- Facebook/The Beefsteaks
London is not a cheap city, but it does boast a thriving foodie scene with plenty of reasonably priced dining options – if you know where to find them.
Its diverse restaurant scene – whether its Ethiopian cafes in Camberwell or Caribbean cuisine in Brixton – reflects the capital city’s cosmopolitan DNA.
We spoke to Londoners and combed through TripAdvisor reviews and rankings from publications including Time Out, London Cheap Eats, The Londonist, and Buzzfeed to put together a list of our top picks in the city.
From street food stalls to canteen-style “all you can eat” dining halls and bring your own booze policies, scroll down to find a selection of the capital’s most reasonable and Instagram-worthy “cheap eat” offerings, most of which will give you change for a tenner.
The items are ranked by price in descending order.
19. Meat kebab dishes at Mangal 1, Dalston — from £10.
Barbecue smoke fills the air along the Kingsland Road in Dalston, which is lined with dozens of open charcoal grill restaurants (ocakbasi). Mangal 1, tucked off a side street, is popular with locals and among the most famous in north east London.
Meat kebab dishes from the sizzling ocak grill start from £10 and come with salad, while the Shish kebab is £10.50. Customers enjoy free homemade bread and can take advantage of the “bring your own booze” policy.
18. Cod and chips from Masters Superfish, Waterloo —from £9.25.
No London “cheap eats” list would be complete without a traditional fish and chip option, but these days a decent fish supper doesn’t come that cheap in the capital.
Luckily, Masters Superfish in Waterloo has kept its prices reasonable, and you can expect at least some change from a £10 note. It serves up fresh fish which is bought daily from the nearby Billingsgate market. All mains come served with chips and pickles. A battered cod fillet costs £9.25, or the Masters Special (approx. 8oz prime cod) is £10.75.
17. Cheeseburgers from Lucky Chip, various locations — from £8.25.
Lucky Chip burgers have been hailed among the best you can get in London. As any good burger should, they ooze with melted cheese, mustard, mayo, and relish.
The menu also features a “burger of the month.” Above, the “Chuck Berry Triple Ding a Ling” special has three patties, American cheese, cheddar, Monterrey Jack, Tennessee Whiskey BBQ sauce, and sweet dill mayo.
16. Steak frites from The Beefsteaks, various locations — from £8.
The Beefsteaks serves up sliced butcher’s steak either in a sandwich or on top of triple cooked maris piper chips, with a choice of either béarnaise, peppercorn, chimichurri, or horseradish Cream.
You’d be hard up to find steak-frites for £8 elsewhere in London. Catch the stall on weekends at markets in London Bridge and West India Quay, among other locations.
15. Jerk chicken from Negril, Brixton — from £7.95.
Negril is one of the best Caribbean restaurants in London – if not the best – and to top it off has a BYOB policy and large front patio perfect for al fresco summer dining. Jerk chicken starts at £7.95 for a quarter.
Special mention has to go to the goat curry (£9.95) and salt fish fritters (£4.95), which, if you’re sharing plates in a group and factor in the saving on drinks, makes for a real bargain.
14. Rib meat rolls from The Rib Man, Brick Lane — from £7.
The Rib Man serves rib meat rolls from £7 and racks from £8 until around 1 p.m. on weekends at a stall on Brick Lane. They are a popular hangover cure among his punters, according to his Instagram feed. His “Holy F***” sauce accompaniment has also earned a major following.
13. Neapolitan Pizza from Theo’s Pizza, Camberwell — from £7.
Theo’s opened in 2015 and its wood-fired Neapolitan pizza has since been named in several top London restaurant listings.
Its antipasti, pizza, panuozzo, and dessert menus changs weekly, with the exception of a few house favourites.
12. Curry from Lahore Kebab House, Whitechapel — from £7.
Tipped by some as London’s “king of curry,” this spot is located a stone’s throw from (but not on) Brick Lane, the capital’s famous “curry mile.”
Vegetarian mains start at £7, rising to £9.50 for meat dishes, such as the popular grilled lamb chops and karahi chicken. It’s also BYOB.
