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Jan 22, 2007 06:02 PM

Affordable But Good Food in London?

We are Americans who will be visiting relatives in London later this spring. They live in the Wimbledon area. They've told me that restaurants in London charge twice what our US restaurants do and even something like Chinese take-out for a small family can run well over twenty-five pounds. At two US dollars to the pound it sounds like I'll be going hungry. Any tips?

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  1. This topic has come up several times over the past few months on this board. If you scroll down thru the prior 100-150 posts, you should be able to find some helpful suggesitons. TimeOut London publishes a "cheap eats/bargain bites" guide that might be a helpful source of info for you. The eating establishments are listed by area in the guide, which should be of some use.

    1. Restaurants from the Indian subcontinent offer good value. If you're in Wimbledon you can get to Tooting easily and there are some spots there, Gujarati/East African at Kastoori, Tamil at Suvai Aruvi and Keralan at Radha Krishna Bhavan.

      Look out for lunchtime deals at restaurants all over the place.

      I'd say you'd be doing pretty well to get a meal including drinks for say two adults and a child for under £25 though.

      1. Hi Susie--It's not that restaurants in London charge twice as much as in the U.S. it's that pound to dollar the prices are comparable. Generally, if something costs $10 in say, New York, the same item is usually about £10 in London -- meaning at almost $2 to the pound you end up paying double.

        And yes, Chinese take-out could run as much as £25 for a small family -- and unlike in the States, I've found its not really a cheap option here (and not very good either, at least I haven't found a decent place).

        As Howard V says above you find that many South Asian/Indian places offer a good value, espceially in South London.

        Some of the chains are very good especially Wagamama where main dishes run about £6-10 per pp.

        4 Replies
        1. re: qnseats

          Yes I would also recommend Wagamama and Busaba Thai, both are chains but actually very good and reasonably priced for London.

          1. re: jeanki

            i would strongly recommend busaba over wagamama, of which i'm really not fond. the prices are low (though it's more of a bargain at dinner as there is only one menu), but i think the generally quality of the food is mediocore to poor. salt is the dominant seasoning, fried is stuff is excessively greasy, most broth-based dishes are bland, dishes often come out lukewarm - it's just not good food, period. unfortunately, i've had a lot of experience with the chain as it's a favorite of my friend's toddlers.

            1. re: wleatherette

              Granted, Wagamama may not be to your liking but I’ve always enjoyed the meals I’ve eaten there particularly the noodle dishes and the duck gyoza dumplings, which are fried and were never greasy in my experience.

              And what’s on offer is generally good, especially for the price. The restaurants are modern and stylish with family-style/communal seating with long tables and benches. The service is no nonsense and I’ve had few problems other than each dish is served as it comes out of the kitchen -- meaning the first to get served often has to start before the last person is.

              Plus – it’s a great ‘London’ thing to do given that they haven’t expanded into the States (yet).

              I’ve been to Busaba Thai (in Soho) a couple of times but never really took a liking to it, which is funny since it’s owned by the same guy who created Wagmama and has a similar vibe. The food is decent but didn't seem worth the wait (and I have two favourites in N. London that are a hard to beat).

              1. re: qnseats

                i don't think that either of them are worth the wait, really, though if pressed i'd pick busaba. i'm not surprised that your local thai favorites surpass it. it's just vaguely thai in the same way that wagamama is vaguely japanese.

        2. Wimbledon is a good area for finding lots of choices. There's a good Thai place (can't remember the exact name.. sorry) right near the New Wimbledon Theatre. Next to it is a Nando's - a chain that specializes in chicken dishes at a reasonable price. You will find that the supermarkets carry very good meals to warm up at home, and it's an easy way to try some 'British' specialities not to mention ethnic dishes.

          2 Replies
          1. re: zuriga1

            Which supermarkets have 'very good' British meals to warm up?

            I'm not convinced ;-)

            1. re: Howard V

              What I was trying to say is that there are good meals to get at supermarkets. I don't buy the 'British' ones but I've had some tasty things from Waitrose or M&S (I especially like their veg lasagna) and I've even been known to buy the hoisin duck with pancakes. Some of the Chinese dishes are fine and better than what I've found in any local Chinese restaurants. I've been Sleepless in Seattle for 4 nights and am a bit brain dead so excuse any errors. :-)