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

photo credit: Aleksandra Boruch

Just because you’re doing the payday countdown or on a budget, doesn’t mean that you have to deprive yourself of eating out and seeing your friends. London’s an expensive city, but there are plenty of good-value restaurants with excellent food. Here are our favourite places to get a good sit-down meal for around £10-£15.


photo credit: Aleksandra Boruch



$$$$Perfect For:Casual Weeknight DinnerClassic EstablishmentDining SoloQuiet MealsQuick Eats
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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 is a place for everyone who knows the value of a steaming hot meal for under £10.

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 sandwiches, burgers, and pastas but it’s really the English breakfast deal that you want. Sides of black pudding and bubble and squeak at just over a quid each are a big yes.

photo credit: Aleksandra Boruch

Dapur is one of London 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. It’ll be the working lunch you crave from here on out.

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 cheaper, 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 curry laksa. FYI, there can be queues at peak hours. But that’s no surprise given it’s BYOB as well.

The Soho sibling 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’s chicken schnitzel, latkes, and cheesecake or pecan pie to finish it all off.


photo credit: Aleksandra Boruch

There aren’t many places where we’d happily test our quad strength by squatting in an alley to eat a taco—but Sonora Taquería is one of them. The Mexican spot in Stoke Newington has a small amount of downstairs seating, but when the food is this good, inevitably these fill up fast. Wherever you end up pitching up, it’s worth it for the short menu of tacos and quesadillas. Whether you get yours stuffed with beef, pork, or nopales—they’re all brilliant. Two will set you back £10 and is a good lunchtime portion.

There aren’t many things we want (and have had) for breakfast, lunch, and dinner in one day. But the liangpi noodles at Xi’an Impression are one of them. But that’s not all. This little Chinese restaurant is smack bang opposite Arsenal’s football stadium, and their beef bun with special sauce is the pre/mid/post-match burger you need.

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. The 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. 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.

This 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. Wolkite specialises in kitfo, an Ethiopian dish of raw minced beef mixed with warm spiced butter and seasoned with mitmita (chilli powder). It’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 stick with us. The Southampton Arms is a little pub just five minutes from the Gospel Oak end of Hampstead Heath, and 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 pint-soaking beauty.

You’ll find Durak Tantuni up towards Turnpike Lane. It’s a short walk from the Turkish and Kurdish options on Green Lanes’ Grand Parade—but it’s well worth the extra steps. 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.

Brothers Cafe is a short stroll from the shiny spaceship that is Tottenham Hotspur Stadium. But unlike its hulking neighbour, there’s a small, social club vibe at this Somali spot, with solo diners spooning lamb broth and tucking into plates piled high with grilled meats and rice. Dishes are fragrantly spiced, mixing star anise, turmeric, and cinnamon with melt-in-your-mouth fat, and meals for two are often little more than a fiver each.


Follow the big Brazilian flag waving invitingly in the centre of Brixton Village Market, to Reem's. It’s a tiny spot, about 90% kitchen with two outdoor tables and an extensive menu of classics and beloved Brazilian versions of global dishes like burgers, pizzas, and hot dogs. The £10 buffet is the biggest pull though. While dishes rotate, there’s always brilliant feijoada, which can be topped with farofa and enormous, crunchy pork scratchings. Stroganoff comes in a creamy white sauce with the correct amount (a hell of a lot) of garlic, crunchy matchstick potatoes, and white rice. 

The slices of burek at this Sydenham spot are good enough to cross London for. The Balkan menu includes things like the lamb and ghee potato pie with dipping gravy, that sound exciting, smell enticing, and are filling. Each slice comes with a generous scattering of parmesan, and the layers of filo are light and crispy. Visit during the day for a takeaway slice, or come in the evening, grab a bottle from nearby shop, 161 Food+Drink, and settle in.

photo credit: Jake Missing

$$$$Perfect For:LunchTakeaway

This casual Vietnamese cafe is a popular Camberwell lunchtime destination: curries with rice, bánh mì, and bún salads are all made fresh and packed full of flavour. 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.

On first glance Persepolis is a yellow building that looks like any other corner shop in Peckham. But inside you’ll find a vegetarian Persian deli and cafe, so don’t wander in, in your pjs looking for Rubicon and Monster Munch. A delicious meze of falafel, tapenade, salad, warm pitta, and a load of dips (our favourite is the mast-o-khiar) is as tasty as it is good-value—which is the gist of everything here.

photo credit: Aleksandra Boruch



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We’ve got a few recommendations when it comes to La Chingada. One is that you should come hungry. Because this casual 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… quesadilla?  

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 components 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. 


Instead of cupboard foraging, 3pm-type food, Snackbar makes gooey tuna melt toasties and kimchi BECs (bacon, egg, cheeses). The friendly breakfast and brunch spot is something of a haven among the frenetic energy off the Kingsland Road thanks to its muted tones, miso chocolate chip cookies, and all-round chilled vibe. Also, the caesar salad—with crispy chicken skin and oozing amber egg yolks—makes a strong case for brunch salads.

Pizza by the slice is the king of affordable meals, but sometimes it’s less meal and more snack eaten in two bites. At Detroit Pizza on Commercial Street you won’t have that problem. These slices are a full meal all on their own. Chewy, fluffy, and very thick dough is topped with a layer of cheese and a river of rich marinara sauce. It’s pretty much guaranteed that once you try their signature Red Stripe slice, you’ll want the whole pie. 

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.

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, 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 Vietnamese menu may not be extensive but a tenner can get you pretty far at this cosy Clapton restaurant. Their bánh mì is a 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 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 or rice.


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. Most of them come within the £3 to £5 range and you can’t go wrong with a classic lahm beajin or spinach. We like to ask for some cheese on them, because... well... melted cheese.

Rita’s Chilli Chaat Corner is a small, canteen-like spot in Southall, filled with shoppers coming from the market and families popping in for a midweek dinner consisting of excellent yoghurty samosa chaat, and refreshing, citrussy pani puri shots. Come for some of the best Indian street food you can find in London. And order plenty of chaat—there’s a reason it’s in the name.

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. 

photo credit: Giulia Verdinelli

This family-run bakery and restaurant in East Acton has a crowd-pleasing menu, with Lebanese classics like shish taouk and batata harra, but it's the bakery section that makes this spot worth going out of your way for. Their clay-oven baked mana’eesh are some of the best you’ll find in London, and they’re 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.

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