Tired of pesto pasta? Here are the six best food stalls at the Exeter Christmas market
Our personalities have arrived – the Christmas market is back!
It’s that time of the year again, you can finally showcase your wintery scarf on your Instagram by posing with a mulled wine in the marquee! This is THE time to spend all your hard-earned money (beg your parents for their money down the phone because you worked so hard on that one essay you had to extend). You and your friends will find yourselves saying: “It was £12 but definitely worth it for chips”, “It was my weeks budget but amazing for those four bites”, “Shall we come again tomorrow because don’t have any food in the fridge?” I mean, it’s that point in the term where it’s socially acceptable to eat out every single day, simply because the deadlines are getting a bit too much to validate taking time away from your essay to do a food shop.
The Christmas market has come to wow us again, but which food stalls should you spend your money on? There are 107 stalls this year with loads of food vendors so you need to take some time to decide which 10 minute queue you should join. You must make the most of the stalls now before you go home and realise that there is nothing quite like this there – it’s going to come as a shock, so you may as well make the most of it now and eat as much food as you can. As a Christmas market food connoisseur, here are my top six favourite food stalls that you should go to. I cannot cover them all, but will in another article, if you donate me money to do so.
1. The doughnut stand
I genuinely screamed at my friends to go to this stall. Someone walked past me, and I have never been so jealous of them in my life. I am telling you to go here so you do not enter the same panic that I found myself in when I realised this food was here. This is first place. I mean it should not even need an explanation. These are incredible and even if they were £20, I would still tell you to buy them. Nothing could ever be as perfect as this.
I had the Biscoff doughnuts which were £7. These were drizzled with a generous amount of Biscoff and had so much sugar on them. They were warm and fresh and smelt incredible. If you have someone that you have a crush on, you should go here and share doughnuts with them. Like, seriously. This is the winner of the year and will be the one that you tell your family about.
2. Urban Cowboy Street Food
I had to get these after one of my friends showed me a photo because boy, he was right. These are SO worth your money (she says again). If you don’t know what to get at the market, I would definitely recommend these. If you are one of those people, like me, who gets funny about chicken when it doesn’t look right or is cooked funny, you can go here and be safe. The chicken is juicy on the inside but crispy and lathered with sauce on the outside.
I had the smokey BBQ buttermilk chicken strips with fries at £12, one of the more expensive items at the market this year. The reason I couldn’t give Urban Cowboy a higher ranking is because they cook everything from fresh which takes longer than the other food stalls. You need a strong group of friends to go here, so probably wouldn’t recommend going to this location if you are on a first date because you’ll need to talk for a bit. I am a very impatient person, and I needed my friends in this for the long haul. I will be finding an excuse to buy these another day – it was incredible and I dream about it every night.
3. Oh Crepe
I felt socially compelled to put the crepe stand in the top three because of how vocal the whole of Exeter is in their opinion towards these. These crepes are amazing and well worth the gossip. I have the biggest sweet tooth so my crepe of choice was the s’mores, which had chopped up digestives, chocolate sauce and mini marshmallows – it is not for the faint-hearted. This set me back £7 but considering the sheer amount of toppings that are included, and they don’t hold back, these are quite the deal.
The queue for the Crepe stand can be very long because they are so popular, however it does go down very quickly because of how fast these guys make them. This is not their first rodeo. You can discuss your previous meal in the queue or decide when you are going to go hit the bar. I would not recommend pairing this with anything else sweet because you will feel like you need a long sit down afterwards. They have gluten-free crepes as well, so it’s a win for everyone – often gluten-free stuff does not quite taste the same, especially when everyone else’s looks so good, but they have got this spot on!
4. Cathedral hot chocolate
If you are going to the Christmas markets and not getting a hot choccy, is everything okay at home? Is this not a rite of passage? I got the Baileys hot chocolate which was £6.50 and so dreamy. If you do get one of the alcohol hot chocolates, you will need your ID, so if you’re forgetful like me, just a heads up. A hot chocolate can either be made or broken, but this one is definitely a top hit. Cream and choc sprinkles are included in the price, which is rare and sacred. Forget going to Premier for your sweet treat with your housemates, you guys can take a crisp walk to the markets for a hot chocolate instead. After all, what else would you be doing?
5. The duck wraps
These are such a go-to for me and this is the first stand I went to this year because of how much I have loved them in the past. They have it ALL right: The balance in the ingredients is spot on, and the quality of the food is insane (obviously). They put so much sauce into these, not enough that is spills out, but enough where you go: “Yeah that was good”.
The hoisin duck wrap is my usual order which sets you back £8.50 and they also do little potatoes, which I have never tried but my friends regularly enjoy them and they look really cute. Before trying the other stalls this year, this would have stolen my number one spot. The queue for the wraps is one of the shortest which is such a great positive if you are in a rush, or pretending to be so you can “write that essay”. This is an underappreciated gem in the food stall world and needs the same hype as the other stalls.
6. Gourmet Street Kitchen
If you enjoyed the mac and cheese stand at EGB (or if you can remember it), then this will either be a really nice memory or a really bad hangover reminder. I got the “Big Mac Daddy” which was mac and cheese with BBQ pulled pork and pickles. I am not a pickle fan so I can’t rate these but I’m sure that if you’re a pickle lover, you would like them. The pulled pork was insane, it took me back to EGB in a positive way. If you are feeling the November slumps, then this will remind you of summertime with no deadlines. As the winter is creeping up on us, this meal does give homely vibes which may help you if you were unable to go home during reading week and are missing some home-cooked comforts.
No-one really can hate a mac and cheese, especially one that is so full of cheese. For my lactose intolerant girlies though, you are going to need a glass of water if you dare try this. It is coated, some would say drenched in cheese, there’s got to be a whole Cathedral City block in there. Warning: You will not look very classy when you eat this because they FULLY load them up. The fried onions really take it above and beyond but make it quite difficult to eat when you just want to be a mysterious girl at the market.
Honourable Mention: The Cathedral Tavern
I hear you say: “This isn’t a food stall”. No, it isn’t. But, I think it deserves to be here because of its impact. It knows the influence and it knows the vibe. This is where you get your main Instagram photos, and lots of them: Photos with your little plastic cup of mulled wine, your new knock-off UGG earmuffs, the golden fairy lights and rosy cheeks, what is better than that? They have a huge menu this year, including mulled cider, mulled wine, mulled gin, Christmas spiced espresso martinis, and a limited edition sloe gin. Any drink you can imagine to do with Christmas, they’ve got it. Snowballs and eggnog are also being introduced this year as new menu items and are definitely worth a try!
However, you cannot enter the bar without a full face of makeup and a perfect outfit because inside this marquee you will see everyone you have ever met in your uni career. You need to scope out everyone else’s outfits – it is not white linen trouser season anymore, so that means Exetah girlies are clueless as to what to wear. Do we wear jeans again? Surely not. Also, going into the marquee to find a seat is nearly as hard as trying to find a seat in the Law Library on campus. You have to mentally prepare to go in here with your friends and shout to one another, over everyone else also shouting.