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Cost of London dining

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nc213 Mar 6, 2011 02:34 PM

I'm taking a group of university students to London and trying to work on a food budget. I'm planning to find a hotel with breakfasts, leaving me lunches and dinners for each day. Though I wouldn't say that I'm looking to feed them as cheaply as possible, I'm looking to do near that.

So, imagining a quick lunch--sit down probably, but not necessarily--and an inexpensive, but not fast food dinner each day. Places like Mooli, Hummus Brothers, Wagamama, etc would fit the bill nicely. Kebab places and the like would certainly do for some lunches. (We're not limited to ethnic places, though part of the purpose of this trip is to show students the diversity of the UK, so there's an added bonus.) We'll be spending most of our time in the city centre for museums and theatre, so it's unlikely we'd be headed beyond zone 2 or have much time for that.

How much would you budget for lunch and dinner per person per day? An administrator suggested $30, but that seemed a bit low to me.

I'd be happy for all responses and for any suggestions you have for places to take them. I was in London last year for a bit and will be back for a few days this summer, but it's been a very long time since I've been able to spend any real time there, and things are different when you're imagining 10 students and a budget.

Thanks in advance.

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  1. Robin Joy RE: nc213 Mar 6, 2011 10:16 PM

    What age are your students please? I ask because if there's no alcohol involved then you should be OK on your $30, although even sodas etc. can up the bill quite a bit. I think it's a legal requirement that anywhere you sit down for a meal must provide tap water free of charge, and I personally reckon that London tap tastes just fine.

    Most London pubs will feed you a solid single course for £10/$16 max. although pubs might be a bit grumpy just serving you tap water.

    Are you able to be a bit more area specific? I doubt if you want to spend the time and money getting from,say, the Tower of London to Bayswater just to have a value lunch. Also, where are you staying, to help with evening recs.

    My rec: If you are in The City, then between St Paul's & the Tower is The Bell pub, in Bush Lane, off Cannon Street. About four or five decent choices at lunchtime (e.g. home made burgers, roast chicken, sausage & mash) for about £8. The good bit though is Mon, Tue. & Wed it's 2 for ,1 which makes it cheaper than the nearby McDondald's.

    1. abby d RE: nc213 Mar 6, 2011 10:55 PM

      it might be worth factoring in using some of the 2-for-1 vouchers whch are floating around - this site will always have current vouchers:
      http://www.moneysavingexpert.com/deal...

      they are obviously chains so won't be amazing but it might ease budgetary pressures and if your students will want a pizza/pasta hit it is definitely worth it. from the list that is current i'd use strada, pizza express, prezzo and maybe yo sushi (i haven't been for many years so can't really judge).

      would the new yalla yalla (lebanese) be able to cope with a group that size? i've not been but like the original and know it is bigger. tas (turkish) is also good - it's got several branches and can easily handle groups.

      dishoom might also be worth a look as a central indian option which is quite fun.

      1. r
        Roland Parker RE: nc213 Mar 6, 2011 11:00 PM

        Hotel breakfasts are rarely a good bargain. We always skip them (cheaper room bill) and opt for coffee and a croissant at a local bakery or coffeehouse. But with a large group of youngsters I can see how a large buffet-style hotel breakfast can fill up the kids and keep them going for some time.

        One of the best ways to eat cheaply in London while still having a tasty meal is to have lunches at the Pret a Manger chain (or their EAT rival). These sandwich shops are dotted all over London and offer very good packaged sandwiches for a few pounds. Pret also offers small sushi and salad options.

        Cornish Pastie Company is a chain specialising in high quality cornish pasties with myriad of fillings to chose from.

        Dinners can be pizza. Pizza Express is dotted about London.

        There are fabulous Indian restaurants all over London. Most of them offer a cheap lunchtime buffet for between 7-15 pounds per person depending on where you go. Dinners can be reasonable if you want to be adventuresome and take your group to an Indian or Pakistani chophouse on Brick Lane. Order for the group rather than for individuals and share, as you might with a chinese meal.

        Royal China in Queensway/Bayswater offers superb dim sum for very reasonable prices.

        And, of course, there's always McDonalds.

