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Delicious but cheap places to eat in London? do they exist?

does anyone know of any affordable places to eat in London that are yummy? we are going in May...thank you!

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  1. It depends what you consider 'affordable.' What's not expensive to one person is over the top for another. It would help if you tell people what type of food you like and how much you'd want to spend.

    1. Gaby's on Charing Cross Road (hole in the wall/lunch venue really) does large portions of delicious middle-eastern oriented food for tiny money.
      Just to the west in Chinatown at lunchtime, pick a small restaurant with mostly Chinese characters in the window, ignore the offered menu and ask for the set lunch. You'll get tea, soup and meat with rice and veg (and fab chili sauce) for about a fiver.

      1 Reply
      1. re: mbalax

        thank you! it sounds great!

      2. Taste of Food on Neal St. has nice vegetarian offerings.

        1. cheap won't be cheap once you convert to USD, so you're going to have to take a deep breath and ignore the terribly low dollar. don't convert.
          lots of cheap places...give us some parameters re: where you're staying, what your budget is, etc. and we can give you some good recs.
          in the meantime, check out toptable.co.uk for good deals (set menus, 50% off, etc) and london-eating.co.uk for user reviews...

          2 Replies
          1. re: kristainlondon

            Thank you, we are staying in Knightsbridge, near Barkston Gardens..we are game to try any food that is yummy, and stay around 60 dollars for a meal

            1. re: just peachy

              It's not my end of town, but definitely check out the Harrod's food hall. Good place to grab a picnic lunch. May should be a nice time for a picnic.

              In South Ken, try The Scarsdale for lunch or dinner...nice cozy pub http://www.timeout.com/london/bars/re...
              Also, the Admiral Codrington http://www.timeout.com/london/bars/re...

              Drop us a line closer to your visit...you never know what might have changed by then!

              Oh, and if the dollar continues the way it's going, £15 a person (for dinner particularly) might be a little hard, assuming you are drinkers...

          2. If you are going to be in London for more than a few days, you might want to think about buying a copy of TimeOut's "Cheap Eats in London." You can buy it online at www.timeout.com for about $10-$12.

            1 Reply
            1. re: DavidT

              Thank you, I will do that!

            2. The Table in Southwark won Time Out's Cheap Eats award. And, yes, it is rather good: http://londonfood.typepad.com/stuff/2...

              Only weekday lunches though.

              Exactly how cheap do you want to go and what kind of dining experience are you after?

              1. thank you for your post, we are open to try any food really, and I realize London has become very expensive, so we are going with the mind set to be grateful in what we can afford for around 60 dollars for a meal. Maybe one night we would like to hava a nicer dinner, i heard the Indian cuisine is the tops in London..any truth to this? Thank you!

                1 Reply
                1. re: just peachy

                  $60 for two? Including drinks?

                  That means £15 a head. Quite tough, but certainly doable.

                2. If you scroll down thru the prior posts, you will find a number of threads on Indian food in London. If you scroll thru the past 100 or so threads, you will probably find several other threads on cheap eats in London as well.

                  1. Try the cafes at the Museums. They are generally good value, especially the V&A, National Portrait Gallery etc. Besides pizza (highly recommend 'made in Italy' and 'marchiaro' at 249 &257 Kings Rd,Chelsea) and the inexpensive Indian; London is not the best place to find good food at your stated budget.

                    Sunday Roast dinner, served all day, for £12.50 at The Thomas Cubitt Pub on Elizabeth Street in Belgravia(15 minute walk from Knightsbridge) is the best value inexpensive meal I have had in London.

                    1. I've been to London twice, both times with kid in tow (once when he was 3, once when he was 12). Gustafson's "Great Eats London" (formerly "Cheap Eats London") never steered us wrong, and saved us the ten bucks we paid for it many times over.
                      Gustafson is pretty clear about delineating the nuances of "inexpensive", "a splurge, but still good value" and "It's only OK, but you said you wanted REALLY cheap".
                      Now, you can find used copies on Amazon or Half.com/Ebay for $3-4 plus postage, or at many public libraries for free. Just make sure you're getting a current edition.

                      r gould-saltman

                      1. The Number One Cafe: 1 Dalgarno Gardens, London, W10 5LL, UK - +44 20 8968 0558
                        absolutely delicious Thai food. Simple, pretty decor, friendly staff, and under 10 quid a head. Plus it's BYOB. It's off the beaten path and a little difficult to find so get a cab to the door. Rated best cheap place to eat by Time Out, and was a favorite during my time studying abroad; bring your favorite bottle of wine and join the lucky couples, students, and families who have stumbled upon this lovely place.

