10 Of East London’s Best-Value Restaurants

Jollof rice, chicken tikka, giant fry-ups, and more.
10 Of East London’s Best-Value Restaurants image

photo credit: Giulia Verdinelli

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 in east London to get a good sit-down meal for around £10-£15.


photo credit: Karolina Wiercigroch


Bethnal Green

$$$$Perfect For:BreakfastClassic EstablishmentLunch
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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 (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. 

photo credit: Franco's

$$$$Perfect For:Quick EatsTakeaway


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Frills are not in Franco’s remit and nor is portion control. The old-school Italian caff on Rivington Street has long been a favourite of locals and the Shoreditch lunchtime crowd, thanks to its hefty servings of carbs at very reasonable prices. Piping hot escalope between two slices of ciabatta and oozing mayo is a favourite among the hungover midweek crew, as are mounds of creamy carbonara and a cheese and bean-piled jacket potato.

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.

A hearty plate of jollof rice with beans and plantain is always a good idea from this West African restaurant in Hackney Central. There are plenty of staples like efo-riro and ayamase stew on the menu at Tomi’s Kitchen and, if you’re going rice-heavy, just make sure you get a decent ladle of fried tomato and chilli sauce on top. Together they’re the perfect mix of savoury, salty, and spicy. A tenner or so will go far here but a bag is recommended too. If we come for lunch, we tend to leave with dinner as well.

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 or rice.

Al Kahf is a low-key Somali restaurant off Whitechapel Road, not obvious to the eye and nor to Google Maps, but somewhere you should very much know about. A platter of bariis iskukaris and some tender hilib (lamb shoulder) on top is a brilliant feast for two or more that comes in at under £15. Make sure to get flatbread on the side to scoop and soak up all of the juices, as well as a pot of basbaas—a fiercely moreish Somali green chilli sauce.

E. Pellicci is probably Bethnal Green Road’s most famous eating landmark, but Indian Masala next door deserves just as much attention. A portion of homemade house ‘chicken curry’ with rice from this low-key Bangladeshi restaurant is reasonable in cost and generous in flavour. The meat, moist and off the bone, is covered in sauce heavy with cardamom and curry leaves, and it’s a solid meal to have in or takeaway. Alternatively you can get a couple of vegetable curries instead. The only problem? Resisting the enormous tray of homemade bhajis and pastries as you order.

Of all the overseas chains opening in London to much fanfare, Marugame Udon is the most welcome and best value of the lot. The Japanese udon chain’s Liverpool Street location offers handmade udon starting at around £3. Slide your tray around the cafeteria-style setup while telling the chefs what noodles and toppings you're after, go past the heat lamp glow of tempura, grab a drink, and pay up.

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