        1. r
          r.vacapinta RE: nc213 Mar 7, 2011 04:01 AM

          For Lunch, Marks & Spencers is a good option as well. Their sandwiches are fresh and they usually offer things like fruit, sushi, snacks as well as fresh squeezed juices. I doubt it would exceed £10 a person. If the weather is not too bad, there is usually some nearby green space where the group can sit and eat.

          Depending on the sight/museum this group can probably offer more specific recommendations. If you are at the South Kensington museums for example (Science, Nat Hist, V&A) I've always found the V&A cafeteria to be tasty, a beautiful location and not expensive.

          5 Replies
          1. re: r.vacapinta
            Samuelinthekitchen RE: r.vacapinta Mar 10, 2011 03:32 AM

            i second that, the V&A cafeteria is one of the best museum spots in London for both the exceptionally high quality of their lunch and value as well as your choice of three historic and gorgeous rooms to eat in.

            1. re: Samuelinthekitchen
              c
              chochotte RE: Samuelinthekitchen Mar 10, 2011 04:38 PM

              Personally, while I love the V&A café and definitely recommend it for tea and cake - and also rate the quality of the food - it's NOT cheap for what you get. A sandwich is about £5.

              1. re: chochotte
                Samuelinthekitchen RE: chochotte Mar 11, 2011 01:11 AM

                au contraire, A hot meal and a cup of tea for under £10 in Central London is not bad value at all, considering how good their food is, I certainly on't regard the prices as steep by any means

                1. re: Samuelinthekitchen
                  n
                  nc213 RE: Samuelinthekitchen Mar 11, 2011 06:12 AM

                  Is the cafe in the V&A you're speaking of the same as the outdoor dining area? I was at the V&A for a quick visit last June, and I remember sitting outside in the courtyard enjoying the sun. i didn't get something to eat, but I saw tables and people eating. I remember it being an absolutely lovely place to sit in a sunny day.

                  1. re: nc213
                    Samuelinthekitchen RE: nc213 Mar 11, 2011 07:22 AM

                    darling isn't it? They've got a little food cart out there don't they? I am thinking of the three tea rooms inside.

          2. n
            nc213 RE: nc213 Mar 7, 2011 05:26 AM

            Thanks for all of the responses so far. My students are university age, so 19-22. While they will be of drinking age in the UK, we won't be paying for their alcohol, so they'll be limited to water and soft drinks on our budget. They can purchase their own drinks if they want. (The same goes for me--it's university policy.)

            We don't have all of our activities locked in yet, but I know we will be visiting the Museum of London-Docklands, the National Portrait Gallery, and The British Museum. We'll be doing a couple of walking tours as well, though I'm not sure which/where. (We'll almost certainly do the Roman London tour and a tour with Black HIstory Walks of London. We may do the East End as well.) We plan to see a few plays, mainly off-WE and Fringe, so we could end up anywhere on those evenings and afternoons. I do hope to get them in to see something at the National Theatre if the programming cooperates.

            I agree with the hotel breakfasts for myself, but with students I believe it's the best option. The growing boys can eat as much as they want, and having the breakfast room downstairs gives us an easy place to gather and set out for the day. I have no idea yet as to where we'll be staying.

            I thought of Pret and Eat right after I posted. They would be perfect for lunches. We may be heading to Brick Lane as a class since we'll probably be reading Monica Ali's novel of the same name as a part of the course. (The trip is in conjunction with a literature course on black British and postcolonial authors writing about the space of Britain. We'll be looking at different narratives of national identity all semester; then we travel to London, Liverpool, and Manchester.)

            I'm thankful for any additional suggestions and numbers. It seems that 10 pounds is the consensus for lunch, which is what I thought, but I imagine dinner will be more (?), which makes me think we're closer to $35 or $40 per day?

            1. g
              gemuse RE: nc213 Mar 7, 2011 05:46 AM

              I agree that $30 (about £18.50 at the current exchange rate) might be a bit low. Not impossible, but you'd really be devoting a lot of energy to finding and restricting yourself to a small range of options. That in itself can make a trip exhausting and limit your experiences somewhat. Not sure about the size of your group, but I know that the larger the group, often the harder it can be to reign in the table cost too. How do your students feel about this? Are you creating a budget so that the students know the baseline of what they will expect to pay for meals, with the option of going up from there, or is there going to be some kind of pre-payment, where you will have to stick strictly to the amount budgeted? Will you all be eating together, or will you break into smaller groups to find meals?

