Trying to navigate London on a student budget can be a stressful experience. Yet even in Bloomsbury, one of London’s classiest districts, dining in restaurants and cafes can still be enjoyable without costing the earth, follow our guide to some of the best Bloomsbury restaurants that won’t break your bank.
Restaurant, Korean, $$$
Bibimbap is a modern Korean restaurant. It specialises in its namesake: Bibimbap, a dish of meat, rice and salad with an optional fried egg on top. There’s a variety of other popular Korean dishes, too. The food comes in wholesome portions, staff are friendly and attentive, and the prices are hard to beat.
A family-run business, Iccohas been a lifeline for hungry and cash-strapped students across central London. Despite the informal, canteen-like interior, Icco pizzas are freshly baked to order and taste just as good as – and sometimes superior to – many well-known pizza brands charging double the price. Takeaway pizzas are also available, and the option of ordering online makes Icco the first choice destination for an efficient meal at great value.
At The Japanese Canteen the food is tasty and authentic, with menus varying at each of the chain’s nine branches according to the facilities and chefs available. The vibe is one of speed and simplicity: meals are served quickly and tables are often shared communally, making it the destination of choice for many a hungry student or worker on their precious lunch break.
Freshly baked German bread in the heart of London – that is what Kamps promises. A new addition to Tottenham Court Road’s already overflowing choice of cuisine, Kamps is succeeding thanks to the smell of baked goods that drifts out of the open door, and the impressive display of pastries that lures in hungry passers-by. The flatbreads come strongly recommended. Despite costing the same price as some sandwiches, they are in fact closer to the size of a pizza.
Just because afternoon tea is a luxury, it doesn’t have to be unaffordable. Tea and Tattle sells delicate yet filling afternoon teas at a reasonable price. Sandwiches, scones and a generous slice of cake are served alongside a pot of tea and homemade lemonade. Situated just a stone’s throw from the British Museum, Tea and Tattle is still untainted by the grossly inflated prices associated with most tourist traps, largely due to its location in the basement of a little independent bookshop. The food is tasty, the decor is quaint and the place has an air of cosiness that is not commonly found this close to central London.
Students and businessmen are flocking to The Court on Tottenham Court Road for big, tasty meals at hard-to-beat prices. Upstairs is a large, peaceful seating area. Serving a combination of British classics and some more innovative dishes for breakfast, lunch and dinner, there’s something for everyone. Bring some friends and order a plate of 50 (!) chicken wings for the whole table to enjoy.
Siam Central is a Thai restaurant serving flavourful and well-presented food without the high price tag. Classic dishes like Thai green curry come highly recommended, with stir fries being the meal of choice for those who want to leave with the fullest stomach and the smallest dent in their wallet.
Situated just a few minutes from Euston station down an otherwise nondescript residential street, Diwana is one of Bloomsbury’s hidden, budget-friendly venues. The restaurant serves traditional Indian food, all of which is vegetarian, at incredibly modest prices. Lunchtime offers an all-you-can-eat buffet and the chef’s dish of the day, both leaving you with change from a £10 note. Dosas come highly recommended: substantial and tasty with a variety of fillings. The restaurant has a cosy feel – think wooden chairs and potted plants – and is bustling with locals who have discovered this well-kept secrets.
Salt & Pepper is a small cafe located barely two minutes from the British Museum. With a wide selection of meals, sandwiches and cakes, it is the perfect place to stop for a break on a hectic day of sightseeing (or essay writing). Whether you’re looking to sit for a whole afternoon with friends or just pop in for a quick coffee and a bite to eat, Salt and Pepper is ideally located in a quiet street in one of London’s most bustling and accessible areas.
This tongue-in-cheek restaurant offers fast food, German style. Think of a relaxed diner mixed with a classic continental pub, and you have Herman. The service is speedy and the food is filling. Whilst the imported drinks are a little pricey, hearty meals are very cheap.