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Time Out

The best cheap eats in London

The best restaurants and cafés in the capital for great food and good value

Written by
Chris Waywell
,
Time Out London Food & Drink
&
Leonie Cooper
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London might well be the world’s greatest food city (that’s right, we’ve gone there) but with spiralling living costs, it’s not like any of us can eat out as much as we’d like to. So welcome to our list of London’s best cheap eats.

Every highlighted dish here costs £10 or less and variety is the name of the game – so expect London staples like fish and chips, and pie and mash, but also discover the best bargain places for banh mi, burgers, gozleme, pizza, shawarma, bao, lahmacun, kebabs, bagels, baps and sarnies.

These places give you the kind of buzz only a bargain bite can deliver, while you can relish the fact that you’re supporting small independent London businesses when they need you the most. So hit the streets – filling up in some of London’s best restaurants needn’t empty your wallet.

The best cheap eats in London

  • Bars and pubs
  • Pubs
  • Gospel Oak
  • price 2 of 4

The sign outside announces ‘ale, cider, meat’, and that pretty much sums up what’s on offer at one of the best pubs in north London. It's their small but powerful bar snack menu that really sets this boozer apart. The roast pork bap is the finest meaty treat in town and comes complete with heroic crackling and oozy apple sauce. Vegetarians won't be lonely; there are cheese baps and veggie Scotch eggs on offer, too.  

Price: Hot roast pork bap £5.95; pork pies £4.50; cheese and chutney bap £5.75. 

  • Restaurants
  • Malaysian
  • Euston

This teeny Euston backstreet basement serves up astounding Malaysian rotis, either stuffed or with equally first-rate curries for dipping. They’re crisp, chewy and feather-light but also dense – perfect with an ambrosial glass of teh tarik (chilled sweet tea). Also look out for great-value ‘local’ dishes such as nasi lemak, nasi goreng and beef rendang. RK is really is small, so dining solo or in pairs is probably sensible. Go early evening to beat the queues.  

Price: Roti canai from £6.50 (two pieces); nasi goreng £8.95.

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  • Restaurants
  • Lebanese
  • Edgware Road

Marble countertops give this Lebanese takeaway near Marble Arch a vibe that’s almost as decadent as the shawarma it serves up. If you’re after all the indulgence of black pepper and nutmeg sesame marinated lamb at less than half the price you’d pay for a main here, get it in a sarnie with tahini, salad, parsley and sumac for just £6.95. Extremely good stuff. A falafel comes in at an even more reasonable £5.50.

Price: Shawarma lamb sandwich from £6.95; falafel sandwich £5.50.

Mr Bao
  • Restaurants
  • Taiwanese
  • Peckham
  • price 2 of 4

Zeitgeist or no, this Taiwanese joint is a tip-top contender that brings a slice of Soho to SE15 with its fluffy steamed bao buns, small plates and cocktails. The classic Mr Bao (pork, pickle and peanut powder) is both larger and cheaper than its uptown rivals (but just as good), and we also like its extended list of vegan offerings such as the ginger-braised tofu bao. And for God’s sake, don’t skip the Bao S’more, with marshmallow and chocolate.

Price: Mr Bao bun with pork belly £4.50, ginger-braised tofu bao (vegan) £4.60.

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  • Restaurants
  • Cafés
  • Tufnell Park

A new-gen greasy spoon that serves simple yet effective set menus, chip butties and piping hot mugs of tea. Your tenner will go far here, with bacon sarnies or cheese on toast for a fiver or a proper English breakfast with ham, two eggs and chips for £8. Indulgence on a budget.  

Price: Beans on toast with cheese £5; chip butty £4; mug of tea £1.

  • Restaurants
  • Chinese
  • Chinatown

It doesn’t matter whether you opt for hot or classic spiced meat, the pork dumplings at this Cantonese stalwart in Chinatown work out at an extremely reasonable price. The only problem? They taste so damn good (herby, satisfying and substantial) that we guarantee you’ll finish a portion of eight (£7.50) ready to take on even more.

Price: Pork siu long bao £7.50 for eight.

