Cambridge is great for food. It’s more recently been really, really good for street food. Vans and shops are popping up all over the place and it’s a nice way to spend time eating great food and seeing the city from a different point of view. This is our short list, but there’s a lot more to explore. If you can, try to catch the Mill Road Feasts where you can get the best all in one place. The best way to stalk… I mean find them… wherever they roam is to follow them on Twitter. Let us know what you think, here's our top 10 in no particular order.
1 Norfolk Street Bakery - Shop
A delightful family run Portuguese bakery, Adilia the proprietor has won the heart of the community, and for good reason. I have never had such good bread. They are famed for their Nata, a traditional sweet custard tart, which they send out to many of the local coffee shops in the area. You can prop a little bar in the shop and drink espresso while you wait for a sandwich, or get a selection of little sweet and savoury delights, including pork rissole, and giant brioche croissants. Their prices are fair for the quality, and they have a selection of Portuguese groceries too. This is a must visit, and be sure to take away a loaf of sourdough while you’re there.
What to get: A toasty, they’re all good, made with her amazing bread and only £3.50.
Where to take it: You’re not far from Mill Road Cemetery here, a quiet nature reserve with benches, just take a left a little down the road.
2 Steak and Honour - Food van and restaurant
Opened by star chefs Leo and David, Steak and Honour burgers are truly special. They take a lot of care to get the best ingredients, which makes a seemingly simple burger into a thing of pure delight. Even the veggie option, which is essentially just a mushroom and cheese, is somehow just as delicious. They have become a Cambridge staple, and you will find them being lovely in their vans outside a ton of venues. It helps that they are very community minded, and the founders are still pitching in doing late nights in the vans. I can’t oversell these burgers, it doesn’t let you down on the usual things, like the bread or the fries either, the deliciousness is in the detail.
What to get: The One for Ella, it's the sauce that makes it.
Where to take it: Get it outside Hot Numbers on a Friday night and take it inside to watch the jazz band.
3 Provenance Kitchen - Food van
This is kind of like an elegant restaurant quality pop up in an airstream van. In fact, that’s exactly what it is. They have a wood-fired stove, and a changing menu of three or four modern British dishes, one veggie/vegan, one fish and one meat and usually some kind of delicious side. It’s all carefully thought about, sourcing from local farms and showing off the quality of the ingredients. Its pretty stand out in terms of food vans, and really don’t compromise quality on the meat-free dishes.
What to get: Literally anything.
Where to take it: You usually find them outside Thirsty on Chesterton Road, where they will happily advise you on which wine to pair with the dishes.
4 Buffalo Joe’s - Food van
You need to get down and dirty with these guys. Quite literally, sit down and bring wet wipes because it's going to get messy. They do incredible tasting chicken wings or a chicken burger, or a combo. The simple menu allows for them to perfect their craft, which comes in the form of buffalo wings, or Korean wings, both of which are packed with flavour. They guys in the van are always super friendly and up for ‘banter’, and the food only takes 5-10 mins to cook, making it one of the faster options.
What to get: I adore the Korean wings, sweet, spicy, sticky and oh so delicious.
Where to take it: For a Friday lunch, you can find them at the Foodpark near the train station, pull up a bench and watch the world go by.
5 Jack’s Gelato - Shop and bicycle
Jack is some kind of ice cream alchemist wizard genius. Jack’s ice creams and sorbets come in lots of changing and delicious flavours. You have the classics and some more unusual ones, my favourites being sesame, beetroot and cumin, and peach and white miso. Their branding is top notch, the elegantly minimal illustration by Alice Jago, and gentle colour palettes make it super Instagramable, but it really is the taste that makes it stand out. They do have a Pashley ice-cream tricycle that you can follow around, but they also have a permanent shop on what I like to call ‘Meat Street’ just off Kings Parade, so called because it hosts lots of good meat-focused restaurants, but that’s for another blog. Jack himself is an award-winning chef that has decided to focus solely on ‘the cold stuff’ as he puts it. It has an exciting balance of experimentation and childhood wonderment, which makes it a winner for all ages. They’re also open late, which makes it even better.
