Forget McDonalds and KFC! Despite London being an expensive travel destination, there are still plenty of places to eat delicious and affordable food – so long as you know where to look. We’ve taken some of the most well-known places selling ‘cheap eats’ and shared a few insider tips about them, so you hungry travelers can fill your bellies for less.
Famous For: Brick Lane in Shoreditch is worth a visit for many reasons; an abundance of vintage shops, art galleries, and trendy bars make up the very colourful street scene that the area is known for. It’s also famous for its curry – on Brick Lane there is literally restaurant after restaurant selling the stuff. Due to the ferocious competition, it’s easy to really barter with restaurant touts and strike up a good meal deal outside – but be warned! Once you’re inside they will try to add extras on to push up the price of the bill, so stay savvy. Not all curries will be delicious either – stick to restaurants that are full to the rafters or have been recommended.
But you might not know: Although Brick Lane is famous for its 7 –day-a-week curry, on Sundays hundreds of temporary street stalls also sell delicious global cuisine. Cheap and tasty – you can have anything from a hog roast with apple sauce, to an African goat curry, usually for under £5. If you don’t fancy perching on the floor with your grub, then there’s more thrifty global cuisine, plus tables and chairs, in the Boiler House Hall.
Camden Lock Market
Famous For: It’s actually impossible to visit the market at Camden Lock and not have someone try and give you a ‘free taster’ of something. Regular food stalls are constantly trying to push the mainly Asian and Turkish cuisine onto the tourists. Whilst it’s certainly cheap, it also rarely looks very appetizing. Better instead to come back at the weekend – when hundreds of temporary food stalls somehow cram into courtyard. The food keeps its global theme – Spanish Paella, British Pies, Mexican Churros, and Asian noodles – but the quality is much improved.
But you might not know: There is also a little secret place in the market that the tourists haven’t discovered yet. It’s hidden at the bottom of the stairs, in the section selling Vintage and Antiques. It’s a little café that sells home-make cakes and tea from vintage china. You can escape the madness of the market here, sit down next to the book shop, and even have a little tinkle on their piano.
Famous For: Obviously China Town is famous for its Asian food! You can taste some fantastic stuff here (one meal I’ve eaten involved dipping raw ingredients into hot broth, so you ‘cook’ the meal yourself) but being so near to Leicester Square and the glamorous theatre venues, it’s also very easy to pay an arm and a leg. Stick to the smaller, more unassuming venues for cheaper food. It’s hard to go wrong with something like Dumplings – Jen’s Café specializes in them, and makes them in the window.
But you might not know: Eating out isn’t the only option in London and it’s often cheaper to buy from a local supermarket or food market. If you’re staying in self catering accommodation then it’s worth re-creating the magic of China-town at home – pop into one of the many Chinese supermarkets for your ingredients. Yes, you have to do some cooking yourself, but enjoying some noodles with a bottle of wine, on the couch with the XFactor on the TV, means you will be able to say that you spent an evening like a true Brit!