London's best budget restaurants

Great eats, on the cheap...

The UK capital is rarely associated with thrift but thankfully you don't have to spend big bucks to be well fed in London.

Upmarket fish and chips, exotic street food, diners, cafes and bakeries all feature in our list of London's best budget restaurants; a diverse collection, but they've all got one thing in common: an almost palpable love and passion for the food they produce.

Hummus Bros
37-63 Southampton Row Bloomsbury WC1B 4DA
Region: Bloomsbury
Nearest Station: Holborn (0.1 miles)

AIL Says: People may scoff at the idea of hummus being the basis of a whole meal rather than a simple dip, even more so at it being the main item offered at a restaurant, but they’ve obviously never eaten at Hummus bros. Pairing it with tender chunky beef and aubergine or chicken and guacamole makes for dishes that are surprisingly filling and very cheap. Those with gluten sensitivity can order it with rice cakes or tortilla chips instead of pitta.

  • OUR REVIEW 8/10
Bibimbap Charlotte Street
10 Charlotte Street W1T 2LT
Region: Fitzrovia
Nearest Station: Tottenham Court Road (0.1 miles)

AIL Says: One of Korea’s national dishes, bibimbap is a nutritious and filling one-pot meal. Rice, marinated meats or seafood, vegetables and egg are mixed together and cooked the traditional way in a stone bowl (make sure you don’t touch it as it’s scalding hot). They’re priced between £7-£11; add specialities like spicy kimchi pancakes and prawn katsu to your meal if you’re very hungry.

  • USERS 8/10
135 Wardour Street W1F 0UT
Region: Soho
Nearest Station: Tottenham Court Road (0.2 miles)

AIL Says: This Italian bakery on Wardour Street is always packed, and it’s little wonder given their mouthwatering array of artisan breads, pizzas and hearty pasta dishes. Ordering is done at the counter which can make it hard to choose, especially once you reach the passionfruit cheesecakes and obscenely sized chocolate tarts.

  • OUR REVIEW 8/10
  • USERS 4/10
Franco Manca
4 Market Row SW9 8LD
Region: Brixton
Nearest Station: Brixton

AIL Says: One of the co-owners of Franco Manca used to be chief executive of Pizza Express, and this mini-chain has a strict rule of ensuring their most expensive pizza is always 50p cheaper than the Pizza Express margherita. This means their generously-sized pizza with organic southern Italian tomato, Spanish dry cured chorizo and their very own mozzarella is only £6.95.

  • OUR REVIEW 8/10
Arches 298-299 Cambridge Heath Road E2 9HA

Nearest Station: Cambridge Heath

AIL Says: You’d be forgiven for thinking that a hair salon and Korean restaurant rolled into one is going to be so insufferably cool your ears will bleed. While it’s positioned firmly in hipsterville the restaurant’s marinated bulgogi beef, crispy pork belly and spicy stew with kimchi and pork are fantastic and all priced under £9. Then you can get a haircut next door in less than 20 minutes.

  • OUR REVIEW 8/10
Song Que Cafe
134 Kingsland Road E2 8DY
Region: Bethnal Green
Nearest Station: Hoxton (0.2 miles)

AIL Says: One of Kingsland Road’s many Vietnamese noodle joints, and also one of the best. There’s a vast menu with many different variants of noodle stir fries and soups, as well like herby shredded pork wrapped in rice paper, chargrilled quail and spare ribs. Take your own booze and a meal will cost you less than a trip to the cinema.

  • OUR REVIEW 8/10
  • USERS 7/10
Tokyo Diner
2 Newport Place WC2H 7JP
Region: Covent Garden
Nearest Station: Leicester Square

AIL Says: When a Japanese restaurant is popular with expats you know you’re onto something, and this bargain eatery set over three floors is one of the capital’s less appreciated gems. The menu has sushi, katsu curries and bento boxes, it’s open till midnight and extra portions of rice are free. If you needed further convincing they take sustainability very seriously, so they don’t offer tuna and their electricity is supplied by renewable providers Ecotricity.

  • OUR REVIEW 9/10
  • USERS 8/10
93 Kentish town road NW1 8NY
Region: Camden
Nearest Station: Camden Road (0.1 miles)

AIL Says: Budget restaurants often compromise on atmosphere, but that’s not the case at this romantic little eatery with exposed brick walls and dim lighting. Also unusually for a Pan-Asian restaurant, their menu includes Filipino dishes like empanadas and lumpia spring rolls alongside Korean beef bulgogi, Malay nasi goreng (fried rice with ground peanuts) and Japanese katsu curry.

  • OUR REVIEW 7/10
Diwana Bhel Poori House
121-123 Drummond Street NW1 2HL
Region: Camden
Nearest Station: Euston Square

AIL Says: Dosas are a popular Indian street food - pancakes made from rice flour and filled with potato, chillies, chutney, lentils, tomato and spices, masala dosa being the most common. Although London’s street food explosion only happened within the last three years, veggie restaurant Diwana Bhel Poori has been serving this staple food for at least a decade. Bring a bottle and eat for under a tenner.

  • OUR REVIEW 6/10
  • USERS 5/10
Kerbisher & Malt
164 Shepherds Bush Road Hammersmith W6 7PB
Region: Hammersmith
Nearest Station: Goldhawk Road (0.3 miles)

AIL Says: This posh chippy is one of the capital’s best places to eat fish and chips. Haddock, coley, cod, pollock and plaice are grilled, battered or baked in matzo breadcrumbs, and their chunky chips are divinely moreish. The premises’ are licenced, and the surroundings are agreeable enough for you to turn your fast food dinner into a pleasant sit-down meal.

  • OUR REVIEW 8/10

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