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22 Cheap Eats in London to try

Dining on a dime, a curated guide of budget-friendly eateries.


3 July 2023

In London's vibrant food scene, high quality doesn't always mean high expense. In this blog post, we journey through some of London's best and most affordable dining spots. From a cosy Japanese noodle bar in Bond Street, to a rustic Punjabi "dhaba" tucked away in Chapel Market, to a charmingly authentic Vietnamese restaurant nestled in Peckham, and beyond. Join us as we traverse the city's diverse culinary landscape, demonstrating London's unrivalled ability to combine high-quality cuisine with affordability.

Banh Banh, Peckham

A dish at Banh Bang one of Appetite’s best cheap eats in London

Born from a street-food venture in East London, Bank is the brainchild of five siblings, paying tribute to their grandmother's culinary heritage as a 1940s Saigon chef. Now comfortably ensconced in the neighbourhoods of Peckham and Brixton in South London, Bánh Bánh serves a blend of classic and novel Vietnamese dishes within a contemporary, minimalist setting, adorned with plywood décor, creating an inviting atmosphere for food lovers to explore the vibrant flavours of Vietnam.

Bánh Bánh’s menu stands out with its charming amalgamation of traditional dishes such as summer rolls and pho, alongside house specials like the bánh khot pancakes. The establishment's ethos is one of adaptability and seasonality, often unveiling dishes that reflect the freshest ingredients of each season. Notably, the bánh knot, a mini pancake delight comprising turmeric, coconut, and tiger prawns, is a consistent crowd-pleaser. The stylish canteen with its friendly staff and wallet-friendly prices has fast become a local favourite, offering 'smallish', 'biggish' and 'classic' dishes for a traditional dining experience or a family-style feast. Now, with two inviting locations in South London, the flavours of Vietnamese cuisine are more accessible than ever for Londoners.

46 Peckham Rye, SE15 4JR and 326 Coldharbour Lane, SW9 8QH

Pizza Union, Various Locations

A dish at Pizza Union, one of Appetite’s best cheap eats in London

When it comes to London's best cheap eats - Pizza Union, a trendy and wallet-friendly hotspot, has made a name for itself as a go-to destination for pizza enthusiasts seeking authentic flavours without breaking the bank. With convenient locations spread across East London, this pizzeria offers an unbeatable combination of quality and affordability. Their twelve-inch pizzas, baked to perfection in traditional fire ovens, start at an astonishingly affordable £4.95.

The 'Calabria', an irresistible assembly of mozzarella, creamy mascarpone, fiery nduja spicy sausage and peppery rocket, is a testament to pizza union and their culinary prowess and costs a mere £6.95. Gluten-free pizza lovers will find solace in their cracking offerings, ensuring everyone can partake in the pizza feast. The 12-inch, Roman-style pizzas, whether adorned with nostalgic toppings like chicken, beef and pepperoni, or a quartet of cheeses, have a cult following. So, whether you're a pizza connoisseur or simply a pizza lover, Pizza Union offers a satisfying and pocket-friendly pizza experience that's sure to hit the spot.

Spitalfields, Dalston, King's Cross, Aldgate, Holborn And Hoxton

Poptata, Various Locations

A dish at Poptata one of Appetite’s best cheap eats in London

What will you find at Poptata? Street fries - and that's about it. Let us whet your appetite with some standout examples from their menu. Consider the 'Lucifer Fries', a spicy concoction of garlic, rosemary, and thyme-dusted fries, mingled with cheddar and Red Leicester, and doused with hot shot sauce. Or perhaps 'Tex Pulled Pork Fries' with its tender pulled pork, tangy sour cream, smoky BBQ, spring onions, and melted cheddar. If you're after something slightly lighter, 'Guaca Fries' come topped with smashed avocado, grilled halloumi, and a tantalising red roasted pepper sauce. Poptata's 'Halloumi Fries' offer a unique twist, with deep-fried cheese coupled with an array of sauces such as banana ketchup, caramelised onion mayo, pink garlic mayo or sweet chilli. If you fancy a classic with a twist, try 'Parmesan Fries' with their fresh parmesan and pink garlic. For all the vegetarians and vegans out there, you can rest assured, as all of Poptata's fries and toppings can be modified to cater to your dietary requirements. After visiting Poptata, you'll never look at chips the same way again.

