Welcome students, both new and returning! It’s high you to have a bespoke guide giving you all the best tips and tricks for getting the most out of your Covered Market experience…
Being in the heart of Oxford college land for nearly 250 years, The Covered Market has certainly shaped many a student tradition over time. Here’s a whistle-stop tour of just some of our iconic places:
- Garden and Jemini Flowers are a traditional haunt for exam carnations. Students order in advance or pick up on the day.
- The Oxford Cheese Co. have been a favourite for many years for Uni cheese and wine socs to stock up.
- Sport socs love Blueblood. Most of the colleges look to them to create their bespoke sports kits and stash including puffas and other College apparel. They do lodge drops too.
- You can’t get more Oxford than May Day. Brown’s café is a traditional haunt for that hangover busting 6am breakfast. Their special May Day breakfast is so well loved you can now it all year round. On the day itself, lots of our cafes now join Browns in opening up super early to offer that much-needed morning pit stop.
Covered Market Nights
Every Thurs – Fri you’ll find a selection of our traders opening later into the night. We have a wonderful selection of alternative takes on the traditional bar concept including Teardrop’s nano bar, The Market Tap by Tap Social, and bookshop Gulp Fiction all serving fine specialist takes on craft beer, wine, and other treats as well as teas and coffees. Be sure to get there before 7pm if you want to try the oh-so-delicious stone ground pizzas by Sartorelli’s.
There’s also a whole array of events in the market – many are free – including live music, poetry, comedy, book talks and the recently launched Chess and Cheers night with fellow indie traders from the High Street Hoyles of Oxford. The Woolhound also host most of their craft classes and socials in the early evenings too.
If you see a closed entrance after 5:30 and it’s a Thurs, Fri or Sat, don’t give up! We only open two entrances on High Street, and two on Market Street.
Fancy a cuppa?
There’s all kinds of tea and coffee haunts throughout the market. Colombia Coffee Roasters grow their own coffee in Colombia, alongside buying from other growers local to their Colombian residence and then roast the coffee here. You can’t get more direct to cup than that!
For their espressos, Brown’s cafe serve the delicious Delta (Ouro) coffee (meaning Gold) famous for being Portugal’s No1 coffee brand. For their filter coffee Brown’s buy a specially made blend of Italian dark and mocha mix from Cardew’s opposite.
Gulp Fiction serve up coffee by locally-owned Jericho Coffee Traders. Sofi De France brew up Italian Pascucci, Taylors serve illy and Brother’s serve Italian Caffee Diemme. Cardew’s also offer a huge range of fine coffees and teas to take home and make a fine brew with. Established in 1945, Cardew’s are the oldest supplier of specialist tea and coffee in Oxford – just walking into the shop is an aromatic sensation of its own.
Newest on the block are The Market Tap by Tap Social Movement. They serve up a delicious brew along with their super tasty pastry offerings from their own bakehouse Proof Bakery. The Market Tap and Gulp Fiction open into the evening Thurs – Sat. So you can still get your coffee fix then too!
Shopping for formals?
Get that posh outfit from Ansari, Leonard Jay and Next to Nothing. Accessorise with Nothing, Pingui, Fedele, John Gowing and Y.O.U. Don’t forget to wash behind your ears with Oxford Soap Company’s hand-made aromatic 100% natural soaps. The Hat Box is also perfect for that last minute extra-special hat to make your day super-stylish.
Relax and soak into a book with a fine cuppa, or indeed a pint, at Gulp Fiction – many don’t realise it also has a wonderful upstairs with a lovely sofa. Georgina’s café is the only other place where you can go upstairs. Georgina’s has been a traditional hideaway for students to enjoy a great Greek home cooking and really relax. Not as quiet but fun to watch everyone else buzzing about – we’ve got central square benches where you can take food from any of our traders to eat and watch the world go by. There’s also seating tucked in a corner just outside iScream.
Fancy browsing the tranquility of crystals, the Covered Market have that covered too with Crystal Spirit Emporium.
Where to get a full english breakfast…
We have a huge selection of cafes in the market. Most famous for its traditional greasy spoon English breakfast, is Browns Café. Family-run Brown’s has been operating since 1924. This isn’t the only place for a full English, however, you can also enjoy a hearty breakfast at Brother’s and Sofi de France. Most offer tasty breakfast baps for takeaway, including The Oxford Sandwich Co.
