Cheap lunches in london

Pick up a great mid-day meal for less with our guide to the city's best lunchtime bargains

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Rob Greig / Time Out

Still wasting your lunch hour noshing on disappointing supermarket sandwiches? You deserve better! Treat yourself to some of these brilliant lunch bargains. Got a favourite you'd like to share? Let us know in the comments box below or tweet your suggestions.

Beatroot

  • Rated as: 3/5

Vegetarian café

A long-time vegetarian favourite, tucked next to the stalls of Berwick Street Market. Choose from three sizes of cartons, to be filled with a mix of tasty, freshly made salads and hot dishes (ten of each), on display behind a glass counter. Stalwarts include creamy coconutty dal, lentil and mushroom shepherd’s pie, organic rice salad with tamari soy sauce and seaweed, mini ‘sausage’ rolls or simple blanched broccoli – it’s surprising how much you can cram in.

Meal for two with soft drinks and service: around £15.

  1. 92 Berwick Street, W1F 0QD
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Berwick Street Market

Weekday street market

Hungry Sohoites head here for hot food on the hoof every weekday lunchtime. Stalls vary daily, but regulars include Vietnamese specialists Bahnmi11, Pizza Pilgrims, the Tongue ’Cheek burger pitch, Jerusalem Falafel, Moroccan Box (tagines), Freebird Burritos, Tandoor (curries and wraps), and the Bread Man (sandwiches, pastries and cakes).

Takeaway lunch dishes: around £5-8 per head.

  1. Berwick Street, W1F 0PT
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Café Below

  • Rated as: 3/5

City café

Open for breakfast and lunch only, this unpretentious café is sited in the crypt of a City church. Ponder Wren’s high arches as you devour a bacon sarnie or a lunchtime fish pie.

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

  1. St Mary-le-Bow Church, (Cheapside), EC2V 6AU
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Daddy Donkey

  • Rated as: 4/5

Burrito stand

London has scores of burrito joints and there’s not much to choose between most of them. But if we have to pick one that hordes of people are prepared to queue for every weekday lunchtime, it’s got to be the daytime-only Daddy Donkey.

Takeaway burrito for one: around £5-£7.

  1. Leather Lane Market, EC1N 7TE
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Exmouth Market

Street market food stalls

Clerkenwell’s rejuvenated lunchtime weekday market attracts an enticing mix of international food vans and stalls. Highlights include Ghanaian specials at Spinach & Agusi, salads from Seed, Simply Thai, and Iberian enticements at Spanish Flavours.

Takeaway lunch: around £5-8 per head.

  1. EC1R 4QE
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Food for Thought

  • Rated as: 3/5

Long-established vegetarian café

Since the 1970s, bargain-hunters have been heading down to this Covent Garden basement café in search of cheap, hearty vegetarian food – a curry or a quiche, perhaps, followed by a gut-busting apple and plum crumble.

Meal for two with soft drinks and service: around £18.

  1. 31 Neal Street, WC2H 9PR
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Hummus Bros

  • Rated as: 5/5
  • Critics choice

Houmous specialist

Spartan furnishings and a menu based on the chickpea don’t stop lunchtime queues forming outside HB’s original Soho branch. Small wonder: the silky-smooth houmous comes topped with treats like slow-cooked beef or cumin-scented fava beans.

Meal for two with drinks and service: around £18.

  1. 88 Wardour Street, W1F 0TJ
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Indian YMCA

  • Rated as: 4/5

Indian student canteen

This student canteen has graced Fitzrovia for almost as long as its post-war modernist premises, serving bowls of curries and mounds of rice to the likes of trainee doctors from the Punjab, and in-the-know office drones. Unlicensed: no corkage charge.

Meal for two with soft drinks and service: around £15.

  1. 41 Fitzroy Square, W1T 6AQ
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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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Koshari Street

  • Rated as: 3/5

Egyptian street snack specialist

Fancy a little koshari? You will, once you’re tried this filling Egyptian street snack of lentils, pasta, vermicelli and rice topped with tomato sauce and fried onions.

Meal for two with soft drinks: around £15.

  1. 56 St Martin's Lane, WC2N 4EA
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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
More info

Malletti

  • Rated as: 3/5

Pizza takeaway

A takeaway joint with only a few high stools to perch on, Malletti feeds Soho grazers with pizzas served the Italian way – by the rectangular slice, wrapped in paper for munching on the go.

Takeaway pizza for one: around £6.

  1. 26 Noel Street, W1F 8GY
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Maoz Vegetarian

  • Rated as: 3/5

Vegetarian falafel joint

You’ll be handed a pitta bread crammed with crunchy falafels, then you can ram it still more full with garnishes from the impressive salad bar buffet. A few cramped tables have views of Soho’s main drag. Unlicensed; no alcohol allowed.

Meal for two with soft drinks: around £15.

  1. 43 Old Compton Street, W1D 6HG
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Orchard

  • Rated as: 4/5

Vegetarian café

Casual and cosy, Orchard serves up accomplished vegetarian cooking on its mismatched plates – poached egg on a spinach fritter with smoky mayo, say. Finish with scrummy cakes and first-rate coffee.

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

  1. 11 Sicilian Avenue, WC1A 2QH
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Regency Café

  • Rated as: 3/5

Old school caff

With food orders bellowed from the counter, a shiny art deco exterior and tiled interior, and a daytime-only menu embracing huge fried breakfasts, equally calorific lunches (pies, pasta, roasts) and custard-drenched puds, the Regency looks every inch the classic caff that it is. Unlicensed.

Meal for two with tea and service: around £15.

  1. 17-19 Regency St, SW1P 4BY
More info

Seoul Bakery

  • Rated as: 3/5

Korean café

Tucked behind Centre Point, this tiny Korean caff – covered in Post-it notes and doodles – is a student favourite. And why not, when thick seafood p’ajeon pancakes, spicy stews and rice bowls cost around a fiver? Cash only.

Meal for two with soft drinks and service: around £15.

  1. 55 St Giles High St, WC2H 8LH
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Vantra Vitao

  • Rated as: 3/5

Vegan buffet

Punchy, multi-ethnic flavours jostle for attention at this bustling vegan buffet. Think soups, stews and stroganoffs, grilled vegetables and fresh, zesty salads. Costing is by weight, £1.80 per hundred grams, so avoid the temptation to load up your plate all-you-can-eat style.

Meal for two with soft drinks: around £30.

  1. 25-27 Oxford St, W1D 2DW
More info

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

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Users say

1 comments
mac rutherford
mac rutherford

Brindisa's buns are brilliant at Borough Market, spicy & succulent, lots of choices too!

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BYO restaurants in london

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London's top 50 restaurants

Our critics' pick of London restaurants, cafés and gastropubs guaranteed to satisfy, for when only the best will do

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