Cheap eats in London

Low on cash but high on hunger levels? We know the feeling. Eating out can be expensive, especially if you do it often. But does it always have to be high-end food with matching high-end prices? Not at all. You can find delicious food for equally delicious prices, if you just know where to look. Here’s where to go for fab food for a small buck in London

Updated on 15 July 2019

Let’s face it: eating out is expensive. Especially if you’re a foodie (which you probably are since you’ve clicked on this article), visiting restaurants several times a month, sometimes a week, can create an increasingly bigger hole in your wallet.

But we’re here to tell you that it doesn’t have to be that way. London’s restaurant scene is fantastic for so many reasons; it’s got an incredible amount of Michelin-starred establishments and there are a plethora of wonderful street food markets and restaurants showcasing cuisine from all over the world. But most excitingly (at least for money-conscious eaters) it also boasts an impressive number of vibrant and excellent cheap eats.

Cheap doesn’t have to mean the sacrifice of quality, either. Forget high-street chains and broaden your mind beyond burgers and pizzas (although these two feature heavily on this list, but hey – who doesn’t like pizza right?).

So leave your credit card at home and hit up one of these amazingly-priced cheap eats in London.

Chick

Chick 'n' Sours Haggerston

390 Kingsland Road, London, E8 4AA

Spicy fried chicken is the order of the day at this aptly named restaurant, with sides of messy chicken wings (just how we like it), beef-dripping chips (so indulgent) and pickled watermelon salad (a crisp and fresh dish to cut through the richness of the chicken). The ‘sandwiches’, which are basically fried chicken burgers are just magnificent and the most expensive items on the menu, priced at £10 and £11. There’s also an amazing set six-item menu priced at £18 per person (it’s to share between two).

£30 - £49
International
Chuck Burger Spitalfields

Chuck Burger Spitalfields

4 Commercial Street, London, E1 7PT

This mini-chain burger joint serves greasy, indulgent and fiery buns for under a tenner and we love it. From classic cheeseburgers to spicy chicken burgers and healthy veggie options, you’ll walk away with a full stomach and money left over for rent this month. Chicken wings are another menu highlight, served with buffalo sauce and a blue cheese dip, but it is the deep-fried mac ‘n’ cheese balls you should look out for – they must be the cheesiest we’ve encountered in London.    

Under £30
North American
Burgers
Voodoo Ray

Voodoo Ray's Dalston

95 Kingsland High Street, London, London, E8 2PB

First thing's first: the pizzas here are enormous. We’re talking 22-inch, New York-style pies that you can top with almost whatever you fancy, and you can grab a corresponding giant slice for no more than £4. On Mondays, you can get the whole thing for £20, so gather the troops for one cheap post-weekend meal. The Dalston site also sits on top of the Karaoke Hole (cheekily nicknamed the K-Hole), which does drag queen karaoke in the evenings.

Under £30
Pizza
Made of Dough

Made of Dough

182 Bellenden Road, London, SE15 4BW

You can’t go wrong with wood-fire sourdough pizza can you? Especially not when it comes as reasonably priced as the ones at Made of Dough - £11 gives you the most expensive option on the menu (a Serrano ham pizza with datterini tomatoes, solea tomatoes, fior di latte mozzarella, parmesan and rocket). We’re loving the truffle one too, with portebello mushrooms, truffle oil, mozzarella, parmesan and thyme. Sides are worth the trip, too, with the likes of carpaccio di zucchini with red chilli – a perfect summer freshener.

Under £30
Pizza
Pizza Union King

Pizza Union King's Cross

246-250 Pentonville Road, London, London, N1 9JY

Where else can you get a 12-inch pizza for a fiver? In fact, the cheapest option on the menu – a margherita – will leave you with no less than a £3.95 dent in your wallet. Simply queue up (expect long ones at peak times), order and wait (im)patiently for your buzzer to vibrate, telling you your pizza is ready. Wine by the glass is an astonishing £3.20, while Prosecco is only 50p more. What does this mean? You can get pizza and a glass of wine for under £10. Don’t believe us? Hit up King’s Cross Pizza Union tonight and be amazed.

