Cheap eats in Islington

The best restaurants and cafés in Islington for good meals at good prices

 

There's no shortage of options when it comes to eating out in Islington, but with a central stretch that's nicknamed 'Supper Street', it's tricky to find a meal that is cheap as well as tasty. The entries on this list should have you fed for less. Know a great place we've missed? Let us know in the comments or send us a tweet.

Afghan Kitchen

Not much changes at this long-running restaurant overlooking Islington Green. The two-floor premises are bright and clean, with spring-green and grey paintwork, simple blond-wood tables and stools, and no decoration beyond a few pot plants. The menu of Afghan home cooking is equally straightforward: eight dishes (three meat, one fish, four vegetarian) of which the focus is hearty, warming stews that feature plenty of yoghurt and mint. Spicing is subtle rather than fiery.

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Islington

Antepliler

There are two very different Anteplilers in north London. The Green Lanes branch is a straightforward, functional canteen, but this time we visited the Upper Street restaurant, which feels like it’s been lifted straight out of a lifestyle magazine. Blue neon mosaics on a black background, making the venue resemble an Ottoman-themed nightclub, are an acquired taste. Thankfully there’s nothing showy about the food, some of which originates in Gaziantep province, near the border with Syria.

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Islington

Breakfast Club

This is the north London contingent of the cheerful mini-chain that serves satisfying comfort food. Breakfasts take centre stage: from a full English and a US variation featuring maple syrup pancakes, to a Latin American breakfast burrito. But there are also jacket potatoes with toppings less ordinary (goat’s cheese, guacamole, grilled chicken), chunky sandwiches (such as the amusingly titled ‘When Haloumi Met Salad’) and freshly made smoothies galore.

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Islington

Byron

Exposed brick and tiled walls might lend it a half-finished look, but this doesn’t detract from the fact that this little chain serves the best burgers in town, for a neat price and no strange fixings, either (but if you so desire, there’s avocado and jalapeño peppers as options). Burgers are served medium unless otherwise requested, the buns are soft and the juicy pickles served on the side. For an extra American-style indulgence, order a coke float. And to counter it, perhaps some juicy courgette fries?

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Islington

Chilango Islington

Airy and bright, this Upper Street pit-stop may be part of a London-wide chain (six branches and counting), but its Mexican menu is made with real love. Using fresh, rustic ingredients, such as fragrant own-made salsa, slow-cooked beans or chunks of pork with deliciously charred, fatty edges, the £5.95 burrito is one of the best in town.

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Islington

Côte

Created by the same crack team that first launched Strada, this branch of the brasserie chain occupies a plum spot facing Islington Green. Inside, it’s smart, yet relaxed, with a failsafe menu of Gallic bistro fare, from steak tartare or tuna Nicoise to roast duck with a cherry sauce or moules frites. They may not get pulses racing, but the ‘plats rapides’ (flat-beaten minute steak with frites for £9.95; grilled chicken with potato gratin and a mushroom sauce for £10.95), remain exceptionally good value.

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Islington

Delhi Grill

A lively canteen-style joint, Delhi Grill provides a focused menu of home-style Punjabi dishes – along with wraps sold from a smart stall outside in Chapel Market during the day. Inside, the walls are plastered with Bollywood posters and Indian newspapers; corrugated iron and stencilled lettering contribute to a Slumdog Millionaire aesthetic. The selection of street-food starters such as samosa chat are more in keeping with this mood than the Indian-restaurant standard chicken tikka.

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Islington

Five Guys

If you enjoy a visit to the golden arches, but wish the food was – well, a little nicer – then Five Guys is for you. This popular US-based burger franchise has basically taken the fast-food format but upped the ante. Ingredients are high-quality, and fresh – not frozen – as well as being cooked to order (though still quickly). It’s not exactly ground-breaking, but with burgers from £6.75, and all toppings included, it’s unsurprisingly winning its fair share of fans. 

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Islington

Gallipoli Again

Come on Saturday night to witness this place in full swing, behind the enticing window display of dolmas and baklava. There’s a queue for tables. Cynics might put the attraction down to the reasonable prices and infectious party atmosphere. Packed to the rafters, the long, narrow terracotta-painted restaurant has a rosy glow and a throbbing beat, occasionally interrupted by an electronic rendition of ‘Happy Birthday’. OK, one of the day’s specials was lasagne, but another was chicken begendi in coriander sauce with smoked aubergine and garlic, and there are bowls of olives ready and waiting on the tables.

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Islington

Masala Zone

The Masala Zone chain offers a persuasive mix of good cooking, keen prices, stylish surroundings and friendly service. The Islington branch on Upper Street offers a good number of thalis (grand and regular) as well as around 15 curries, birianis served with dal, grills and street snacks. Light lunches include the likes of chicken tikka wraps.

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Islington
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