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  • Restaurants
  • Vegan
  • Soho

A hot pink corner of Soho's Kingly Court that's permanently packed with happily seitan-stuffed vegan diners. The al pastor taco is a must-order and other highlights include the ingenious tofish taco and jackfruit 'ribs' while vegan 'queso' of mysterious origins pours like lava from a mountainous pile of nachos. 

Price: One taco £4, 3 of the same £10; nachos £8.50; fried chick'n buritto £9.

  • Restaurants
  • Chinese
  • Camberwell

A pioneer of regional Chinese cuisine in London, this Camberwell cutie puts the focus on dishes from the north-west frontier province of Xinjiang. It’s a friendly haven for fans of hand-pulled noodles, skewered shish, dumplings and stews, so look for regional classics such as the chilli-spiked ‘big plate’ or ‘middle plate’ chicken. The flavours can be fiery, although they’re tempered with a plethora of spices – a legacy of its historic namesake trade route.

Price: Xinjiang lamb shish £1; ‘middle plate’ chicken with belt noodles £9.

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Singburi
  • Restaurants
  • Thai
  • Leytonstone
  • price 1 of 4

A veteran of the Leytonstone scene, this tiny family-run Thai café scores in every department. The BYO policy is key to its boozy appeal, but the food is also a blast – staunchly traditional, potently spiced and delivered without ceremony from the open kitchen. Staples such as pad thai and massaman curry are terrific value, but also take a look at the chalked-up specials board. Be warned: Singburi is rampantly popular.

Price: Tom yum goong soup £6.25; yellow chicken curry £7.75.

Randy's Wing Bar
  • Restaurants
  • American
  • Olympic Park

Former street-food upstarts Randy’s now have a permanent ranch-style roost by the canal in Hackney Wick, and their wings are the business. Look for the barbecue-slathered Kansas, the sweet ’n’ sticky Korean-style or the harissa-infused Casablanca with sumac onions and pomegranate seeds. There are loaded fries for £6 and burgers for a tenner too. Bag a deckchair on the grassy verge by the water when the sun’s out. 

Price: Wraps from £8; five wings £6.50.

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  • Restaurants
  • Indian
  • Stoke Newington
  • price 1 of 4

Stoke Newington Church Street has been filled with pretty chic shops, bars and restaurants, but none of them has the star quality of veggie south Indian spot Rasa and its bright pink restaurant front. Dosas are a delight, but our favourite is the creamy aubergine bagar baingan from Hyderabad. 

Price: Plain dosa £6.50; bagar baingan £7.95.

  • Restaurants
  • Ethiopian
  • Dalston
  • price 1 of 4

This Ethiopian café bashes out hearty vegan food in a friendly, no-frills setting. Inside, it’s simple: take a seat among the fairy lights and artificial plants and you’ll be asked whether you want traditional injera (a spongy, savoury pancake) or rice, which will then be served up with six sample dishes. It’s all about the greens and aromatic stews made with beans or lentils here, which are pimped with plenty of garlic, ginger and turmeric. It’s BYO, too. 

Price: £10 per person.

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Bleecker
  • Restaurants
  • Burgers
  • Victoria

When only a filthy-good US-style burger made with rare-breed dry-aged beef will do, Bleecker comes up trumps for London’s meat-mad hordes. The oozing bacon cheeseburger is a carnivore’s dream – especially when it’s loaded up with ketchup – although adding a side of ‘angry fries’, drizzled with blue cheese and hot sauce, will take you over the £10 limit.

Price: Burgers from £7.75.

Butchies
  • Restaurants
  • Chicken
  • Shoreditch
  • price 1 of 4

Butchies’ original street-food stall made its name with fast-fried chicken, but its first proper restaurant ups the ante by matching superlative nosh with friendly counter service and sharp decor. As the unofficial chicken burger champion of London, it serves up dreamy buttermilk-fried sandwiches and voluptuous bacon-stacked numbers with playful names like ‘Jenny from the Block’. Also, don’t miss the moreish chicken strips served with house OG sauce and extra dips if you want them (trust us, you do).

