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Aug 21, 2006 05:09 PM

i'm in london and i'm running out of money...

hi all,
i've been travelling through italy, france, spain and portugal for the past 6 weeks, and now i'm in london, but i'm running out of money, which is even worse, since it's so much more expensive here than anywhere else i've been. i live in nyc and have a list of good cheap places i hit up when the funds are low -- 'ino, rai rai ken, olives, etc... can someone point me to similar places in london? i'm staying in SE london, but am out and about everyday with my weekyl travelcard, so location isn't an issue. i need cheap, delicious food!

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  1. Good question. Head up to Stoke Newington for some great Turkish food. For meat, my current favourite is the 19 Nomura. For vegetarian you could eat a Pide, a kind of Turkish pizza - quite delicious. A 243 bus will take you there from Holborn.

    There is cheap and delicious Indian food to be found in the Asian communities in Ilford, East Ham, E1 and E2, Tooting, Balham, Wembley, Southall etc.

    Just last Friday I had a blow out vegetarian feast on High Street North East Ham at the Saravana Bhavan. Very easy to over-order!

    If you are into Sushi, a very good and very reasonable place that has been mentioned here a few times is Kula-Kula on Brewer Street W1

    If things get desperate, a lot of people swear by the two bagel bakeries at the Bethnal Green High Road end of Brick Lane. Very, very cheap, personally I think their bagels are rubbish, the best are at Carmeli in Golders Green, but then they should be, they cost 3 times as much.

    1. I was in London about 2 weeks ago - my go to place when I needed something fast, cheap, yummy and healthy was Pret a Manger, hands down. There are a million of them all over the place. I am from Toronto and we don't have that here, and I can tell you that I hope and pray that they will open here eventually. Maybe other people have different opinions about them, but I found them to be the one place I always knew I could run in and get something quick for not too much money which also tasted great.

      4 Replies
      1. re: cord

        I loved Pret a Manger when I was there. Their website says they do not believe in franchises, so I think it is unlikely they will arrive in Toronto. My dream is to open up a similar place of my own here one day.

        When I was in London, I found there were a number of places in Soho that had good vegetarian Thai take-away for 3 pounds. It was a good portion. I also found Camden Market on the weekends had good foods to sample - there was a "pickle" vendor - olives, pickles, etc. that was fab

        1. re: pescatarian

          Pret A Manger opened some shops in NYC a few years ago, but they weren't successful at all. I think it was because they made the sandwiches according to what they *thought* Americans would like. As one of those Yanks living near London, I wouldn't have changed a thing.. the choices here are great! I'm so happy... a Pret A Manger is opening in Guildford near where I live!!!

          1. re: zuriga1

            I'm jealous. When I was there in May, I had a latte there one morning (bank street location) and it was near perfect. It's always a shame when restaurants open new locations and they aren't the same - should keep things the way they are. I have a similar beef about Starbuck's prepackaged sandwiches. They seem to have better options in the UK - they had a grilled panini with a filling similar to chana masala - I don't go to Starbuck's often, but when I have gone here, I haven't seen such choices, just the usual tuna, etc. (I guess that's what they think the NA market wants).

            1. re: pescatarian

              Yes, I thought that Pret in the UK really "got it" in terms of what kind of sandwiches are tasty and healthy, and also their salads - greens with seeds and hummus and a good dressing so you get your protein/carbs/fats but no wheat - we definitely need more chains in North America that are clued in to the healthy/tasty/not your basic tuna salad ideal of Pret. I have to say I was very impressed.

      2. If you're really that strapped for cash go to a supermarket (Tescos, Sainsburys, M&S) and get some of their marked down food at the end of the day. They do pretty good take out sandwiches etc. Pret a Manger are NOT cheap if you're strapped for cash.

        There's a great lil deli place on Charing Cross Rd that has the best falafel ever. Gaby's. It's the first diner/cafe you come to on the right hand side of the street as you're walking up it from Trafalgar Sq. It looks like a real dive, but you won't be disappointed with the falafel!

        For a rather odd but cheap dining experience try Won Kei's in Chinatown. The service is notoriously bad, but that is what people go there for. It's quite amusing.

        Stock Pot (dotted around in the centre) have home cooked meals aty reasonable prices too. Not top quality but filling and cheap.

        Tai do Thai buffets for about 6 quid I think. In Soho.

        Misato in Chinatown is also cheap but the lines are horrendous sometimes.

        Failing that, every cafe will do you two rounds of toast for about a quid ;)

        Have fun.

        2 Replies
        1. re: Jayne in VT

          At Pret a Manger you can get a really healthy and filling sandwich for under 3 quid (or really good salad with protein for under 4 quid) - even add a drink and dessert and still be around the 6 quid mark you referred to for the thai buffet. So, not sure how that is not also cheap?

          1. re: cord

            Well, I would imagine the OP would want value for money, and IMHO I don't think Pret is good value food apart from perhaps, their breakfast menus. The Thai buffet means all you can eat, so yes, that is much cheaper and probably much more nutritious than Pret. Some of the Chinese places are way under 6 quid too. Anyone can grab a sandwich at any cafe/deli for much cheaper, and much more interesting surroundings than Pret. The OP is running out of money, so blowing 6 quid on a sandwich and a drink is not wise budgeting! I agree it would be good if more of these quality chains arrived in Canada and the US though.

        2. Ya I can see your point. I think the main thing I found comforting when I was in London about Pret was that it was always around, so when I needed something quick and didn't have specific idea for that meal and needed something relatively cheap, it fit the bill. I did also go into M&S and was impressed by their to go section, bought myself a insulated lunch bag as a little souvenir. We used to have M&S in Toronto, the last one closed about 5 years ago, that was a sad day. But we never had the array of M&S prepared food here that you have.

          1 Reply
          1. re: cord

            Agreed that Pret is somewhat of a guarantee to get something good without worrying about whether it's good or not (which you have to wonder with some places)...especially if you're a tourist.

            I was trying to give the OP some of those back street cheap places that tourists probably wouldn't find, or wouldn't want to trust cos they look a but dodgy.

            I miss M&S SO much. I too have that insulated lunch bag!

          2. BTW Pret a Manger is actually owned by McDonalds, if that sort of thing matters to you.

            For great cheap South Indian dosas try Drummond Street near Euston Station - there's an Ibis on the corner that you can see from the station - that's Drummond Street. A favourite is Diwana - get the paper dosa and it's BYO. Super cheap. They also do the very best Tarka Dahl I have ever had - and I've had a few!

            Turkish in Dalston/Stoke Newington - the Mangal Ocasbasi (sp?) on Arcola Street is the best, although too famous due to being featured in Rick Stein's TV programme. It's BYO.

            At the bottom of Kingsland Road are all the Vietnamese restaurants - my fave is Tay Do. They do a great chicken and basil salad and I love the tofu, vegetables and crispy fried noodles. Again, it's BYO.

            1 Reply
            1. re: themags

              Are they really? I knew there was something that didn't sit right with me and Pret. I guess that's why tourists love them. That's a great bit of information. Thanks :)