              I travelled and studied in the UK as a university student, and I became quite a champion of cheap eats in London, but you do have to be willing to make some sacrifices and forgo some of the fun stuff. Are your students adventurous types who won't mind eating lunch in the park (possibly in rainy weather) or taking a picnic dinner back to the hotel in the evening to eat in their rooms? Or are they the types who will be OK with McDonalds in a pinch? Another thing to consider is that when you are spending the whole day on foot sightseeing and visiting museums, it can be essential to have meals somewhere where you can actually sit down and relax for a bit. So take-away options aren't always ideal, even though they are the cheapest.

              I suppose you can rely on sandwiches and pizza to meet the $30 limit, but to me that somewhat negates the point of travelling. Perhaps you can budget for $30 every other day, with some leeway to spend a bit more on odd days? I think if there were one or two "nice" meals to look forward to, it makes the constant sandwich and pizza eating a little more acceptable. If you need a really realistic budget, don't forget to factor in the cost of drinks and service, plus the occasional dessert or treat. And if your students are of age, they may need a separate budget for the pub in the evenings. A pint can usually run you £3.50. My judgment is that you'd realistically need £8-12 ($13-20) for lunch, and £10-18 ($16-30) for dinner to be safe. If you spent less, you could use the overage to treat yourselves to tea and coffee in the afternoon.

              Having said all this, for cheap eats, there's places like Brixton Market, Camden Market, Borough Market, the above mentioned Marks & Spencer and Pret, which will all get you a meal for £10 or less. Some relevant threads:

              http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/698606
              http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/752009
              http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/767408
              http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/755788
              http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/500801

              3 Replies
              1. re: gemuse
                n
                nc213 RE: gemuse Mar 7, 2011 06:10 AM

                Actually, the budget is for the administrators at the university. I don't have to stick to it strictly, but I should try to come close. The university subsidizes these trips for the students. Students pay a fee to go--probably about $1400-$1500 for this trip--and we take care of airfare, hotels, admissions, meals, etc.--everything except things they'd like to buy. When I wrote my initial budget, I didn't know we were covering food, so I've been asked to come up with a dollar amount for food so the administration can work that into the student price. $30 was suggested, but I thought it was low. Now I'm thinking at least $40.

                I want to keep things reasonable, but, as you note, I want us to be able to have sit down meals when we want/need. I'd like to introduce them to the variety of foods in London, and I'd like them to enjoy themselves. I definitely do not want McDonalds (they might, but I don't care). This program is still pretty new, so I don't know what everyone's thoughts are on the matter, but it's my understanding that these trips are essentially a privilege (heck--it's a trip to the UK for little more than the cost of airfare) and to be enjoyed. I'd gladly grab falafel as we walk or Pret for lunches, but I don't believe it should be like my university backpacking days where they grab bread and cheese in the grocery store and picnic.

                There will be ten of them and two "adults." I know 12 is a big party, but we don't have to have a table for 12 wherever we go. We can certainly go in as 3 tables of 4, or whatever fits where we need.

                I love Camden and Borough Markets, but I am not sure they'll fit into our schedule. I'm wondering about Brixton Market, though. Does Brixton Market reflect the immigrant communities in the area? Would a meal there be more of a cultural event--like Brick Lane--than say Camden Market? (I know Camden is filled with ethnic foods, but that seems a happy accident of price and availability rather than a reflection of Camden itself. I have it on my list of possibilities, but given the relatively short time we have in London, I doubt we'll be able to make it there. The same goes for Borough Market, which I love dearly.)

                And thanks for the cheap eats threads. One of my coming tasks was to track those down and start working through them.

                1. re: nc213
                  g
                  gemuse RE: nc213 Mar 7, 2011 09:48 AM

                  You are right that Camden is not really ethnically authentic to the neighbourhood— just a collection of vendors selling cheap food, mostly east or south asian-influenced. Brixton is a much more "authentic" experience, and an area where few tourists take time to explore. There's plenty of african and caribbean options at very reasonable prices, and they, along with the markets, do truly reflect the culture of Brixton's residents. I do think Brixton qualifies as a cultural outing, especially as it presents a very different London than the usual tourist itinerary covers. There are also a host of other interesting eating options there, from Columbian to Italian. See the Brixton thread linked to earlier.