BoxPark Shoreditch | Croydon

Roti Chai Street Kitchen, Marylebone

A dish at Roti Chai one of Appetite’s best cheap eats in London

In the vibrant city of London, where culinary treasures abound, a distinctive gastronomic experience awaits at Roti Chai. This unique establishment seamlessly blends two diverse dining experiences, each echoing the vibrant spirit and aromatic flavours of India. Open every day from Monday to Sunday, Roti Chai offers a casual street kitchen for those who crave comfort, as well as a sophisticated dining room for the epicures seeking something a bit special.

Both these menus bring the traditional Indian cooking techniques to life, suffused with a modern twist, making Roti Chai an ideal halal destination in London. In the Street Kitchen, the all-day menu sings the song of Indian soul food with the likes of spicy bun samosas, moreish chicken lollipops, and exquisite Kerala prawns. For those opting for the Dining Room, a symphony of small plates is ready to captivate your palate, with delicacies like Saffron Chicken Tikka and Chilli Garlic Prawns. Roti Chai is where the culinary heart of India beats in London, offering an unforgettable journey through its diverse and delicious landscapes.

3 Portman Mews S, London W1H 6AS

Wolkite, Islington

A dish at Wolkite, one of Appetite’s best cheap eats in London

A hidden gem, Wolkite is a go-to for Londoners seeking authentic Ethiopian cuisine. They meticulously source spices and ingredients straight from Ethiopia, promising dishes bursting with traditional flavours. Here, you'll find generously portioned meals, perfect for a communal dining experience. Standout dishes like 'Ruz Be Siga' and 'Yetsom Dulet', paired with traditional Ethiopian beer, ensure a memorable experience. Not to mention the standout 'Godin Tibs', best enjoyed with spicy 'Awaze' sauce and St. George lager. Located near Arsenal's Emirates Stadium, Wolkite offers an inviting experience, encouraging large groups to dive into injera bread with unbridled joy. Truly, it is a haven of authentic Ethiopian food in the heart of London and good cheap eats.

82 Hornsey Rd, London N7 7NN

Berber & Q Shawarma Bar, Exmouth Market

A dish at Berber & Q Shawarma Bar, one of Appetite’s best cheap eats in London

Fans of Middle Eastern cuisine are no doubt familiar with Berber & Q. Known for their mouth-watering dishes, their new venture, the Shawarma Bar, brings a fresh dining experience to Exmouth Market. Aside from affordable prices this isn't your average kebab shop - it's a unique blend of unpretentious, traditional ocakbasi and mangal food combined with a trendy dining scene. The fashionable decor and cocktail menu make it an excellent choice for a date night.

The spotlight, however, is on the meat. Using sustainable sources and traditional methods, Shawarma Bar elevates the already beloved shawarma. As a condensed version of the original Berber & Q, the menu features a mix of mezze, hummus, grilled dishes like lamb shawarma, rotisserie chicken, and an irresistible dessert selection. It's a celebration of Middle Eastern dining that truly stands out.

46 Exmouth Market, London EC1R 4QE

Xi'an Impression, Highbury and Islington

A dish at Xi'an Impression, one of Appetite’s best cheap eats in London

Nestled in a side street near the Emirates football stadium in North London, a humble establishment named Xi'an Impression has amassed a devoted following. Its chef-owner, Wei Guirong, hails from the historical city of Xi'an, famous for its terracotta warriors. With her restaurant, she introduces London to the robust flavours of her hometown's hearty street food. With an abundance of chilli and garlic, and the unmissable signature dish of hand-pulled 'biang biang' noodles, every visit to Xi'an Impression is a culinary journey to China.

This modest eatery, akin to a small café, has garnered cult status among regional Chinese food enthusiasts. Its focus is on the region's 'mianshi' - flour-based foods. Here, you'll find exceptional hand pulled noodles served with vegetables or beef, laced with hot chilli oil, as well as refreshing cold skin noodles, 'liang pi', and Guirong's unique cumin-spiced beef or pork burgers. Xi'an Impression and its sister restaurant, Xi'an BiangBiang Noodles in Whitechapel, are renowned for their rich blends of spices and soft, freshly made noodles, taking inspiration from the Xi'an province's cuisine. There's even an open kitchen where you can witness the mesmerising art of hand-pulling noodles. It's no wonder that Xi'an Impression has secured its spot as one of London's standout Xi'an Chinese eateries.