Price: Buttermilk chicken sandwiches from £7.50.

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  • Restaurants
  • Taiwanese
  • Soho

Camera-wielding gastro geeks used to queue down Lexington Street hoping to hashtag London’s finest bao, but now Bao Soho offers bookings. Spend your tenner wisely by picking from the line-up of steamed buns (the classic with braised pork belly, peanut powder and fermented greens is a must), but don’t ignore the xiao chi snacks such as trotter nuggets or mapo aubergine with chi shiang rice. Also try Bao Borough, Bao Fitz, Netil Market’s Bar Bao and Café Bao in King’s Cross.

Price: Bao from £6.50; Taiwanese fried chicken with hot sauce from £8.75.

Delhi Grill
  • Restaurants
  • Indian
  • Angel

Corrugated iron and walls plastered with Bollywood posters lend a ‘Slumdog Millionaire’ aesthetic to this upbeat Punjabi pit-stop on Chapel Market. If you’re planning a sit-down dinner indoors, be aware that the insistent bhangra beats and unyielding seats may put paid to any thoughts of whiling away the time. The kitchen majors in street-food snacks and slow-cooked curries, from sev puris and fish pakoras to railway lamb, rogan josh and chicken tikka makhani.  

Price: Tandoori lamb chops £7.50; chicken tikka £5.50.

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Bánh Bánh
  • Restaurants
  • Vietnamese
  • Peckham

Now happily embedded in Peckham Rye, this former street food outfit serves up fail-safe Vietnamese dishes in a modest, neutrally decorated, plywood-clad setting. Affordable classics such as summer rolls and ‘bun’ noodle salads abound, but it’s worth tossing in an extra quid for more unusual ideas such as the bò kho beef stew with lemongrass or bánh khot turmeric and coconut pancakes filled with prawns and sprinkled with shrimp dust. There’s a second branch in Brixton.  

Price: Rolls from £7.

  • Restaurants
  • Chinese
  • Chinatown
  • price 1 of 4

Fun buns in Chinatown might make you think of Taiwanese bao, but these beauties are of the Cantonese variety – closed-up, then stamped with their identity. There are pig buns, fish buns, custard buns and more, but do order some small dishes too (curry fish balls, chilli tripe or glass noodle salad, say) and bulk things out with a rice pot. There’s also a tea service if you’re eating in (£2), but note that BH is strictly first-come, first-served.

Price: Buns from £3.30; confit Iberico lardo and chive claypot egg noodles £9.80.

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  • Restaurants
  • Indian
  • Whitechapel
  • price 1 of 4

A huge, full-on East End curry house that has acquired almost mythical status since launching back in 1972, Tayyabs remains as frantic as ever – don’t come here expecting a relaxed chilled-out ruby. No matter, because the food at this Punjabi stalwart is a bargain and the flavours are potent – tuck into the fiery grilled lamb chops, rich dahls and generous karahi bowls (‘small’ versions are big enough and cheap enough for one person). Corkage-free BYO is a budget-friendly bonus.

Price: Tandoori lamb chops (four pieces) £7; karahi ghost (small) £7.50.

  • Restaurants
  • Chinese
  • Chinatown

Big menus are commonplace in Chinatown, but such a vast repertoire seems impossible from a galley the size of an origami boat. Still, Café TPT manages to deliver its flavour-packed pan-Chinese bonanza with commendable aplomb – despite functional decor, bare tables and matter-of-fact service. Best bets are Cantonese staples such as succulent roast duck on rice, although we crave the Hong Kong-style ‘Tai pai tong hawker dishes’ too. Anything with seafood is worth ordering. 

Price: Mixed roast meat on rice £10; nasi lemak £8.

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The Cheese Bar
  • Restaurants
  • Street food
  • Camden Market
  • price 2 of 4

A bricks-and-mortar spin-off from the legendary Cheese Truck, this handy Camden pitstop peddles its wares in a bar-like space beneath a burlesque club. Oozing cheese sandwiches and messy riffs on raclette are the main contenders in the food stakes, but don’t miss bigger plates such as five-cheese macaroni or the flavour-bomb sundae (X-rated food porn involving blue cheese lusciously laced with quince, honey and shards of honeycomb). 

Price: Grilled cheese sandwiches from £8.50; five-cheese macaroni £9.80. 

Del 74
  • Restaurants
  • Mexican
  • Dalston
  • price 1 of 4

A garish, grungy Mexican pop-up bar and taqueria gone permanent, Del 74 promises banging beats, good vibes and easy-drinking margaritas, plus a bar menu of well-crafted classics – pork pilbil tacos, brisket tostadas, tinga quesadillas, that sort of thing. Veggies are guaranteed to do well here. Drop by at any time for a cheap eat, although the best value is on Taco Tuesday when the happy hour lasts all night long and you can pick up tacos for £2.50. 

Price:  Pork pilbil tacos £5.50; brisket quesadilla £6.50. 

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  • Restaurants
  • Taiwanese
  • Covent Garden
  • price 2 of 4

The Covent Garden outpost of a world famous no-bookings Taiwanese chain famed for its dumplings and regional street food, Din Tai Fung is a cult phenomenon – so expect to queue (although there’s now a ‘walk-in’ app if you want to go virtual). It’s more expensive and more fashionable than Chinatown, but the food is worth it: don’t miss the signature xiao long bao (delicate soup dumplings), the bouncy, golden prawn pancakes or the wontons with black vinegar and chilli oil – all served by hyper-efficient staff.

Price: Steamed buns from £7.50 for three.

Dishoom
  • Restaurants
  • Indian
  • Shoreditch
  • price 2 of 4

Whirling ceiling fans, sepia prints and other retro wheezes set the scene for some post-colonial romping at Dishoom’s slick Indian eatery in Shoreditch, which comes complete with a Bombay-esque railway café space and a Raj-era verandah. Eat for under £10 by ordering the buttery pau buns with various fillings, the stuffed roomali (roti) rolls and other small plates, or dip carefully into the line-up of grills and salads. Dishoom’s other outlets all offer something similar.

Price: Keema pau £7.50; chicken tikka roll £8.90. 

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Dosa n Chutney
  • Restaurants
  • Indian
  • Tooting

Done out like a Tamil truck stop with lurid lighting, furniture the colour of Sunny Delight and movies on the flatscreen TV, this rudimentary Sri Lankan-South Indian caff is famed for its minuscule prices and superlative dosas – although you can still eat cheaply if you veer off into gravy territory. Veggie options are the standouts – the Mysore masala dosa, served with spiced onion, potatoes and three house chutneys is a winner, as are the onion utthapam and veg biryani.  

Price: Dosas from £5.25. 



  • Restaurants
  • Caribbean
  • Brixton

Fast-growing south London mini-chain Eat of Eden offers Caribbean-inspired vegan goodies. There are stews, curries and sticky plantain, but we like the plump patties best. Light, flaky pastry encases a well-spiced but not too spicy filling of dhal, vegetables or – our fave – callaloo (a spinach-like vegetable). At a bargainous £2.20 each, you should really try all three.

Price: Callaloo patty from £2.20.

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Fish, Wings & Tings
  • Restaurants
  • Caribbean
  • Brixton
  • price 2 of 4

Locally renowned as one of the dreamiest sites on Brixton’s rumbustious market, FW&T has a communal vibe with its battered, bright-orange tables, effervescent service, reggae tunes and easygoing menu. To start there are codfish fritters, jerked-up pepper prawns and kingfish curry with rice and peas; then come the famous reggae wings.

Price: Reggae wings with pineapple and mango chutney £9.50.

  • Restaurants
  • Thai
  • Shepherd’s Bush

A mural-laden SheBu favourite, Esarn Kheaw has been serving north-eastern Thai food to an appreciative crowd of locals for decades. The dark dining room may be starting to show its age, but the cooking is as good as ever and most dishes are budget-friendly – witness marinated chargrilled beef, spiced catfish or blisteringly hot vegetarian jungle curry. Also don’t miss the boiled and deep-fried ‘son-in-law’ eggs – a delicious mouth-cooling foil to the spicy food. 

