In the all too recent dark ages of study abroad, only a privileged minority of college students actually found themselves able to spend time studying in a country that wasn’t their own. These days, as many as 1 in 10 American students head abroad for school at some point during their academic careers, and that number is only going up.
With a greater number of study abroad scholarships and grants available to students, more and more young adults are finding themselves across the pond for portions of their college education.
However, even with scholarships and loans, studying abroad can still be tough on the bank, and some countries are way more expensive to live in than others. For the nearly 103,000 international students who choose to study in London, land of the mighty pound, it might seem like you have to choose between certain experiences and feeding yourself, but that shouldn’t be the case.
Exploring local cuisine is just as important to the experience as actually living in London. For all you lucky ducks studying across the pond in the greatest city on earth, these 6 affordable Central London eats will have your taste buds and your bank account thanking you.
I am always a sucker for atmosphere, and Homeslice had me at the door. Faintly lit and buzzing with conversation from stylishly-dressed Londoners who had come out to enjoy some delicious brick oven pizza and beer, Homeslice was textbook cool. Like, if mood were the criteria to get on this list, Homeslice would be on here for all 6 restaurants.
As an added bonus, it just so happens that Homeslice is also the best bargain pizza around. All of their brick-oven pizzas, from the Margherita to the Pulled BBQ Brisket, are £20 for 20-inches. For the record, that’s more than enough for four people. So if you ever find yourself debating about where to go for gourmet pizza, grab three of your friends and head to Homeslice. Case dismissed.
2. The Rocket
There are few things on earth more exquisite than a Full English for breakfast. Picture it: a plate of sausage, bacon, eggs, hashbrowns, baked beans, tomatoes, mushrooms, and toast, all butter-fried and covered in HP Sauce. Frankly, it’s what dreams are made of. If you’re in England, you need to eat a Full English, and if you need to eat a Full English, you check out The Rocket.
Their £2.99 Classic Breakfast will hit the spot, but if you’re feeling lucky, there’s the Unfinishable Breakfast that’s still only £9.49. As far as Central London goes, there’s not a better or tastier deal around.
3. My Old Dutch
Mondays are a special time in Central London. The supermarkets are restocked and it’s Monday Madness at My Old Dutch. It always starts the same: a Dutch pancake batter poured on a round hot-top. From there, the possibilities are endless; smoked salmon, four cheeses, crispy bacon, and even pear slices and cinnamon.
My Old Dutch’s menu offers more Dutch pancakes than you could ever hope to try (trust me, I ate there almost every Monday for a year). They’re huge, delicious, and as an added bonus, on Mondays most of the sweet and savory pancakes are only £5.
I see no point in beating around the bush about this. Wahaca is the best restaurant there is. Inspired by Mexican street food, Wahaca’s tapas-style dishes are made to be ordered in abundance. Get yourself a smoky chipotle chicken quesadilla, some plantain and feta tacos, a side of rice n’ beans, and then pair it with a heavenly hibiscus margarita (and maybe even a shot of añejo tequila on the side).
Wahaca is a foodie’s paradise. The atmosphere is relaxed and fun, the food delicious and seasonal, the drink menu seductive, and it’s all for a price that won’t make you cry afterwards.
5. Beigel Bake
So Beigel Bake isn’t exactly a gourmet institution. Some people (lots of people) rave about their bagels, and I have had some really really good ones. The thing about Beigel Bake though, which is what I know and what all of those people lined up outside its doors for all 24-hours of the day know, is that Beigel Bake is cheap and Beigel Bake is always open. With so many restaurants in Central London closing as early as 9 and 10 pm, good late night food is hard to find, and Beigel Bake always fits the bill.
I’d be remiss if I didn’t close out this list with a restaurant serving English food. It’s lucky for me that Pieminister meets that criteria, but I’d probably close on it even if it didn’t. Pieminister is good, and everyone knows it. With dozens of delicious pies, all with punny names like Chicken of Aragon and Chili con Carnage, Pieminister is taking over the world. Serving at several pubs, cafes, and markets around London, Pieminister has even started accepting online orders.
In the food world, we tend to have a bit of bias against foods that are popularly consumed, but all the press in the world wouldn’t change the fact that Pieminister’s £5 pies are just plain good.