Bancone’s signature dish of ‘silk handkerchiefs’ with walnut butter and confit egg yolk. Credit: Bancone/Instagram
The beauty of London’s vast culinary scene is as much in the rustic neighbourhood eateries as the Michelin-starred restaurants of the West End.
The huge array of different cuisines and restaurants across the city means that Londoners can dine well and often still have change for tenner.
These are our five favourite budget eats from across the city, which includes vegan curries, Cypriot bouréki and a full English.
Let us know your favourite cheap eats in London by emailing the team at [email protected]
Address: 92-93 Chapel Market, Angel, N1 9EX
Price of average meal: £8.95
One of London’s kookier dining spots, this family-run curry house on Chapel Market feeds the eyes as well as the stomach.
From the green façade to the toilets, every inch of wall space is covered with posters spouting the benefits of a vegan and vegetarian lifestyle.
Many date back to 1985, the year Indian Veg first opened, and you get bonus points for spotting the Daily Express front page with a 5p price tag.
Fill your plate time as many times as you like with homecooked comfort food from the buffet - think crispy onion bhajis, chana dal, a selection of vegetable curries and mountains of fluffy rice.
Oh, and for extra penny saving, it’s also bring your own booze.
Address: 24 Camberwell Church St, Camberwell, SE5 8QU
Price of average meal: £3
In the 80s, this busy street in Camberwell was known as Little Cyprus.
Today, Sophocles Bakery stands like a pistachio-scented homage to a dispersed community.
Inside, it feels as if it belongs to another time.
Tiled walls depicting bunches of fruit complement wooden shelves heaving with daktila bread, while a glass case is filled with the sort of cream cakes that would have taken centre stage at a pre-millennium office party.
There aren’t many places in London where you can have lunch for less than £3, but a delicious spinach and feta bouréki and kataifi, chopped nuts bathed in lemon-scented syrup, will leave you feeling both full and thrifty.
Take it away or perch at a handful of tables.
The Electric Cafe
Address: 258 Norwood Rd, Tulse Hill, SE27 9AJ
Price of average meal: £4.50
A biro sign in the window announcing ‘we do NOT sell cereal’ sets the tone for this time-warp greasy spoon, which looks as if it hasn’t been redecorated since it opened 1939.
It’s true a family affair – the Tsoukkas’ have run it since 1978 – and the addition of golden halloumi to their enormous fry-ups is a salty nod to their Cypriot roots.
Orange juice in a glass bottle and bubble and squeak served without a hint of irony are par for the course.
Go easy on the PG Tips though, there’s no bathroom.
Address: 8-10 Lower James St, Soho, W1F 9EL
Price of average meal: £9
Whether nipping in solo on your lunch break or looking for a date spot that won’t break the bank, this sleek pasta restaurant is reliably excellent.
The Soho branch has a basement cocktail bar, large ground floor dining room, complete with a real olive tree, and three counters where you can watch the chefs at work.
Sure, it’s tempting to clock up a bigger bill by dipping into the antipasti and European-leaning wine list, but Bancone’s pasta comes in at under £10 – a steal given that it’s made by hand every day.
Its signature dish and one you’ll probably have drooled over on Instagram is ‘silk handkerchiefs’ with walnut butter and confit egg yolk, a comforting plate of gooey, carb-y goodness.
Address: 117 Benwell Rd, Highbury, N7 7BW
Price of average meal: £9.80
It may have only 12 tables, very little decoration and a service style best described as brusque, but this little slice of Northern China, located opposite Arsenal’s football stadium, has a cult following.
Chef Wei Guirong – who owns the restaurant alongside her husband – went to culinary school to support her little sisters’ education and went on to become the only female head chef in the Xi’an province.
Bring your own beers, roll up your sleeves and dive into their legendary hand-pulled biang biang noodles, finished with sizzling garlic and fiery chilli oil.