London’s Best-Value Restaurants (When You’re Waiting For Payday) guide image

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London’s Best-Value Restaurants (When You’re Waiting For Payday)

Our favourite places to get a good sit-down meal for around £10-£15.

Cutting back doesn’t always mean that you have to deprive yourself of eating out. London’s an expensive city, but there are plenty of inexpensive restaurants with excellent food. Here are our favourite places to get a good sit-down meal for around £10-£15.


Central

Tongue & Brisket review image
8.1

Tongue & Brisket

££££

24-26 Leather Ln, London
Earn 3X Points

The Clerkenwell and Soho siblings to Edgware’s legendary B&K salt beef bar, Tongue & Brisket’s go-to sandwich is one of London’s finest examples of a meal between two slices. The slices in question are rye, flecked with the liquorice tang of caraway seeds, and piled with slices of moist salt beef, tangy pickle, sauerkraut, and a spread of mustard. It’s a really good sandwich. Especially for under £10. But if that’s not your thing, there are other options too. Like chicken schnitzel, latkes, and cheesecake or pecan pie to finish it all off. We didn’t say they were light options, OK?


photo credit: Aleksandra Boruch

Wong Kei review image
8.5

Wong Kei

Without Wong Kei and its slapped-on-your-table wonton noodle soups and roasted meats bathing in sweet, shining, umami gravy, London would be a much poorer place. The Chinatown institution isn’t somewhere you come for the finest hand-pulled noodles or the most carefully simmered and deeply flavoured soup, but it’s a place for everyone who knows the value of a steaming hot meal for under £10.


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London’s most famous, best looking, and most photographed cafe is the Regency. The legendary Westminster cafe is just as popular with tourists as it is with locals. They serve breakfast, lunch, and dinner here (if you like to dine before 7.30pm), but it’s really the £6 English breakfast you want. Sides of black pudding and bubble and squeak at a quid each are a big yes.


Dapur is one of London’s and Holborn’s most exciting weekday lunch spots. The daytime-only Malaysian cafe has six or seven curries to choose from, but the familiar (the rendang) and the fiery (chicken in a tomato chilli sauce) are always good. Getting a plate of fragrant nasi lemak and a choice of curry won’t cost you more than £15.


This cult Malaysian restaurant is in a basement in Euston and specialises in roti canai—soft, flaky flatbreads served with a bowl of delicious curry. The dhal one is just over £6, but the mutton version is our favourite and worth the extra pounds. They also serve brilliant versions of Malaysian hawker stall staples like char kway teow, nasi goreng, and a curry laksa for under £10. There can be queues at peak hours, but that’s no surprise given it’s BYOB as well.


North

Blankita is a bustling hub on the corner of Seven Sisters serving home-cooked Colombian food that’s as warming in winter as it is satisfying in summer. Stews, soups, frijoles, and empanadas are all on the menu and it’s virtually impossible to leave the indoor-outdoor setup without lazily rubbing your stomach. Grilled steak or pork with rice and plantain is a standard, but beef tongue is one of the standout dishes. Blankita’s version is covered in a fruity and mildly spiced yellow sauce, slowly cooked with stodgy and starchy potatoes, and sweet onions in there as well. The star, though, is the meat. A careless whisper could break the pink strands down and a mouthful alongside rice, plantain, and a dollop of Blankita’s sharp red chilli salsa will have you humming with happiness.


The Ethiopian spot is part of a low-profile parade next to the Emirates Stadium that’s easy to stroll past, but this is a north London restaurant everyone should be seeking out. It specialises in kitfo, an Ethiopian dish of raw minced beef mixed with warm spiced butter and seasoned with mitmita (chilli powder), that’s a complete joy to scoop with injera, stuff in your mouth, and pay a tenner for.


An ale-focused pub serving baps with half a pig in them sounds extremely ye olde England, but The Southampton Arms exists very much in the now. Aside from this little pub being both excellent and just five minutes from the Gospel Oak end of Hampstead Heath, it also serves one of the best sandwiches that’s less than £10. The roast pork bap, complete with crackling and apple sauce, is a thing of tear-inducing, pint-soaking beauty.


You’ll find Durak Tantuni up towards Turnpike Lane, standing apart from Green Lanes' Grand Parade’s array of Turkish and Kurdish options, and it's essential to seek out. Your choice in the brightly lit restaurant is simple: a chopped and fried beef mixture laden with sumac and parsley; wrapped in dürüm or bread; big portion or small; single or multiple. Two regular wraps will do the job of pre or post-dinner snack, and it’s open until 2am. Don’t skimp on the piquant green pickled peppers that arrive at your table either.


The Somali lamb shank from Brothers Cafe doesn’t need much help falling off the bone. Its proximity to the Tottenham Hotspur stadium means that collapsing is in its DNA. But the vital point of difference between these two things in N17 is that the dish at Brothers is actually worth travelling for. The lamb and rice are both fragrantly spiced, mixing star anise, turmeric, and cinnamon with melt-in-your-mouth fat. An enormous meal for two for little more than a fiver each.


South

On first glance Persepolis is a yellow building that looks like a standard corner shop in Peckham, but inside you’ll find a vegetarian Persian-inspired deli and cafe. A delicious meze of falafel, tapenade, salad, and a load of dips (our favourite is the mast-o-khiar), this plate, warm pitta included, is £6 for a single person portion. It’s as tasty as it is good value, which is the gist of everything here.


