It’s no secret that London is among the most expensive cities in the world, but thanks to a plethora of deliciously affordable restaurants, you don’t have to pay like a king to eat like one. You can save money without sacrificing on flavour by feasting one of the capital’s absolute best budget lunches.
Battersea Pie Station, Covent Garden
Market, British, Vegetarian, $$$
Head to this spot to try a British classic – the savoury pie. Silky mashed potatoes and gravy are served alongside the flaky and buttery pastry, which are filled with either minced meat, chicken or vegetables. Speedy preparation and excellent service mean you’ll be in and out of here in no time and ready to explore the charms of Covent Garden.
In the mood for something a bit different? Koshari Street serves up the authentic Egyptian snack food koshari, and it’s as delicious as it is affordable. The filling, healthy dish consists of a base of rice, lentils and chickpeas, which is then topped with tomato sauce, caramelised onions and a spice mix known as doqqa. If this doesn’t quite tickle your fancy, the charming hole in the wall offers a range of additional tasty and traditional Egyptian foodstuffs, so you can enjoy a satisfying meal before heading out into the chaotic fun that is Leicester Square.
The authentic, fresh and utterly delicious Italian food at Soho’s Princi will make your mouth water. Specialities include wood-fired pizza al taglio (pizza by the slice), tasty panini on a selection of home-baked bread and some of the best coffee in London, which you can enjoy with your favourite Italian pastry. Comfortable, open-plan seating and a buzzy atmosphere mean this place is always crowded and a great spot for Italian food lovers.
Café Helen is the go-to place for a shawarma. The Edgware Road eatery is a master of the Middle Eastern snack, which consists of thin strips of meat rolled into a flatbread with pickles, lettuce and tomato and then smeared with tahini sauce or creamy garlic mayo. The wraps are prepared to order in five minutes and can easily be devoured in three. Café Helen may not seem impressive from the outside, but you’ll never regret a meal here as it will keep you full for hours. The café opens at 4pm, which means it’s an ideal place to go for a late lunch.
If you’re feeling Thai food for lunch, Busaba is the perfect spot. With several London locations, you’ll often be close to a branch, and the restaurant’s mouth-watering menu won’t break the bank either. Choose from a wide range of noodle- and rice-based dishes, stir-fries and curries, including Thai classics such as green chicken curry, tom yum goong and pad thai. But whatever you do, don’t miss out on Busaba’s incredible crispy spiced calamari, which is possibly the best appetiser in town.