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
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.
Had enough of the winter weather? This place will warm you up. At this Chinese-run, no-frills restaurant in Clapham the all-you-can-eat hotpot buffet costs a mere £12.50 per head. Order half spicy soup and half mild for the cauldron in the middle of your table,pile your plate with thinly sliced beef and lamb, load up on cabbage, spinach, potatoes, fishballs and anything else you fancy – and then get cooking, yourself, at the table. It’s fun, it’s cheap and it’s spicy. This place gets busy, particularly with large Chinese families and groups, so book ahead.
- 29 North Street, SW4 0HJ
- Around £15
This grand brasserie in the Continental style is one of the best places for a sense of occasion in central London without having to splash out stupid money: it looks fabulous, the service is perfect without being stiff and the whole experience is memorable. The two-course set meal is very simple – a grated carrot salad, followed by a bunless burger (steak haché) served with a pepper sauce and some crisp, light frites – it costs just £8.75; add a cafetière of filter coffee and a couple of delectable petits fours, and the bill still only comes to £11.75.
- 20 Sherwood Street, W1F 7ED
- Around £20
Remember when gastropubs used to be cheap and fun? This Kentish Town favourite still is, and serves big portions for absurdly low prices. Unlike a lot of gastropubs, the menu changes every day, but outstanding regular highlights include steaks, cured beef served with cheese and pickles, and cottage pie topped with mashed root veg. The pork meatballs in tomato sauce are tremendous and very tasty. Some dishes are cheaper than others, but don’t make the mistake of thinking they are starters. In fact, the portions are so ample that a single main course can do the trick, though sharing a starter usually works out well. Most dishes cost £9 to £13, and you can easily eat your fill of fabulous food for under £20.
- The Abbey Tavern, (124 Kentish Town Rd), NW1 9QB
Time Out’s favourite serial restaurateur Alan Yau (who gave us Wagamama and Busaba Eathai) is at it again, this time with an airy and clean-lined modern Thai café. The menu offers fresh fragrant salads and plenty of affordable one-bowl dishes, such as chicken laksa (£8.70) or stir-fried soft shell crab on rice (£10.90), which have just the right spice hit to transport you to the tropics. More Naamyaas are planned, but for the time being, you need to travel to the Angel to try this prototype, which is essentially an even cheaper and breezier version of the Busaba Eathai chain.
- Angel Building, (407 St John St), EC1V 4AB
- Around £15
A handful of quality ramen noodle in broth joints opened in London in 2012, including this one just off Piccadilly Circus. Specialising in the slow-simmered pork bone stock version – tonkotsu – its filling noodle soups topped with barbecued pork, bean sprouts and cloud ear mushrooms (among other things) cost £8.90 to £11. Soy sauce- and miso stock-based noodle soups are also available: little bowls of umami heaven…
- 9 Regent St, SW1Y 4LR
- Around £15
If you started your day at Brixton Market, why not end it here too? It has a plethora of cheap dinner places, but the hipster flavour of the moment is Wishbone, a bar-café serving unusual variations on fried chicken, like Korean wings (£4.50) or Thai thighs (£5.50). The cocktails, at £5.50, are tempting, as are the sides, but you can eat well here for under a tenner. It helps if you also enjoy loud hip hop.
- 12 Market Row, (Brixton Village Market), SW9 8LD
- Around £12
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