightly derelict patch of land, this area has been coming into it's own over the last few years with the introduction of a community garden in 2011 shortly followed by the North Laine composting scheme. I feel like with the beginning of Street Diner this small, accessible, green space has finally made it onto the map.
As soon as I heard about Street diner I was intrigued and excitedly started searching online to see if there would be any vegan options available at the market. Long story short, of course there are! This is Brighton!
The first vegan friendly place I came upon was Crocus Paella who I'd already spoken to via Twitter. Crocus have two paella options at the stall, one veggie, one non. The veggie paella looked amazing but by the time I went back to get some they'd sold out.
I was lucky enough to try some of their bottled gazpacho though and it was delicious. They have four flavours, three of which are vegan - Classico, Almond and Raspberry, and Tomato and Strawberry. The Classico is unsurprisingly made from a mix of tomatoes and red peppers and one sip took me straight back to Barcelona. Next I tried the Tomato and Strawberry which I don't mind admitting I was a little dubious about but the flavour really surprised me. I'd expected the strawberry to take over but it just added a hint of sweetness and I actually enjoyed it even more than the Classico!
Crocus also sell their organic, saffron based, herbal teas at the stall. I'm not a tea fan at all but they sound really interesting.
My next stop was the all-vegetarian Sultans Delight stall. I've seen these guys before at the wednesday market at Churchill Square and at the new Old Steine weekend farmer's market but aside from a sample of babaganoush I've never eaten anything made by them before. The stall was bursting with beautifully presented Turkish & Middle Eastern style pastries and meze. All but one thing on the stall was vegan and the dishes ranged from a crispy sweet potato, spinach, and chilli filled borek to a healthy bulgur, mixed vegetable, and pomegranate salad.
My sweet tooth pushed me in the direction of the Baklava which was perfect.
The little layered pastry was stuffed full of walnuts and pistachios and soaked in a simple syrup with a touch of lemon. It was amazing and I'll definitely be picking up another piece this week.
My final destination was Big Pan Cooking where I was pleased to see another sign advertising meat free meals. Big Pan Cooking make one huge pan of vegan stir fry with either potatoes or a grain as the base and a tonne of fresh veggies. This is piled high and topped with spicy chilli beans, or in my case, no beans. I'v never been able to handle spice and I've recently developed a full on chilli allergy! Fun!
My huge tray of stir fry was beautifully spiced, you could really taste the cumin, caraway, mustard seeds, wild garlic and fenugreek and even without the beans this was a huge and super filling meal.
Street Diner, which is on from 11-3 every Friday during spring and summer, features local traders who'll be cooking up fresh, delicious, food every week as well an ever changing selection of guest caterers to keep things varied. As well as the food I've shown you here I spoke to the people from the cute Creperie Lui food truck who assured me that a vegan and gluten free crepe is in the works for next week which I personally cannot wait to try. See ya there!