117 Benwell Rd, London N7 7BW

Roti King, Euston

A dish at Roti King, one of Appetite’s best cheap eats in London

Roti King has carved its niche as a sanctuary of delectable Malaysian and Singaporean cuisine. The original location, which debuted in Euston in 2014, is perpetually brimming with anticipation, often with queues extending well into peak hours.

Recently, a second location of Roti King emerged under the Grosvenor Bridge railway arches in the refurbished Battersea Power Station. Here, the same dishes curated by Chef Sugen are served up as at the Euston outlet. The spectacle of roti canai preparation is an experience in itself that adds to the overall dining adventure. An Instagram video by @infatuation_london vividly captured the roti being skillfully tossed and kneaded, amplifying the delight of biting into the resulting crispy and flaky roti accompanied by mouth-watering curries. Beyond the traditional cuisine, the Battersea branch also proffers a selection of South Asian beers or canned wines, adding another layer to the authentic Malaysian experience. While the Battersea location is strictly walk-in, takeaway and delivery options ensure that the flavours of Roti King can be enjoyed on the move or in the comfort of home.

Euston, 40 Doric Way, London NW1 1LH and Battersea Powerstation

Falafel & Shawarma, Camberwell

A dish at Falafel & Shawarma, one of Appetite’s best cheap eats in London
Photo credit: Uber eats

This might sound like a bold claim but trust us, Falafel & Shawarma's falafel wraps could easily be crowned the best falafel wrap in all of London. Each wrap, priced under a fiver (£3.50 to be precise), is a bundle of crispy homemade falafel, smooth hummus, fiery chillies, crisp lettuce, succulent tomatoes, and onions, all lovingly tucked into a top-notch flatbread. To elevate this already divine combo, there's an option to drizzle chilli and fresh garlic mayo over it all, or to add in delicious morsels of aubergine and halloumi. The samosas, four for £1.50, are delicate, brittle triangles filled with fragrant spiced mince and sweet onions, all smothered in a robust garlic and chilli sauce. Then, there are the potatoes, a soft fudge-like texture, rich, and flavoured with a burst of chilli, cumin and a splash of lemon juice. Ordering a wrap? Ask them to add a few of these wonderous spuds. And if anyone can persuade the chef to put the samosas in a wrap, send us a message!

27 Camberwell Church St, London SE5 8TR

Marie's Cafe, Waterloo

A dish at Marie's Cafe, one of Appetite’s best cheap eats in London

Marie's Cafe is an enigma, offering quintessential English breakfasts by day and vibrant Thai cuisine by night - making it a legendary spot among those in the know. Serving a delicious array of dishes from fiery drunken noodles and potent jungle curries to a flavour-packed prawn, bamboo, and cashew nut stir-fry, the food is a delight. Generous portions served at wallet-friendly prices only add to the charm of this gastronomic hideaway.

Its relaxed and humble atmosphere sets Marie's Cafe apart, becoming an ideal spot for those craving a laid-back evening of good food and great company. Plus, as one of London's popular BYOB restaurants, it only charges a nominal one pound per person as a corkage fee. With the majority of main dishes priced at a modest £5.50 and the option to upgrade to prawn, squid, fish balls, or duck for an additional £2, Marie's Cafe provides an uncomplicated, delicious dining experience at great prices.

90 Lower Marsh, London SE1 7AB

The Cheese Bar, Camden

A dish at The Cheese Bar, one of Appetite’s best cheap eats in London

The Cheese Bar is the cheese lover's dream and an exceptional establishment sprung from the creators of the renowned street food sensation, The Cheese Truck. It may not traditionally qualify as a restaurant, but it's an absolute must-visit nonetheless. Operating seven days a week, The Cheese Bar entices with a compact yet rich menu of around twenty cheese-infused dishes.