                        5 Replies
                        1. re: Csmart

                          I was happy I perused chowhound before going to London last weekend. We ate at Eriki (Indian right near Swiss Cottage tube), which was both inexpensive and the best Indian we've had in nine months! (We're stationed in Geneva.) Many dishes were priced at 6 pounds. We also went to MastersSuperfish (Waterloo tube), and the fish was delicious, moist, flavorful, tender, just lovely. (Huge portions, less impressive chips, again for about 6 pounds.) Then it was the old staple of parents with children, Pizza Express (We have a five year-old and a seven-year old.) Nothing to write home about, but fine and everywhere in London. Thanks chowhound, especially for Eriki!

                          1. re: kzukor

                            Nice to hear about a recommendation finding favour with visiting Chowhounders, thanks for the feedback on Eriki. Also good to know that quality has been maintained as I may be back in London full time before the year is out.

                            1. re: kzukor

                              There's a Chinese place also near Swiss Cottage (though it might be closer to Finchely Rd) called Green Cottage that alwyas seems busy and is not too bad.

                              TT

                            2. re: Csmart

                              This is a good shout, a place that I was introduced to by an eccentric 50-something Indian friend who runs a Hamono-ya (Japanese knife store) in NW6 and who lives nearby in Ladbroke Grove. I went twice and enjoyed it especially the first visit.

                              That said, I think that Muang Thai in Chalk Farm trumps this place in terms of food quality, charming service and ease of accessibility by public transport. Whilst not BYOB like No 1., Muang Thai is still nicely affordable.

                              http://www.london-eating.co.uk/6715.htm

                              1. re: Csmart

                                http://www.london-eating.co.uk/3723.htm

                                Footnote to my previous post on Number 1 - it gets stellar reviews on london-eating, better even than Muang Thai. I still have a preference for the latter but basically you won't go too far wrong with either.

                              2. you beat me to eriki, well done! sheesh, i've been planning to get there ever since camel tipped me about it .. i

                                1. I really like Wahaca in Covent Garden, it's authentic Mexican "market eating" - very tasty and cheap (it won the Observer's best cheap eat award). You can't book though and there's often a huge queue...but it's worth it. I had a really tasty sharing platter with my friend - the broad bean & feta quesadilla was outstanding.

                                  http://www.wahaca.co.uk/

                                  15 Replies
                                  1. re: alexthepink

                                    Authentic? That's going more than a little far.

                                    1. re: JFores

                                      The fact that they can't even spell Oaxaca speaks volumes.

                                      1. re: CTownFeedR

                                        Not to mention the fact that their menu doesn't have a single Oaxacan item. Not one. Not even black mole tamales under the street snacks stuff.

                                        1. re: JFores

                                          Have either of you tried it? Is it any good?

                                          Didn't the owner (Thomasina Miers) spend a lot of time in Mexico cooking local food? So is her version not authentic, or not what you have had before?

                                          The menu on the web site has a mole, and they seem to spell Oaxaca as Oaxaca which is correct is it not? There also seem to be a number of valid phoenetic spellings in various dictionaries so is "wa-ha-ca" incorrect?

                                          1. re: PhilD

                                            I can't judge much, but the atmosphere and name turns me off greatly. I had one single taco from the place and it was OK. Not an especially good taco and definitely not better than ones I get off carts back home for $1.50, but I was just satisfying a craving. I figured I'd get more if I liked the taco, but I didn't really like it very much. If someone posts a favorable review of their mole then I'd be willing to try it.

                                            1. re: PhilD

                                              And the phonetic spelling is flat out wrong in both Spanish and English.

                                              1. re: JFores

                                                I must admit how a restaurant spells it's name has never influenced my opinion of the quality of the food - however each to their own.

