‘April is the cruellest month,’ wrote TS Eliot – which just goes to show you should never trust a man whose name is an anagram of ‘toilets’.
For any food lover who probably hasn’t been paid since before Christmas and is trying to sustain a restaurant habit through the dark days of January, now really is the winter of our discontent. If only Cash Converters accepted that book token your aunty still sends for Christmas.
But just because your finances don’t currently stretch to Le Gavroche doesn’t mean you have to spend the rest of January eating baked beans: this month is the ideal time to investigate London’s cheap-eats scene.
Pizza and burgers may be the obvious cheap-eat choices, but raise your game beyond the chains. Quirky independents like Zia Lucia and Ichibuns (pictured above) feel like a proper night out rather than settling for second best.
Then there’s dim sum, China’s answer to the cheap eat. Try it at Soho’s Ugly Dumpling (above) or My Neighbours the Dumplings in Clapton. (And if you’re doing Dry January, so much the better: a slap-up dim-sum lunch washed down with tap water at swanky Hakkasan or Yauatcha should give you change from £25.)
Cheap eats are also a brilliant way to try something you’ve never eaten before in a part of London you’ve never been to before. So have your Oyster card at the ready and acquaint yourself with Japanese skewers at Jidori in Dalston, north-west Chinese at Camberwell’s Silk Road, or Turkish sharing platters at Finsbury Park’s Gökyüzü.
And while the cheap-eat old-timers like Soho’s Tokyo Diner and Whitechapel’s Tayyabs are still going strong, some of London’s hottest restaurants are now cheap eats, as long as you don’t mind queuing for a table at the likes of Bao (below), Hoppers and Padella.
So without further ado, read on to find our list of the 60 restaurants offering big flavours for small prices: SquareMeal’s guide to the best cheap eats in London.
Prefer your bargain hunting more on the formal side? Take a look at our guide to London’s best-value gourmet lunches.