London tourists: you are doing it all wrong. If you’re planning on visiting the Old Smoke sometime soon, don’t stick to eating fish n’ chips for every meal.
Although it is often overshadowed by its cultured European neighbors France and Spain, London deserves more credit than given for its cuisine. After returning from a month abroad interning in East London, I am able to roll my eyes at the many misconceptions about food in the U.K. that were shared with me before my voyage.
So, to the London-travelers and foodies: be part of the stereotype-breaking and don’t miss out on these cheap London eats.
Every burger on Honest Burger’s menu comes with perfectly-seasoned chips, which are french fries, so you don’t have to pay extra for a side. Our potato chips are what Brits call “crisps.” Don’t learn the hard way.
This £8.5 burger-and-fries combo is certain to impress even the biggest American burger fanatic. You might be asking yourself, should I eat this because it’s cheap? Because it’s made with high-quality ingredients? Or because it’s fun to simply say “I want the beef” when the waiter asks to take my order? The answer is: all of the above.
2. DF Mexico
Past 6 pm, this spot is sprinkled with frozen margarita-thirsty bar-goers; little do they know they are sitting in the hidden gem of London lunch spots. The Mexican street food joint is hip, cheap, and gives Cali’s and NYC’s street food a run for their money. For something saucy, opt for a mouth-watering buttermilk chicken bun, which is DF’s combination of a Mexican torta and a fried chicken sandwich for only £6.95.
#SpoonTip: Sides are all under £3, so don’t sleep on a bowl of Mexican corn nuts or feta-dressed corn bowl.
This pizza is major. Major in size, as they are the length of your forearm, and major in flavor, with fresh ingredients and yummy combinations. Savor the garlicky goodness of the courgette and artichoke slice for £4, or go crazy with some friends and pool £20 for a 20-inch pie. Either way, you’ll leave with a tummy full of pizza and a face full of happiness.
Many avoid this well-known Vietnamese deli because of its intimidating menu, but to those people, I say “take out your big boy silverware” and let me break it down for you. Their famous, take-away baguette sandwiches are giant. Their chicken curry baguette reigns supreme in my opinion, and for £6.5, you get an entire baguette (which you will probably not be able to finish in one sitting) with all of the fixings, including fresh vegetables and three kinds of sauces that tango together in your mouth beautifully no matter the meat you choose.
The States haven’t seemed to figure out what “healthy fast food” really means yet, while Leon, a London-wide chain, feeds the U.K. the inexpensive fare we millennials dream of. From salad boxes to meatballs to wraps, the takeaway or eat-in spot has become a hit among Londoners, with lines during lunch to prove it. My favorite is the £5.95 Chargrilled Chicken Aioli Superfood Salad, which has fresh vegetables, grilled chicken, and creamy garlic aioli as dressing and is only 419 calories. Don’t leave without baked fries for £2.20.
#SpoonTip: Don’t miss out on 15% off with your student ID.
Bill’s is the end-all-be-all of your Sunday brunch dreams. With 20 locations of cozy couches, pastel colors, and fun food, this spot is a must for brunchers and lunchers across London. Their halloumi and hummus burger serves a unique combination of London’s newest food craze (halloumi is the avocado toast of the UK) and sweet-spicy flavors of pepper, chili, and cumin. Although it’s the priciest of the bunch at £9.95, the delightful atmosphere is worth the cash.
6. Freebird Burrito
Freebird Burrito is a food market favorite. With locations in Shoreditch, Islington, Soho, and Liverpool Street, the fresh-ingredient Mexican spot is the perfect place to grab a quick bite during your hour lunch break. Try a taco salad with your choice of seven proteins for only £5.95 – chips and guac included.
#SpoonTip: If you’re not feeling Mexican, opt for their “Southern BBQ” meats including seasoned pulled pork, beef, and brisket.