Psst... We're working on the next generation of Chowhound! View >
HOME > Chowhound > U.K./Ireland >
Dec 26, 2010 07:27 PM

Cheap(er/est) eats in Chelsea for student [London]

My son's heading off tomorrow for a term in London, staying in Chelsea, which according to this board and other venues is not the easiest/best place to find tasty, cheap eats. Any help would be greatly appreciated by both his stomach and wallet. Many thanks in advance.

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. don't worry. there is plenty of good and cheap eating around.

    1, al dar, the kings road: excellent lebanese counter. the chicken shwarma sandwich (ask for extra toom, the garlic sauce) is a whole meal in itself.

    2, bosphorus kebab house, old brompton road: delicious turkish kebabs; a meal will not run you more than a fiver

    3. mohsen, warwick road: outstanding iranian cuisine. not chelsea, but about 5 minutes away. eat like a king for about 15 pounds.

    4. polish hearth club, exhibition road: polish, and a huge favourite of the imperial college faculty.

    5. el pirata de tapas, westbourne grove: spanish. ok, its about 3 tube stops away from sloane square, but you really can't beat the value for money at lunch.(less than 10 quid).

    10 Replies
    1. re: howler

      Many thanks, howler. My son has bookmarked this page, so any more suggestions/recommendations would still be helpful.

      1. re: Spot

        i can't believe i'm doing this, but i am going to recommend a chain: firezza for neapolitan style pizza.

        its not cheap, but its under a tenner and is surprisingly good as long as your not dealing with elevated expectations. your son would be much better off taking the tube over to chiswick and going to franca manca, but on those days when you just need some delivery, firezza is the best i've found.

        1. re: Spot

          also, marble arch is very close to chelsea - if your son wanders over to green valley, which is a lebanese super market on upper berkeley street, he'll get some good lebaese pizzas, rotisserie chicken, mezze, ice cream, desserts, olives etc.

          further up on edgware road is mandalay, which serves remarkably cheap and cheerful burmese cuisine.

          finally, for cheap dining options further afield, check out jfores posts; he survived well as a student here.

          1. re: howler

            We're talking student here H, and central Chelsea to Marble Arch must be nearly 2 miles. Maybe he'd be happy at The Stockpot in King's Road? How can eggs on toast for £2.50 be wrong for someone on a tight budget? Actually I reckon that if you stick to the very basics, pasta etc., then it's an ok place. You'd be unwise to try anything there involving proper cooking, I reckon.

            1. re: Robin Joy

              there is a student - jfores - on this site who used to get very impatient when told that 45 minutes was too long to take for good food.

              in any case, it's good to have options right at home and then some a little further along. as a student, you're not going to eat out much but when you do surely the first thing you'd want is quality at a reasonable price?

        2. re: howler

          Agree w/Mohsen -- its pretty good Persian, though I disagree that its 5 minutes from Chelsea (its even 10 minutes away walking from Earls Court tube), but it is not too far on the bus, and a good meal.

          Harrod's food hall has cheap food at closing in its food hall -- I've seen people almost fighting over sandwiches, and prepared foods for 50% off or more.

          There is a great place called Coco Maya on Connaught Street near Hyde Park (though on the north side) which just opened a second location near Sloane Square. They do salads, light sandwiches, amazing baked goods, etc., and while its not cheap for what you get, its very fresh, healthy, and not terribly expensive for a nice lunch.

          Wagamama is an 'Asian' chain which sells are sorts of things -- its reasonably priced and can be a safe bet if you're just looking for a quick meal (in the basement of Harvey Nichols).

          I would suggest that Old Brompton near South Kensington has the best assortment of cheaper places in the area -- walking around there he should be able to find something.

          1. re: brokentelephone

            i think the idea is to find cheap but not compromise on quality. wagamama can't quite make that cut.

            and at the extreme end of old brompton road, lille road actually, is taiwan village, cheap as chips for lunch. the same is true about no 10 (hogarth place), a sichuanese restaurant a stones throw from earls court tube that absolutely rocks on its day. but you must order only from the white board - its in chinese but the staff is very patient about translating.

            1. re: howler

              Hello all,

              Thanks for the continued references to my posts. Good call regarding Taiwan Village and No 10. Also, that same stretch where Taiwan Village is happens to be just about the cheapest shopping in the area. The street contains a market on most days, numerous cheap Palestinian, Somali, Ethiopian and Algerian shops dot the road (for meat and groceries in general) and there's an exceptional falafel stand outside of one of them. It fries every order fresh and they're incredibly cheap. I think a large (about the size of an American burrito) is 2.50. Also, I know that there's a direct bus from Sloane Square to this stretch which might even be faster than the tube, but I can't remember the number.

