The Best £10 Meals In London
Great London meals that cost a tenner or less.
London is an extortionate city and that’s before you order a mortgage-worthy pint to drown your sorrows. Thankfully, there are lots of brilliant (and brilliant value) restaurants to eat in across the entirety of the city. Plates of food that are flavourful and filling, and won’t have you forking out more than £10.
photo credit: Aleksandra Boruch
Falafel or cauliflower pita - £8
With a menu that reads like it’s been written by E. L. James and enough Comic Sans to make Clippy twerk in the corner of your Word document, Miznon certainly has character. But the Israeli pita chain’s Soho outpost is a very good spot for an in-and-out lunch or dinner that doesn’t break the bank. There are all manner of zany combinations on the menu (spag bol à la pita, for example) but it’s the classic roasted cauliflower that gives us the most joy. Charred and slightly blackened in parts, with that sweet and nutty flavour of caramelisation. Stick it in a saucy pita with tomato and pickles, and you’ve got a dream combination.
photo credit: Aleksandra Boruch
The Quarter Kitchen
Burrito - £8
The Mexican kiosk, set among the gardens and gravestones of St John at Hackney church, slings excellent breakfast burritos, plus hearty egg, bacon, and hash brown tacos. The barbacoa tacos are worth sitting down with if London weather is playing ball, otherwise get a foil-wrapped breakfast to go. The burrito—tortilla-swaddled scrambled eggs, sausage, hash brown, American cheese, and salsa roja—is no joke. When it’s this good, it’s easy to believe that breakfast truly is the most important meal of the day.
Sign up for our newsletter.
Be the first to get expert restaurant recommendations for every situation right in your inbox.
Yogurtlu paca - £9
There is no wintry situation that a soup or stew from Haringey Corbacisi, a no-menu Turkish spot in Harringay, won’t solve. Wander up to their counter to see what’s on offer but, if in doubt, go for the yogurtlu paca. It’s a lamb and yoghurt soup made up of gently stewed meat, an unsociable amount of garlic, and almost as much butter as Nigella Lawson puts on her toast. The pickles and warm bread that come with it are welcome too, as is everything about this comfortable, low-key restaurant.
Falafel pita, £8
All recommendation websites have biases. We’ll more than likely bang on about this place or that place because, well, everyone has favourites. So you’ve more than likely heard or read or even consumed the falafel pitta from Pockets at this point. But that doesn’t mean we won’t stop going on about it, nor eating one on a weekly basis. We can’t stress enough how worthwhile the queue or journey to Hackney's Netil Market for this gorgeously layered, heavily condimented, springily soft falafel pitta is.
Shalamar Kebab House
Chicken tikka naan - £3.50
For all of London’s extortionate living expenses and heinous overpricing, there are still unbelievably delicious bargains to be had for a few quid. Take this chicken tikka from Shalamar, just off the Whitechapel Road. The Pakistani canteen-style restaurant is low-key in every way apart from flavour. The £2.50 chicken tikka is sensational. The kebab is juicy to the point of the meat falling apart under half-arsed fork pressure, while being charred on the edges and purring with chilli powder and turmeric. With a spoon of their simultaneously snappy and creamy mint sauce and a freshly blistered naan… it’s spot on.
Wonton noodle soup - £7.50
With a tenner in your pocket and a rumbling stomach, the conclusion is almost always found in Chinatown’s most brusque and legendary staple. There’s a wealth of choice with a single £10 note at Wong Kei—a plate of crispy pork belly, sweet char siu, and roasted duck bathing in sweet, shining umami gravy is an always-welcome friend—but it’s the scalding wonton noodle soup we tend to turn to when nourishment and familiarity are required. This isn’t the most deeply flavoured soup and nor are the noodles as elastic as hand-pulled establishments. But the wontons are stuffed with minced prawn, the addition of crispy pork belly is essential, and with a spoonful of Wong Kei’s chilli oil, you have one of London’s great good-value meals.
Beef stew - £8.70
The daytime Camberwell cafe is a favourite among locals seeking hearty nourishment and, on weekends only, phở with an aromatic broth that’s been tended to like a moving Tamagotchi owner. Midweek, it’s all about the beef stew though. Viscous and fragrant, it’s the colour of the ground at wetter Glastonburys past and the beef is ludicrously feeble. Combined with a handful of gently cooked carrots and dolloped onto a bed of steamed rice, it’s a delicious and almost school-like plate of food. Made for shovelling and spooning.
40 Maltby St
Sandwich - £9
There are few things more exciting than 40 Maltby Street’s weekly-changing sandwiches. These are doorstop sandwiches of the most Costco variety. The hunking combinations range from coronation pheasant, to homemade fish fingers smothered in tartare and brown shrimps, to cauliflower cheese croquettes with hot sauce, and more—all layered between 40 Maltby’s hard crusted but perfectly springy and moist focaccia. A half will probably sate you but a whole one may well see you skip dinner.
Brothers Cafe & Restaurant
Duubi and bariis - £10
A Somali feast this good cannot be ignored. The lamb shank from Brother’s Cafe doesn’t need much help falling off the bone. Its proximity to the Tottenham Hotspur stadium means that collapsing is in its very DNA but the vital point of difference between these two destinations in N17 is that Brothers is actually worth travelling for. The lamb and rice are both fragrantly spiced, mixing star anise with turmeric and cinnamon with melt-in-your-mouth fat. Throw in some basbaas—a sharp Somali chilli sauce—and you have an enormous meal that’s easily fit for two people. Or one that likes a second dinner.
