11 Of Central London’s Best-Value Restaurants

Wonton soup, salt beef sandwiches, and more.
11 Of Central London’s Best-Value Restaurants image

photo credit: Karolina Wiercigroch

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


photo credit: Karolina Wiercigroch


Covent Garden

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Lanzhou Lamian is one of those IYKYK spots that, actually, quite a few people know about. The noodle bar is right opposite Covent Garden station, and glows with a window of chow mein, fried rice, and sweet and sour chicken. But look past this tempting array of beige and you’ll find the home to some of London’s best made-to-order noodles. Find a spot in the basic upstairs or downstairs seating area, choose either noodles la mian (hand-pulled) or dao xiao mian (knife-cut), and your topping. The beef brisket is a classic.

Homesick Brazilians flock to Feijão Do Luis, a Brazilian restaurant in the basement of a bar in Fitzrovia. This community spot hosts live music and screens big Brazilian football matches, but the food is what most come for. Big plates of beef ribs, chicken parmigiana, and stroganoff alongside de Souza’s inimitable hospitality. The feijoada, a hearty black bean stew, is as good as any you’ll find in the city, with plenty of pork ribs and smoky sausage. Served with buttery farofa with caramelised onion, it makes for a nap-inducing lunch.

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.

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 an early dinner here (it closes at 7:15pm on weekdays), but it’s really the full English breakfast you want. Sides of black pudding and bubble and squeak at around 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 much over a tenner.

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 very good-value, but the mutton version is our favourite and worth the extra few quid. They also serve brilliant versions of Malaysian hawker stall staples like char kway teow, nasi goreng, and a curry laksa for under £10. FYI, there can be queues at peak hours. But that’s no surprise given it’s BYOB as well.

The Hong Kong-inspired canteen serving Cantonese and Malaysian dishes is one of the last vestiges of late-night Chinatown, and you’ll find it full of hungry (or stumbling) singletons and duos in need of warm nourishment. Café TPT offers a huge range of delicious dishes, from sweet and moist char siu pork, to hot and sour soup. You’ll more than likely get change from £10 as well. If you’re looking to nap on the bus home, get the cheesy, béchamel-covered, Macau-style baked pork chop.

The Soho sibling to the 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. But if that’s not your thing, there are other options like chicken schnitzel, latkes, and cheesecake or pecan pie to finish.

The Fryer’s Delight is an old-school, formica-filled, Italian-owned chippy in Bloomsbury, and it is a certified London classic. Crunching chubby chips, golden brown battered sausages, and paddle-sized pieces of fish are a given here. The red formica booths are a bit of a London icon, and the fish and chips on top of them aren’t bad either. Few things are as comforting as a chip butty and a cup of builder’s tea. This is a solid place for both.

You may well pass right by this diminutive spot at the King’s Cross end of Cally Road if you’re not paying attention, but then you’d be missing out. Hawker’s Kitchen cooks Malaysian specialities that are all consistently excellent, especially the flaky roti with beef rendang and the kway toew goreng. With a menu big enough to keep you coming back time and time again, this place is as perfect when you’re in a dosa mood, as it is when you’re in the mood for a rich and satisfying curry laksa. Just bear in mind it’s a squeeze inside so you’ll probably have to wait for a table.

The legendary kosher pita spot’s Clerkenwell location on Leather Lane is a godsend for any lunchtime falafel enthusiasts. The falafel—crisp and fresh out the fryer, fluffy inside, and steaming with green herbiness and spices—is paired with a combination of fruity amba, punchy zhug, and cooling tahini, and carefully packed inside a steaming, pillowy pitta. It’s pretty much takeaway-only (save for a window counter you can lean up against).

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