                  A few of my favourite budget options that are central and could accommodate a group:

                  I love taking visitors to dinner at the pie room at the Newman Arms near Tottenham Court Road. For £10 you get the pie of your choice (steak, gammon & leak, fish, moroccan lamb, etc.) and an ample serving of steamed veggies and potatoes. Desserts are big enough for 2-3 people to share (about £8), and you wouldn't want to leave London without trying a sticky toffee pudding or spotted dick. There's a small pub downstairs and the pie room upstairs. The pies are excellent, but be forewarned that there are only pies on the menu, no other options. The room is very traditional and has a great old timey London atmosphere. It might be a bit tight for 12 of you, but if you went early in the week (they aren't open weekends) and booked in advance, it would probably be fine. Or you could split up the group and go on separate nights. http://newmanarms.co.uk/

                  I also really love Chilli Cool in Bloomsbury (not far from the British Museum), which specializes in Szechuan Chinese. They have a couple of large round tables to accommodate larger parties, and the dishes are really designed to be served family style, so it's ideal . The dishes run in the £8-12 range, but they are huge, so you would only need to order about 3 or 4 for a group of 6. Note that the service is terrible, but the food is worth bearing the indifference of the staff. http://www.chillicool.com/

                  Near London Bridge is a Bavarian bierkeller called Katzenjammer. With long wooden tables lined with benches, they are really well-designed to accommodate large groups, and while the focus is understandably german beer, they have a really well-priced menu of sausages and schnitzel. You can get a sausage on a roll with a salad for as little as £5, or pay £8-12 for the larger platters. Perhaps not the ultimate London experience, but in a touristy location where there aren't a lot of other modestly-priced options. http://www.katzenjammers.co.uk/

                  Of course Chinatown/Leicester Square is full of great budget options, and makes for a great London experience, especially late nights. Check some of the Chinatown threads for specific recommendations.

                  1. re: gemuse
                    limster RE: gemuse Mar 7, 2011 02:03 PM

                    More stuff near London Bridge/Borough:

                    Tsuru for curry katsu (~£7-8 at dinner, closer to £5 for lunch). Just south of Tate Modern.

                    Table for sandwiches and salads at £7-8 for lunch.

                    El Vergel for Chilean chacarero/sandwiches for a touch over £5 at lunch, a bit of a walk from London Bridge, but worth it.

                    Hiba for Lebanese sandwiches and wraps, also around £5 (mezze and other dishes are going to be more pricey, roughly £10-12 for mains).

                    Le Petit Bleu, a new place on Snowfields, with good sandwiches, maxing out at ~£3.50. The dark bread with feta cheese, sundried tomato and onion marmalade is great combo.

                    Malting's Cafe, roughly £7-8 for a good sit down lunch.

                    -----
                    Tate Modern
                    Bankside, London SE1 9TG, GB

              2. u
                ultimatepotato RE: nc213 Mar 7, 2011 06:05 AM

                First of all, I want to join this class.

                Right, now for the eating. Some of my choices depend on how you want to pay - will they have a per diem, or do they claim back they costs, or is the group leader paying for everyone at once?

                I've mentioned my favourite cheap eats in a couple of threads, but the ones that I love in Central London are in Soho - Bibimbap (Korean) in Greek St, Taro (Japanese) is round the corner in Old Compton St - both do cheap, tasty meals for less than a tenner. If the group isn't too big, I'd also try to visit Maison Bertaux, a patisserie also on Greek St towards Chinatown - a little expensive if you don't treat it as a meal in itself, but I love their cheesecake. And a slice is as big as my head. Eat and Pret are still good, safe options, but have a look at some of the independent cafes around - lunch time baguettes for less than what you'd pay at the chains are the staple diet of many a central office worker. Boots, Tescos, M & S Simply Food are your friends for lunchtime combos as well - for between £2 and £4 you can get a sandwich/salad/sushi, snack and drink. I would also look out for a branch of Sushi chain Wasabi - their soups, pre-selected sushi packs and hot options will run you between £4 and £7.

