Be honest: How many times do you eat out every week, and how much does it cost you? It’s a scary figure, right? One of the plus-sides of living in London is experiencing all of the culinary delights this multi-cultural capital has to offer. But, all those Pisco sours and fish-taco suppers can start to drain your
savings account spending money. Never fear: There is another way.
You can have your steak (or vegetarian alternative) and pay for it, too; all it takes is a little know-how and a travel card, zones one to four. So, head out and scout out the tastiest treats this city has to offer — all for under £10.
Photo: Courtesy of Pho Cafe.
Pho Cafe A bowl of noodle soup is a meal we'll never tire of, and we frequent Vietnamese chain Pho Cafe for our noodle fix. At £6.75, the Goi Ga (shredded chicken salad) is a wallet-friendly option for a mid-week bite with friends.
Cha Cha Moon When we first started visiting Chinese noodle bar Cha Cha Moon, all the dishes were a fiver each. Sadly, those days are long gone — but the prices are still reasonable. Make a point of popping in for a Cha Cha Moouli (a turnip cake with dried shrimp, spring onions, and bean sprouts). At £4.85, this side dish makes for a fantastic, bite-sized lunch option.
Photo: Courtesy of Attendant.
Attendant We're always on the lookout for a fun place to grab a bite in the centre of town — and Attendant is just the thing. Once a Victorian public loo, this place now serves up the best coffee, sandwiches, and brunch options in the W1 area. The coffee beans are freshly roasted by java stalwarts Caravan, and all the fruit and veg are sourced from the New Covent Garden market. We heartily recommend the almond-milk porridge as an excellent way to start the day — for only £6.
Brasserie Zedel Brasserie Zedel's Art Deco interiors exude a cool sophistication that makes you think the dishes are probably prohibitively expensive. Happily, they're not. The French brasserie has a set menu where for the lowly sum of £8.95 you can have a two-course meal, complete with steak and chips.
Photo: Courtesy of Franco Manca.
Franco Manca The city now has several fantastic places to buy pizza at a reasonable price. But, we always find ourselves going back to the resto that kick-started the cheap-slice trend. This Brixton establishment has branches in all four corners of the city; if you haven't experienced its signature, sour-dough-based offerings, we implore you to do so. The menu is small: three meat pizzas and three veggies, plus a couple of specials. Place your order and you'll get fresh, brick-oven-fired pizza in a matter of minutes (the oven is heated to a temperature that's on par with the earth's core). The most expensive pizza costs £6.50 — with a glass of organic lemonade, it's our favourite way to spend a tenner.
Dosa n Chutny A masala dosa is a thing of beauty — and one of our favourite treats when we're feeling a little under the weather (a.k.a. hungover). Tooting Broadway's Dosa n Chutny is a South Indian spot that serves over 20 different versions of the rice-pancake dish, most of them vegetarian. The prices start at £1.95 for a plain dosa, but we suggest the Mysore masala version, which has a spicy potato and onion filling. Welcome to your new culinary obsession.
Photo: Courtesy of Foxcroft & Ginger.
Foxcroft and Ginger Not only do we love working from the Wi-Fi haven that is Foxcroft and Ginger, but its dishes are pretty tasty, too. And, as the tomato, mozzarella, garlic, and sour-dough pizza is priced at a very reasonable £4.95, it's a cheap treat.
Meza Not all hummus is created equal; you'll realize this when you dine at Meza, the dinky-sized Lebanese resto in Tooting Bec. We're particularly fond of the grilled halloumi and fresh hummus with hot-out-of-the-oven bread. It's BYO, too, so remember to pack a bottle.
Photo: Courtesy of Mamuska.
Mamuska Mamuska is a Polish restaurant that serves up traditional dishes: pierogis, potato cakes, beef stroganoff, and vegetable stew. The portions are on the hearty side, so you may want to share with a friend. This spot offers a two-for-one deal on main meals between midday and 12:30 p.m. — so you and a chum can eat for as little as £3 each.
Kaosarn These days, Brixton Village Market has so many foodie options, it's hard to know where to begin. Nine times out of 10 we end up in Kaosarn, the tastiest Thai cafe in south London. This BYO cafe serves a well-edited selection of classic dishes, and we're a big fan of its chopped salads. Be prepared to queue for a table at the weekends, though.
Kaosarn, Brixton Village Market, Coldharbour Lane, London, SW9 8PR.
Hot Stuff Hidden off the main thoroughfare in Vauxahall is Hot Stuff, an Indian restaurant that's been wowing customers for over 26 years. This once-mini location now extends into the shop next door, but still retains its original, laid-back atmosphere. Veggie curry dishes start from £4 each and the starter dishes will set you back £2.50. The king prawn dopiaza is to die for.