Matthew Carver, the ingenious founder, shines a spotlight on British and London cheeses through well-crafted creations. The irresistible toastie, filled with Ogleshield, Keens cheddar, and grilled onions, gives a fierce competition to Borough Market's esteemed Kappacasein. The sinful indulgence of a four-cheese fondue and Devon blue cheese ice cream, complemented with honeycomb and poached pear, are unapologetically decadent. Main courses range from cauliflower cheese, four cheese pasta, blue cheese raclette, to hay-smoked Tunworth. It's particularly celebrated for its grilled cheese sandwiches, which competes with the very best in London. Regardless of your selections, be sure to save room for dessert, or another helping of cheese, because when it comes to the Cheese Bar, the adage 'too much of a good thing' never applies.

Unit 93 - 94, Chalk Farm Rd, Chalk Farm, London NW1 8AH

Townsend, Whitechapel

A dish at Townsend, one of Appetite’s best cheap eats in London

Situated within the creative confines of the Whitechapel Gallery, Townsend Restaurant, the brainchild of Nick Gilkinson, brings a much-needed upscale yet affordable dining experience to Whitechapel, an area primarily known for its charming hole-in-the-wall eateries. Offering a revolving Sunday lunch menu, the restaurant redefines a traditional roast, featuring reimagined classics like roast potatoes, gravy, and Yorkshire puddings, and seasonal starters such as ham hock terrine with celeriac remoulade. The main courses, like Hereford bavette served with roasties, watercress, and horseradish, beautifully incorporate traditional British fare. The culinary creativity also extends to the vegetarian offerings, with dishes like fried celeriac adorned with brown butter, capers, and mixed salad leaves.

Despite the fine dining experience, Townsend maintains fair prices—thanks to a streamlined menu and the support of the Whitechapel Gallery, patrons can enjoy three courses of seasonally crafted dishes for a modest £34, with wines starting at just £5 a glass. In essence, Townsend skilfully blends finesse, elegance, and affordability, offering a refreshing addition to the Whitechapel dining scene.

77-82 Whitechapel High St, London E1 7QX

Homeslice, Covent Garden

A dish at Homeslice, one of Appetite’s best cheap eats in London

Homeslice revolutionised London's pizza scene with its unconventional culinary creations, such as their bone marrow and chard pizza. As they expanded their presence across the city, with locations in Marylebone and the City, the eatery developed a devoted fanbase that appreciated the generously sized pizzas, available both by slice and as a whole. In an extreme show of loyalty, some fans even adorned their bodies with pizza tattoos for a lifetime's supply of free slices. After years of popping up at various street markets, Homeslice planted its roots in Neal's Yard and has been serving its range of classic and innovative Neapolitan-style pizzas ever since. Despite a slight increase in prices from their market days, the high-quality, flavour-packed pizzas at Homeslice remain worth every penny. Their foldable slices, out-of-the-box toppings, and range of options cater to every palate, including vegans, making it a favoured destination for a diverse crowd of friends, families, and food enthusiasts looking for good pizza and quality cheap eats.

13 Neal's Yard, London WC2H 9DP

Poppie's Fish & Chips, Various Locations

A dish at Poppie's Fish & Chips, one of Appetite’s best cheap eats in London

Poppie's Fish & Chips, founded by the iconic Pops's, has been a mainstay of the London food scene since 1952. Their establishments, nostalgically designed to reflect East End London of the early 50s, serve an array of quality seafood, daily sourced from a third-generation Billingsgate fishmonger. Their menu stars chunky haddock for traditionalists and sumptuous halibut for the more discerning palate, all encased in a crunchy batter. For a complete East End experience, adventurous diners can opt for jellied eels, while the standout scampi, made from sweet-flavoured, chunky tails, is definitely worth the wait.

What began as a single outlet on Brick Lane has burgeoned into a veritable institution, with branches now in Soho, Camden & Spitalfields. The eatery blends vintage British charm - think jukebox tunes, newspaper cuttings, and wartime memorabilia - with top-notch fare. The star of the show is of course the traditional fish and chips, with the flaky fish encased in crispy batter with fluffy chips presented in mock newspaper wrapping. It can be hard to find cheap eats in Central London and you might have someone recommend you check out Poppies. But Poppie's is more than a cheap eat; it's a culinary time capsule delivering an authentic British dining experience.

