Thinking allowed — 22 March 2016

What’s one of the first things that comes to mind when you think of London? “Expensive”, right? How you’re going to be broke by the time you leave the city, having spent all of your hard-earned tuppence on sustenance whilst you’re here. Well, let me tell you, that when it comes to eating out in London, it doesn’t have to be that way! You won’t have to be resigned to living off 20p microwave noodles for the following three months.

Believe it or not, there are actually plenty of reasonably priced, and some you could even say “cheap” places to eat in London. And I’m not talking about the dodgy cafe (note the intentional absence of e-acute!) down the road or daily trips to the golden arches. There really are some decent eateries out there which won’t burn a hole in your pocket.

Why not try:

Candid Café
A unique and quirkily designed café in Angel, great for lunch or tea. Its relaxed atmosphere makes it the perfect place to catch up with friends or even chill out on your own with a book. It’s spacious, but at the same time has a cosy feel to it. The mid-range budget menu includes a variety of simple well-loved meat and vegetarian main courses, such as chicken or fish with rice and salad or vegetable lasagne or curry, with prices ranging from £6 to £9 for a main.

Pizza Union
For real Italian style thin and crispy pizzas, head to Pizza Union in King’s Cross or Shoreditch. You’ll pay a measly £3.95-£6.50 for one of these fire-baked 12” beauties. And although the restaurant prides itself on being superfast, this isn’t just “grab and go”, stay a while and savour the flavour. There’s a great choice of toppings, and salads and desserts too, if your pizza isn’t quite enough!

Siaim
If you find yourself way up the Northern Line, make sure you pay a visit to Siaim in Finchley Central. They describe themselves as “Mediterranean Seafood and Grill”, but their menu includes much more, such as a variety of delicious pasta dishes and middle eastern style starters. Price wise, with a good quality steak and dauphinoise potatoes at £12.95, you can’t really ask for more. To make the most of their lower priced selections, visit at lunchtime for one of their big delicious sandwiches for £4.95 or the Shackshuka omelette for £5.95.

Bibimbap
Bibimbap is Korea’s national dish, and three restaurants of the same name have popped up in Charlotte Street, Soho and Leadenhall. Build your own dish by choosing what type of rice you want, whether you want meat, seafood or something vege-based and if you would like an egg in it or not. Finally, you get to choose what kind of bowl you’d prefer! Or alternatively, opt for one of their mouth-watering pre-designed dishes for around £7.

Tuk Tuk
This café/restaurant on Old Compton Street in Soho is perfect for a quick pre-theatre Thai, or rather popularly, a cure for late night PDH (post drinking hunger). But don’t worry, the clientele are generally well-behaved! It is basic but the food is tasty and service quick with many main dishes costing around £5-£6.

Herman Ze German
If you’re after a good quality hotdog, or should I say “wurst in a roll” (as is on their menu), then you’ll want to exit Tuk Tuk, cross the road, and step into Herman Ze German. Whether you’re partial to a Bratwurst, Bockwurst or Chilli Wurst, you’ll not pay more than £4.45. The veges amongst you do have to pay a pound extra though, with a Veggie Wurst priced at £5.45, but find solace in the fact that you can add crispy onions to any wurst for free! Yum yum. Branches also in Charing Cross and Fitzrovia.

Sagar
This vegetarian Indian restaurant has three London locations – Covent Garden, Hammersmith and West End. They serve delicious south Indian cuisine, with the thoughtful emphasis of keeping people with certain dietary restrictions in mind. Specific vegan, wheat free, nut free and onion and garlic free menus are available. Very useful. And on top of that you’ll get a set lunch for around £6 at the Hammersmith restaurant.

Smack Lobster
Named after “smacks”, what the boats that catch lobster are called, this Dean Street deli is the takeaway version of parent company Burger and Lobster. At B&L you’ll pay £20 for succulent lobster in a soft brioche role. For a tenner you’ll get the exact same delicious sandwich, but to-go and at half the price. Ok, so it may not exactly be dining on a budget, but for great lobster, I think that we can make an exception!

Pieminister
Grab a scrumptious classic British pie at one of the Pieminister cafés located at Gabriel’s Wharf, Imperial University and Leather Lane. At Gabriel’s Wharf, any one of these delicious meat-filled pastry creations won’t cost you more than £4.50. Bargain! The struggle you’ll have here is trying to decide which to choose. Do you go for the tried and tested chicken and mushroom favourite, or perhaps something a little more adventurous with the wild venison, smoked bacon, kidney bean, scotch bonnet chilli and BrewDog ale pie! There are lovely vegetarian options too, including Somerset goats’ cheese, sweet potato, spinach and red onion or wild mushroom, asparagus, white wine and cream.

Beigel Bake
For a 24 hour bakery with filled rolls for literally pennies, head to Beigel Bake on Brick Lane. You’ll get an egg or cheese roll for 90p, but I’d recommend treating yourself to a smoked salmon bagel for a whopping… £1.40! You may even have change left over for a 50p apple slice or 30p doughnut afterwards. Careful though, we wouldn’t want you to over-do it!

Aside from these great eateries and many more well-priced independent cafés and restaurants, it is worth checking out some of the big chains for discounts and offers. Restaurants like Prezzo, Café Rouge and Pizza Express have mailing lists and nearly every week email out excellent offers. The discounts that they offer vary, but I have come across up to 40% off in the past and “buy one main get another for £1”. Generally you’re looking at around 20% off though, and there are usually day and time restrictions.

Another worth checking out is Côte’s set menu. Depending on which one of their many locations that you end up at, and the day and time, you can treat yourself to a three-course meal for as little as £12.95, with plenty on the set menu to choose from, too. And for some Spanish fare, install the La Tasca app or request a loyalty card for 20% off your tapas meal. There are some great menu choices here, prices are already reasonable, and you can use the discount seven days a week.

So there you go. You really don’t have to break the bank to eat out in London. Hope I’ve made you hungry!

Article provided by Best Venues London, a completely FREE service allowing you to discover the greatest, quirkiest and most inspiring venues for corporate days and events.

Photo: Food by Tighten up! (2007) (CC BY 2.0)

 

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