                If you are able to let them pay for their own food and you have the time on the right dates, Brixton, Borough and Spitalfields markets are all in zone 1 or 2 and all have their own delicious food carts (and Londoners will fight to the the death about which is best for food). If you get to Spitalfields on a Sunday, ohh and ahh at the pretty, expensive trinkets, then follow the crowds through to Brick Lane - the BL Up Market, vintage market and BL itself have many, many takeaway food stalls. If you go early, you can travel all the way up BL and follow the signs to the Colombia Rd flower market as well. I know it isn't exactly museums and theatre, but making my way between them on a Sunday and taking in the sights and sounds makes me love London again. And I never go home hungry.

                If you're willing to pay £10 a head for lunch, then you will expect to pay £15 - £20 a head for dinner. HOWEVER - depending on the number of days you are here, you can very definitely spend less on some days and then add the extra to splash out a little on others. Tax is included in prices here and tips are generally only given in sit-down situations.

                So my last word is this - if I have to buy everything that I eat in a day with no access at all to prepare/heat up food, I could eat some delicious things for £10 (I can also live on £3 a day, but that's a story for a 'rice and beans' thread'). For £10 to £30 a day just on food and non-alcoholic drinks, I'd live pretty well.

                Hope you have a great trip!

                1. greedygirl RE: nc213 Mar 8, 2011 05:38 AM

                  Given the subject of your course (which sounds really interesting btw) I'd say a visit to Brixton is a must as it was one of the main areas in which Caribbean immigrants settled in the Windrush era. We even have a square called Windrush Square. If you're reading Small Island for your course (and if you're not, you should) then it is set in and around Brixton. As far as eating goes, you will find it reflects the myriad faces of Brixton. There are several places to find jerk chicken and other Caribbean options, and you'll also find food from Ghana. There are also cafés reflecting the more recent immigration in Brixton - largely Colombian - as well as other cuisines in Brixton Village which are perhaps symptomatic of more recent gentrification. I often see groups of students doing tours here (they seem to be mainly Scandinavian). If you do come, try to make it later in the week as there'll be more going on. Thursday night would be ideal and your group can try different places in the market.

                  In central London, you might consider the Busabai Eathai chain of restaurants which offer decent South-East Asian fare at reasonable prices.

                  I'd say £30 rather than $30 is a reasonable budget.

                  19 Replies
                  1. re: greedygirl
                    n
                    nc213 RE: greedygirl Mar 8, 2011 05:49 AM

                    Thanks for this. A Small Island is on my long list of texts. It didn't make the cut last time I taught the course, but it may this time--there's just too much I could teach and not enough days in the semester.

                    I has considered sending students in groups or pairs to different neighborhoods we read about, having them explore for an hour or two, and then report back. Brixton is on my list of possibilities. But now I'm thinking that we might hit Brixton for a meal together. I'll also keep Thursday night in mind. We're pretty far out from picking dates; although I am hoping to spend most of our evenings in London at the theatre.

                    I've added Busabai Eathai to my list. It looks perfect for my group--inexpensive, interesting, and lots of options for different kinds of eaters.

                    1. re: nc213
                      greedygirl RE: nc213 Mar 8, 2011 06:05 AM

                      For my money, Small Island is better than Brick Lane. Just my opinion. What other books are you studying?

                      You should definitely hit Brick Lane itself though as it's a pretty interesting area for your purposes, reflecting a different kind of immigration. The restaurants on Brick Lane itself aren't that interesting though - better to head to n earby Whitechapel (which is also less touristy) and Needoo, Lahore Grill or Tayyabs.

                      1. re: nc213
                        zuriga1 RE: nc213 Mar 8, 2011 06:49 AM

                        If you don't have time for Small Island, the book, you can show the DVD. It was far superior to Brick Lane, the film and book.

