Where to eat in London: a foodie guide
Discover the best places to eat in London
There's more to London than fish and chips or Michelin stars. You'll find food from every corner of the globe, and the good news is, a lot of it's pretty affordable.
From a traditional fry-up to French cuisine, rice and rotis to round-the-clock bagels, we've picked out the best places to eat in London on a budget.
If curry's more your thing, we're on the case. From samphire pakoras to spiced lamb chops, our favourite Indian restaurants pack a flavourful punch.
And how better to wrap up the day than with a skilfully shaken cocktail in classic or quirky surroundings?
Despite what you may have read or heard, eating out in London needn't break the bank.
Whether you fancy a quick pizza, a traditional English breakfast, chic-but-cheap steak frites, or anything in between, we've rounded up our pick of the best affordable restaurants in London.
40 Doric Way, NW1 1LH
A stone's throw from St Pancras International, this cult favourite is the perfect pre- or post-train pit stop.
The star of the show is the mouth-watering Malaysian roti canai—soft, flaky flatbreads served with a warming bowl of gently spiced curry – but the rice and noodle dishes are delicious too.
With every dish coming in at under £10, you can afford to be tempted by pudding. And the sweet roti with coconut jam or condensed milk will have you planning your next visit on the spot.
20 Sherwood Street, W1F 7ED
Hidden beneath the streets of Soho, this opulent, art deco dining room is a true hidden gem. Once part of the Regent Palace Hotel, the space was lovingly restored in 2004 to the glory of its 1930s heyday.
The setting may be decadent, but the menu of classic French dishes is refreshingly down-to-earth.
If you're watching the pennies, plump for the always-delicious prix-fixe or plat du jour, then sit back and indulge in some serious people-watching.
17-19 Regency Street, SW1P 4BY
Step aside, smashed avo and sourdough toast. The king of breakfasts in these parts is the full English. And where better to tuck in than a classic London 'caff'?
This local favourite dishes up hearty plates of sausage, bacon, egg and beans, ready to be piled onto hot, buttery toast – and all for a steal at £6.
For the full experience, add bubble and squeak or a portion of black pudding for an extra pound a pop.
46 Goodge Street, W1T 4LU
If you're on a budget, 'the people's pizzeria' is one of the best restaurants in Soho for a quick refuel.
This family-run Italian dishes up hot, fresh pizza from morning to midnight, with even the most topping-loaded 12-inch coming in at under £10.
The seating might be simple, but the constant buzz of hungry office-workers, tourists or late-night revellers makes this a convivial spot for a brunch, lunch, dinner or a post-pub bite to eat.
Brick Lane Beigel Shop
155 Brick Lane, E1 6SB
Open 24 hours a day, this iconic bakery has been whipping up golden, chewy bagels since 1855 and these days produces over 10,000 every weekend.
There's usually a queue of loyal bagel-lovers outside, but don't be deterred. Thanks to the super-speedy operation inside, you won't be waiting long.
Opt for a classic filling of salt beef with mustard and gherkins, or smoked salmon and cream cheese, then see how long you can bear to wait before tearing the bag open for a bite.
Best Indian restaurants in London
No trip to London would be complete without a cheeky Ruby* and there's no shortage of curry houses to choose from. In fact, you could argue that many are among the best restaurants in London.
If you're in the mood for perusing menus and choosing for yourself, make a beeline for Brick Lane. Otherwise, cut to the chase and check out our favourites.
*Ruby Murray = curry, in Cockney rhyming slang
83-89 Fieldgate Street, E1 1JU
This buzzy, raucous Whitechapel stalwart’s been going since 1972, and its popularity still hasn’t waned.
The sizzling platters of spice-rubbed lamb chops are the stars of the show, but the side dishes – unctuous pumpkin masala, ghee-enriched dhal – are just as satisfying.
Book ahead or sharpen your elbows: queues can stretch right around the restaurant, but it's always worth the wait.
4 Duchess Walk, SE1 2SD
Head to Gunpowder’s Tower Bridge branch for the tantalising small plates (crispy venison doughnuts, grilled mustard broccoli) that put the Spitalfields original on the culinary map.
Those in the know come here for the generous feast menus. Rustle up a few friends to tackle the ghee-roasted Barnsley chop, served with the likes of Goan-style prawns and spiced soft-shell crab.
And, if you can squeeze one in, the indulgent desserts are top-notch, too.
1-5 Bloomberg Arcade, EC4N 8AR
Decked out with a pool room and live sports screens, Brigadiers is a laidback affair.