Under £30
Pizza
Princi

Princi

135 Wardour Street, London, W1F 0UT

On the hunt for something high on carbs but low on price? Stop right there! This all-day Italian deli on Wardour Street serves up everything from chic breakfasts, savoury pastries and colourful salads, to ‘proper’ coffee, Italian wines and cocktails. It’s all delicious and will not cost you a lot – if you can control yourself, that is. Italian staff add to the authentic feel and the communal tables create a casual, but atmospheric setting. Excellent wood-fired pizzas are available at the adjoining restaurant, too.

£30 - £49
Italian
Homeslice Covent Garden

Homeslice Covent Garden

13 Neal's Yard, London, WC2H 9DP

Tucked inside the lovely and colourful Neil’s Yard in Covent Garden, Homeslice serves ginormous wood-fired Italian-styled pizzas alongside one-litre bottles of wine. Bring a foursome and split a £20 pizza and a £30 bottle of vino rosso between you and you’ll walk away having spent a mere £12.50 each. Bargain! Toppings range from the traditional (salami, rocket and parmesan) to the experimental (spiced lamb, savoy cabbage and sumac yoghurt), but if you want to go big, opt for the signature pizza of burrata, Serrano ham, heirloom tomatoes and asparagus.

Under £30
Pizza
Fat Baby

Fat Baby

Arches 14 & 15, Bohemia Place, Mare Street, London, E8 1DU

Despite the slightly freaky name, Fat Baby serves up some absolutely delicious Japanese small dishes at a very approachable price – even a beef onglet tatki with shiitake mushrooms, wasabi, ginger and spring onion is only £13.50! Springy gyoza stuffed with intense pork belly were one of our favourites when we visited. Part of Hackney’s Night Tales, it proclaims itself as East London’s ‘largest covered terrace’, and it combines a beer garden, nightclub and cocktail bar, too. Casual, cheap, cheerful – tick, tick and tick.

Japanese
Roti Chai - Street Kitchen

Roti Chai - Street Kitchen

Lower Ground Floor, 3 Portman Mews South, London, W1H 6AY

This restaurant tucked away in a mews behind Selfridges channels the frantic railway stations and busy roadside cafés of India on its ground floor, whereas the classic Indian tandoor grills is the inspiration for the basement dining room. It’s the former you should head to for a good-value meal, where snacks and hubbub are on the agenda. The ‘Railway Lamb Curry’ will warm you up nicely will only cost you £8.50, and even at that it's one of the three most expensive items on the menu.

£30 - £49
Fusion
Mr Bao

Mr Bao

293 Rye Lane, London, SE15 4UA

Bao down (see what we did there?) to this Peckham-based restaurant churning out everyone’s favourite Taiwanese buns. The fluffy little things come at the handsome price of £4.60 at the most, with sharing snacks not reaching more than £4 each. The chicken Bao Diddley is a winner, so is the vegan shiitake mushroom one, while the fried chicken snack with smoky miso mayo is a must. Pastel-coloured maps of Taiwan and modern prints on the walls make for an exotic and casual dining room.

Under £30
Taiwanese
Jidori Dalston

Jidori Dalston

89 Kingsland High Street, London, E8 2PB

Serving up Japanese yakitori (grilled skewers) to the hip Dalston crew, this restaurant might be tiny but it is big on flavour. Shiso, miso and koji contribute to delicious-tasting barbecued dishes that are bite-size and ideal for sharing. Subtle flavours at equally subtle prices (you’ll struggle to spend more than £30 per person on dinner without drinks) make for a wonderful experience. The stripped-back dining room allow the food to sing, and boy does it hit the high notes.

£30 - £49
Japanese
Thunderbird Fried Chicken

Thunderbird Fried Chicken

10 Market Row, London, London, SW9 8LB

Split across two floors at its home in Brixton Market, Thunderbird has been churning our fried chicken burgers to insatiable Brixtonians for a few years now. Electric blue walls cover the dining room, where you can enjoy the likes of fiery chicken wings and buns for a cheap buck – £17 will give you 20 chicken wings while a bucket of fried chicken with sauce, fries and dips comes at a handsome £18 price tag. Yes, please!

