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.

London’s best budget eats

  • Brasserie Zédel

    20 Sherwood Street, W1F 7ED

    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.

  • Smokestak

    35 Sclater Street, E1 6LB

    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.

  • Dishoom

    4 Derry Street, W8 5SE

    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.

  • Barrafina

    26–27 Dean Street, W1D 3LL

    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.

  • Bao Fitzrovia

    31 Windmill Street, W1T 2JN

    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 Maria

    160 New Cavendish Street, W1W 6YR

    Santa Bufalina pizza

    Find pizza perfection from London’s best Neapolitan pizzeria: milky buffalo mozzarella, San Marzano tomato sauce and a blistered sourdough base.

  • Koya Bar Soho

    50 Frith Street, W1D 4SQ

    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.

  • Lahpet

    58 Bethnal Green Road, E1 6JW

    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.

  • Padella

    6 Southwark Street, SE1 1TQ

    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.

  • Roti King

    40 Doric Way, NW1 1LH

    Roti Canai

    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.

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Image credits: © Barrafina; © Barrafina; © Brasserie Zédel; © Smokestak; © Dishoom; © Barrafina; © Bao; © Santa Maria; © Steven Joyce; © Lahpet; © Padella; © Alamy