11. Ethiopian dishes from Zeret Kitchen, Camberwell — from £6.99.
Tafe Belayneh’s Ethiopian Zeret Kitchen sits just off the Camberwell Road. It offers a variety of vegan dishes from £6.99, including its famed chickpea stew “Shuro Wot” for £9.99, while chicken dishes start from £9.99.
Pictured above is the house vegan selection which costs £10.99. There are also a selection of Ethiopian beers on the menu for £3.50.
10. Margherita Pizza from L’Antica Pizzeria da Michele, Stoke Newington — from £6.50.
L’Antica Pizzeria da Michele is a big deal in its hometown of Naples. It caused a deserved buzz when it opened its first UK restaurant on Stoke Newington’s Church Street earlier this year.
There are just two staple mains – the Margherita and Marinara – on the menu, but also rotating specials to mix things up a bit.
9. Fried chicken from Chick’n’sours, Dalston and Seven Dials — from £6.
When this Korean-infused chicken and cocktail joint opened in Dalston in 2015 it scored rave reviews. Now it also has an outlet in a basement in Covent Garden.
It’s fried chicken offering includes disco wings from £6 served naked, sticky, or hot, and The Colonel, a bun-based fried thigh dish, with buttermilk mayo, cheese, and pink pickled onions, is also within budget at £10. All sides, though, come at an extra cost.
8. Hot dishes from Silk Road, Camberwell — from £5.
This no-frills restaurant specialises in regional Chinese food, from the province of Xinjiang, in the north west. It is very reasonably priced, with hot dishes starting from just £5. Its homemade flat noodles – which are particularly popular with customers, according to reviews – start at £6.50, while meat skewers are £1 each.
It’s usually so busy at dinner service that it’s advisable to book, else you may face queueing round the corner for a table.
7. Dumplings from Jen’s Cafe, Chinatown —from £5.
Head to Jen’s Cafe in Chinatown for cheap but delicious tea & dumplings. Jen’s succulent spicy pork and vegetable-filled Beijing steamed dumplings are seven for £5, of £6 if served deep-fried.
6. Sausages from Herman ze German, various locations — from £4.95.
- Facebook/Herman ze German
Herman ze German offers good quality German sausages. A Bratwurst (minced pork and veal) costs £4.95, the Guestwurst £5.25, and Veggiewurst is £5.75. There are also schnitzel dishes from £7.95.
5. Steamed buns at BAO, various locations — from £4.50.
Taiwanese restaurant Bao now has three London locations. There is usually an offputtingly long queue of hipsters at the Soho branch, but the prices which start at £4.50 for a classic BAO make up for it.
4. Chicken tikka rolls from Kati Roll, Soho — from £3.95
Kati Roll Company brought the New York food craze to London when it opened its only UK outlet on Soho’s Poland Street. Kati rolls contain a spicy mixture of meat and vegetables rolled in Indian flat-breads.
The Chicken Tikka Rolls, filled with grilled chicken cubes marinated in yoghurt and spices, start from £3.95, or you can get two for £7.40.
3. Steak and kidney pie from Arment Pie and Mash, Walworth — from £2.50.
Often voted one of London’s best traditional pie shops, Arment Pie and Mash still offers customers old school prices.
A steak and kidney pie will set you back just £2.50, plus £1.15 for mash and 60p for green liquor.
2. Egg curry from Indian YMCA Dining Hall, Fitzrovia — from £1.60.
One of Fitzrovia’s best kept secrets, the dining hall is open to both paying hostel guests and the general public. It offers “homely” South Indian food in a canteen-like environment.
Veggie mains on the lunch menu, such as the egg curry, start from just £1.60. Or, diners can opt for the all you can eat “set dinner” menu which is served weekdays and weekends for £8.50.
1. Bagels from Brick Lane Beigel Bake — from £1.60.
Mr Sammy’s Beigel Bake on Brick Lane is no less than an east end institution, and by far the most famous bagel shop in the capital. It was allegedly frequented by the Kray brothers and these days draws a mixture of hipsters, locals, tourists, and the odd celebrity.
The 24-hour Jewish bakery makes for the perfect stop-off on your way home after a boozy night out in Shoreditch. Plain bagels start from just 30p, a classic smoked salmon and cream cheese roll is £1.60, while the popular hot salt beef roll is £3.70.