Under £30
North American
Master Wei

Master Wei

13 Cosmo Place, London, London, WC1N 3AP

Tucked away down a pedestrianised side street near Russell Square, Master Wei really is a hidden gem. The Chinese café looks cool with exposed brick, Chinese art on the walls and stripped-back tables and chairs. All but one dish is priced below the £10 mark, with a majority even under the £7 mark, making this a reasonable place to go for dinner. Presented in very pretty crockery, it’s clear that the focus is food that tastes and looks good in equal measure.

Under £30
Chinese
Padella

Padella

6 Southwark Street, London Bridge, London, SE1 1TQ

It is little wonder there are constant around-the-corner queues at this London Bridge pasta heaven when £4 gets you a plate of divine gnocchi. Oh, and the no-booking policy and BYOB option do their part too, we guess. But when the most expensive item on the menu is £11 and the perfectly al-dente pappardelle with an eight-hour slow-cooked Dexter beef shin ragu is a mere £10, this really is a bucket-list restaurant – cheap eat or not!  

£30 - £49
Italian
Randy

Randy's Wing Bar Hackney Wick

Here East, Canalside, London, E15 2GW

Red Bull gives you wings? Pff, try Randy’s gives you wings, more like it. Wings for under a tenner, even! This canal-side restaurant channels the spirit of American-style chicken wings – go for the classic Buffalo one with truffle blue cheese (a remarkable £8), the Kansas with barbecue sauce (also £8) or the Gravy Train – American fried chicken with cheddar cheese sauce, chives and a secret-recipe chicken gravy (£9). There are also burgers priced below a tenner, so what are you waiting for?    

£30 - £49
North American
Daddy Bao

Daddy Bao

113 Mitcham Road, London, SW17 9PE

Tooting’s Daddy Bao has gone beyond “local favourite” as people from all over London flock to the tiny restaurant for a bite of those pillowy Taiwanese buns. Priced at under a fiver each, they are as good valued as they are tasty – go for the shiitake mushroom one for real depth of flavour or the chicken one for crunchy, deep-fried deliciousness. There’s also a fun bottomless brunch at the weekend with Taiwanese spins on British brunch classics.

Under £30
Taiwanese
Pastaio

Pastaio

19 Ganton Street, Soho, London, W1F 9BN

Hand-made pasta at pocket-friendly prices (the most expensive is £16.50) make this eatery popular with the Soho set. Colourful interiors and marble-topped counters provide plenty of Instagram fodder, too, while more millennial-bait includes lemon-dashed Prosecco slushies. The pasta is good, though – the agnoli particularly so, folded over a gamey filling of pheasant, rabbit and pork. Comfort levels are high with dishes such as carbonara bucatini pasta with guanciale (cured pork), egg yolk and parmesan, or wild mushroom tagliatelle with garlic, parmesan and olive oil.

Under £30
Italian
Ugly Dumpling

Ugly Dumpling

1 Newburgh Street, London, W1F 7RB

There is nothing ugly about these dumplings and there is nothing ugly about the prices either. Choose between a meat, vegetarian or vegan platter of eight dumplings for £12 or less and get a selection of perfectly steamed and stuffed parcels. Classics go alongside more fun interpretations such as cheeseburger dumplings and Nutella ones with mixed nuts and marshmallows. Prices are tiny, but so is the dining room – be prepared to virtually sit on top of each other here.

Under £30
Chinese
Berber & Q Shawarma Bar

Berber & Q Shawarma Bar

46 Exmouth Market, London, EC1R 4QE

Think a cheap kebab is only fit for a post-night out meal? Think again. This cool-cat Haggerston space serves Tel Aviv-inspired food to a hip-hop soundtrack for a cheap buck. Enjoy hot and cold mezze alongside a wide selection of grill and rotisserie dishes, ranging from flank steak to king prawns. Afraid you’ll miss that late-night bab feeling? There’s plenty of garlic yoghurt for you to smother your dish with.     