                                                Interested to understand what you believe the correct phoenetic spelling is, why is their spelling so bad it puts you off the place? I always understood that as phoenetics can reflect a dialects and/or accents, and there are a number of phoenetic systems in use, it is tricky to be definative about a phoenetic spelling. So dismissing a restaurant on the basis of a phoenetic spelling seems extreme.

                                                It will be interested to hear from peple who have tried more than one dish as Alex's report seems so positive.

                                                It would also be good to hear from anyone who has eaten in Mexico, and even better in the Oaxacan region rather than a comparison to Mexican food in NYC.

                                                1. re: PhilD

                                                  There is Mexican food, Phil, and there is Mexican food. I put it in two categories... the Tex-Mex stuff like tacos, fajitas etc. and the more sophisticated, Mexican cuisine that one can find in Mexico itself or certain restaurants in California or places like Phoenix or Tucson, Arizona. I did laugh first time I realized what Wahaca was supposed to be imitating... it's funny as I ate in another place called Oaxaca... and they got it right in California. London is not California, so I guess anything can go....

                                                  1. re: zuriga1

                                                    Yes, I have eaten tex mex in Texas, Californian Mexican in SF, soutwestern Mexican, and Australian Mexican (which was actually very good as the chef had travelled to Mexico to learn and gather recipes).

                                                    Most Mexican food I have tried has been disapointing even though my US colleagues have taken me to the best, most authentic places they know.

                                                    I would love to understand which end of the spectrum Wahaca sits - is it interesting, good quality food. Or is it more of the same mass market food. And I still can't understand why people are hung up about the name of the restaurant?

                                                    1. re: PhilD

                                                      I liked Wahaca - everything was fresh and tasty - but then I know nothing about Mexican food.

                                                      1. re: PhilD

                                                        Everyone I have taken there has liked it and I've taken a lot of people there.

                                                        I think it is interesting, good food. Certainly different than most stuff in town. For me as an American, it hits my craving for "Mexican" and I enjoy the atmosphere and the price. We went there for my birthday a couple weeks ago, and 7 of us had dinner, dessert, and three rounds of drinks for less than £200.

                                                        I think it is worth a try, even if you don't like it, it is an interesting place to spend lunch or dinner and you won't be spending much in the process.

                                                        1. re: PhilD

                                                          Yes, I have eaten tex mex in Texas, Californian Mexican in SF, soutwestern Mexican, and Australian Mexican (which was actually very good as the chef had travelled to Mexico to learn and gather recipes)."

                                                          Having lived in SF for three years, I can truly say that most of the Mexican food up there is not particularly good. That includes the Mission District, where you can probably find some of the best SF Mexican food.

                                                          For Californian Mexican that is good, and sometimes quite authentic as to real Mexico, Southern California is your best bet. In fact, the Mexican food in SoCal is usually so good and so abundant, that I rarely eat Mexican food when traveling anywhere else, unless I am actually in Mexico.

                                                          Given that, I would be extremely reticent to try any Mexican food in London, because I doubt that it would ever compare favorably.

                                                      2. re: PhilD

                                                        The Mexican food scene in NYC (Queens and one part of Brooklyn) is highly underrated with over 40 taco carts on a stretch of 35 blocks across Roosevelt Avenue. A variety of sit down restaurants also serve home style Mexican dishes to thousands of Mexican cooks, dishwashers, construction workers, etc at all hours of the day and night.

                                                        Wahaca is possibly the best Mexican option in London, but that's not saying much. Has anyone tried their mole dishes or anything of the sort? It's just worrying that they don't have a single specifically Oaxacan item on the menu, that the name is spelled phonetically, and that they served up a so-so taco at a very high price. I'd be back there frequently if they served up authentic Oajaqueno tamales with black mole, but they don't (I finally found a cart that has them under a train tunnel in Queens! Yay!)

                                            2. re: alexthepink

                                              I really like Wahaca too, though I wouldn't call it authentic. It is certainly a better choice than all the other "Mexican" and "Tex Mex" places in town.

                                              I think it has a great atmosphere, tasty food, and is well priced. Not always easily found.

                                              1. re: alexthepink

                                                Wahaca's food is reasonably good. But it's surely not authentic Mexican food - and most definitely not what you'd find in a Mexican market (i.e. the probability of a quesadilla featuring feta in a Mexican market is zero). Not a problem though, as the food is reasonably good. But just to be clear, that's not the kind of food you'll find in marketplaces if you go down to Mexico.

