According to several recent studies conducted by some of the world’s most esteemed economists, London is actually not the cheapest city on earth.
You may need a moment to process that, it’s a shocker, we know.
But as it happens, London is one of the most plentiful & inexhaustibly varied cities on earth, and thus anyone who looks closely will find an abundance of excellent value food that’s not only not bad, but is frequently amazingly good.
So we took the trouble of tracking down the city’s finest cheap dishes, all of which are under a tenner, and all of which are, pound-for-pound, some of the best in the city. From fresh pasta, to Caribbean feasts, to regional Chinese specialities, here they are…
Maison Bab | Covent Garden
Tucked away down Covent Garden’s Mercer Walk, Maison Bab serves up gourmet kebabs stuffed full of fresh, seasonal produce. Their pork shawarma, friend chicken shish and legendary paneer are all under a tenner, whilst their vegan sabich sandwich (also shy of ten pounds) come with the promise of planting a tree, so you can nourish your body and your soul.
What to get? Virtually all kebabs come in at under a tenner, but the vegan sabich is the tree-planting rockstar | £9.50
Address: Mercer’s Walk, Covent Garden, Central London, WC2H 9QE | For more information, or to book, visit their website here
Padella | London Bridge
Arguably the best pasta joint in London and yet still the cheapest. Their pici cacio & pepe (pictured) is ten pounds on the noggin, with a number of other favourites (fettucine with chicken livers, sage and masala) following suit.
What to get? Pici cacio & pepe, no question | £10
Address: 6 Southwark Street, Borough, South London, SE1 1TQ | For more information, or to book, visit their website here
Xi’an Impression | Highbury
This unassuming little spot in Highbury is known for dishing up some of the finest, fieriest, Chinese food in the city. Specifically, X’ian street food, including big bowls of thick, chewy, hand-pulled noodles doused in chilli oil, topped with everything from pak choi to pork.
What to get? Hand-pulled noodles | £9.80
Address: 117 Benwell Road, London, N7 7BW | For more information, or to book, visit their website here
Netil Market | London Fields
Despite the name, Netil Market actually manages to take the sting out of your lunch order in two ways: 1) the sheer, vast variety of goods on offer, which seem to cover half of the world map (and include Taiwanese buns from the original BAO, delightfully pretty Middle Eastern pitta from Pockets, and more). And 2) the not-vast prices. See more great street food markets in London
What to get? The classic Pockets Falafel | £7
Address: 11-25 Westgate Street, Dalston, E8 3RL | For more information, or to book, visit their website here
Fish, Wings & Tings | Brixton
Fish, Wings & Tings is the work of Trinidadian-born Brian Danclair, whose ambitious culinary style he’s labelled ‘Nouvelle Caribbean cuisine’. What does that mean? Well, it seems to be a mix of Caribbean flavours and ingredients, all put together using high-end French techniques. And then selling it all for not-high-end prices.
What to get? The signature cod fish fritters with ginger & lime aoli are, in their words, like “getting a high five from Jesus” | £8.50
Address: Granville Arcade, Brixton Village, Coldharbour Lane, Brixton, SW9 8PR | For more information, or to book, visit their website here
Pizza Pilgrims | Across London
Pizza Pilgrims have gone from strength to strength over the years, while refusing to bulk up their prices in a commensurate fashion. Which probably helps to explain why they’re still so popular. It’s easily one of the best value Neapolitan-style sourdough pizzas in London right now, and the restaurants are quite fun too.
What to get? The Puttanesca | £9.50
Address: 11 Dean Street, London, W1D 3RP | For more information, or to book, visit their website here
Del 74 | Dalston
Del 74 is exactly the buzzing, vibrant, energetic taco joint that you envision when you think about a great night out, where the food is plentiful, delicious, and cheap, and the bartender will do shots with you.
What to get? A pair of pork ribeye tacos | £6
Address: 129 Kingsland High Street, Dalston, East London, E8 2PB | For more information, or to book, visit their website here
Mr Bao | Peckham
Mr Bao, positioned on the slightly more orderly end of Rye Lane near Voodoo Rays, is one of those places that’s perpetually busy, from opening to closing. Because that’s just what happens when you serve filling, delicious bao buns for less than a fiver a pop. And this place does exactly that.
