Cheap lunches in london
Pick up a great mid-day meal for less with our guide to the city's best lunchtime bargains
Still wasting your lunch hour noshing on disappointing supermarket sandwiches? You deserve better! Treat yourself to some of these brilliant lunch bargains.
Many City restaurants seem to be aimed at bonus-padded bankers, but this Spanish tapas bar – an offshoot of the acclaimed Camino restaurant and sherry bar near King’s Cross – keeps prices low and standards high. The pan-fried black pudding, served on roasted red peppers, is pleasingly moist and blood-flavoured, and a good size for under a fiver. The chipirones – crisp, battered and fried baby squid served with aioli and a squeeze of lemon – cost just a quid more. We also love the globe artichoke hearts stuffed with a chickpea purée, topped with a sweet and nutty romesco sauce.
- 15 Mincing Lane, EC3R 7BD
- Around £15
An idyllic situation on the way up to Primrose Hill is the main attraction for pushchair-wielding parents, but the cooking at this café is as impressive as the setting. At noon the menu segues from a fairly standard café breakfast menu into South American, Indian, Japanese and European dishes, and the prices stray into proper restaurant territory. But you don’t need to fork out – if you’re looking for a real bargain, try the prix fixe set meal. You can follow soup of the day with leek and chicken pie with salad, then two scoops of ice-cream or sorbet, for a mere £11.50. Truly yummy, mummies.
- 101 Regents Park Road, NW1 8UR
When it’s in full swing at the end of the week, Borough Market remains one of the best places for street food, which typically costs under a fiver. Long-established vendors dish up hot snacks: the sausage rolls at Ginger Pig (£3.50) and the chorizo and rocket buns at Brindisa (£3.75) both in the Floral Hall, are great. But the pop-up fast food stalls, which move around and change over time, are also well worth exploring, and tend to highlight artisanal products. These might include melted raclette with new potatoes and gherkins from the Kappacasein (from £5) stall on the edge of the Green Market, near Southwark Cathedral. But there are scores of stands to choose from, so just follow your nose.
- Southwark Street, SE1
- Around £6
Restaurant Vanilla Black is a vegetarian fine dining experience, too pricy for our Cheap Eats round-up. But – hurrah!– they’ve opened this branch, a café with dishes that also show beautiful attention to detail, making it one of our current veggie favourites. A counter near the entrance displays the day’s sandwiches, salads and intriguing cakes such as ‘parsnip loaf with Horlicks icing’. A ‘savoy cabbage pudding’ uses the textured leaf to provide a pretty wrap for the cheddar-rich centre; accompanying it are heritage potatoes, a slick of creamed celeriac and a red wine reduction, making for a good-looking main course.
- 11 Sicilian Avenue, WC1A 2QH
There’s been a lot of hype around street food and food trucks in the last couple of years, but the good ones can prove elusive. Street food collective Kerb (formerly eat.st) have made it easier for you by picking out some of the best and moving them around town together. There are currently four outdoor pitches where you can grab a bargain-priced lunch from their ever-changing array of food stalls and vans. In addition to Kerb’s regular haunt north of King’s Cross station (Monday-Friday), there are two new sites in the City – next to the Gherkin (every Thursday) and CityPoint (every Friday) – plus one at UCL in Malet Place (last Wednesday of every month). From Indian burgers to pork pies, doughnuts to Korean hot dogs, there should always be something delicious here that’s right up your street.
- King’s Boulevard, N1C 4AA
- Around £7