Exam-busting healthy eating
No time to cook but want to eat well – look no further than Alpha Bar. They cook delicious locally produced organic salads and hot meals. It’s fast food bursting with vitamins, and all in eco-friendly packaging. Their open times are Monday to Friday, 11am to 3pm. Grab a tasty handmade pie or pasty from David John’s butchers – they also do vegetarian options and their pies come in paper bags. Right beside the butchers, you can stock up on those vital vitamins and minerals from Bonners delicious fresh fruit selection, also all served in paper bags.
Socks, gloves, and everything in between
If accessories are what you seek, we’ve got you covered – sorry can’t resist! For stunningly creative fashion jewellery, bags, gifts, hats, pins, gloves and socks we have Nothing Boutique that runs along one side of the market, plus Next to Nothing, who are in the next isle along. Next to Nothing also do a cheekie line in T-shirts, t-towels, mugs and cards that’s well worth checking out. For super-high-end jewellery and watches there’s John Gowing. John Gowing have been supplying engagement and wedding rings, watch mending and much more for over 74 years.
If you love your quality underwear, Y.O.U. are the perfect choice. They have a huge selection of ethically-made underwear and homeware. For more bags, we have Pingui who also specialise in luggage, and Fedele, who supply high-quality leather bags. For men’s accessories head to Leonard Jay. Is your head spinning yet, ours is!
Shopping with a conscience
The Covered Market is packed with traders that offer a huge range of ways you can shop more sustainably and ethically.
From clothing to coffee the market offers locally made products, organic products and careful paper packaging choices. Many of these traders have always operated this way.
It’s such a strong theme of our market that we’ve created a dedicated sustainability page.
Find out more
Did you know…?
1. You can buy food from anywhere in the market and eat it not only on our central picnic tables but also sit back and relax in Teardrop Bar, Market Cellar Door, The Market Tap or Gulp Fiction, along with one of their tasty tipples.
2. Many people don’t realise Gulp Fiction has an upstairs. It’s perfect for cosy gatherings of 20 or less or hire it for your student soc gathering? Just ask direct.
3. The Woolhound run lots of regular knitting and crochet classes, some paid for some free including their free regular Stitch n Bitch evenings. Just head to their events page.
4. You can have any topping you like added to your Sartorelli’s pizza, for a small charge of 50p per topping. You can buy other toppings from other traders in the market Oxford Cheese Co., delicious cooked meats at David John and a vast selection of vegetables at Bonners, or bring your own.
5. Stuart at Market Cellar Door used to be the head catering honcho at Worcester College, so he really knows his wines. Ask him to pair the perfect wines with whatever you’re bringing to eat there. He’s a genius and very easy-going. He generally works on Thursday and Friday.
6. Pick your choice of fresh fruits from Bonners to add to your favourite Puggi Yoggi fresh yoghurt drink. Their stalls are right next to each other.
7. Blueblood will restring your racket for free if you originally bought your rackets from them. Richard Bowerman is an expert racket re-stringer with a highly respected reputation.
8. Ben’s Cookies isn’t just any Ben’s Cookies in the Covered Market. It’s the first ever one AND it’s in the original unit where it all started.
9. Graham at iScream loves it when his customers come in with a supply of fruits from their gardens. In return he gives them a litre of his homemade gelato using their fruits. So you can’t get more home grown and hand-made than that!
10. If you get to Ben’s Cookies before 11am, there’s a chance they’ll have boxes of discounted yesterday’s cookies! These cookies last for a while so they’re a great way of buying them.
11. Brown’s delicious Portuguese Pasteis de Nata are made fresh every day and they’re a traders favourite. Come in around 9.30am and you’ll be in for a treat baked fresh out the oven!
12. If you like to keep squeaky clean, Oxford Soap Company run soap making workshops. Ask Vinnie the owner who’s there most days and he’ll give you all the info on booking a session.
13. Teardrop Bar owner Luciana makes the best Caipirinhas. They’re off the menu, but as long as you are there when Luciana is working, they’ll be available. Choose any fruits from Bonner’s to add an extra twist.
14. You can enter the market to walk on the moon! Yes, we’re not joking. Head to The Space Store to find out exactly how.
There’s many more exciting things to discover in the market but let’s just leave you on a, err, high…
Here’s a quick guide to all the places in the market that currently offer student discounts. Do remember to keep your student card to hand: