London's best hot takeaway lunches

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Charmaine Mok and Jenni Muir brave the lunchtime London cold to find the capital's best hot takeaway lunches. So here they are, London's best stews, curries, pasta, pizza from the City to Covent Garden and beyond

  • London's best hot takeaway lunches

    Best-value for veggies at Sagar


  • City | Covent Garden | Farringdon | Fitzrovia | King's Cross | London Bridge | Soho | Victoria

    City


    Grazing
    Grazing uses prestigious meat suppliers such as butcher Donald Russell and Denhay bacon. Hot options include roast with Yorkshires and toad in the hole.
    Mess factor Lashings of gravy.
    Lunch for one with drink Around £7.
    Grazing, 19-21 Great Tower St, EC3R 5AR (7283 2932/www.grazingfood.com). Monument or Tower Hill tube/Fenchurch St rail.

    Pod
    Brown, camargue and wild rice make a healthy, sustaining base for scrumptious spicy meatballs in tomato sauce. ‘Steepers’ such as hot fresh orange juice with honey and ginger are fabulous.
    Mess factor Neat boxes come with knives and forks for faff-free eating.
    Lunch for one with drink Around £6.
    Pod, 5 Lloyd’s Avenue, EC3N 3AE (3174 0038/www.podfood.co.uk). Tower Hill or Aldgate tube.

    Café Below
    This stellar café (formerly known as The Place Below) changes its menu daily. There are usually two hot dishes, such as leek and mushroom lasagne, or a Moroccan-style stew with bulgur wheat.
    Mess factor
    Dishes tend to be saucy, so napkins at the ready.
    Lunch for one with drink Around £8.
    The Place Below, St Mary le Bow Church, Cheapside, EC2V 6AU (7329 0789). St Paul’s tube.

    UP Box
    Bento-style lunchboxes. Our hot Italian box comprised black-leg chicken with swiss chard, roast potatoes (microwave to heat up), bread and lemon drizzle cake.
    Mess factor The tight plastic lid can mean sauce spray – open with care.
    Lunch for one with drink Around £7.
    UP Box, 7 Ludgate Circus, EC4M 7LF (8968 7514/www.up-box.co.uk). City Thameslink rail or Blackfriars rail.

    City | Covent Garden | Farringdon | Fitzrovia | King's Cross | London Bridge | Soho | Victoria

    Covent Garden


    New_99 FF B Deli01.jpg Boulevard Deli
    A mecca for low-carb dieters, this spot serves spit-roast chicken with salad. Non-dieters can have roast tatties.
    Mess factor Gnawing on chicken wings creates sticky face and fingers.
    Lunch for one with drink Around £7.
    Boulevard Deli, 36 Wellington St, WC2E 7BD (7240 2992). Covent Garden tube.

    Food for Thought
    Nutritious vegetarian soups with no compromise on flavour. Partner it with one of the brilliant savoury scones.
    Food for Thought, 31 Neal St,WC2H 9PR (7836 9072). Covent Garden tube.

    Kastner & Ovens
    A reliable favourite, usually with one meat and one veg choice for hot grub (casseroles, pastas and the like), done to a very high standard. Interesting dishes sell out quickly.
    Mess factor Large servings are stuffed into the boxes – beware when opening.
    Lunch for one with drink Around £7.
    Kastner & Ovens, 52 Floral St, WC2E 9DA (7836 2700). Covent Garden tube.

    City | Covent Garden | Farringdon | Fitzrovia | King's Cross | London Bridge | Soho | Victoria

    Farringdon


    Jollof Pot
    This Exmouth Market stall specialises in Ghanaian food, particularly from the Akan region. There’s a daily changing roster of rich stews filled with nuts and spices.
    Mess factor Using a spoon helps keep things spick ’n’ span.
    Lunch for one with drink Around £6.
    Jollof Pot, corner Farringdon Rd and Exmouth Market, EC1R 4QD (7254 5333/www.jollofcuisine.co.uk). Bus 19, 38.

    Kurz & Lang
    A good slap-up lunch: big juicy wursts (we still favour the original bratwurst), puckery sauerkraut, potato cubes and a big wodge of fresh bread or pretzel.
    Mess factor Watch that sauerkraut hanging off your fork.
    Lunch for one with drink Around £8.
    Kurz & Lang, 1 St John St, EC1M 4AA (7253 6623/www.kurzandlang.com). Farringdon tube/rail.

    New_99 FF Malletti02_crop.jpg Malletti
    You can, of course, find cheaper, but the quality ingredients in Malletti’s simple pizza slices make each one a treat. Foil-lined bags help keep your order hot.
    Mess factor Two napkins, bella.
    Lunch for one with drink Around £4.50.
    Malletti, 174-176 Clerkenwell Rd, EC1R 5DD (7713 8665). Farringdon tube/rail.

