Cheap dinners in London

Fill your belly without emptying your wallet with our pick of the city's top spots for an inexpensive evening meal

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London's not short on fantastic dinner options, but finding somewhere special for a budget evening out can be a challenge. Never fear – we’ve got some great dinnertime suggestions, where the bill shouldn't come in at more than £20 per person. Can't find what you need here? Our list of London's 100 best cheap eats has even more options.

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Cheap dinners in central London

Baozi Inn

  • Rated as: 3/5

Chinese café

Mug up on Mao as you tuck into fiery Sichuanese street food, at this Chinatown café resplendent in its communist-kitsch attire. A big helping of spicy beef noodles should bolster you for the Long March back to the office.

Meal for two with drinks and service: around £25.

  1. 25 Newport Court, WC2H 7JS
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Bi Bim Bap

  • Rated as: 3/5

Korean

Dolsot bibimbap isn’t the latest North Korean plutocrat to be purged – it’s the name of a sizzling stone bowl of rice with spicy veg, fried egg, plus meat or seafood if you like. And it’s one of the staples of this South Korean café, only the second in a tiny chain.

Meal for two with drinks and service: around £25.

  1. 10 Charlotte Street, W1T 2LT
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Café TPT

  • Rated as: 4/5

Chinese café

From its tiny Chinatown kitchen, Café TPT produces a vast menu from Hong Kong, mainland China and the diaspora. Cantonese dishes tend to be better than the Malaysian ones: succulent roast duck on rice; stuffed tofu, served sizzling in a hot stone bowl. Seafood is also a strength, with around 50 dishes to choose from. Finish by gulping Taiwanese-style bubble teas through a straw. Such fun.

Meal for two with soft drinks and service: around £25.

  1. 21 Wardour Street, W1D 6PN
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Canton

  • Rated as: 3/5

Chinese café

A 2012 change in ownership might have led to variable standards at this plainly furnished Chinatown old-stager, but the one-bowl, rice-with-meat dishes are a safe bet. These are served the traditional way (with the rice warm and the roast meat cold), and at £5.50 remain an eminently wallet-friendly meal. We also rate the wonton soup: a large bowl containing five juicy pork dumplings.

Meal for two with drinks and service: around £20.

  1. 11 Newport Place, WC2H 7JR
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Four Seasons

  • Rated as: 3/5

Chinatown restaurant

Four Seasons has long built its reputation on roast meats – which can be seen displayed in the window facing Wardour Street at this modest branch. Drooling is entirely acceptable. We can especially recommend the crispy pork belly – a tri-layer of perfectly crisp skin, melt-in-your-mouth fatty middle and juicy lean meat. The choice of other dishes is vast, but you’ve plenty of time to contemplate; the place is open until 4am daily.

23 Wardour Street, Chinatown W1D 6PW

  1. 23 Wardour Street, W1D 6PW
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Herman ze German

  • Rated as: 4/5

Hot dogs ze German way

Old Compton Street’s taken a turn for the wurst with the second branch of this German sausage specialist. The chips and beer are great too.

Meal for two with beers: around £25.

  1. 33 Old Compton Street, W1D 5JU
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HK Diner

  • Rated as: 4/5

Chinatown café

A Chinatown late-nighter (open until 4am), HK has a narrow frontage that’s easy to miss. But it would be a shame to forego the choice of well-executed Chinese standards – especially the succulent roast duck and the generous portion of seafood with noodles. The gracious staff also serve a varied choice of bubble teas, for straw-sucking fun.

Meal for two with drinks and service: around £30.

  1. 22 Wardour Street, W1D 6QQ
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Jerk City

  • Rated as: 3/5

Caribbean takeaway and café

Proper Caribbean food is served in basic surroundings at this Soho favourite. As well as jerk chicken, you’ll find the likes of curried mutton, prawn roti, and ackee and saltfish.

Meal for two with soft drinks: around £20.

  1. 189 Wardour Street, W1F 8ZD
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Koya

  • Rated as: 4/5

Japanese udon bar

Top-notch handmade udon noodles are the draw here. Slurp them hot or cold, in a hot dipping broth or cold dipping sauce, or a hot dashi broth. Blond-wood sharing tables add to the modern café vibe. If the original’s too full, there’s now a second branch next door at number 50, which also does breakfast udon bowls.

Meal for two with beer and service: around £35.

  1. 49 Frith Street, W1D 4SG
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Lanzhou Noodle Bar

  • Rated as: 2/5

Late-night Chinese

This Chinese noodle bar near Leicester Square tube is cheap, fast, and open into the early hours. The main attraction is the hand-pulled noodles, which are freshly made for each order. These are served in three variations: in a soup, dry, or fried.

Meal for two: around £20.

  1. Authentic Lanzhou handmade noodles, 33 Cranbourn Street, WC2H 7AD
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Leong's Legends

  • Rated as: 3/5

Chinese restaurant

‘Taiwanese’ cooking in tea house surrounds is the concept at this Restaurant Privilege group eaterie. The look certainly delivers – all dark woods and carved latticework – though the menus are dominated by Cantonese dishes, with just a sprinkling of Taiwanese options. However, the full-flavoured one-bowl dishes (such as dark, sticky pork belly on a huge mound of steamed rice) offer terrific value.

Meal for two with drinks and service: around £30.

  1. 4 Macclesfield Street, W1D 6AX
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Sagar

  • Rated as: 3/5

Indian vegetarian restaurant

The Covent Garden branch of this mini-chain celebrates South Indian vegetarian specialities, with dosais (rice and lentil pancakes) a particular treat. Try too the idlis (rice dumplings) and Mumbai beach snacks.

Meal for two with drinks and service: around £30.

  1. 31 Catherine Street, WC2B 5JS
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Shoryu Ramen

  • Rated as: 4/5

Japanese ramen bar

Ramen (noodles in a rich, boiled-down, pork-bone broth) are meat and drink to the original branch of this self-styled ‘rapid, self-service-style prototype ramen bar… for those in a rush’. Speed, then, is of the essence. For something slower head to the second branch on Denman Street in Soho.

Meal for two with drinks and service: around £40.

  1. 9 Regent Street, SW1Y 4LR
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Yalla Yalla

  • Rated as: 4/5

Lebanese café

Operating from dinky, convivial premises on a Soho backstreet, Yalla Yalla produces a hit formula of self-styled ‘Beirut street food’. Diners cram on to faux-rustic tables at lunchtime, while others nip in for takeaway wraps – filled with everything from falafel to spicy sujuk sausage. The concise list of meze dishes includes chunky, smoky baba ganoush and a flavour-packed fattoush salad. There’s also a selection of main-course grills. Quality is impressive from such a small venue.

Meal for two with drinks and service: around £25.

  1. 1 Green's Court, W1F 0HA
More info

Best cheap eats in central London

Why let evening traditions constrain you? A treasure trove of affordable dinner options; explore our list of central London's best cheap eats for all times of the day.


  1. Central
  2. North
  3. South
  4. East
  5. West

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Users say

2 comments
Jess
Jess

What about SPUD? Or Street Kitchen?

Jo
Jo

There're places is London where you can have a dinner with a glad of wine for 2 for less than £20 (wetherspoon) The food in they serve is always lovely!

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