Spitalfields, Soho and Camden

Del 74, Dalston

A dish at Del 74, one of Appetite’s best cheap eats in London

Del 74 Dalston, a lively Mexican taqueria, emanates a charm that pairs perfectly with its authentic menu. Co-founded by Enrique Vivas and Jorge Felizardo, the restaurant is a melting pot of latin beats, vibrant decor, and delicious food. On offer are enticing classics like pork pilbil tacos, brisket tostadas, and 'tinga' quesadillas. Special offers, like the all-night happy hour on 'Taco Tuesday' and a bottomless brunch on Saturdays until 5pm, enhance the appeal. Conveniently located near Dalston Kingsland Station, Del 74 has broadened its gastronomic horizons to include tortas (Mexican sandwiches), a wider range of tacos and tostadas, and uniquely-named fiery 'Kick ass' Del 74 tamarind & Chile Morita chicken wings. They offer vegetarian and vegan options and encourage patrons to wash down their meals with their margaritas or partake in a pay-as-you-pour mezcal sharing bottle experience. East London is renown for quality cheap eats and Del 74 is certainly atop that list.

129 Kingsland High St, London E8 2PB

Joe Public, Clapham Common

A dish at Joe Public, one of Appetite’s best cheap eats in London
Photo credit: Uber eats

A repurposed public lavatory, now a hip artisan pizza parlour, Joe Public offers a unique dining experience in South London. The eatery specialises in generously sized, American-style pizza slices cut from a whopping 20-inch pie. This stool-only establishment skilfully merges traditional Italian and American tastes with topping options ranging from chilli-dusted pepperoni slivers to courgette and aubergine drenched in garlic butter. For an indulgent twist, try the native mushroom pizza adorned with crispy shallots, fragrant truffle oil, parmesan, and a creamy chive base. Thirsty patrons can complement their meal with Joe Public's signature lager. Affordable yet immensely satisfying, Joe Public is an ideal pit-stop for those seeking a speedy sit-down or a takeaway treat. Plus, don't miss their 'power hour' from 7-10PM, where £15 lets you relish an unlimited pizza feast. This quirky hotspot embodies the hipster essence, providing more than just a cheap eat but a unique taste of American pizza right here in the UK.

4 The Pavement, London SW4 0HY

Padella, London Bridge and Shoreditch

A dish at Padella, one of Appetite’s best cheap eats in London

Found in London's foodie haven, Borough Market, is the much-acclaimed Padella, a beloved eatery that's also a must-visit, thanks to its mouthwatering pasta dishes. Simplicity is the heart of Padella's appeal, serving meticulously handcrafted pasta dishes, like the rich 8-hour beef shin ragu, nutmeg butter gnocchi, and chilli tagliarini, that are an absolute delight. The no-booking policy means a potential wait, but with staff taking your details and calling when your table is ready, the waiting time can be well spent enjoying a drink at a nearby pub or bar. Being one of the more affordable restaurants, diners can indulge in various dishes without breaking the bank. A particular standout is the smoked eel and cream tagliatelle, enhanced with a hint of Sicilian lemon. The combination of fresh pasta, speedy yet cordial service, and reasonable prices makes Padella a stellar spot for a cheap eat, not just for a swift lunch, but with a little more relaxation, an equally satisfying dinner destination.

1 Phipp St, London EC2A 4PS

Mr Bao, Peckham

A dish at Mr Bao, one of Appetite’s best cheap eats in London

Mr Bao adds its own twist to London's growing fondness for Taiwanese steamed buns and east Asian cheap eats. Unlike any ordinary eatery, this charming spot demonstrates that a world of flavour can be folded into a simple steamed bun. The brunch menu features imaginative creations like ham-hock fritters with egg and plum sauce, braised beef brisket accompanied by wasabi slaw, and fried chicken lathered in wasabi mayo. There are equally creative vegetarian options with shiitake and tofu, ensuring that no taste bud goes unsatisfied. If you fancy extending your culinary journey, the menu also encompasses Taiwanese spins on classic breakfast dishes, such as chicken dumplings and kimchi pancakes. Mr Bao also welcomes those in the mood for a bit of indulgence with an £18 per hour bottomless deal on Asian-inspired cocktails, and for those seeking a similar experience closer to the Tube, they can check out its Tooting-based sibling, Daddy Bao. The hallmark of Mr Bao, however, remains the bao itself, which enchants with its fluffy exterior and flavour-packed fillings. Whether you're a meat lover, vegetarian, or a seafood enthusiast, the exceptional bao at this trendy Taiwanese joint will leave you eagerly planning your next visit.

