Looking to live that Champagne lifestyle on a tap-water budget? London may not be a penny-saver’s paradise, but don’t let a lack of funds stop you from living your best life. We asked the gang over at DesignMyNight for their favourite budget restaurants, from date-perfect and ditsy through to prosecco-filled and brunch-worthy.
Being this close to the City usually screams ‘blow the budget’, but not as far as Clerkenwell & Social are concerned. The exposed brick, fairy-light-strewn spot is all sorts of affordable, starting with their whacking pizzas that begin at £8 and are even cheaper on Saturdays, with 2-for-1 all day. The venue also has a daily happy hour, meaning cocktails are still very much on the menu for your next night out.
With several venues across London, Rosa’s Thai Cafe is helping the good people of this city eat out without having to call in a loan. Find the distinctive red front of the Angel restaurant for affordable plates of Thai cuisine, including a long list of vegetarian options. If you’re up that way for lunch, make sure to stop by for a bargain deal that will see you eating for less than £9.
Gooey mac ‘n’ cheese, fresh chicken salads and bacon-topped pizzas are all on the agenda with Tank & Paddle, the fun restaurant that’s dotted around London. The Minster Court spot is popular with the after-work crowd, with an informal and easy-going atmosphere, making it a top choice for big groups and a quick catch-up. It’s also owned by Meantime Brewery, and while the pints come in at about the same price as the rest of the city, they’re served straight from the tank, meaning they’re some of the freshest.
You might be down to your last dime, but eating out in London is still an option with Ealing’s Meat & Shake. The American BBQ joint has loads of big, saucy plates coming in at under £10; from truffle mayo and Swiss cheese topped burgers through to jumbo buffalo wings. Don’t leave without a slurp of the milkshakes – the place is dedicated to them, after all – with concoctions including Ferrero Rocher and Oreo.
Another American diner style spot and another goodie, The Diner is popping up across the city and for good reason. Try the Strand outpost for cheap and cheerful dining slap-bang in London’s most touristy area. Food is still top quality, with burgers made from British beef and a hearty selection of pancakes. You can even brunch on a budget, with a menu that includes breakfast essentials, such as eggs royale and French toast, largely under a tenner.
Award-winning and damn delicious food doesn’t have to mean selling your first born. In fact, BabaBoom is cheap as chips without saving a scrap on the taste. The Battersea eatery is the work of three friends and is a homage to Middle Eastern dining, from the pillowy soft flatbreads and nutty hummus through to meats grilled over charcoal. They also have an affordable bottomless brunch, with an hour of margaritas, Bloody Marys or mimosas coming in at £15.
Finding an affordable restaurant in Soho is like finding a needle in the haystack, right? WRONG; Absurd Bird is bringing bargain eats to the centre of London’s notorious district. From dirty waffles through to saucy burgers, the American-style restaurant is all about chicken, preferably loaded with extra cheese and guacamole. While the place is always pretty low-cost, head there on Wednesdays for the dynamite Bottomless Wing Night, with all-you-can-eat wings and fries costing £12.
Known for its quirky vintage furniture, botanical leanings and chilled vibes, Haunt in Stoke Newington is a must-try for a meet-up that doesn’t blow your budget. The North London pub is completely vegan, with renowned Biff’s Jack Shack taking over for the latest residency. Dive into dishes that include the likes of The Samuel Hell Jackson (£8 – jackfruit, chipotle slaw, hot sauce, burger cheese) and Bang Bang Fries, which come loaded with cinnamon sweet chilli, miso mayo and crispy onion.
Still talking about the days when Freddos were only 10p? Course you are, and while The Schoolhouse in Battersea can’t guarantee those sorts of prices, they are bringing back tonnes of ‘90s nostalgia. Themed around a school, the venue serves cocktails in chemistry class apparatus and has an easy menu that extends from brunch through to dinner. Brunch and lunch are particularly affordable, with most dishes less than £10, and there’s a daily ‘Tappy Hour’ which includes 2-4-1 on cocktails and discounts on beer.
Don’t be fooled by those swish geometric interiors and the fast-paced Canary Wharf atmosphere, The Pagination is by Drake & Morgan, one of London’s loveliest affordable restaurant groups. Expect homely vibes from this nook, with faux-fur throws scattered about and lots of cosy corners, meaning it’s not just for a power lunch. There’s also a huge terrace that overlooks the water, which is exactly where we will be scoffing an affordable plate of British fare come summer.
For more info on the best restaurants in London and across the UK, visit DesignMyNight and follow them on Instagram and Twitter; @DesignMyNight.