Top Cheap Eats in London

We are closing in on six months in London.  The time has flown.  I think the first month or two seemed to pass much more slowly as we dealt with all of the moving stuff, but since Christmas it feels like each week has blended effortlessly into the next.  With the lengthening days and sunny, warm weather, we have also been spoiled with an early spring.

We’ve learned a lot about UK living, much of which is hard to articulate.  How to behave in the tube (walk slowly and don’t rush, no running to catch a train!), how to go to the movies (it’s expensive, so best to make a night of it), how to shop at the grocery (use that Nectar card, sometimes you get £10 off!).  We’ve also done a lot of sampling of food.  Of course.  With Drew’s fascination (fixation?) on food, our primary source of entertainment is visiting a new restaurant.

Despite the fact that we normally focus here on the luxurious, expensive meals, those that are decidedly NOT a good value, we actually tend to seek out the hidden gems, where you can eat well for less than a tenner (look at that, I learned some British slang).  Here are our favourites cheap eats so far (many of which are found near our neighbourhood of Islington):

Best Indian

Hands down, Dehli Grill.  It’s in our neighbourhood (on Chapel Market), and it’s amazing.  I hate, hate repeating restaurants (or really any experience for that matter), and I willingly go back to Dehli Grill again and again.  We’re planning for a meal here this week in fact.

Best Diner

The Shepherdess Café is a London staple.  It’s been around for a million years and you can get a hearty English fry up for about £5.  They don’t have a website (what proper diner does?) but it’s worth a little Google search to get a lay of the land.  Oh, and they’re closed on Sundays.  Which we found out when we made a special trip out…on a Sunday.

Best Sushi

Ha, sushi is decidedly NOT a good value in London.  We’re waiting for a visit to New York to fill up on the good stuff.  Nice try.

Best Burger

My vote is for Spuntino, in SoHo.  It’s a short walk from the office and while the burger is still just shy of the £10 mark, it is very, very good.  And they also have this crazy mac & cheese (also just around £10).  So, while Spuntino just barely qualifies as a good value, it is nice that you don’t really need to eat for the rest of the day!

Best Turkish

This is a random category, but we have eaten a lot of Turkish food lately.  The spicy kebabs just hit the spot sometimes, and there are plenty of great value Turkish restaurants in town.  We went to one called Hala up near the Manor House tube stop that was memorable partially for the special trip we made to this neighbourhood specifically for this restaurant and partially for the huge portions.

Best Market

There are lots of food markets in London, with regular food stalls providing lunch to the masses.  Our favourites are Berwick Street Market (Banhmi11, Moroccan Box), and Borough Market (everything here is amazing but we specifically like the cheese toastie place with the huge line, and the line of lunch-only stalls).

Best Middle Eastern

I admit that I have yet to make it to Hummus Bros (there are 4 locations around town) but Drew swears by their falafel balls and, well, hummus.  Two thumbs way up from him.

Best Hidden Gem

This is a weird one.  A cookbook only bookstore in Notting Hill has a tiny back room that serves a daily lunch for £5.  The owner chooses a single recipe from one of the many cookbooks lying around and also whips up a couple baked goods (usually £1 extra).  So tasty, such a cute place, get there early because only about 12 people can fit back there at a time.  No picky eaters allowed, since you have literally no choice!