293-295 Rye Ln, London SE15 4UA

Randy's Wing Bar, Hackney Wick

A dish at Randy's Wing Bar, one of Appetite’s best cheap eats in London

Randy's Wing Bar is a treasure trove of hearty American cuisine that has made quite the name for itself in the local food scene. The real champions of the menu are the award-winning wings, earning Randy's the esteemed title of 'king of wings' and even being recognised as Europe's No1 Wing Bar - demonstrating that affordable restaurants need not compromise on quality. Their unique selection of wings draws on a rich tapestry of global flavours, from chimichurri and jerk to Gangnam and Kansas BBQ, and, of course, the iconic Buffalo. Rather than seeking to outdo the fast-food giants, Randy's Wing Bar is content to carve its own niche, serving up American-style wings, overloaded fries, and saucy sides with gusto.

Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, 28 East Bay Lane, Here East, London E15 2GW

Pizza Pilgrims, Various Locations

A dish at Pizza Pilgrims, one of Appetite’s best cheap eats in London

Since their humble beginnings as street food vendors, brothers James and Thom

Elliot have transformed Pizza Pilgrims into a prominent fixture of London's dining scene, now with establishments scattered across London. Their love affair with pizza began with a trip to Italy where they discovered the magic of Neapolitan pizza, distinguished by its soft, doughy texture, plumped-up crust, and a rich, savoury tomato base. They imported these insights, along with authentic ingredients directly from Italy, to their London kitchens. Their 'nduja pizza, a spicy Calabrian pork sausage delicacy, is not just a customer favourite but has also sparked a global trend. James and Thom attribute their success to their simple yet diligent approach — they opt for uncomplicated menus, refrain from overloading their pizzas with ingredients, and ensure the dough is always soft. Truly, Pizza Pilgrims is a testament to the Elliot brothers' love for authentic Italian flavours.


Butchies, Shoreditch & Clapham

A dish at Butchies, one of Appetite’s best cheap eats in London

Starting from humble beginnings in market stalls and garnering a loyal fanbase, Butchies established their first brick-and-mortar eatery in Shoreditch, where they have been hailed for serving "the best fried chicken in London". Famed for its buttermilk fried chicken burgers, like 'The Original' featuring house pickles and their "OG" sauce, and 'Jenny from the Block' laden with guacamole, chipotle mayo, and smoked streaky bacon, they cater to all, even offering a vegan burger. With an interior inspired by the Berlin underground, crafted by designers Block1, and a reputation for being a culinary landmark in London, Butchies continues to deliver a quality dining experience with friendly pricing.

22 Rivington St, London EC2A 3DY & 122 Clapham High St, London SW4 7TB

Marugame Udon, Bond Street

A dish at Marugame, one of Appetite’s best cheap eats in London

Set against the dynamic backdrop of Oxford Street, Marugame Udon makes its mark as a destination for delicious and affordable dining. Occupying a spot previously home to Garfunkels on Argyll Street, this latest branch of Marugame Udon represents an intriguing dining alternative. From its inception in Japan in 2000, this udon noodle bar chain set foot in London at Liverpool Street in 2021. Rapidly expanding, it has made its mark in diverse locations like the O2, Canary Wharf, Brent Cross, and now Bond Street, with promises of more to come.

Marugame Udon distinguishes itself by serving deliciously satisfying udon noodles, rice bowls, and a myriad of tempuras, all enhanced by a wide array of toppings. The enjoyment extends beyond the food, with beverage options varying from canned bubble milk tea to Asahi poured from bottom-up. Flying in the face of the high-priced trend and Instagram-worthy hotspots of the present day, Marugame Udon emerges as one of the start cheap eateries in London standout budget eateries. Here, affordability is key, with prices starting at a mere £3.95 for a kamaage, and the most extravagant item on the menu, a large pork tonkotsu, priced at a very reasonable £12.45.

14 - 15 Barrett St, London, W1U 1LX


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