              Not the cheapest of places but 101 Thai Kitchen is a very easy tube ride from Sloan Square. If you go with a few people then it's extremely reasonable, but you're a bit limited if you're alone or there's only two of you.

              Also not cheap at all, but very close by is Chez Marcelle. I personally think that Chez Marcelle is the best Lebanese or perhaps the best Arab restaurant in all of London. Go during a Friday or Saturday lunchtime though as it's a one woman affair and she's easily overwhelmed by a full house.

              Maybe I'm stereotyping far too large a country because I'm from New York, but I personally think Americans have a much higher tolerance for food commutes. When I first moved to the UK I remember people on here reacting with horror that I would go as far as Brixton for groceries and what not. I personally think it's largely down to perceptions rather than actual distances. The north/south river divide, an occasional deathly fear of East London (and North London... and South London... and West London) seem to be a bigger factor than the actual time involved.

              You might as well list everything you can and let him process what he wants. Also, Chelsea can get insanely dead at night and if I was living there I would be desperate to escape. Maybe not Oxford St in 1st year levels of dead (aka finding a 24 hour store or even something opened past 11pm meant a walk well up Edgeware Rd) but pretty bad.

              1. re: howler

                Just as a side note -- the white board menu at No 10 is now almost entirely reprinted on the menus in English (I went w/a taiwanese friend the other night and she assured me the non-chinese weren't missing out, barring 1 or 2 specials).

                I agree, re: wagamama, but thought I would suggest something in walking distance of chelsea in case homeboy was near desperate and lazy!

                1. re: brokentelephone

                  Unfortunately one of those 1 or 2 missing specials is the potato noodle and pork rib dish. That was one of the best Chinese dishes I've ever had.

          2. Paddington is the wrong side of the park, but if venturing that way Bonda Cafe is hard to beat for value, quantity and flavour for money. Similarly Patogh on Crawford Street.

            Not sure about student budgets these days, but am almost certain that anything at Cocomaya would not pass the quantity/value/price equation for most students!

            7 Replies
            1. re: peekaboo1

              I can assure you that these tips will not only be appreciated but also acted on. He'll think nothing of hopping on the tube to hit a good Sichuan place or walking a couple miles for Lebanese. Thanks again to all of you.

              1. re: Spot

                out of curiosity - where in chelsea is he staying? i know we've put up interns in chelsea cloisters on sloane avenue before, but in general it is a fairly pricey area.

                another tip: the malaysian students hall in queensborough terrace. and if for some reason or other your son found himself near marylebone high street, the indian ymca canteen in fitzroy square must be one of the best deals in town. classic indian college canteen food, virtually given away. the malaysian students canteen is close to chelsea, better (ie less canteen-y) cooking, but also pricier.

                  1. re: Spot

                    It's 10 minutes walk to his nearest tube station, South Kensington, which is surrounded by good places to go, including "The Bangkok" in Bute St:


                    He should also seek out The Anglesea Arms, an excellent pub in Selwood Terrace. There is a small but good branch of Tesco supermarket about 300 yards down King's Rd. from him.

                    1. re: Robin Joy

                      The Bangkok is mediocre, at best. I ate there 2 night ago, and nothing was good at all -- the basil beef (recommended by forums, and staff) was a cheeeeaaaap cut of beef and dry as hell, the chicken curry sauce was tasty, but the chicken itself was definitely pre-cooked and dry, and the fried rice had huge chunks of par-cooked onions.

                      I have lived in this area for a while and hear Bangkok is good, but I don't happen to agree (neither did my sister and bro-in-law who went a few months ago and were v disappointed).

                      NEGATIVITY > good recommendations.

                      Actually, I sort of like a little sandwich shoe on Fulham Rd near Jakobs (don't remember the name so not really a proper recommendation).

                      1. re: brokentelephone

                        Oh, BT, that's not so good. You're more up to date than my last visit. Actually, since posting I've been to nearby Thai Square, and, despite being a chain, it was really pretty good, and not too much £££. Just the standard stuff, mind.

                        1. re: Robin Joy

                          Hmm -- thats an option. I really like Thai food but never know where to get it.

