“Please, sir, I want some more.” The infamous words uttered by young Oliver Twist in Dickens’ classic undoubtably reflect the sentiments of hunger shared by the stomachs of London’s student population. It’s true after all, London can be expensive.
While prices can be depressing, before you dip into your student loan for an overpriced meal of chicken nuggets and chips, check out the best places you can eat in the UK’s iconic capital for less than a week’s travel card. These are the best cheap places to eat in London when all you have is a tenner on you.
1. The Breakfast Club
You don’t have to be The Brain, The Athlete, The Basket Case, The Princess or The Criminal to enter the 1980s themed diner, just someone with an appetite and appreciation for American classics and cult cinema.
Open for breakfast (no surprise there), lunch and dinner, those heading into Soho, Angel, Hoxton, Spitalfields, Battersea, London Bridge, or Canary Wharf can sample a BC Taco, Don’t Have A Cow burger or Breakfast Burrito for under a tenner.
If you find yourself with some extra cash, you HAVE to go for the All-American Breakfast. Trust me, the home-style fried potatoes are worth the extra pound!
2. Herman ze German
German cuisine isn’t celebrated enough in London, but purveyors of the German sausage, Herman ze German are challenging the injustice.
Open from 7:30am till 11pm in Charing Cross, and similar times in Soho and Fitzrovia, the Deutsch diner is THE place to fall in liebe with a genuine German wiener, as they say themselves: their Wurst is ze best!
The menu will bring you as much joy as the name. Prices go from just £4.45 for a Wurst in a roll to the classic Currywurst with fries for £5.95.
While all the sausages are imported from Schwarzwald to ensure that only authentic flavours reach the palates of famished diners, if you’re not in the mood for a Wurst, the Schnitzel is a must. Gluten, lactose-free and veggie options are also available.
Brainchild of the highly successful Bone Daddies brand, this permanent Japanese junk-food pop-up makes the mouth water at the first glance of the menu.
Serving aromatic dishes such as the classic Korean Hot Wings, Kinako French Toast, and Mentaiko Mac ‘n’ Cheese, the Soho-based restaurant is the ultimate fusion food experience the capital has to offer.
What’s more, the attractive prices and tapas-style portions allow for easy sharing and an excellent way of sampling the selection of dishes Shackfuyu has to offer.
4. Comptoir Libanais
There’s never a good reason not to get Lebanese food, and when you’re able to eat moments away from the Natural History Museum or the celebrated V&A for under £10, you’d have to be crazy to miss out.
The Lebanese canteen offers Middle-Eastern marvels such as multi-coloured Mezze platters, succulent shawarma wraps and tantalising tagines and tabbouleh that will leave you with wanderlust for the orient.
Don’t fret if you find yourself outside of South Kensington with the desire to dine here, you’ll easily find a branch in Soho, Chelsea, Liverpool Street or Kingston.
5. Bunny Chow
Bringing the flavours of Durban’s Asian community to the palates of London’s diners, Bunny Chow is a South African fast-food joint like no other in Soho.
Perfect for lunchtime or brunch, there are five £5 messy bunny options which include the Pulled Pork, Chakalaka Chicken and The Veggie, while for breakfast the packed Full English or Veggie Breakfast are available.
For those feeling adventurous, a side order of the Spicy Chicken Wings is a must!
The epitome of Korean comfort food, BiBimBap is the ultimate venue to embrace Korea’s national dish. Serving the very best in asian cuisine, the Soho eatery offers tasty, healthy and affordable dishes for all tastebuds; while traditional BiBimBap restaurants serve only one, or none, meat option, the London establishment caters for all.
For those looking for other flavours, a selection of rice dishes including Chicken Teriyaki Rice, Beef Bool-Go-Gi and Spicy Pork Rice are available, all for under the ten pound limit.
A must-try for any visitor are the delicate, but delicious, Seafood Pancakes – they make for an excellent accompaniment to the Kimchi or Mixed Mushroom BiBimBap!
7. Franco Manca
Thanks to its signature sourdough Pizzas, the former pop-up has now become an established London chain with 10 branches peppered about the city from Stratford to Southfields.
While it frequents most of London rankings for the best Pizza joints, FM is still a friend of the people, offering its delicious dough-based treats from just £4.50.
There’s no better way to enjoy a slice than with an ice cold glass of the outlet’s homemade lemonade.
8. Beigel Bake
No round-up of London’s best cheap eats would be complete without a mention of Brick Lane’s legendary Beigel Bake. Famed for its Salted Beef Bagel, the East End institution is open 24 hours a day and has been since it first opened in 1977.
While desserts are also available, it’s the baked bagels that keep the serpentine queues forming outside its doors at all hours of the day and night. No trip to London is complete without a quick trip here, and for less than £5 for a bagel, you’d be a fool to miss out.
9. Bleecker St. Burger
London is full of burger joints, some good, some average, but most just overpriced. Bleecker St. Burger is the exception, offering exceptional New York Style patties for an affordable fare.
Using only high-quality, fresh ingredients, the former street van-turned-restaurant has quickly amassed a cult following of foodies. To find out why, order the double patty cheese burger – one word of warning though, you’ll never look at other burgers in the same way.
10. Searcys One Exchange
Ok. So you can’t exactly call it a meal as such, but if you find yourself in The Big Smoke and in desperate need to impress on a budget, look no further than a champagne lunch at Searcys extravagant champagne bar.
For just a tenner, a champagne lunch here will get you a flavourful flute of fizz and a delicious open sandwich of cured smoked salmon or pastrami with mustard – not bad, I say! What’s more, you’ll feel like the great Jay Gatsby sitting at the slick NYC-style bar rubbing shoulders with the city’s elite money-maker hot-shots, without having to break the bank to do so. How could this option not be included?!
All images used belong to their respective establishments.