Can't Miss Budget London Eats
I'll be going to London mid-April, and will be travelling with a non-foodie who's budget conscious. I'm looking for some restaurants that are tasty, non-touristy, inexpensive, (up to 30 pounds per person w/o alcohol) and fairly close to a tube station. I'm not picky as to location, so long as it it accessible by the tube. Also non-indian, non-chinese, and not Wagamama, as I already know about those options. I would also appreciate any sceney, hip bar/pub suggestions as well - also near the tube stations.
I'm not familiar enough with London to be able to give good suggestions that would meet all of your criteria (I've spent about 3 weeks total over a couple of visits) but, we depended on Pret a Manger to help us keep our food costs under control during our visits. The food is fresh and delicious, their house brand things like potato crisps and sodas tend to not have much in the way of iffy ingredients and the whole thing is, for London, dirt cheap. We would often get coffee and a pastry for breakfast, some sandwiches for lunch and then feel pretty relaxed about dinner in terms of costs.
One place we did like quite a bit was Carluccio's, there are a few of them around town and one is fairly close to the Canada Warf Docklands stop, reachable via transfer from the regular underground.
One of our "go to" places used to be in Soho - on Old Compton Street, just sort of behind Les Miz (on the Charing Cross end of Compton St). It's called the Pollo Bar. (We pronounced it Polo Bar, for some reason.)
It's mainly pasta and stuff. And really cheap house wine. It's a place where they rush you in and rush you out - and it's tasty and cheap. (Used to be --- I'd be disappointed if it's changed.)
Hi there -- Carluccio's is a great suggestion, and they're all over town and in many closer places than Canary Wharf (like South Kensington, Oxford Street and Notting Hill) -- http://www.carluccios.com/
I'd also recommend Crazy Homies for Mexican (it's a very hipster place near Westbourne Park tube) -- www.crazyhomieslondon.co.uk -- and also the dim sum chain Ping Pong -- www.pingpongdimsum.com (several locations around the West End). Busaba Eathai has three locations and is very good -- http://www.timeout.com/london/restaur....
Eat at the Anchor & Hope (gastropub near the Tate Modern that is amazing and very well-priced) -- http://www.timeout.com/london/bars/re...
For the sceney & hip, I'd try Rosa's Dining Room (Notting Hill), The Cow and The Westbourne (Westbourne Park Road) or The Great Eastern Dining Room (Shoreditch).
Time Out and www.london-eating.co.uk are great sites for researching restaurants.
Thanks for all those suggestions. Are the three "sceney and hip" suggestions within the price range? 30 pounds p/p?
I did check out the Time Out guide, but I don't want to rely on it too blindly (just like I never use a Zagats or a guide to pick out places in NYC either.) I trust fellow hounds much more to point me in the right direction.
I quite like Leon. There is one in Great Marlborough Street, and one in Spitalfields. Great fresh food, very reasonably priced. If you are in Spitalfields, Canteen is also fantastic. It's quite traditional English food, very nicely done. If you think you don't like English food, it would be a place to try. Wonderful pies, roasts, etc. You could also go to one of the Vietnamese places in Kingsland Road (Old Street underground). I like Song Que best.
It's been a few years but we had excellent fish and chips at Geale's (2-4 Farmer Street -use Nottingham Hill Gate tube). Also, an interesting place with great mussels is Belgro Centraal (a Belgium restaurant). We had great mussels and frites. It's deceiving from outside but you go down stairs and are escorted thru the kitchen and waiters are dressed like monks. Wonderful mussels. Don't know tube as there was a 24 hr strike that evening. For a special meal, try a french (authentic) bistro called La Poule au Pot (Chicken in the Pot). Very small and friendly. Great meal...we had escargot, scallops, veal, dover sole, au gratin potatoes (the best), and the best tart tartin and banannas flambe ever. Tube is Sloan Street.
Beach Burrito Cafe (Mexican), Leon (a few around London), Brazil by Kilo (you pay by weight) and Greens & Beans should fit the bill.
The bar at St. John can be very affordable and gives you a great taste of the magic of the dining room without the price tag. I love the atmosphere too - it's a scene, although I'm not sure if it's the one you're after.
As for gastropubs, I second the Anchor and Hope, although it's probably at the top of your price range, and very difficult to get a table - get there early. The Coach and Horses and the Eagle in Farringdon are both great too.
The tapas at the bar at Moro in Exmouth is fantastic, and within your price range, and the bread there is beyond amazing. You can head across the street to Cafe Kick for a drink after (they have good food too). Medcalf, also in Exmouth market, is great too.
I think Carluccio's has gone downhill since it opened - the quality of cheaper Italian food is much better in NY than London (I've just moved from London to NY).