£30 - £49
North African
Middle Eastern
Pizza Pilgrims Soho

Pizza Pilgrims Soho

11 Dean Street, London, W1D 3RP

Delicious pizzas make us happy, and we’re sure you’re of a similar opinion. Delicious and cheap pizzas make us even happier, and we are absolutely convinced you are of the exact same opinion. Pizza Pilgrims is for you, then, where £10.50 can give you a fantastic pizza of basil pesto, yellow datterini tomato and fresh and creamy burrata. The Nutella pizza ring dessert is also worth the visit – a ring of pizza dough stuffed with Nutella and salted ricotta is baked in the oven and served with a scoop of vanilla ice cream. Yum!

£30 - £49
Pizza
Italian
Bao Soho

Bao Soho

53 Lexington Street, London, W1F 9AS

What could be the reason for all the queue-filled hype at Soho’s Bao? Such is the power of the Taiwanese steamed buns, we guess. A fine £15 set lunch deal (available between 12 and 3pm Monday to Friday) gets you a bao, either fried chicken or eryngii mushrooms, and a bowl of rice – sweet. Elsewhere, bao buns, side dishes as xiao chi (Taiwanese small dishes) are individually priced at no more than £7. Favourites include the fried chicken bao and mapo aubergine chi shiang rice.  

Under £30
Taiwanese
Chinese
Ichibuns

Ichibuns

22 Wardour Street, London, W1D 6QH

For a rock-and-roll Tokyo experience, look no further than Ichibuns, which serves up a merge of Japanese and American food with a friendly price. Fun describes the fare; cheeseburger spring rolls are divine; crispy panko-fried chicken wings are served with a neon-yellow smoked sauce; and the Asian-style burgers are gut-bursting. Try the Ichiban with its beef patty, melted cheese that drips down the side, gherkin, red onion, tomato and a fiery and smoky barbecue sauce. The interiors are colourful and vibrant with cartoons and toys adding to the look.  

Under £30
Japanese
Patty & Bun James Street

Patty & Bun James Street

54 James Street, London, W1U 1HE

Gourmet burgers usually come with gourmet price tags these days, but Patty & Bun’s moreish ‘Ari Gold’ cheeseburger comes in at £8.75, which we can cope very well with – we also love a good pun which they serve up by the bucketload. The other offerings, including a couple of celebrated vegan ones, are priced at only a couple of squid more, meaning you can have a very indulgent time here without breaking the bank. The up-beat atmosphere, speedy staff and culty beers are further draws.

Under £30
North American
Zia Lucia Holloway

Zia Lucia Holloway

157 Holloway Road, London, N7 8LX

The charcoal-dough pizzas, straight from the authentic wood-fired oven, are the main draw at this Italian pizzeria in Holloway. All below £12 and generously served, it’s also excellent value for money. And when the much-loved Aperol Spritz is a mere £6.50, it makes hungry north-Londoners trés happy. Warm service and outdoor seating are further pluses, and the Nutella-stuffed crusted dessert pizza with custard, fresh fruit and honey is worth the trip alone. The large salads for no more than £8.90 also work perfectly for lunch.       

Under £30
Pizza
Italian
Bành Bành Peckham

Bành Bành Peckham

46 Peckham Rye, London, SE15 4JR

The family-run Bành Bành in Peckham (they also have a site in Brixton) serves up Vietnamese delights for no more than £11 per dish, and the exposed brick dining room with pendant bulbs, marble counters and potted plants is suitably trendy. What more can you ask for? A family-style feast is encouraged, AKA sharing, so go for a range of ‘smallish’, ‘biggish’ and ‘classic’ dishes such as the delicious papaya salad, finger-lickingly good sticky chicken wings, Vietnamese pho and Bành Khot pancakes.

£30 - £49
Vietnamese

If you’re careful with your spending, firstly – how do you do it!? Secondly, you must be of the same ilk as those clever Italians who invented pizza from leftover scraps, making the ultimate saver-meal. We therefore also assume you like pizza, because who doesn’t, so get a slice of the action at one of our picks of the best pizza restaurants in London.