What to get: Experiment! Try the weirdest flavour in the shop.
Where to take it: For a walk along King’s Parade, avoiding the glances of envious tourists.
6 Zhonghua Traditional Snacks - Restaurant and take out
Widely considered the best dumplings in town, Zhonghua is a lovely unpretentious, low-cost little cafe that does take away for collection only. They have a really good selection, including a substantial selection for veggies and vegans. They do soups, steamed buns and traditional sides like kimchee and pigs ears, all fresh and delicious. The family that run it are often laughing behind the counter, which makes for a really nice relaxed atmosphere too. The main selling point is the food though, simple and really very tasty all for around £6 for 12 dumplings. Bargain.
What to get: BBQ pork steamed buns are great, as are the paprika and aubergine dumplings.
Where to take it: Again, you can take it to the cemetery, or a for a walk around the local area, which is lovely.
7 The Wandering Yak - Food van
The Wandering Yak is a very tasty healthy option. They focus on veggie and vegan food, that’s packed with enough flavours to tempt even the very firm meat-in-a-bun lovers. Usually Middle Eastern inspired, their pick and mix mezze boxes are their crowning glory, in my humble opinion. I don’t know how they get hummus to taste so good, but they are the masters of spices. Everything is handmade, and so the menu changes regularly, which keeps it fresh and exciting. And don’t think they don’t do comfort food, they also have delectable dal, served with pitta and paprika potatoes.
What to get: A hearty work lunch at one of the Cambridge Foodpark sites.
Where to take it: Back to your desk to throw smug-face at your co-workers while you indulge, guilt-free.
8 Nanna Mexico - Food van and restaurants
Who doesn’t love a burrito? And Nanna Mexico makes a really really good one. They have three shops and a van, and are committed to fresh local ingredients. They happily cater for veggie, vegan, gluten-free, clean eating without compromising taste. They also have a selection of Mexican soft drinks, with fun flavours and if you’re feeling in the party mood, you can grab a frozen margarita too. The portion size is generous, in fact, they call it their ‘Big Ass Burrito’ (a pun, as burrito means little donkey in Spanish) but you can get a smaller version too. They do classics like tacos, quesadilla and enchiladas too so just pick your filling and go.
What to get: If you’re not watching your waistline, indulge in the pork belly filling, it’s delicious.
Where to take it: Go to the Regent Street branch and picnic on Parker’s Piece.
9 Guerrilla Kitchen - Food van
Another van full of star chefs who broke free from their restaurants, these guys serve a twist on the steamed bao that I can’t get enough of. The baos are soft, and they come with a range of Asian inspired original fillings. Expect flavours like hoisin, peanut curry and kimchi with well-sourced meat, veggie options and fresh salad and garnish. They take a lot of care over every order, as well as being friendly and warm and they keep their van exceptionally clean. The first time I tried one, I couldn’t stop thinking about them for weeks. The components all work really well together and each bao is clearly thought through from beginning to end. Their fries and sides are dreamy too, so at £7 for two, don’t hesitate to taste a pair of lovely buns (and yes, that was an innuendo).
What to get: Start with the Classic, I don’t know what they do to their hoisin but it’s amazing.
Where to take it: Try and catch them at Thirsty or Calverley’s Brewery to have a bao and a beer.
10 Charlie’s Pizza - Takeaway window and restaurant
It’s a nice cafe, but my favourite bit is the pizza window. Located on Burleigh Street, you can get a big slice for an extremely good price. It’s a good option to grab and go if you’re in a hurry as there is no wait time, and the pizza they sell is lovely. They have a substantial base, and all the favourites both veggie and meaty. Starting at around £2 a slice, without compromising on quality and it’s fun to grab one and walk along looking in the windows of all the charity shops on your way back to the office.
What to get: The flavour of the day is usually exciting.
Where to take it: If you want to escape the main street, take a side street and wander around the old houses in the area.