Price: Ox tripe soup £9.95; Gaeng Pet Ped Yang roasted duck curry £9.95.

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  • Restaurants
  • Turkish
  • Ladbroke Grove
  • price 1 of 4

There’s usually a queue at this Med-inspired Turkish grill, but no-nonsense service means you’ll bag a table pretty quickly. While you wait, get the juices flowing by watching Fez’s meat maestros as they rotate the hefty barbecue skewers and shave slices off the own-made doners. They also score highly with cut-above accompaniments including crunchy red cabbage, spice-rubbed flatbreads and tangy Turkish yoghurt. Plus, it’s BYOB.

Price: Falafel, rice and salad £8.50.

  • Restaurants
  • Thai
  • Paddington
  • price 1 of 4

Housed in the basement of a shabby boozer around the back of the Edgware Road, the Heron is a rough diamond, but beyond its slightly dingy interior, you’ll discover some of the most authentic Thai food in London (yep, that means spicy!). The kitchen specialises in north-eastern cooking, with an impressive range of salads, sour curries and stir-fries – all budget-friendly stuff. Expect things to get lively after 9pm, when the dining room doubles as a karaoke lounge. 

Price: Grilled pork salad £10; fried rice with crab, egg and onions £9.95.

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The Kati Roll Company
  • Restaurants
  • Indian
  • Soho

Hindi film posters, Bollywood soundtracks and relaxed staff strike an authentic tone at this Indian street food stop just off Oxford Street. The main attraction here is a line-up of eminently affordable kati (pronounced ‘karti’) rolls: marinated meats, vegetables and cheeses, all bundled up in flaky paratha flatbread that’s been griddled and spread with beaten egg.

Price: Unda aloo roll £4.65; beef tikka roll £4.90.  

DF Tacos
  • Restaurants
  • Mexican
  • Brick Lane

‘DF’ stands for Mexico City’s Distrito Federal, but this affordable, mass-market offshoot of the Wahaca chain couldn’t be more London – and fashion-conscious with it. All the trademarks are here: strikingly modern design, cheery staff and no bookings, plus Mexican fast food with a hipster spin. Open tacos hit the spot if you’re eating on the cheap, as do the pork bibil torta buns with smashed avo, slaw and pickle. Note that tacos are half price on Mondays. There are offshoots in Brixton and on Tottenham Court Road.

Price: Tacos from £8.50; burritos from £9.

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Lahore Kebab House
  • Restaurants
  • Indian
  • Whitechapel

A suitably spartan place of pilgrimage for East End curry devotees who want to avoid the touts, this consistently reliable Whitechapel canteen deals in full-flavoured Punjabi street food, from snacks and karahi bowls to the eponymous grilled meat-on-a-stick. Despite the moniker, there are only two kebabs on offer – one seekh (a sausage of seasoned, finely minced lamb on a skewer), and a classic chicken kebab: both are excellent. You can BYOB, and there’s a handy off-licence next door. 

Price: Chicken kebab roll £5; vegetable biryani £9.25.

Meze Mangal
  • Restaurants
  • Turkish
  • Deptford
  • price 1 of 4

Lewisham’s answer to the top Turkish spots of Green Lane is the refurbished Meze Mangal, with an uproarious clean-lined dining room with parquet floors, spotlights and clothed tables. The menu combines mangal classics with more unusual suggestions such as skewered quail or grilled swordfish, while budget-friendly pides (oval-shaped Turkish-style pizzas), sharing dishes and Turkish wines help to keep things affordable. 

Price: Pide from £9.50.

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  • Restaurants
  • Chinese
  • Stratford
  • price 2 of 4

A whopping great restaurant outside a shopping centre in Stratford, Sichuan Grand lives up to its name on both counts and there are dishes on its vast menu that linger long in the memory – like the crunchy but gelatinous shredded jellyfish with black vinegar dressing. Portions are almost impossibly generous, so fill up for less than a tenner by ordering the soupy wontons, a plate of hot-and-sour glass noodles with pig’s intestine or some cold noodles with shredded chicken.   

