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Cheap eats in Soho, London

Find the best places for cheap food and the best budget restaurants and cafés in Soho

Jonathan Perugia / Time Out
Soho's restaurants run the gamut from sleek and chic to fuss-free. Yet behind all the glitz and ritz of Soho are options of places to dine without breaking the budget. Try tasty Korean food at Bi Bim Bap or a hearty Italian meal at Princi. Whatever you fancy, Time Out has recommendations for great food on the cheap and good-value restaurants and cafés in Soho.

Flat White

This diminutive, dimly lit room beside the veg stalls of Berwick Street Market was one of the places that signalled, when it opened in 2005, the increasing influence of Antipodean coffee culture in London. It was hugely popular from the outset. Coffee has always occupied centre stage here, and while espresso drinkers have sometimes been disappointed, our latest visit was a resounding success. 

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Soho

Princi

Critics' choice

Introduced to London by Alan Yau in 2008, this smart outpost of a Milanese bakery chain remains a popular all-day option. It’s an airy, good-looking room, with a sandstone interior, long black marble counters and a (slightly odd) water feature that runs the length of one wall.

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Soho

Busaba Eathai

Conceived by restaurateur Alan Yau more than a decade ago, this original branch of Busaba Eathai attracted queues round the block when it opened in Soho. These days, Yau has only a minority share, and Busaba has become a ten-strong chain – but it’s still not your average Thai joint. The dark, handsome interior combines teak wood, incense and dimly lit lanterns.

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Soho

Beatroot

For a fast wholesome lunch, try this long-time favourite tucked next to the veg stalls of Berwick Street Market. Cartons come in three sizes, 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 dahl, 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.

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Gail's

A little sister of the other Gail’s scattered across London, this branch of the artisan bakery is fighting its corner, quite literally, in Soho. The interior decor is a product of the same white/red/grey palette of its siblings, and the zinc-topped counters and exposed lightbulbs parading around the perimeter of the room remind you that Gail’s is taking its arrival in W1 seriously. 

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Soho

Enrique Tomas

If Spanish hams are your thing, check out this first branch outside Spain this chain of high-quality jamonerías. This Soho outpost is asmall, no-frills place, with a slicing counter and display cabinets upfront and simple seating up back. Local colour is provided by the manySpanish-speaking staff and customers – expats suffering withdrawalsymptoms, no doubt.

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Soho

Hummus Bros

Critics' choice

Houmous may be nothing more than cheap student-fuel to many, but this humble chickpea paste is elevated to something altogether more delicious in the hands of Hummus Bros. The original Wardour Street outlet is still spartanly decorated, despite a ten-year refit, with communal tables and big windows – with queues of office workers snaking into the street at lunchtime: scenes replicated at the Holborn and Cheapside branches. 

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Soho

Breakfast Club

There are few more affable temples to nostalgia than this cluttered café, its brick walls covered with ’80s memorabilia – from record sleeves of celebrated movie soundtracks (Back To The Future, St Elmo’s Fire) to a T-shirt bearing the surnames of the original Breakfast Club actors. Finding a weathered wooden table on which to perch isn’t easy at lunchtime, but it’s the best way to fully appreciate the similarly sigh-inducing range of comfort food.

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Soho

Kêu

Kêu (which is pronounced ‘that sandwich shop on the corner’) is a new Vietnamese café in Soho that’s a branch of the Cây Tre and Viet Grill restaurant chain. To read a review of the first branch, in Shoreditch, click here. You can sit in (table service) or take away (cheaper).

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Soho

Brgr.co

Poised at the top of Wardour Street, Brgr.co’s first branch outside Lebanon opened to a mixed reception. In a city in the throes of street-food hysteria, it doesn’t curry any favours by plastering a theory of ‘BRGRology’ all over the placemats. Small burgers, made from the cheapest cuts, start at a very reasonable £4.75. Ordering them is more difficult, with the staff schooled in the art of upselling expensive specials and gourmet alternatives.

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Soho

Yalla Yalla

Critics' choice

Yalla Yalla continues to produce its hit formula of superior Lebanese cooking in a casual setting. Its self-styled ‘Beirut street food’ resonates with the upbeat informality of these dinky Soho premises; we’ve found the quality to match that of much pricier restaurants. 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 – from the pre-prepared selection behind the counter.

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Soho

Nara

Nara may be named after the erstwhile capital of Japan, but it’s the Korean food that is the main draw here. Located just off Oxford Street, it’s well placed for refuelling during a day of shopping. The simple dining room has a relaxed, informal feel. Adding to its appeal, this is one of few central London Korean restaurants to offer free panch’an – on this occasion, sweet pickled cucumber, seasoned beansprouts and mung bean jelly.

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Soho

Bunny Bar

This quick-fix open all-week spot has taken fusion to a new level with new-fangled spins on South African bunny chow - Durban’s comforting curry-in-a-loaf staple. After selling bunnies from a food truck and then a pop-up in Shoreditch, the team who set up Bunnychow have switched its allegiance and turned the dial down low on its South African roots. 

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Soho

Malletti

Critics' choice

The bright yellow signage means Malletti is hard to miss – which is good, because you shouldn’t. This little takeaway joint supplies pizza the Italian way: by the rectangular slice, wrapped in paper for munching on the go. Arrayed in colourful strips along the bar, the pizzas on display are an appetising sight. Spicy salami and chilli has a firm, light base, with a rich, sweet tomato topping and a real kick.

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Jerk City

Jerk City takes the idea of not changing a winning formula maybe a little too far. We’d say the menu hasn’t changed in years, but it’s more likely that it hasn’t changed since the place opened. The decor and furnishings still feel like the student-flat section of an Ikea showroom.

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Soho

Maoz Vegetarian

Falafel-filled pittas are the star at this global vegetarian fast-food chain. White or wholemeal pockets, crammed with crunchy falafel, are handed to customers, who can then top them off with a choice of garnishes from the buffet. And what a feast for the eyes this salad bar is: from pickles and olives to bulghur wheat salad, shredded red cabbage and a huge selection of sauces – it’s easy to overfill your pitta.

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Chinatown

Comments

9 comments
Lohit K
Lohit K

Stop by Braithwaites miniature tea room van on Rupert St for amazing English cream tea for only £4.99 - the most delicious clotted cream and strawberry jam on a lovely fruit scone with a cup of tea.

soho worker
soho worker

try siam cafe soho on walkers court, meals from £4 authentic thai curry!

theboydonefood
theboydonefood

Another list, much the same as last year, that seems completely out of touch. What happened to the good days when you guys published the cheap eats guide? Loads of lunches at less than a fiver.

Daniel
Daniel

what a joke. Busaba and Koya are hardly cheap eats. which world do you guys live in?!

KLT
KLT

Koya, Busaba Eathai and Malletti's are a must - authentic, fresh, tasty, inexpensive and superb. Pho are opening soon aswell and definitely worth checking out.

Ben
Ben

You've missed off Mooli's!

charlie
charlie

some seriously averag choices on here. Mooli's and Viet are both good. So to is Taro, Eat Tokyo, Donzoko, Joy and the brilliant I. Camisa.

paddersmcd
paddersmcd

Can't believe Mooli's on Frith Street isn't on the list. I work in Clerkenwell but the goan pork mooli with pomegranate salsa is well worth the trek over at lunch time!

NumberOneVietFan
NumberOneVietFan

I'm horrified you left Viet, 34 Greek Street, off the Cheap Eats in Soho! It's the best little cheap noodle joint in town, YUM!