            2. I used to live in Chelsea when I was a baby junior doctor on a low salary (working at Chelsea and Westminster Hospital and living in the worst hospital accommodation imaginable). I found that walking to Earl's Court or down to the Fulham Broadway (near Stamford Bridge stadium) end of the Fulham Road was a good option for cheap eats and groceries. In the little lanes off Earl's Court there are small Arab/Thai/Filipino grocery stores that sell stuff pretty cheap, including fresh meat, fruit and veg. There are also usually branches of Marks and Spencer, Tesco and Waitrose around there which are sometimes cheaper for certain items. The Earl's Court food scene is pretty interesting, with No 10 Sichuan cuisine and Addies Thai. It also has chains like Masala Zone, which I personally find pricey for the amount you get served.
              About 2 minutes walk from Fulham Broadway tube is North End Road, which has the daily market that JFores mentioned and small Lebanese grocers, a small English butcher and a humongous branch of Waitrose supermarket (high end supermarket, but good quality and good ethical business practices. have a cheaper own brand called Waitrose Essentials). We used to hit the market on a daily basis once we moved to Fulham Broadway and they have a little farmers market in the garden of the church at the junction of Fulham Road and North End Road. There was an insanely cheap Chinese fast food joint called 'Chop Chop' just outside Fulham Broadway tube, that served big plates of fried rice /noodles/soups that weren't high quality but were eminently edible and filling. Inside the little shopping mall the tube station is in, are a few chains like Yo Sushi and Nandos, which are alright. I like Nandos grilled chicken quite a lot and they give you unlimited refills on soft drinks.
              The King's Road is really pricey for anything. Earl's Court and North End Road are the way to go.

              3 Replies
              1. re: medgirl

                hey medgirl, long time no see.

                wonderful post. i'd only disagree with the statement re: kings road to point out that a chicken shwarma sandwich from al dar is a cheap and delicious meal in itself.

                1. re: howler

                  Hi Howler, just got back from Kolkata.
                  I used to avoid the King's Road like the plague, the Sloane Ranger fashionistas were terrifying! I;m sure your recs for that area are great as always. I was never at home in West London - too glam for moi. Once I moved to SE London, it was more my kind of scene.
                  Happy New Year!

                2. re: medgirl

                  I've lived in Fulham/Hammersmith for nearly 8 years now as a student and here are my favourites:

                  1. North End Road is indeed cheap. There is a lot of fried junk being peddled but there is a great chip shop at the south end of NE Road. Chop Chop is ridiculous value, and Bodeans and Nando's are very acceptable options if he fancies going out to eat with friends. There is a farmers market in the church between Fulham Broadway and the south end of NE Road, and there are good and reasonably priced cafes off Jerdan place near the Broadway.

                  2. Earl's Court, as medgirl mentions, is also a good bet. You want to be on the Eastern exit to the station, which has all the dining options. There are a number of decent Chinese/Thai/Japanese options around, and off the main streets many Southeast Asian stores selling groceries pertaining to that part of the world. On Old Brompton road near Earls Court is the Troubador which, other than its reputation for eclectic and folky music, also doubles as a very cosy spot for a weekend breakfast/brunch.

                  3. Hammersmith - there are many options in this neck of the woods. Most significantly there is a Thursday farmers market selling international options all for about a fiver - you can get great goat curry, tempura, falafel and other treats, as well as good bread, sweet baked goods and charcuterie. Elsewhere there are good budget dining options down King Street - I've eaten at several good Japanese places, though I can't remember their names.

                  On the western end of Hammersmith Road, in front of Latymer Court, is the Lunchbox, which does good sandwiches and a great roast pork sandwich for a few quid.

                  4. High St Kensington/ Kensington Church Street - The Thai Kitchen at the Churchill Arms has consistently been my go-to for inexpensive and delicious Thai food in the area since I moved to West London. It is very good, though you will need to book ahead (it's worth it).

                  5. Gloucester Road - Cafe Forum by Gloucester Road station is an excellent and informal spot - particularly good are the thin pizzas which are very reasonable. When my friends used to live in South Ken, many meals were eaten in this spot.

                  6. South Kensington - Oriental Canteen is an Asian Imperial College favourite - your son can easily grab lunch with a drink for 4 or 5 quid if he's feeling exuberant. Avoid Paper Tiger like the plague, unless you particularly like eating peppers and onions that have stewed under the gaze of kitchen lights.

                  7. Fulham Road - there are a wealth of options around Chelsea and Westminster hospital around the 10 pound range if your son wants to eat out and spend a bit of money. Particularly, Rossopomodoro's lunch deal (9GBP for any pizza/pasta and a drink) is good. Given that midrange and budget Italian in London is execrable on the whole, the fior di latte mozzarella pizza is surprisingly decent. There is a deli across the road from the hospital that does lovely little baguettes for a few pounds - there should be no excuse for going to Snax!

                  Hope that helps a bit. If your son is a serious foodie there are some great options around here like Luigi's - but we'll leave that for another time.