Eating in London on a Budget

For an expensive city, London has some of the best cheap eats. A surprising number of restaurants serve up meals under £10.

Cheap Eats in London

There are endless lists of the best cheap eats in London. The city has spawned a culture of diverse international cuisines, with options representing every type of food and at every price point.

While these lists cover many of London’s great cheap eats, they don’t cover them all. Here are a few of my favorite places to eat in London on a budget.

Moreish Cafe Deli

“Moreish” is one of those words you might never hear until you go to the other side of the pond. Meaning “causing a desire for more; palatable,” it’s a fitting name for this cute little cafe hidden away near Russell Square and King’s Cross. You’ll find it on the corner of Monmouth Street and Tavistock Place. 

The storefront is almost entirely made of glass, creating lots of window seating and flooding the place with natural light. Bright, airy, and colorful, it’s just the right amount of cutesy. It’s the kind of place that allows you to imagine yourself sitting by the window, drinking one of their popular mint teas, and writing while rain streaks down the glass.

Moreish taught me how to appreciate the great British toastie. The goat cheese & fig and brie toasties are excellent. They also cater to lots of different diets, including vegetarian, vegan, and gluten-free.

Photo by Lovefood Art on

Pitted Olive

Pitted Olive is one of my favorite places to eat in London on a budget. A well-kept secret in the area, it’s a family-run cafe serving up great Turkish food. When I was in grad school, the lunch special was £7.50 for one main accompanied by a plate overflowing with meze. Salad, veggies, couscous, hummus, a heaping pile of cornichons. It was enough for two meals.

Lunch options change daily depending on what they decide to make, and they have meat and vegetarian options. My favorites are the stuffed pepper and the stuffed aubergine.

Flat Iron

A steak for £10 in central London? It’s unheard of! Not so at Flat Iron, where you can get a decent steak without breaking the bank (although the price has since gone up to £11). Add the peppercorn sauce for an extra £1, and maybe some chips. Each steak comes with a side salad, which was a welcome change for this California girl who sorely missed fresh greens. Who ever thought I’d be grateful for a salad?

At the Covent Garden location, the bill comes with a tiny meat cleaver that you can exchange at the front for a free ice cream cone to take with you! Salted caramel ice cream with chocolate shavings. It’s very good. This is the only location that offers it.

Photo by Kasumi Loffler on


Drummond Street in Euston is dotted with lots of Indian restaurants. Chutneys is one of the better Indian buffets in the area, with all-you-can-eat lunch for about £7. They serve over 35 dishes to choose from, and everything is vegetarian. From poppadoms and naan to eggplant and saag curries. Of course, there’s also a section devoted to the eponymous chutneys. Refill as many times as you want. The only rule is that they ask you to reuse the same plate.

Herman ze German

If you’re hankering for a taste of Bavaria, get a bratwurst in a roll for less than £7 at this small, no-frills shop in Charing Cross. The menu is limited, and I’m not a fan of currywurst so I can’t speak to its authenticity. But this place is good in a pinch if you’re looking for a wurst to go.

Franco Manca

Personal size pizzas range from £5 to £9 at this authentic Neapolitan-style pizza joint. Their dough is made fresh daily, and they have rotating specials in addition to their list of pies. Franco Manca is famous for the No. 4, but the menu is well worth branching out for some of their other inventive flavor combinations.

Photo by Vincent Rivaud on

Koshari Street

Koshari is an Egyptian street food full of superfoods and buzzwords—grains, lentils, antioxidants, vegetables and meat, caramelized onions, all topped with a crunchy mixture called doqqa. Prices start at an unreal £2.95 for salad. A regular-size koshari clocks in at £3.50 and a combo is only £7. Healthy, hearty, and a very easy takeaway.

SIAM Eatery

Even though this place is in the heart of theater district, it’s a surprisingly affordable lunch in London for those on a budget. The menu is limited—green, panang, yellow, or massaman curry,  and a couple of noodle soups—but tasty. Simple food, prepared in advance and designed for you to take it to go. As with many spots in central London, it’s predominantly a takeaway place. Solid Thai food, and at just £5 or £6, it’s a steal.

Looking for more info on the London food scene? Read the guest post I wrote for The Culinary Travel Guide, “London for Foodies: An Eater’s Guide for First-Time Visitors.”

More things to do in London:

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