Established in the 1680s. This rather large covered space has been changed in recent years (2001-2003) by extensive building work. Once a working food market it is now a place to go for arty shops, a variety of bric-a-brac stalls, and a "Food Village".
In its recent incarnation, the covered large open area was filled with stalls set up on tables; some bric-a-brac, some antiques, some clothes, and food stalls (tending towards the fresh and organic). In the last couple of years half of the Market building got demolished; activists stopped the whole place from getting demolished so now there are two aspects to the place. First, the newly constructed part of the market (nearest Liverpool Street Station) which has beecome undercover boutique shops selling trendy slightly alternative fashionable items (clothes, rugs, haircuts, coffee...). The other half of the market retains the vibrant rough and ready feel of the earlier market - more of a "young student design graduates making their way in the world" - stalls with unique tshirts, jewellry, dresses, lampshades and filofaxes made out of circuit boards, hippies selling Indian goods... much more of a "Camden Market" kind of feel but a bit more hip...
The Food Market is still there and the antique/ junk sellers, the Latin American music guy and the Celtic Bread people, but less tat these days - Spitalfields has gone from a struggling extension of Brick Lane Market to a pretty hip Sunday morning hangout for Shoreditch warehouse dwellers.
The Food village has one of the widest variety of take away food in London including stalls for Indian food, French, Austrian, Mexican, Thai, Indonesian and more. There is choice for vegetarians but most of the meat dishes are chicken based.
Meals are usually around 3.50 quid but some are more expensive, and you can always buy extras like the 1 Mango juice from the Indian stall, or spring rolls from the Thai. Food portions are a good size.
Aim to get there around 12 midday if you want a table to sit at. It gets full quickly. Also make sure you protect your bag/wallet etc, as the stalls are very close together and people are always in close contact.
Other markets near by: