London may have its fair share of Michelin-starred restaurants, but dining well in the British capital needn’t mean breaking the bank. The city’s culinary scene is as dynamic as they come, and the pride of Londoners always on the lookout for the latest foodie fad. From Taiwanese street food to authentic pizzerias, many of the most exciting eateries are surprisingly affordable, too. Food blogger Ed Smith, author of the forthcoming Borough Market Cookbook (Hodder), shares some of his favourite spots for cheap eats.
Steak haché, sauce au poivre et frites
Zédel’s underground dining room is decadent and dazzling, but the menu is accessible to all; not least the classic steak haché, which always hits the spot.
Brisket bun with pickled red chilli
The cult dish at BBQ specialists Smokestak? The brioche bun stacked with Texan-style brisket: sublime slices of crusty-edged, succulent BBQ beef. It’s intense, so the pickled chillies provide welcome punctuation.
Bacon naan roll
Dishoom makes a terrific bacon sarnie. The naan is puffed and moreish, the bacon thick, salty and sweet, and the tomato relish lightly spiced.
Prawn and piquillo pepper tortilla
Tortillas are ‘basic’, but Barrafina’s prawn and piquillo pepper version oozes class. You’ll eat progressively smaller mouthfuls, for fear of finishing too quickly.
Taiwanese fried chicken chop and soy-cured yolk
Chicken or egg? Have both at Bao’s Fitzrovia outpost. The chicken is crunchy on the outside and succulent within, while the egg yolk tempers the hot dipping sauce.
Santa Bufalina pizza
Find pizza perfection from London’s best Neapolitan pizzeria: milky buffalo mozzarella, San Marzano tomato sauce and a blistered sourdough base.
Buta Miso Hiya-Atsu
Comfort food levels up with Koya’s Buta Miso Hiya-Atsu soup. Springy udon noodles sit next to an unassuming bowl of broth, at the base of which is a heap of umami-laden miso and minced pork.
Tea leaf salad
Lahpet has brought Burmese cuisine to London. Their signature tea leaf salad is modest yet revelatory: sweet, sour, salty, crunchy and delicious.
Pici cacio e pepe
Resistance is futile when faced with a bowl of Padella’s pici cacio e pepe. Think fat worms of pasta, served in a luscious pecorino, butter and pepper emulsion.
Beeline for the signature roti canai. The dal is savoury, with a slight curried tickle, but it’s all about the two flakey, buttery roti served alongside. So good, you’ll order seconds as pudding.
Image credits: © Barrafina; © Barrafina; © Brasserie Zédel; © Smokestak; © Dishoom; © Barrafina; © Bao; © Santa Maria; © Steven Joyce; © Lahpet; © Padella; © Alamy