    City | Covent Garden | Farringdon | Fitzrovia | King's Cross | London Bridge | Soho | Victoria

    Fitzrovia


    Pho
    Pho to go? You can call ahead to place your order. Staff pack the broth, noodles and herbs in separate containers so the noodles don’t go soggy. You re-assemble and scoff.
    Mess factor Leave your raincoat on.
    Lunch for one with drink Around £7.
    Pho, 3 Great Titchfield St, W1W 8AX (7436 0111/www.phocafe.co.uk). Oxford Circus tube.

    New_99 FF Princi_crop.jpgSagar
    A strong rival to Rasa for the title of best vegetarian lunchbox – at Sagar it includes salad and a snack such as spicy potato balls.
    Mess factor Watch out for slops from the thin dal and raita.
    Lunch for one with drink Around £5.
    Sagar, 17a Percy St, W1T 1DU (7631 3319). Goodge St or Tottenham Court Rd tube.



    City | Covent Garden | Farringdon | Fitzrovia | King's Cross | London Bridge | Soho | Victoria

    King's Cross


    Konstam at the Prince Albert
    We wish we worked closer to Konstam, which has recently launched a takeaway menu. Chow on a hot pork belly sandwich (£5) or gorge on braised pheasant legs with a warm roast veggie salad (£14.50).
    Mess factor The sandwiches are oozingly good. Be prepared.
    Lunch for one with drink Around £7-£16.
    Konstam at the Prince Albert, 2 Acton St, WC1X 9NA (7833 5040). King’s Cross tube/rail.

    Rasa Express
    Superb south Indian curries and snacks – the Euston Road branch offers a wider range than that at Rathbone Street.
    Mess factor Carry your lunch box carefully: the milk puddings have a tendency to leak into the rice
    Lunch for one with drink Around £5.
    Rasa Express, 327 Euston Rd, NW1 3AD (7387 8974/www.rasarestaurants.com). Warren St tube.

    City | Covent Garden | Farringdon | Fitzrovia | King's Cross | London Bridge | Soho | Victoria

    London Bridge


    New_99 FF Jerk City_crop.jpgFeng Sushi
    Prettily tied with purple and pink string, opening this lunchbox at your desk is a ritual in itself. Our only issue with the well-made king prawn tempura was the portion size. Bigger bellies should opt for the udon noodle soup.
    Mess factor A clean and simple hot lunch.
    Lunch for one with drink Around £13.
    Feng Sushi, 13 Stoney St, SE1 9AD (7407 8744). London Bridge tube/rail.

    The Table
    This canteen dispenses fresh, made-to-order lunches for the famished. We’ve enjoyed their luscious soups, barbecued chicken drumsticks, and hot sarnies.
    Mess factor Depends what you order.
    Lunch for one with drink Around £7.
    The Table, 83 Southwark St, SE1 0HX (7401 2760). Southwark tube.

    City | Covent Garden | Farringdon | Fitzrovia | King's Cross | London Bridge | Soho | Victoria

    Soho


    Arang
    Best is a big box filled with bulgogi (marinated beef), hot rice and a zingy apple and cucumber salad (£4.50).
    Mess factor Virtually spick ’n’ span.
    Lunch for one with drink £5.
    Arang, 9 Golden Square, W1F 9HZ (7434 2073). Piccadilly Circus tube.

    Beatroot
    Vegetarian food that doesn’t compromise on quality or flavour. Our favourites include the rich moussaka and coconut milk curries.
    Mess factor One or two napkins will be fine.
    Lunch for one with drink Around £6.
    Beatroot, 92 Berwick St, W1F 0QD (7437 8591). Piccadilly Circus tube.

    Fernandez & Wells
    This F&W outlet serves warming stews, meatballs and ragu to hungry workers every lunchtime. Expect to queue for quality.
    Mess factor Brothy, tomato-based dishes make napkins essential.
    Lunch for one with drink Around £8.
    Fernandez & Wells, 43 Lexington St, W1F 9AL (7734 1546/www.fernandezandwells.com). Oxford Circus tube.

    New_99 FF Dumpling02.jpgJerk City
    Get a taste of the hot Caribbean sun with staples such as ackee and salt fish, stewed chicken with rice and peas and dumplings.
    Mess factor Mountainous portions mean potential spillage.
    Lunch for one with drink Around £8.
    Jerk City, 189 Wardour St, W1F 8ZD (7287 2878). Tottenham Court Rd tube.

