My top 10 budget-friendly places to eat out in London (that aren’t Pret)

My top 10 budget-friendly places to eat out in London (that aren’t Pret)

London is known for its wide range of cuisines from across the world, a melting pot of spiciness, freshness, bitterness, sourness, sweetness and saltiness… it’s lively and effervescent, but it’s not always cheap.

With its growing living costs not looking to slow down anytime soon, Londoners and tourists alike have been putting the breaks on going out.

But as much as we’re enjoying our homemade lasagnes and spag bols at home or in our hostels, to live or visit this city without exploring some of its culinary treasures would be like visiting London without seeing a red bus or Big Ben, pretty tragic.

So to help you enjoy a delicious meal on a minimal budget, here are my top 10 places to eat out in London. From the classic avo on toast, to the best Ramen in town, all less than £10 pounds per meal…it’s time to lap up the sauces, and savour your pennies.

1. Padella

Located in the heart of Borough Market, this Italian gem serves fresh hand-rolled pasta dishes to share. Get yourself on the waiting-list, then head into the market for a pint of Guinness and explore the market stalls.

Then, on to enjoying a buttery gnocchi dish with a £4.50 price-mark. I promise you it’s well worth the wait!

2. Broadway Market

This is hands-down one of my favourite food markets in London.

Located in trendy Hackney, what a lot of people don’t know about this market is it’s over 3,000 years old, and once a busy cart-track bringing food supplies to London. Turn the clock forward to 2019 and it’s still delivering food to Londoners.

Arrive on Saturday morning and enjoy tasty British treats like Scotch Eggs, mouth-watering Haggis and caramelised onion toasties, and finish off with a red velvet doughnut to share.

Walk off the indulgence by taking a stroll alongside the nearby canals, walk past the house-boats until you reach leafy Stoke Newington and check out the boutique shops, and another treat of course.

3. Dishoom

Located in various boroughs throughout London, Dishoom has earned its stripes as a must-visit culinary treasure.

It’s a Bombay restaurant serving delicious Indian brunches, lunches and dinners – think bacon naan rolls, spicy omelettes and bottomless Chai for breakfast, through to traditional samosas, grilled meats and hearty curries for dinner.

It has something for everyone’s spice (and price) level and my advice, go balsy! Pack on the spice.

4. Kanada Ya

This authentic Ramen house has 3 locations throughout London and is well worth the trip.

Come here if you love a good brothy bowl with lots of hearty toppings! From pork, chicken, vegetable and truffle toppings, I promise you if you love Ramen it won’t disappoint!

5. Honest Burgers

As the name suggests this joint does burgers, honestly. No frills, just good buns and good fillings.

It is home to the plant-based Beyond-Meat burger, so if you’re vege or keen to try a plant-based burger that feels, smells, and even bleeds like meat it’s well worth it.

Located throughout London, my personal pick is the Brixton location – they have the best service!

6. Brixton Village & Market Row

Number 5 leads us on nicely to this tucked-away South London gem, Brixton Village and Market Row.

Exit the Brixton tube station, take the first 2 rights and you’ll find yourself in a colourful culinary paradise.

It has something to offer for everyone’s taste buds. From Federation Coffee serving classic breakfast dishes and great coffee, to Japanese omelettes, French Crepes, Caribbean stews, and middle-eastern cuisine. It’s well worth the trip to the end of the Victoria line!

7. Lanzhou Lamian Noodle Bar

This is my go-to place for an after-work or late-night noodle fix!

No frills, just great food and yummy homemade noodle dishes! Walk in and watch the chefs at work as they pull, kneed, and cut their noodles to shape.

From thick and chewy, to light and slurp-able you’ll be lapping up the noodles and their sauces here. Be warned wearing white here (unless sauce on your shirt is your thing) is for the chefs only!

8. Grind Coffee

Great coffee, great breakfasts, and great late-night cocktails.

Grind in Covent Garden is my go-to for a guilty millennial flat-white and avocado toast fix.

Beautifully designed interiors and branding, Grind is guaranteed to get you positively caffeinated without paying a fortune for the pleasure.  

9. Carluccios

Simple Italian dishes, cooked the way Italians like them.

Carluccios is the real-deal, and I have my Italian colleague to thank for helping me discover this place – she goes here almost everyday for her fresh pasta fix.

Starting at £4, enjoy a daily takeaway spread of freshly cooked pasta dishes, meats, salads, and breads all topped with grated Parmesan.