This casual Vietnamese cafe is a popular Camberwell lunchtime destination: curries with rice, bánh mì, and bún vermicelli noodle salads are all made fresh and packed full of flavour. Strips of pork sizzle on hot plates and piping hot spring rolls come shining out the fryer. One thing especially worth noting is the phở—it’s made with a broth so carefully tended to that you can only order bowls on the weekend. Their viscous and fragrant beef stew, made to be shovelled into your mouth, like all the best foods are, is a must—and best of all, everything here is under £10.


We’ve got a few recommendations when it comes to La Chingada. One is that you should come hungry. Because this little taqueria down the road from Surrey Quays has a knack for making you order, then making you order some more, and then, just as you finish chewing your last al pastor taco, or cram a final gooey tostada into your face, you wonder… chicken wings? It’s London’s best and best-value Mexican restaurant.


Hype is only irresistible if said thing is worth it. JB’s jerk pork is. Pork belly chunks, glistening fat, and jerk-infused crackling that’s best gobbled on the pavement make it so. There are a couple of little tables and chairs inside this Caribbean spot that’s become a Peckham institution, but all you really need is £10 and a spot to squat to enjoy anything from JB’s smoking drum.


Nandine is a family-run restaurant in Camberwell that serves the kind of Kurdish food that makes you go all lovey dovey for fresh and excellent ingredients. Case in point: the huge mezze bowls—meat, vegetarian, or vegan—all feature no less than 10 component parts for around a tenner. There are also brunch options available, but no matter what time of day you swing by, we encourage a cheeky order of sweet, sticky, and undeniably satisfying primo baklava. 


East

A daytime Italian cafe in Bethnal Green that’s been open since 1900, E. Pellicci runs on strong cuppas, winking innuendos, and various formats of fried bread. It’s a high-energy caff where you can indulge in the biggest (and possibly best) fry-up of your life at circa 8am or a truly epic portion of lasagne come afternoon. It’s big portions with a side of personality, and one of our favourite spots for a good old-fashioned escalope sandwich.


A handful of cashews, half a banana, one spoonful of peanut butter—these are all snacks to a somewhat Goop-ish degree. Snackbar on Dalston Lane doesn’t offer this kind of cupboard foraging, 3pm-type food and instead makes gooey tuna melt toasties or chicken caesar salads with dollops of anchovy mayo all for around a tenner. The friendly breakfast and brunch spot is something of a haven among the frenetic energy off of the Kingsland Road thanks to its muted tones, miso chocolate chip cookies, and all-round chilled vibe.


The Pakistani canteen-style restaurant in Whitechapel is a straightforward spot with a short menu that ranges from homemade samosas to chicken tikka, to curries, daal, biryani, and naans. The chicken tikka, whether on a plate or in a roll (for just £3.50), is particularly delicious. That said, the meat biryani—a mountainous plate of moist rice mixed with flaking pink beef—is pretty fantastic too. 


Hai Cafe’s menu may not be extensive but a tenner can get you pretty far at this cosy Clapton restaurant. Their bánh mì is an outrageous and delicious submarine-sized bargain. But if you’re going to get two things, then let us direct you towards their Hanoi spring roll salad. It’s squared and quartered, and packed with crab and pork mince, plus shiitake and wood ear mushrooms. The perfect start to a low-key midweek meal.


Andu is a homely Ethiopian cafe in Dalston where the only decision to make is to go alone or with a friend. The reason being, the sampler platter is the only thing on the menu and you order it for one or for two. Large or larger, basically. Either way, you’ll be eating moreish spiced yesimir wot (lentil stew), crunchy gomen (greens), and a load of other bits to be mopped up with perfectly tart injera bread or rice.


West

There are plenty of reasons to go to The Best Broasted, but the signature chicken at this excellent Syrian spot in Willesden Green is the kind of thing you should happily travel across London to get your hands on. From the crunchy, sweet breading that clings to every succulent piece of meat, to the selection of pickles, the pot of creamy toum, and the chipped potatoes that come with it, it’s moving and memorable stuff. And the best thing is that you can get a single-person half-chicken order for under a tenner, making it one of the best financial decisions you can make in London.


Zeit & Zaatar in Shepherd’s Bush has been specialising in manakeesh for over a decade, and it shows. They’ve got all the classics like zaatar and labneh, and halloumi, as well as some Z&Z specialties like basterma with cheese, and cheese and honey. What’s more, most of them come within the £3-£5 range. You can’t go wrong with a classic lahm beajin or spinach, and we like to ask for some cheese on them, because... well... melted cheese.


This family-run bakery and restaurant in north Acton has a menu with enough range to keep most people happy, with Lebanese classics like shish taouk and batata harra. But what makes it worth going out of your way for is the bakery section of the menu. Their clay oven-baked mana’eesh are some of the best you’ll find in London and for a few quid a pop, are also some of the best-value. These flatbreads, topped with things like za’atar, spinach, or sujuk and cheese are all delicious—they’re crispy, fluffy, and perfectly baked. Our go-to order is a couple of lahm bi ajeen and spinach mana’eesh, all with additional cheese. Because… cheese. It’s a complete Levantine breakfast spread, at an excellent price.


One for fans of alliteration and great-value char siu bao, Phat Phuc Noodles is the most reasonable—and one of the most tasty—places to eat in Chelsea. This little courtyard spot serves noodle dishes from across Asia—laksa, bang bang salads, and phở—all for around a tenner. It’s unlikely to be the best version of each you’ll ever try, but it’s the best in the area if you’re looking for a low price. There’s covered seating or, if the sun’s out, uncovered seating, and it makes for a very pleasant place to eat.


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