Price: Chongqing spicy and numbing noodles £8.20; dumplings with chilli sauce £6.80 (six pieces).

Icco
  • Restaurants
  • Italian
  • Goodge Street

A whole pizza? In central London? For just over a fiver? That’s the magic of Icco, a family-run Italian that’s been serving up cheap, cheap pies from its bright green corner site on Goodge Street since 1999. You can bag a funghi for six quid here, but you should spend 50p for the indulgence of the fiorentina – a salty, oily feast featuring a runny poached egg. Also in Camden, Wood Green, Croydon and Colindale.

Price: Pizza from £5.50.

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Lina Stores restaurant
  • Restaurants
  • Italian
  • Soho
  • price 2 of 4

A Soho deli legend since 1944, Lina Stores took the bold (but natural) step of opening a little restaurant in 2018. It’s a squeeze, but the whole place buzzes and prices are friendly. Handmade pasta is the strongest suit, although some dishes are noticeably better than others: we love the worm-like pici with porcini and Umbrian sausage sauce. Antipasti and puds are cheap but forgettable, so stick to the pasta and sit at the street-level counter.

Price: Pasta from £7.50.

India Club
  • Restaurants
  • Indian
  • Strand
  • price 1 of 4

Hidden behind the dingy frontage of the Hotel Strand Continental and reached via two rickety flights of stairs, this intensely charming Indian restaurant offers ornate metal lanterns and portraits of Indian independence. Everything on the menu is stonkingly good value, whether you opt for a thin crisped-up ghee dosa, chunky lamb bhuna or the legendary tomato-based curry with hard-boiled eggs. 

Price: Egg curry £7.50; dosas from £5.50. 

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  • Restaurants
  • Iranian
  • Peckham
  • price 1 of 4

Colourful, crowded and charmingly bonkers, Sally Chambers’s Middle Eastern café is shoehorned among the paraphernalia of Peckham’s Persian delicatessen. Expect a full-on veggie interpretation of Levantine and Persian cuisine, from traditional meze and wraps with seasonally inspired fillings (quince, halloumi and caramelised celeriac) to daily soups and hotpots, and all-day fillers such as baked sweet potato topped with Persian baked beans. Also, don’t miss the lush turkish-delight sundae. BYOB for supper.

Price: Meze platters £6/£10; wraps £5.50.

Pizza Union
  • Restaurants
  • Pizza
  • Spitalfields

It’s super-quick, it’s satisfying and the Roman-style base has all the shattering crunch of a Ryvita Thin. Pizza Union’s margherita won’t be the best slice you’ve ever had, but it’s only £4.95 for a very respectable fire-baked 12". That’s 12 inches, for the cost of an overpriced coffee. Plus you get handed one of those buzzy things to tell you when yours is ready. Literally minutes of fun. There are six Pizza Unions across the captial. 

Price: Pizza from £4.95

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  • Restaurants
  • Vietnamese
  • Chinatown

Throwing down the Vietnamese gauntlet right outside the entrance to Chinatown, this hip outfit puts an ultra-chic spin on things with its industrial interiors and throbbing dance music. The cooking’s pretty cool too, with a pick ’n’ mix menu of stellar street food devised by ex-Hakkasan chef Jeff Tan – do try the range of pho, the bún vermicelli specials and modern Vietnamese tapas such as smoky spiced quail or crispy coconut calamari. 

Price: Pho from £8.80; sirloin beef egg fried rice with lettuce & spring onion £6.80

Temple of Hackney
  • Restaurants
  • Vegan
  • Hackney
  • price 1 of 4

London’s first vegan ‘chicken shop’ was born out of Hackney’s Temple of Seitan street stall. It’s all about ‘meaty’ wheat gluten (aka seitan) here, whether you order one of the Temple burgers, the doner wrap or the garlic parmesan wings, plus sides including popcorn bites. Brace yourself for blaring music, no indoor seating and a booze-free nosh. Also try Temple of Camden.

Price: Temple burger £7.75; doner wrap £6. 