Ham, egg & chips - £8
Ham. Egg. Chips. Three of our favourite words in the English language and, when combined, a plate of food that will never not make our heart flutter and stomach pointedly rumble. Norman’s version of it is unsurprisingly excellent. The Tufnell Park cafe prides itself on faultless, high-quality plates of British breakfast and lunch classics. Plates of food and white bread sandwiches that make you wistful for the playground, with the occasional slice of red Leicester thrown in and all. As far as ham, egg, and chips go, this one is almost faultless. Thick, salty gammon of the delicious rather than offensive variety, superlative fat chips all crisp and fluffy, begging to be doused with Sarsons, and runny eggs, yolk positively akimbo.
Roti beef rendang - £9.59
Of all Normah’s delightful dishes, the one that sends us into perfect content silence—and convinces us that it’s not the end of the world if the brown sauce gets on our white trousers—is the roti beef rendang. Arriving in a small bowl filled to the brim with a thick beef stew, topped with crispy onion, and fully covered by two pieces of flaky and lightly charred roti, this braised beef curry is wholesome and comforting. Scooped up with the thick, layered roti makes for perfect bites.
Hilib (lamb shoulder) - £10
The first time we ate from Al Kahf we had one of those visceral transportive food experiences that broadsheet restaurant writers like to go on about. Tucking our tender lamb shank alongside bariis iskukaris and Somali flatbread we were, suddenly, transported back to a time when gastropubs reigned supreme and everything was ‘pukka’. Anyway, this Somali spot off Whitechapel Road is a favourite. Most recently we went for their hilib (lamb shoulder) and, just like the shank, it fell from the bone and was happily smothered in basbaas (Somali green chilli sauce).
Jerk chicken meal - £8.50
After one bite of Smokey Jerkey’s jerk chicken, there will be no doubt that south London is well on top in the jerk stakes. It even features in Belly Full, Riaz Phillip’s excellent book on Caribbean food in the UK. The move is: hit Smokey Jerkey for some jerk chicken then happily sit in a nearby park with it and a pot of their enlivening homemade pepper sauce. The depth of char in this jerk isn’t the kind you find north of the river. It’s blackened and sunk in, while the meat stays as tender as it should be. Peering into Smokey Jerkey, you’ll see their smoker in the kitchen—a kind of Robot Wars, garden shed creation that helps make for some of London’s finest Caribbean cooking. Open fire cooking paired with fiery sauce this good is, quite simply, unbeatable.
photo credit: Aleksandra Boruch
Margherita - £9.95
This little Italian deli and restaurant is in a quiet bit of Islington between the Essex Road and Upper Street, but nothing about this old-school restaurant is particularly quiet. The staff are joyful, there are bright Fellini posters and Ferrari flags on the wall, and the pizza is something to shout about. Yes, the pie topped with speck and shavings of grana padano is crisp and salty and all the things you want a pizza to be. But sometimes you just can’t beat gooey, expertly formed, blink and it’s gone, margherita. Perfect.
Falafel pita - £7
There are many things to like about Balady’s newer location on Leather Lane, not least the fact that we find it markedly easier to get to than the kosher spot’s original location in Temple Fortune. Of course our favourite thing about it is their falafel: crisp and fresh out the fryer, it’s fluffy inside, steaming with green herbiness and spices, all of which cry out for the combination of fruity amba, punchy zhug, and cooling tahini that lines their soft pittas. That will always be the number one appeal, closely followed by their fantastic hand-cut chips.
Jerk chicken sandwich - £5.50
One of Hackney's best sandwiches is this sporadically present jerk chicken one. The meat from a freshly grilled leg is methodically pulled off by Otis—the world’s most laconic and considered grill master—and its crisp blackened skin carefully removed with Peking duck-like precision. All of this is put between two thick wholemeal slices and topped with careful ladles of fragrant and spiced gravy with carrots, onions, and cabbage knocking about in there as well. It’s available Wednesday to Saturday or, as Otis will tell you, “whenever I feel like getting out of bed”.
Yard Sale Pizza
Cheese and garlic Marmite pizza bread - £6.50
Ordering Yard Sale's cheese and garlic Marmite pizza bread is one of the most touching and umami-filled gestures of love you could give someone. It’s also a seriously delicious one. This is—and we don’t say this lightly—something close to perfection. It’s gooey, it’s salty, it has tar-like Marmite that’s bubbled and submerged itself into crust. It’s become an indisputable addition to every 18” pizza order. In fact, it has priority over the pizza.
photo credit: Aleksandra Boruch
Pork & chicken bánh mì - £8
For £8, Hai Café makes one of London’s finest bánh mìs. This little arm’s length-wide spot in Lower Clapton heftily fills its short baguettes with a combination of spiced pork belly and lemongrass chicken, an intriguing—and wholly delicious—crushed black sesame seed spread plus pickled bits, green chilli, a slice of head cheese, and, of course, crispy shallots. The pork belly in its classic sandwich (though there is a tofu and mushroom option) is bolshy: caramelised chunks that will undoubtedly fall onto your lap before being transferred deftly into your mouth.
Mixed starters with bread - £9
There’s no point denying our love of bread. One of our favourite breads is from Patogh, an old-school Persian favourite in W1. Their bread is slapped inside the walls of a clay oven, baked and blistered, then arrives at your table still warm, which is the kind of thing that makes our heart start beating a little faster. Made to be torn and dipped and scooped with their shallot yoghurt, hommous, and crunchy shirazi salad—it’s a faultless light meal.