What to get? Pork belly bao | £4.20
Address: 293 Rye Lane, Peckham, Peckham, SE15 4UA | For more information, or to book, visit their website here
Andu Cafe | Dalston
With just two dishes on the menu, this no-frills Ethiopian cafe in Dalston makes it quite literally impossible to spend more than £8 on food. And it’s going to expand your culinary horizons somewhat too, served up in the traditional Ethiopian style, in the centre of an Injera flatbread.
What to get? The sampler | £8
Address: 528 Kingsland Road, Dalston, E8 4AH | For more information, or to book, visit their website here
Ugly Dumpling | Fitzrovia & Carnaby
Say hello to The Ugly Dumpling. Trust us, it has a great personality. The food is inventive, reasonably priced, and perfect if you happen to be in the Fitzrovia area looking for lunch or a light supper. And the cheeseburger dumpling actually does taste like cheeseburger.
What to get? Any trio of dumplings that takes your fancy | £5.25
Address: 30 Rathbone Place, Fitzrovia, W1T 1JG | For more information, or to book, visit their website here
Marugame Udon | Liverpool Street, Marylebone, Canary Wharf
Japan’s home-grown take on fast food is unctuous, warming ramen – and the country’s 800-strong udon chain, Marugame, has finally made it across to London. Noodles are made each morning in-house, dunked into steaming bowls of broth or tossed onto the grill, and topped with onsen egg, vegetable korokke or slices of pork in a kind of build-your-own bowl system that’s a bit like a school canteen. Best of all, they start at £3.45 a pop.
What to get? Curry rice is a comfort food classic | £6.25
Details: For more details, head here.
Made Of Dough | Peckham
If, like the rest of us, you’re not made of dough, then you might want to take a trip to Made Of Dough. Because their pizzas, which undergo a 60-hour fermentation process, were crowned champions at the London Pizza Festival. And they do half price pizzas every Monday.
What to get? The Artichoke | £10
Address: 182 Bellenden Road, Peckham, SE15 4BW | For more information, or to book, visit their website here
Kerb Seven Dials | Covent Garden
Kerb’s first permanent hub is inside a former Covent Garden banana warehouse. Peel back the cavernous dining area, and you’ll find 11 of the city’s finest street food traders, from Tim Anderson’s “Japanese soul food” at Nanban, to the all-vegan Club Mexicana, to the moreish delights of Curry On Naan Stop.
What to get? Curry On’s Chicken 65 | £7.50
Address: Seven Dials Market, Covent Garden, WC2H 9QW | For more information, or to book, visit their website here
Old Spitalfields Market | Shoreditch
The name Old Spitalfields Market doesn’t truly sell quite how ancient this place is (it first opened in 1638), but then neither does the market itself. With its gorgeous steel & glass roof, well-organised layout, and globe-spanning street food, it feels remarkably modern. And it’s absolutely loaded with reasonably priced food, including Chinese from Dumpling Shack (soon to be dumpling restaurant), traditional Ethiopian food from Merkmao, pulled-pork stuffed sandwiches from Dirty Bagel, and more.
What to get? Half a dozen soup dumplings from Dumpling Shack | £9.50
Address: 16 Horner Square, Spitalfields, East London, E1 6EW | For more information, or to book, visit their website here
Kin + Deum | Bermondsey
Kin + Deum is a family-run Thai outfit in Bermondsey, and it sticks to the very best of street food traditions by making things a) delicious, and b) cheap. Oh, and c) served in an elegant space, and therefore not like street food at all. Nothing on the lunch menu costs more than a tenner, and the dinner menu isn’t much more either.
What to get? Their signature, Bangkok’s Gra Pow | £10
Address: 2 Crucifix Lane, Bermondsey, SE1 3JW | For more information, or to book, visit their website here
Singburi | Leytonstone
With its tiny, faded sign Singburi is almost impossible to chance upon unless you know about it, but somehow many, many people seem to have chanced upon it, because it’s immensely popular. And for good reason, too. Drinks are BYOB, it’s all cash only, the prices are extremely reasonable, and the food is sensational.
What to get? Stir-fried clams | £8.75
Address: 593 High Road Leytonstone, Leytonstone, E11 4PA | For more information, or to book, visit their website here
Hungry for more? Here are the best sandwiches in London…
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