                                              2. Dragon Castle - Elephant and castle. Authentic dim sum is amazing and pretty darn cheap. shame about the area.
                                                Tayyabs ( or New Tayyabs i think its called now) is amazing Pakistan food, the queue is legendary though if you get there after 7ish.
                                                Tas near the globe theatre is also pretty inexpensive if you eat their Pide ( kind of turkish pizza)

                                                2 Replies
                                                1. re: beckypoostchi

                                                  The only thing I really enjoyed at Wahaca was the Yucatecan Cochinita Pibil. I found their tortillas quite greasy--something that need not be the case. Their two salsas were tasty--especially the rojo. It's obvious that their tomatillos are canned but since the only fresh tomatillos I've ever seen in London were selling for 6 Pounds for about as many tomatillos it becomes more understandable. On the other hand surely they could get one of the farms they're connected to to grow them in summer--they'd grow fine here I think. The nopales were also canned but I don't think it'd be too easy to get fresh cactus paddles here.

                                                  In general--no--this food is not Oaxacan. They do have a mole coloradito on the menu--this is one of the Oaxacan moles--and when I go back I'll try it. I will go back since a friend here who spent the last two years in the DF (Mexico City) is obsessed with the Cochinita Pibil. They seem to be aiming for a more pan-regional thing which I'm open to seeing as how the audience here for the most part cannot tell Tex-Mex from Mexican (also the case in much of the U.S. so that's not a dis to England or anything) so asking people to get down to only Oaxacan seems a bit of a stretch. I haven't tried their Chicken Tinga yet either--this is a Pueblan dish which I love. I did try their Carne asada (more a Nothern Mexico thing) tacos--I think they just referred to them as charred steak tacos but sadly they really lacked flavor which again just doesn't need to be that way. How hard is it to marinate steak in beer, onions, garlic, and spices or any other of the innumerable variations on carne marinade employed by Mexicans and then grill it?

                                                  Unfortunately after only one encounter it doesn't seem to me that the restaurant is that serious about teaching London what Mexico's street fair is all about--most everyone there when I went was munching happily on taco salad served in a crisy shell--this is a U.S. side of the border abomination that is an insult not only to all Mexican food but to Tex-Mex too. Crispy shelled taco salad is the stuff of TJIFridays and other pre-fab American mall favorites. The only time I can imagine eating a taco salad is if I were at a retro Americana party at which the other items on the menu included say, pigs in a blanket, tater tots, tuna casserole, and jello salad. To me the fact of the crispy shelled taco salad is far more depressing than the spelling of the name (which did actually keep me from going for quite a long time.) For your amusement here's a link to a wikipedia photo of a taco salad in case you have not had the joy of encountering one in your travels. This is not a photo of Wahaca's taco salad but just a generic taco salad.
                                                  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Image:Fl...

                                                  It seems like the people who opened this place know enough to really be able to serve up some good Mexican food but it's not clear that they really truly want to do it. With the line out the door and half the place devouring taco salad it seems like they know their audience and are probably earning tons every weekend. I guess I could be wrong though--is there a grasshopper season in London? If so maybe they'll start serving chapulines--Oaxaca's favorite snack of grasshoppers fried with lime and chili--they're really yummy and hey maybe people could eat them sprinkled on their taco salads. It could be a kind of --I don't know--meeting people half way.

                                                  In spite of the higher price I prefer Taqueria any day.

                                                  Since this post was meant to be about cheap food in London, if you're going to the British Museum I recommend eating lunch downstairs at Hanna Supermarket at 41 Store Street. Upstairs you order bi bim bap or chili pork--both for 3.50 and then you eat them downstairs in a room filled with Korean videos and Korean students. It is not the unlimate bi bim bap (where's the egg!) but it's tasty and oh so cheap.

                                                  1. re: lowandslow

                                                    I was actually pleasantly surprised by Wahaca, and agree on the salsa and the greasy tortilla. Two instead of one tortilla per taco wouldn't hurt.

                                                    A pretty good jamaica agua fresca zested up with lime. Could be a bit more soury, but I don't mind that much, although I would have much preferred getting horchata instead (they didn't have that).