Confidently charred and smoked on the barbecue, the food is punchy and boisterous, while the bar menu offers drinks of every stripe and features a whisky vending machine.
Carnivores rejoice: you’ll find everything from beef shin and bone marrow biriyani to masala goat chops on the menu. Sweet tooth? Save some space for the incredible soft serves.
12 Denman Street, W1D 7HH
Like many success stories, intimate Soho spot Kricket started life as a pop-up in the cool foodie enclave of Brixton.
The menu changes regularly, showcasing market-fresh British produce in inventive sharing plates.
Samphire pakoras, Keralan fried chicken and the cherry butter kulcha get our vote. And you can book, too, from four people for dinner – a rarity in this neighbourhood.
Best cocktail bars in London
From art deco decadence to elegant understatement via eccentric Victoriana and speakeasy chic, there's a cocktail bar for every mood in London.
So if you're ready to swap your G&T for a more inventive tipple, step this way…
129 City Road, EC1V 1JB
Tucked away behind a discreet doorway on a busy London thoroughfare lies a decadent, dimly-lit temple to cocktail-making.
Step inside to explore the playful menu which spans four centuries of mixing and mingling.
The drinks are more than simply delicious though. Each is a lovingly crafted work of art that's almost too pretty to sip. Almost.
Despite its secretive setting, it's a popular spot, so be sure to book. Aim to arrive by 9 to catch the live music – usually suitably sultry blues or a spot of upbeat jazz.
Carlos Place, London W1K 2AL
Stepping into the lavish, art deco Connaught Bar is like stepping back in time. You half expect to see Jay Gatsby propping up the bar.
The cocktails, while pricey, are creative, delicious and exceptionally well-presented. For the ultimate Connaught experience though, order a martini.
There's some serious ceremony behind this mixology, and you'll be invited to create a flavour profile from the ingredients presented in the black lacquer trolley. Then, sit back and watch as it's skilfully stirred (never shaken) at your table.
Mr Fogg's Residence
15 Bruton Lane, W1J 6JD
Stuffed floor to ceiling with the souvenirs and keepsakes of Phileas Fogg, this brilliantly imaginative bar styles itself as the Mayfair home of the fictional Victorian adventurer.
Settle in among the weather-beaten maps, stuffed animals and hunting rifles, or bag a spot under his hot air balloon. Landing or taking off, we're not quite sure, so watch your head.
Then, peruse the exquisite list of libations and tuck into a delicious snifter from somewhere far-flung. Huzzah!
510b Kingsland Road, E8 4AB
Dalston is awash with intimate cocktail spots, but this place is among the very best. Like the décor, the menu is minimal, but it's perfectly, artfully formed.
The nine house cocktails are regularly refreshed and (at time of writing) include the punchy Picante – a smoky blend of tequila, pineapple and ancho chilli.
For those with a sweeter tooth, the Cheeky Vimto is the one to beat, with its moreish mix of raspberry, port, vodka and Ethiopian koseret tea.
Frequently asked questions about eating out in London
No trip to the UK would be complete without a full English breakfast. For an authentic experience, steer clear of hipster spots and seek out a local café (affectionately known as a 'greasy spoon') like Westminster's Regency Café.
Another must is a curry. Brick Lane is famed the world over for its array of curry houses, but our favourite, Tayyabs is off the main stretch on nearby Fieldgate Street.
For veggies, Mildred's is something of an institution. For over 30 years, they've been dishing up colourful, creative, plant-based dishes that make them more than worthy of their reputation as one of the best restaurants in London for vegetarians.
Standard closing time for pubs is 11pm, with last orders being called shortly before (listen out for the bell). Many bars and clubs are open later though, particularly on Friday and Saturday nights.
Street food markets pop up every day of the week in London – particularly in the City, with hungry office-workers seeking a break from their standard sandwich.
Some of the best London restaurants have their roots in foodie pop-ups, so you may well stumble upon an up-and-coming gem.
If you're looking for cheap eats, London delivers, with delicious spots open throughout the day and night across the city.
If you're planning a night out, ICCO serves low-priced pizza until late, while the Beigel Shop is open 24 hours a day. Their well-filled bakes are simple, delicious and an absolute steal – surely one of the best cheap eats in London.
Brick Lane is the heart of London's curry scene, with restaurants serving up predominantly Bangladeshi dishes.
Hop off the train at Shoreditch High Street or Aldgate East, then work your way along the road, perusing menus and being persuaded by friendly proprietors until you find your favourite.