                        1. re: zuriga1
                          n
                          nc213 RE: zuriga1 Mar 8, 2011 07:24 AM

                          I haven't seen the film version of Small Island yet, so I'll check that out. The thing is, syllabi aren't necessarily constructed about what the best reads are. Brick Lane's attention to language--the acquisition of English throughout the book, the letters from the sister in Bangladesh--contemporary life in the council estate, and the question of transnational women's work--are reasons why it makes it into the syllabus. Small Island covers very different ground. (I do appreciate the suggestion and the reminder that there is a film version of SI. I'm also planning to check out Levy's book The Fruit of the Lemon, which is set in the 70s. I'm thinking it might pair nicely with Buddha of Suburbia). The last time I taught we used James Proctor's anthology Writing Black Britain, Agard's Alternative Anthem, Linton Kwesi Johnson's Mi Revalueshunary Fren, Evaristo's The Emperor's Babe, Naipaul's Mimic Men, Kureisi's The Buddha of Suburbia, and Londonstani by Guatam Malkani. I'm not sure which of these will return, though it's hard to get rid of any of them for various reasons. I'm upping the film quotient this time as well. Possibilities include: East is East, Dirty Pretty Things, Anita and Me, My Beautiful Laundrette, and My Son the Fanatic.

                          To bring it back to food, I was hoping to hit Tayyabs or Needoo the last time I was in London, but I didn't. Can you tell me if they are similarly priced? I can get prices online for Needoo, and it should work well with our budget, but I can't find a menu with prices for Tayyab.

                          Also, I'm getting a lot of great recs for South Asian food, which is wonderful. I'm wondering if anyone has specific recs for Caribbean and/or African places where we could sit down and have a meal.

                          1. re: nc213
                            greedygirl RE: nc213 Mar 8, 2011 08:06 AM

                            In Brixton there is Asmara, which is Ethiopian/Eritrean. There's another Ethiopian/Eritrean place in Oval but I don't know what it's called. The only sit-down Caribbean places I know in Brixton are Bamboula on Acre Lane and Etta's Seafood Kitchen in the market but I've never been to either. All the other places are takeaway - you can get good roti from a blue caravan in the market!

                            Linton Kwesi Johnson lives round the corner from me! Maybe you could get him to join you in Brixton Village. ;-) Plus he can tell you about the Brixton riots first-hand. I met John Agard several times when I worked in children's publishing - he's quite a character.

                            1. re: greedygirl
                              n
                              nc213 RE: greedygirl Mar 8, 2011 08:27 AM

                              Thanks so much for these. I'll check them out asap.

                              If my students met LKJ, they might pee themselves, (Actually, I might too.) I have never met an American college student who has heard of him before my class, and he blows them away every time. Maybe I'll see if I can email him and ask if he'd be willing to meet my students. S.I Martin used to run black British history tours in London; I'm going to see if they can meet him as well. We'll probably read his novel Incomparable World.

                              1. re: nc213
                                greedygirl RE: nc213 Mar 8, 2011 08:51 AM

                                Etta's might be a good experience for your students - she's quite a character too.

                                I would definitely email LKJ - in my experience the beat and dub poems really come to life when you see them performed. I once threw a poetry party for work and a whole heap of them came and gave impromptu performances and I'm talking some of the greats (Brian Patten, Agard, Grace Nichols, Adrian Mitchell, Roger McGough) and it was one of the best experiences of my life.

                                1. re: greedygirl
                                  The Chowhound Team RE: greedygirl Mar 8, 2011 08:56 AM

                                  Hi Hounds, sorry to interrupt the chow talk. We acknowledge that literature, books, culture and related topics are truly fascinating, but this board's narrow focus is on finding good chow and we're can't host these off-topic discussions. Thanks for helping us keep the board focused on its chow finding mission.

                            2. re: nc213
                              t
                              Theresa RE: nc213 Mar 8, 2011 11:25 PM

                              I htink Needo and Tayyabs are both similarly priced and have almost identical menus - there should be a menu for Tayyabs online - its full name is New Tayyabs, which may bring it up.

                              Also - you mention upthread that you are visiting Liverpool and Manchester - do you need to know about places for cheap food in these places? I may be able to help with this.

                              1. re: Theresa
                                n
                                nc213 RE: Theresa Mar 9, 2011 05:24 AM

                                Thanks, Theresa, and yes, I will.

                                I started this thread to put together budget numbers, which it's been very helpful for. But I will need to start thinking about Manchester and Liverpool. I'm heading to both places this summer for more planning, and I would be thrilled with any and all recs you have. I've spent some time in London, but I'm completely unfamiliar with both Manchester and Liverpool (except one brief Beatles tour when I was an undergrad.)

                                Thanks.

