Londoners are a frantic bunch. Most people here go about their day like a Who Wants To Be A Millionaire contestant playing from a rollercoaster with a just-discovered faulty seatbelt. That’s why, a lot of the time, we need to be fed quickly, cheaply, and deliciously. Because one more stress is not necessary.
Sadly though, a fiver doesn’t get you much these days. And a tenner is a bit much. But for £7, seven good, honest pounds, a whole invisible street of options opens up all over London, which you can then enjoy at home, on foot, or waiting for the bus.
A bag of chips is probably the UK’s most famous grab and go meal, but at Kerbisher and Malt you want to be picking up more than that. Everything from this Shepherd’s Bush chippy is fresh and also good value. You can pick up a light fish and chip special (with a sauce) for £7, or if you’re a battered sausage person, leave with change as well.
Seven Sisters, one of north London’s most fantastically bits and bobs roads, is home to Nag’s Head Market, one of London’s most fantastically bits and bobs markets. Inside that is Zen Washoku a lovely little Japanese restaurant where you can pick up a bowl of egg donburi, or a vegetable curry, for under seven quid.
Time isn’t money in London. Time is lost minutes in your PJs watching Louis Theroux. If you want to save both time and money, then grab a vegan sampler platter from Andu Café on the Kingsland Road. A nice round fiver will get you a takeaway box full of all six vegan dishes (as well as injera or rice), which go very well with a side of iPlayer.
Imagine, just for a second, an actual land made out of souvlaki. Bridges built out of seasoned chips, clouds of pitta bread, rivers of tzatziki, skyscrapers of grilled meat, pavements of halloumi, and you, just sitting there, eating your environment. Sounds good right? Well it’s not gonna happen. But Souvlakiland in Homerton is your next best bet. Especially at around a fiver for a fantastic wrap.
If you’re into pretending you’re much less lazy than you really are, then picking up a pie to cook at home from Piebury Corner will probably appeal to you. This Holloway Road, Arsenal-themed, pie shop is for those interested and disinterested in football alike. Each and every pie is handmade daily - ranging from chicken, ham, and leek, to vegetarian balti - and costs around a fiver.
There are good friends, and then there are good friends who happen to be fried chicken. Don’t ask us to choose between them. Good Friend in Chinatown serves up Taiwanese-style fried chicken with a variety of seasonings to sprinkle on top. The popcorn chicken is our go-to: a big bag of crispy goodness that costs under a fiver.
Seitan is basically pure gluten. However Temple of Gluten sounds like an anti-celiac cult, so this name is definitely better. Their Camden branch, which is also pretty much King’s Cross, is ideal if you want to pick up a £7 faux-chicken burger to munch in front of the telly.
Going to a pizzeria and not ordering pizza feels a bit wrong. But, like going to the cinema for a date, it makes sense sometimes. And one of those times is if Theo’s is involved. Yes their pizzas are delicious, but so to are their woodfire panuozzo sandwiches. For around £6 you can get one of the best tuna melts around, or, if you’re picky, build your own sandwich. Whatever you do, don’t leave without any of their homemade chilli sauce.
Any meal that’s been relied upon for centuries is good enough for us. Sorry avocado toast, you’re getting nowhere near this list. The Peckham branch of M. Manze’s has been serving up pie, mash, and liquor since 1927. You can walk out of here with a couple of pies and the rest for around seven quid. If you’re very hungry, this is the business.
Exactly 42 minutes into any walk across Hampstead Heath, your internal monologue will pause, hands on hips, and say “hungry”. And thus, the rumbly trudge to the crêperie stall begins. This place has been here since the beginning of time, and continues to sell delicious, cheesy, or Nutella-y crêpes for around £6.
Aside from the odd tactically preserved mid-flight peri peri wrap, we’re not really into eating on the move. Beigel Bake is the exception when on foot. A salt beef bagel and a chocolate slice will cost you under £7 from this Brick Lane institution. Or, do as we do: have a salt beef main on the go, and a smoked salmon cream cheese dessert at home.
A margherita from Made of Dough is easily one of the best value meals you can get in Peckham or Brixton. The dough is charred and chewy, the sauce tasty, and the price right (£7). The only problem is leaving without their peanut butter, vanilla, and Kahlua milkshake. So come with a friend and grab both.
The hand pulled noodles at Silk Road are some of the best value plates of food you can find in London. This Camberwell spot specialises in Xinjiang cuisine, and the Xinjiang-style fried noodles are a bargain at £6.50. There’s a lot of good value food to choose from here, but don’t be surprised if you end up walking out with seven £1 lamb shish skewers.
Potato and bread are food royalty in our eyes. When put together, they’re the only royal wedding we could ever be interested in. The deluxe wrap from Mr Falafel in Shepherds Bush Market is one our favourite examples of this combo. For £7 you’ll get falafel, hummus, fried aubergine, pickled veg, plus a load of fried cauliflower and potato. This is a grab and go to have some alone time with.
Maybe, probably, definitely, the best thing in Shoreditch these days is Troy Bar. This little Caribbean bar does London’s best lunchtime deal: £5 for jerk chicken or curry goat with rice and pea, plantain, and coleslaw. And it’s available to pick up for a couple of quid more in the evenings.
Luigi’s is one of those places that everyone wishes they had near them, at all times. This old school Italian deli is a go-to if you’re in and around Chelsea, but not looking to pay Chelsea prices. Come and pick up a bresaola and pecorino sandwich alongside one of their many daily salads, or, grab some gnocchi from their huge selection of hot stuff for later.
If holes in the wall don’t seem particularly romantic to you, then you haven’t had a jian bing from Pleasant Lady in Soho. These Chinese crepes are filled with vegetables, herbs, a fried egg, chilli oil, and crispy wontons. Like every meal under £7 should be, it’s enormous, tasty, and something you’ll want all the time.
Chik’n is a classy fast food shop from the folks behind Chick ‘N’ Sours. If you have the misfortune to be hangry and in Baker Street, then you want to grab some chicken from here. Their classic sandwich is a go-to, but so are six hot wings. We’ll leave that choice up to you.
A curry puff is basically a Singaporean version of a Cornish pasty, crimping and all. Frankly, with Old Chang Lee selling two puffs for £6 in Covent Garden, we suspect Greggs may be diversifying even more. Fillings include curried chicken, potato, and egg. Or, a Singapore chilli crab if you’re feeling adventurous. Everything else, like laksa and noodles, is also under a tenner.
Getting around central London tends to make us frustrated, and very hungry. If you’re anything like us then you’ll want to know about Bahn Mi Bay in Fitzrovia. This convenient takeaway-only branch is located in between Oxford Circus, Goodge Street, and Tottenham Court Road, offering pho, bun noodle salads, and bahn mi for under seven pounds.