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mcohen

Inexpensive food recs in London

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Even with Brexit and the pound dropping, everything in London still seems really expensive for a visitor.

 

So, are there any recommendations for something good while still affordable for somebody on a budget?Ideally, I'm looking for something that's not too far off from sights and attractions like Tower of London, London museums, etc... I'd love to try a salt beef bagel from Biegel Bake, but it seems too far away from tourist sights.

 

I know Indian food would probably be my best bet, but I'm not a fan of that cuisine.

 

 

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"Cheap" is not usually used to describe anything in the tourist areas of London, but I've had a number of excellent low-cost meals at various places in the Borough Market (worth visiting in its own right).

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I was just there in March ... what do you consider good? Biegel Bake is in a very hipster neighborhood. Media professionals during the day, party goers by night, and it's utterly swarmed by street art aficionados of a weekend afternoon. If murals and vintage shops are your kind of thing, you could make Shoreditch one of your tourist stops. Or a night out. Friend of mine went to get bagels after a night of cocktailing and had a great time chatting with the Londoners (including cops!) who were in the queue.

 

Many museums have respectable dining options. Thanks to Rick Steves, I can also tell you that lots of churches also have "crypt cafes" that will keep you fed cheaply. Hopefully you'll have booked a hotel or b&b that has breakfast included. I only ever needed one other "main" meal per day after that, with maybe a snack. Pubs, pie and mash shops, Pizza Express. St. John is both Arguably Good and Reasonably Priced. We spent twenty pounds per head at places like these, and the one time we splashed out (at Quaglino's) it was forty.

 

Is that at all what you are looking for?

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You are highly unlikely to find "cheap" eats or anything else near tourist sites anywhere in the world. Expensive and not very good is more their style.

 

It is possible to eat relatively cheaply in London, by eating like the locals do. At noon follow office workers to see where they eat. It may not be gourmet, but despite all the rumours and lies, the British are not all gastronomic idiots.

Shopping areas sometimes have reasonably cheap restaurants, although that is under threat from the plague of chain coffee shops etc infesting the world.

Universities and colleges often have reasonably priced restaurant facilities open to the public. Students unions also often have cheap but surprisingly good canteens, although some require ID in the evenings.

 

Pubs (some) offer good to excellent food at good prices.

 

Many more upmarket restaurants have surprisingly cheap lunch or "pre-theater" menus. Often a fraction of their full evening service.

 

I no longer live in London so I'm not recommending anywhere specific but, as you don't like Indian much, how about Chinese, Greek, Caribbean, and literally dozens of other "ethnic" choices.

 

If I were you, I'd be reading as many on-line restaurant reviews as possible. For local reviews, I recommend Time Out or the Evening Standard (terrible newspaper, but sound on London eating) or the Guardian/Observer sites.


Edited by liuzhou typos (log)

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Food52 put up a group of London articles this week, Food52 Travel Guide, including one on the Borough Market that @Chris Hennes mentioned above.

 

No specific "cheap eats" section but there are also 2 interactive maps of the city that may be useful if you're looking for something in a specific area.  One map includes all the places mentioned in the group of London articles and the other one has recommendations from the Food52 community.  

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On ‎4‎/‎26‎/‎2017 at 9:01 PM, Jen Keenan said:

I was just there in March ... what do you consider good? Biegel Bake is in a very hipster neighborhood. Media professionals during the day, party goers by night, and it's utterly swarmed by street art aficionados of a weekend afternoon. If murals and vintage shops are your kind of thing, you could make Shoreditch one of your tourist stops. Or a night out. Friend of mine went to get bagels after a night of cocktailing and had a great time chatting with the Londoners (including cops!) who were in the queue.

 

Many museums have respectable dining options. Thanks to Rick Steves, I can also tell you that lots of churches also have "crypt cafes" that will keep you fed cheaply. Hopefully you'll have booked a hotel or b&b that has breakfast included. I only ever needed one other "main" meal per day after that, with maybe a snack. Pubs, pie and mash shops, Pizza Express. St. John is both Arguably Good and Reasonably Priced. We spent twenty pounds per head at places like these, and the one time we splashed out (at Quaglino's) it was forty.

 

Is that at all what you are looking for?

 

With how you described Shoreditch, I don't think that'll be one of my tourist stops. I'm only in London for a number of days and there's so much to see and do that I don't waste too much time traveling for food if there isn't aren't any sites around to see.

 

For St. John, do I still need to make reservations even for their bar menu? With jetlag and unfamiliarity with the area, I don't want to tie myself to a scheduled time.

 

And, has anybody done a Taste of Yauatcha for two? Is that 29 pound price for each person or the total price?

 

Speaking of Rick Steves, does anybody how his or r any of the guidebooks like Fodor, Frommer's,etc. are for London food recommendations?

The problem I run to is that I can find something that sounds delicious and not that expensive, but then it'll turn out that the place is located far away in the suburbs or somewhere with cheaper rents. By looking at guide books, their recommendations should be located near the tourist sites. But, the question is whether or not their recommendations are any good.

 

And, how recommendations for London afternoon tea that's not that expensive either. I was looking at Fortum, and I could order a nice dinner at that price. Why is tea so expensive?

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14 hours ago, mcohen said:

I was looking at Fortum, and I could order a nice dinner at that price. Why is tea so expensive?

 

Well, for a start the price isn't only for the tea. Fortnum's is in the centre of some of the most expensive real estate on the planet. You are paying rent for your temporary occupation of that space. Then there is the cost of maintaining and staffing the high level of comfort and service in such places. You are paying for the high level of knowledge and skill involved. Luxury costs money.

 

And you are paying for the sense of exclusivity. It's simple economics really. If you balk at the prices, no worries. There are plenty more people who won't. 

 

Expecting to find "inexpensive" foods in notoriously expensive venues is beyond ridiculous.

 

If it's just a cup of tea you want, there are many other options.

 

The Taste of Yauatcha is 30 pounds for two people. Not particularly cheap for a few dim sum examples, however good.


Edited by liuzhou (log)

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Tayyab's is very good value for money if you like Indian/Pakistani food. Among the best in the UK. Service is fast, the surroundings are functional, it's busy and the food is excellent. And hot. If you have to ask whether it's too hot, it probably will be too hot. Ah, just re-read the OP.

 

I'd signpost you to Time Out London online for a decent guide across the whole of London, stratified and classified, for food, drink, entertainment and art. It's very easy to zoom into the precise locality you're visiting and find recommendations.

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If we refocus around must-see locations, for tea you could add it to a trip to the Victoria and Albert museum: they have a really fantastic space, and a completely a la carte cafeteria-style tea service. The afternoon tea at the British Museum was also enjoyable, though more expensive and formal than the V&A.

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