Little tip, I find it better to eat takeaway, it’s cheaper and you can enjoy it outside admiring one of the great London sites!

10. Pizza Pilgrims

No big city would be complete without a pizza joint, and if you’re going to have one pizza in London make it a Pizza Pilgrims Pizza.

Located in various boroughs throughout London, expect a humble environment and classic flavours like Margarita, Gorgonzola, Olives, Mushroom and Salami, all supported by the freshest, softest and doughiest base. Starting at £5.50 a pizza, I think that means you can have two, right?

I hope you enjoy this list, and can make it to some of my favourite food spots in London. I promise you great flavours and saving on the pennies. Enjoy!

THE LADDER GIRL

Stop pouring your money down the liquid brew

Stop pouring your money down the liquid brew

Coffee is one of those things that if you’re like me you couldn’t go without – although hopefully, you don’t end up as cranky as I do without a liquid fix in the morning…there’s nothing worse than an uncaffeinated Holly.

Despite my dependence and borderline addiction to the stuff there’s so much to love about coffee and the culture surrounding it – walking into a cafe in the morning and smelling the morning buzz, exchanging banter with your favourite barista, watching the creamy liquid being poured into a perfect fern shape, hearing the sizzle of the steam nozzle – it’s electric and it’s addictive.

With the start of the new year I wanted to get an overview of just how much I was investing into this little liquid love affair, so I did a tally of coffee spend in 2018, and it added up – £1,006 to be exact (yes I geek sheeted this out). My daily morning routine stopover at F Mondays for an Oat Flat White the largest proportion of this amount (at a £2.90 per cup) – quite a staggering amount considering that could have paid for a trip home and back.

Coffee is something I enjoy and adds value to my life, but I knew this amount was going overboard – the thing is if you enjoy something and it’s not doing you much harm you don’t have to give it up (and I certainly wasn’t going to put up with an uncaffeinated self anytime soon), but you can be more intentional with how you allocate your money towards what you value.

I’ve seen people carrying their reusable cups in the morning, imagining some kind of dishwasher liquid swimming around under the rim, but if I wanted to reduce my spend and do good for the environment I needed to suck it up, stop being a snob, and give it a go!

Cam had a nice Frank Green reusable cup, so I gave it wash, purchased some supermarket ground beans, a bottle of Oatly, and pulled out the flatmate’s French Press – to my suprise I enjoyed the taste too.

Going to a cafe everyday isn’t essential, and not necessary to enjoy coffee. Being more intentional means cutting back and ultimately valuing more. I’ve pulled back on my weekly coffee spend and still enjoy a cafe brew on the weekends, but now when I do go out I value that liquid fix so much more.

The year I got my shit together by creating a budget

The year I got my shit together by creating a budget

Turn the clock back to 2016. When Ed Sheeran was serenading our speakers, cauliflower steaks were all the rage, legends were lost  – Bowie, Prince & Glenn Frey to name a few, and we got Trumped. It was a year of great gains and great losses.

It was a year of uncertainty, of instability and a reflection of my feelings in my own life. I decided to not let these feelings carry through into 2017, but to take control of what I could, starting with money.

I’d never been one to care much about where my money went, or what I did with it. I got my paycheck and very quickly converted it into superfluous purchases – Bento Boxes, Free People clothing, debt payments, plane tickets, weekend trips away, and lots and lots of coffee. Not surprisingly at the end of the month, I had nothing left.

My problem – I had no visibility of where my money was going, and I quite simply didn’t care.

If I wanted to take control I needed a goal, and I needed a plan to get there.

The goal, move to the other side of the world (I’ll do a post about that later)

The plan… I still needed one.

I Googled, I YouTubed, I Podcasted, I asked, searching for that hidden gem of an answer – but time and time again one simple thing popped up that we’ve all heard about before, The Budget.

It’s a very simple task – you write down your income, you deduct your expenses and then you see what you have left to play with.. this is either your Bento Box money, or it’s your savings money (more posts on this later).

It’s something so simple, but so many of us don’t do it. I used this very basic Excel template to build my budget, and still do to this day.

What the budget gave me was a plan to meet my goal, 2019 and 3 years later I’m in London. Granted there are days when I don’t always feel in control, but by having a budget I can plan and build a pathway to financial freedom.

It’s this very simple tool that got me going and that’s opened my eyes to a world where you can take control, you can have choices, and you don’t need much to get there!

What’s my new goal? To spread the word, and help others build their own pathway to financial freedom.

THE LADDER GIRL