                                1. re: nc213
                                  t
                                  Theresa RE: nc213 Mar 9, 2011 06:19 AM

                                  I don't know how long you will be in each place, but assuming you are looking for a similar mix of food, then some thoughts are:

                                  Liverpool isn't great for Indian or Pakistani food, but has a few good Chinese places - Chilli Chilli has a menu with the usual stuff on, but it also has a short Sichuan menu. Portions are quite big, so it would be a good place for an economical evening meal. Beware - some are very hot.

                                  Mabo's is a rough and ready cafe - very basic and the woman serving is spectacularly rude sometimes! Having said that, it is good for big bowls of wanton noodle soup and roast meat dishes. It closes at 8pm from Sunday to Thursday

                                  Both of these two are in China Town (which is not very big these days, but has a great arch - the biggest outside mainland china).

                                  A place called Host, which is up on Hope St, between the two cathedrals, does Wagamama type food, but much better and with more variety - cool and funky too, and reasonable prices.

                                  A very good and cheap Lebanese place is the Sahara behind the Everyman theatre. They don't have a license, but you can take your own alcohol. Some lovely dishes, and even the kebabs are done well.

                                  The Italian Club on Bold St is good value for lunch or an early evening meal (it closes at 7pm I think). Good Italian food from snacks to daily hot dishes onthe specials board. There are not very many tables though, and I don't think you can book.

                                  The Everyman Bistro, under the theatre, is a Liverpool institution, and they serve food all day till about 9pm. Very good value, a real mix of food types (from quiche and salads through to curries and tagines) and all very tasty.

                                  For sandwiches, there are a few Prets in the central areas, but I haven't worked in town for a couple of years, so I'm a bit out of date on what's around for that type of stuff. Actually, the Taste cafe next to the Tate Gallery in the Albert Dock is pretty good, and if you are going to the International Slavery Museum, it would be a handy stop. Not sure of prices though.

                                  If you need any recommendations for places out of the central areas, then let me know.

                                  I don't know food places in Manchester so well, but there are a few Pakistani cafes in the Northern Quarter which do really good home-cooked type food - three curry tasters and rice for £4 or £5 pounds. They close at 5pm.

                                  There are two good Sichuan places - Red Chilli and Red n Hot - both in China town.

                                  There is also a health food cafe which is really well known and which does really nice sandwiches, salads and other things - but I can't remember what it's called.

                                  It's a shame you are not going to visit the Lancashire towns where much of England's Asian population first settled because of the cotton mills - that way you would get a very different feel for multiculturalism in Northern England, along with a taste of home-cooked Indian and Pakistani food - but I guess you only have a limited amount of time.

                                  1. re: Theresa
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                                    themags RE: Theresa Mar 9, 2011 06:44 AM

                                    The health food cafe in Manchester is the 8th Day Cafe - it's great. http://www.eighth-day.co.uk/

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                                      Theresa RE: themags Mar 9, 2011 03:36 PM

                                      Thanks - I'm sure this is the place I meant, but the name doesn't ring any bells - have they changed it in the last few years... or am I losing my memory...?

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                                      nc213 RE: Theresa Mar 9, 2011 07:15 AM

                                      Thanks so much for all of these. And if you have specific recs for Lancashire towns, I'd love to hear them. I might be able to squeeze in an extra stop on my visit this summer.
                                      While I'm there primarily to plan, I'm also there to enjoy and eat!

                                      1. re: nc213
                                        zuriga1 RE: nc213 Mar 9, 2011 08:16 AM

                                        Nigel Haworth and Lisa Allen are both known as being very good chefs. They have a place in Lancaster called Northcote. I think it's in the town of Langho, but I'm not sure. That's where I would head for a great meal.

                                        www.northcote.com

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                                          Theresa RE: nc213 Mar 9, 2011 01:49 PM

                                          I don't know loads about Lancashire, but towns like Blackburn, Oldham, Burnley, Preston, Bradford (OK, so that's West Yorkshire - but they are all near to each other) are all interesting for your students/curriculum.

                                          Foodwise, I've become addicted to an Indain Cafe in Preston (I've been working there for a while) - it's called Lunches and Brunches (don't ask me why...) and they have a short menu of home-cooked food, created by their auntie! It's great, and better than any standard British curry house.