    Joy Food
    Generous heapings of Mediterranean grub, such as grilled chermoula chicken with couscous or the popular Moroccan meatballs.
    Mess factor Remember to wipe around your mouth.
    Lunch for one with drink Around £7.
    Joy Food, 11 Berwick St, W1F 0PL (7287 2939). Tottenham Court Rd tube.

    Papaya
    Cheerful staff dole out vast amounts of aromatic Thai curries to Soho’s most savvy – a takeaway box includes a mountain of rice and generous slops of the curry of your choice.
    Mess factor It’s all packed in a neat little box which minimises spillage.
    Lunch for one with drink Around £5.
    Papaya, 14 St Anne’s Court, W1F 0BD (7734 8994). Tottenham Court Rd tube.

    Princi
    The choices seem endless – from pizza to cooked dishes such as gnocchi and lasagne just like mamma’s own. It all could be hotter, but the flavours are spot-on.
    Mess factor Get two or three napkins if you’re having the chicken cacciatora.
    Lunch for one with drink Around £10.
    Princi, 135 Wardour St, W1F 0UF (7478 8888). Tottenham Court Rd tube.

    City | Covent Garden | Farringdon | Fitzrovia | King's Cross | London Bridge | Soho | Victoria

    Victoria


    Jenny Lo’s Tea House
    Home-style Chinese dishes are the order of the day here. We rate the slow-cooked belly pork rice and the mild Thai curries.
    Mess factor It depends how fast you scoff.
    Lunch for one with drink Around £9.
    Jenny Lo’s Tea House, 14 Eccleston St, SW1W 9LT (7259 0399). Victoria tube/rail.

    City | Covent Garden | Farringdon | Fitzrovia | King's Cross | London Bridge | Soho | Victoria

Home-style Chinese dishes are the order of the day here. We rate the slow-cooked belly pork rice and the mild Thai curries. It depends how fast you scoff. Around £9. | | | | | | |

Users say

12 comments
john stuart
john stuart

You should try siam cafe soho on walkers court, real thai curry and much tastier than papaya for sure!

Jizzy
Jizzy

I am planning to set up food take away biz and wondered if you could suggest name,please? thank you very much for advice and help in advance....

Priyanka
Priyanka

I think Masala Zone serves amazing food and good portion sizes for the money they charge...its definately one of the best in soho good value for money

Soho food obsessive
Soho food obsessive

What about Imli on Wardour St? Or Mexicali on Berwick St? or Ecco on Drury Lane?

Rachel
Rachel

Papaya at St. Annes,Soho is a great find! deliciousThai curries and noodles for only 3.90. If you are looking for an alternative lunch that won't hurt your pocket head here. Queues are long during peak hours,but the staff are so fast it won't take long.

Lu
Lu

My first lunch in London - delicious chicken with Mexican salsa - was at Leon and I still have a soft spot for this place, particularly near Liverpool Street Station - so vibrant and full of positive energy, with hot and tasty food :)

congokid
congokid

I've had some very enjoyable and delicious meals at Masala Zone in Marshall Street, but I wonder if the food to go option is up to the same standard. Where I live they distribute a home delivery menu. I presume the food comes from the Earls Court branch. But if what I got delivered last Saturday night is representative of what they serve walk-in customers, I'd expect riots in Earls Court. My starter, lamb and potato servings were both tiny and the latter two were swimming in a thin sauce. In general the taste was very disappointing. The delivery menu has now been binned, though I'll still visit the Soho branch when I can.

john james
john james

The food to go secion of the Masala Zone restaurants are for easily the best for me for Indian food to go - wherever they are I principally go to Soho and Covent Garden. Consistently good; good flavours, well spiced

Tintin
Tintin

The Kati Roll Company at Poland Street (off Oxford Street) is a great take-away lunch option. Indian street food - Very yummy, though a bit over-priced Another one I would recommend is Chilago's on Fleet Street - 6 quid for a Chicken/veggie/beef burrito is 2 quid more than I would ideally like to pay, but its quite huge, filling and tasty.

Lucia
Lucia

What about Leon?! Absolutely delicious food for vegetarians AND meat-eaters. Prices are good for portion sizes. Amazingly fresh and very good quality. I particularly like the branch in Spitalfields (Tube: Liverpool Street).

Cookie Monster
Cookie Monster

Surprised to see that Leon doesn't get a mention. I sometimes wake up in the night dribbling, thinking about their chilli chicken. Mostly I wake up dribbling for other reasons.

Andrea
Andrea

These are some SOHO lunch tips (bear in mind I'm Italian): Princi cooks wonderful "aubergine parmigiana". They are cheap (4.5£) and very tasty... they make you feel full quickly :D Bruno's (just few steps after Princi, at the corner) makes AMAZING fresh "Lasagne" and "Cannelloni". You MUST try them! Very good quality!