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What The Pitta Camden
  • Restaurants
  • Vegan
  • Camden Town
  • price 1 of 4

It was only a matter of time before kebabs got the vegan treatment, and this flagship branch of What the Pitta! is custom-built for trend-conscious Camden. Nuggets of marinated soya (that’s the ‘meat’) are packed into thin, floury home-baked flatbread with crunchy salad, soya yoghurt, tzatziki and houmous. The whole thing looks and tastes almost healthy! Also check out WTP’s falafel wrap, couscous box and £10 meal deal. Outlets in Boxpark Shoreditch, Boxpark Croydon and Brighton.

Price: Vegan doner £9.50; falafel wrap £8.50.

Inko Nito
  • Restaurants
  • Japanese
  • Soho
  • price 2 of 4

With a steamy charcoal grill holding centre stage, Inko Nito is the laidback Japanese fusion restaurant you probably need after negotiating Oxford Circus. The standout breadcrumbed fried chicken comes with yoghurt and peanut dip, and the signature nigaki is sushi’s unholy answer to the open sandwich. Don’t leave without trying the coconut soft serve, sprinkled with Japanese granola.

Price: Tofu karaage with miso mayo and nori £7; kimchi fried rice £9.90.

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Joe Public
  • Restaurants
  • Pizza
  • Clapham
  • price 1 of 4

An artisan fast-food joint in a stools-only space that was formerly a public loo (hipster ticks all round), Joe is all about by-the-slice US-style pizzas cut from 20-inch whoppers. Toppings are strictly stateside and mostly conventional – though chicken with chorizo, halloumi and oregano is a neat combo. Prices are an absolute steal, and two slices should do fine for a high-speed sit-down dinner with a can of JP’s own-brand IPA.  

Price: Pizza from £3.50 a slice. 

  • Restaurants
  • Chinese
  • Covent Garden

Watch noodles being hand-pulled and cooked to order, then tuck into bowls of nourishing soup at this late-night joint near Leicester Square. Skip the neon Chinese buffet in the window and stick to the composite rice plates or noodles – we love the twisted and stretched lamian version with stewed beef (ask for extra broth and fewer noodles). Also look out for affordable set deals. 

Price: Noodles from £8.20; vegetable set meal £8.95.

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  • Restaurants
  • Italian
  • Soho

Launched by Alan Yau in 2008, this smart outpost of a global Milanese bakery chain is a good-looking spot and the food is varied enough to keep punters coming back for more. During the day it’s all about the frenetic self-service counter (cakes, pastries and breads, filled focaccia, hot dishes, slices of pizza and lots of attractive salads). In the evening, the adjoining pizzeria comes into its own with table service and a menu of wood-fired pizzas, pastas and other seasonal stuff.

Price: Pizzas from £9; spaghetti carbonara £9.90.

Le Rif
  • Restaurants
  • Moroccan
  • Finsbury Park

It’s tough finding tagine for under a tenner in London these days, but this Finsbury Park caff will satisfy your longings and leave you some spare change for sticky pastries and mint tea too. Various riffs on the couscous and tagine theme are the Moroccan mainstays in the evening, although things are a bit different during the day, when the place is a jolly mash-up of British greasy spoon and North African backstreet bolthole. 

Price: Chicken cous cous £8.50; fish tagine £8.50.

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  • Restaurants
  • Polish
  • Waterloo
  • price 1 of 4

South-east London’s perpetually upbeat Polish restaurant has bounced around locations a few times lately, becoming fractionally fancier each time – the cheap milk-bar vibes are a thing of the past at its hipstery Lambeth venue. But a hearty plate of pierogi ruskie is still kind on the wallet.

Price: Pierogi from £8 for five pieces.

  • Restaurants
  • British
  • Fitzrovia

Fish and chips is one of those fast-food staples that, if you want to get a nice version of in London, always seems to be unnecessarily expensive. The solution? Head to one of the city’s best chippies (that’ll be Poppies) but skip the £15 fish in favour of some of its crisp-on-the-outside-soggy-on-the-inside chips squished into soft bread for a build your own butty.

Price: Chips from £4.50; two rolls and butter £1.50. 

Find some more bargain grub in London

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