                                          Bradford is well known for good Asian food - there's one place in particular which won a Ramsey local restaurant award recently, but can't remember the name.

                                          On another level all together, Northcote Manor, as mentioned above, is one of the few places where I have only had perfect meals - no complaints about anything, and lovely stuff.

                                          Lancashire is also good for gastro pubs - three are run by the Northcote Manor posse - The Three Fishes, The Highwayman Inn and the Cock and something or other - they are all on the website.

                                          The Hardens Guide is good for recommendations for others. I'm sure I'll think of more - but generally speaking, as a rule of thumb - small town inland Lancashire is better for Asian food, and rubbish for decent British/European food. The countryside is the reverse.

                                          If you are in Liverpool without students this summer and want some non-budget places to eat, then I'll furnish you with more expensive recommendations!

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                                            NorthernFood RE: Theresa Mar 9, 2011 02:23 PM

                                            There are plenty of options in Manchester that should fit your budgetary constraints. In the city centre try the following:

                                            Korean - Baekdu
                                            Indian - Various curry cafes (as mentioned above), several of which now open later than 5pm so are also an option for an early evening meal. Try This & That, Yadgar or Hunters Asian BBQ.
                                            Chinese - in addition to those previously mentioned Middle Kingdom and Hunan both do Szechuan & Hunanese food.
                                            Soup Kitchen - very good spot for soups/sandwiches/hot dishes.

                                            Are you going to Rusholme? This is the area with the famous curry mile, could be interesting to visit for your course. Although famed for it's Indian/Pakistani restaurants (most of which are not very good) it's increasingly being taken over by Middle Eastern places (some of which are quite good).

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                                              nc213 RE: NorthernFood Mar 9, 2011 02:50 PM

                                              @Northernfood

                                              Thanks for these recs. We're definitely planning on hitting the Curry Mile, at least to see and possibly to eat. I've just tracked down a novel set there by the same title, but I haven't checked it out. I

                                              I think this is the first Korean rec I've had, which is a great addition.

                                            2. re: Theresa
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                                              nc213 RE: Theresa Mar 9, 2011 02:48 PM

                                              I will be in Liverpool this summer w/out students and, provided grant monies for the basics come through, would love to check out some more expensive options. My husband is meeting me at the end of my trip in hopes of heading to Scotland, but I think I might see if we could stop off at Northcote Manor on the way--it looks lovely.

                                              I'm hoping to get a day in Bradford, but I'm not sure if I'll have the chance.

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                              Haverfoodie RE: nc213 Mar 10, 2011 04:06 AM

                              I echo all of NorthernFood's suggestions and want to add a couple more.

                              For lunch, I really recommend a cafe called The Farm. It does incredibly cheap sandwiches piled high with free-range roast pork (£2.50) , plus venison and artisanal sausages for similar prices. The owner is lovely. The cafe (which has very limited seating) shuts whenever the pork runs out.

                              Caribbean food - there are a bunch of places in and around Moss Side (which is very easily reachable from Rushholme, and although it has a bad reputation, I have never had a problem walking around there) that all do very good, very filling, very cheap lunches and dinners. Seating is usually limited, though.

                              Northern Quarter curry cafes: In addition to NorthernFood's suggestions, I'd recommend Kabana for kebabs. If you have the opportunity, you should try and go to the cafes on a Sunday when they do nihari. These guys can give you more extensive recommendations: http://flavoursofmanchester.blogspot....

                              Soup Kitchen is also open later on I think Thursdays and Fridays, and their breads, soups and other dishes are all uniformly delicious.

                              There's a very good and cheap Vietnamese place just beyond the Northern Quarter called Vnam Cafe. Huge bowls of pho, large amounts of barbecued meats and plenty of other stuff available for around £6-8 per person.

                              I have a blog where I review cheap and interesting food in Manchester (http://mancfoodian.blogspot.com/) so as I review more places between now and the summer, that might be helpful.

                              Good luck!

                              -----
                              The Northern Quarter Restaurant & Bar
                              108 High Street, Manchester M4 1HQ, GB

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: Haverfoodie
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                                nc213 RE: Haverfoodie Mar 11, 2011 06:12 AM

                                Thanks for these recs and blogs. I'll definitely follow before my own scouting trip and as I plan the bigger one for the students.

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