Bustler is Derby’s much loved street food market, hosting a regularly changing selection of drool worthy street food vendors. Live DJ sets and a hipster, industrial vibe make for a great atmosphere. But does it warrant the huge queue?
[AD – PR invite – our food and drinks were gifted but these views are my own and haven’t been swayed by their hospitality]
Where is Bustler market?
Bustler market is on John Street, Derby, DE1 2QD. It’s quite tricky to find Bustler! Confusingly, there’s even a disused entrance a few streets away. If you get really stuck use What Three Words to navigate to the exact location.
Is Bustler worth the big queue?
In all honesty, I am not a fan of queuing. I just can’t be bothered. Since their reopening, I’d regularly seen pictures of the big queues on social media. There’s a psychology of queueing. A big queue sends us subliminal messages of ‘you need to be here too, you’re missing out!’. It’s probably a really effective sales technique in creating a bit of a buzz but I just don’t like it. It puts me off.
So yeah, there was a bit of a queue on the night we visited but it moved relatively quickly and it meant that once you got in it was calm and quite easy to find a table. And there is LOADS of seating. Bustler claims to be “Derby’s biggest beer garden” and it’s the biggest food and drinks venue in the city. There’s capacity for 350 outside and a further 500 inside so it is BIG. In fact, it feels like being in a warehouse. But a really cool, hipster warehouse with fairy lights and neon signs.
Drinks at Bustler
Bustler is a great place to drink. Its famed for its craft beers and cocktails, I tried and loved the Strawberry Rose Cooler. Look out for their Thirsty Thursdays drinks offers.
What’s the food like at Bustler market Derby?
Bustler is a street food market. So there are various independent street food vans/stalls selling what they do best. The vendors change regularly so there’s always something new and exciting. There’s always a good selection of vegetarian, vegan and gluten free options.
On the night we went, the vendors were:
Cartel Grill House who serve handcrafted Middle Eastern seared meats and veggie options. Sharwarma bowls and kebabs made from good quality meat (rare breed beef, grass fed lamb and grain fed chicken). Expect big bold flavours studded with colour from the fresh salads, pomegranate seeds and homemade sauces.
My friend ordered the Shawwarma Bowl consisting of Lebanese spiced chicken and seasoned fries, shredded lemon tahini slaw, pickle and pomegranate molasses. It looked incredible… and she devoured it in front of me as I patiently waited… and waited and waited for my food to come from a different vendor.
Only Jerkin sell triple dipped dried chicken with big Caribbean flavours. Based on traditional family recipes, all their chicken is marinated for 48 hours to ensure it’s tender and tasty before being triple dipped in seasoned flour and their special batters, made from either ginger beer or cream soda to create the crispiest, crunchiest chicken. I was really intrigued by their mango, coconut and honey fried chicken strips so ordered a mega box which also came with some of their original chicken nuggets, jerk seasoned fries, creamy coleslaw and a homemade dip.
Street Souvlaki who sell Greek style souvlaki wraps served in a warm handmade pita. We didn’t try this but I really wish I’d ordered at least some halloumi fries.
Just Ice who sell premium ice cream in loads of different flavours, made using only natural and fair-trade ingredients. We didn’t pay too much attention to the ice cream as we were both stuffed at this point. But I wish I’d known more about them. Having done a bit of research since getting home, Just Ice are based in Milford, a small village just outside Derby city centre. More interestingly, they’re a social enterprise who create employment for survivors of human trafficking. And the profits go to secure the rescue and rehabilitation of child soldiers around the globe. (If social ventures interest you too, check out my previous post on Derby based So Good Kombucha.)
If you’re a menu fiend like me you can find out which vendors are going to be there beforehand from Bustler’s socials or by signing up to their mailing list.
It’s kind of like a food court in that the seating is shared but you can get your food from wherever you want – and your party/table doesn’t need to order from the same vendor. Just be aware that if you order from different places, the food can come out at different times.
How does it work?
Due to the current social distancing rules, everything is ordered from your table via a QR code which opens a web browser. Then food and drinks are bought to your table. I actually loved not having to queue! (Have I mentioned I’m not a fan?!)
So, is Bustler market Derby worth the queue?
Much as it pains me to admit it, it’s a resounding YES! The buzzy street market atmosphere, the chilled vibes and the AMAZING food all make Bustler worth queueing for. It’s exactly what Derby needs. It’s cool, it’s fun, it’s relatively cheap – so a good place for students and younger people – and it’s inclusive.
The tastiest street food and a relaxed, festival vibe.
Check their events page or socials for opening details. £1 entrance fee (although children, students, NHS staff and DCFC season ticket holders are all free). Family friendly and dog friendly. You don’t need to book (except for certain events like Bustler does the Euros).
Look out for their touring pop up events, with the first one being Bustler in Melbourne on July 3rd.