                                                    Peanuts with lime and chili was basic and decent, and I wished it was a touch spicier, but that's a quibble.

                                                    I think getting nopalitos here is just like watching a dog add two numbers, the fact that it could happen is probably a big deal; I don't think I'd ask if the dog could also do calculus. Having said that, I was quite satisfied with mine on a tostada.

                                                    I liked the pork pibil tacos too, and I admit that the fish pastor was better than I had expected, it had a nice spicy aura, despite the slightly dry fish and the cheese just simply different from the ones I've had in the US. I wondered if they could have done better with baja-style fish tacos, hope to be able to find that some day.

                                                    Beef salpicon was deeply beefy and had some nice smoky notes to it.

                                                    Was quite pleased with the churros that came with a good dark chocolate dip, even if it was a touch greasy.

                                                    It's been a long while since I've had chapulines (can one even buy them raw here?), but perhaps a steaming menudo might be closer to meeting people halfway (maybe one can get something half similar at some of the Colombian places). Or even a birria. That said, I doubt that most restaurants are here to educate people about the food. If they were, we wouldn't see Sichuan restaurants masquerading as Cantonese ones etc... It's probably just a matter of providing stuff that they can survive by selling the general public, and then having some more specialized items that can appeal to a more limited crowd.

                                                2. Seems a shame that a request about cheap food in London turns into an I-know-more-about-Mexican-food-than-you-do spat!
                                                  If you're going to be in Knightsbridge, it's not a great areas for eating cheaply. Al Dar in Kings Road, near Sloane Square, is good and not expensive for Lebanese food.

                                                  Indian food is very good value. If you venture out to Tooting there are several good ones. my favourite is Kastoori, but there are others that are even cheaper. There is a small chain called Masala Zone which is pretty good and good vaue - there's one in Covent Garden and anothet in Earls Court Road and I think in Gloucester Road.

                                                  Many greasy spoon cafes do delicious breakfasts (at least if you aren't into healthy eating) for about £6 which will fill you up till supper time and save you money that way.

                                                  1 Reply
                                                  1. re: Jenny Sheridan

                                                    Yes, sorry everyone. So it's not authentic, but it's the most authentic that I have had in London...i.e. it's not the yellow cheesy kind of Tex Mex that you usually get.

                                                    I think it's yummy anyway! But I haven't been to Mexico yet...

                                                  2. Get a fresh homemade by old ladies gozleme (£1- £1.50) off of stoke newington high street. east side of street, just south of brooke road. I've seen potato, cheese and spinach versions of these scrumptious hot stuffed tortillas. I'm partial to spinach.

                                                    1. My husband is from London and we go to Wagamama at least twice when we are in town. I have been to the one in Covent Garden and the one near Victoria. It's a London based chain phenomenon (they are all over the world now) but it's really good and CHEAP. Fishcoteque in Waterloo serves up a decent fish & chips in cardboard containers in MASSIVE portions- also in your price range. Yes, on Sunday's def stick to the roast dinner at a reputable pub.

                                                      5 Replies
                                                      1. re: malibu

                                                        Ah yes, Wagamama. If only it was actually CHEAP and didn't serve up bland faux-Asian food and bad ramen.

                                                        1. re: JFores

                                                          Well said - I am afraid Wagamama is well past its best and belongs to a time when good Asian food was far more difficult to get in London than it is today. Check out the posts by Limster for better options.

                                                          1. re: PhilD

                                                            Right, forgive me if I made it sound as the BEST food ever at Wagamama. Obviously is not THE BEST. It's a chain. I made the suggestion because A) is not Expensive B) are everywhere in London and easy to find C) WM haven't made it to the states yet (with the exception of 2 stores in Boston). The OP most likely hasn't tried WG and in my opinion is worth it, since it meets their request. I think it's quite yummy for a quick lunch.

                                                            1. re: malibu

                                                              But the OP wanted "Delicious" as well. IMO Wagamama is very, very bland.

                                                        2. re: malibu

                                                          Fishcoteque! I love the name!

                                                        3. Fishcoteque! i love that place. its more of a taxi drivers caff and take away than a restaurant - but still great fish and chips in london!