Cheap eats in Tooting

Our favourite restaurants for a great meal at a great price in Tooting

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Ed Marshall / Time Out

You'll be hard-pressed to find a finer selection of dosai than among Tooting's cheap eats, but that's not all SW17 has to offer. Pick from this list of budget restaurants for an affordable taste sensation. Know somewhere better? Share it in the comments below, or send us a tweet.

Chicken Shop

  • Rated as: 4/5

It’s 8.30pm on a cold Tuesday evening, and there’s a queue of customers waiting to be seated at Chicken Shop. The beau monde of Tooting are out in force, perching on bar stools, cradling glasses of wine and texting friends excitedly. Tooting’s not seen the like before. The dining area’s in two parts: the rotisserie grill at the front, and a hidden room through the back. It’s all very beautifully styled, like a Cath Kidston garden shed. The lighting is low and flattering. The chicken is succulent, the fries crisp, the creamy coleslaw well worth the £4 charged.

  1. 141 Tooting High Street, SW17 0SY
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Apollo Banana Leaf

  • Rated as: 4/5

As if in recognition of the trek from the nearest tube station, Apollo Banana Leaf greets diners with a vision of paradise: soaring mountains and a sparkling waterfall, printed in vivid technicolour over the walls. If that assault on the senses isn’t enough, the high-backed dining chairs are upholstered in crushed red velvet, while disco lights twinkle around the door. But devotees don’t come here for design tips, they come for the food – an authentic rendering of South Indian and Sri Lankan cuisine – and for great value.

  1. 190 Tooting High Street, SW17 0SF
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Dosa n Chutny

  • Rated as: 4/5
  • Critics choice

Rarely have we seen such a perfect dosai: crisp on the outside, moist and rice-fragrant on the inside, a perfect oval bent over in the shape of a curling leaf. The accompanying sambar (spicy lentil dip) is rich and sweet, in the Chennai style, the coconut chutneys fresh (though only in two variants: red or green). Most of these meals cost under £3. It’s true that this South Indian and Sri Lankan café might not have the most alluring of interiors – it is lit like a Tamil truck-stop, with furniture the colour of Sunny Delight – but at least you get to see movies on the flatscreen TV by way of diversion.

  1. 68 Tooting High Street, SW17 0RN
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Meza

  • Rated as: 4/5

Tooting Bec tube station; minicab office; launderette; kebab shop. Hang on, though, this kebab shop is crammed with tables and chairs, and some very pleased-with-themselves diners clinking glasses. A tiny Lebanese licensed restaurant, Meza has a kitchen smaller than a Beirut takeaway stall, but manages to turn out a sizeable menu of meze and grilled dishes freshly made to order. The chefs never put a fuul wrong, from the perfectly crisp-shelled falafels to the aubergine dips seared with the whiff of the charcoal grill. Highlights? Everything.

  1. 34 Trinity Road, SW17 7RE
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Radha Krishna Bhavan

  • Rated as: 3/5

The walls of this established Keralite restaurant are covered with photographic wallpaper depicting coconut-fronded beaches and sunsets; a full kathakali dance costume sits imposingly in one corner; and statues of Krishna and his girlfriend Radha adorn the counter. Food-wise, we recommend sticking to specialities such as avial (vegetable stew), vellappams (large, frisbee-shaped crumpets) and thorans (vegetable stir-fries that include diced beetroot and grated cabbage).

  1. 86 Tooting High Street, SW17 0RN
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Sree Krishna

  • Rated as: 3/5

Established in 1973, Sree Krishna was the first South Indian restaurant in Tooting and it remains one of the finest to this day. The interior might be reminiscent of a hotel lobby in Ootacamund circa 1965, and the service can be oddly somnambulant, but the kitchen was still on fine form on our visit. Give the bhunas, vindaloos and kormas a swerve and choose instead the ‘vegetarian starters’, the ‘dry vegetables’ and the ‘chef’s specials’, all of which are distinctively South Indian. We can especially recommend the appam and meat curry – giant, saucer-like crumpets with spicy lamb – and the beetroot thoran, a stir-fry of diced and spiced purple tubers. The huge, crisp dosas are also standout.

  1. 192-194 Tooting High Street, SW17 0SF
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