It happened to all of us, multiple times ( insert sigh here ): you go out for dinner in London, end up with your pockets £50 lighter and then you find yourself eating instant noodles until the next pay day. Not anymore! Here a list of my favourite, most delicious, and affordable restaurants in London for a catch-up with your mates, to impress a date or with the parents (they pay anyway…)
These are 9 affordable restaurants you should know.
EL Inca Plebeyo : Ecuadorian in Islington
Since I visited Peru’ last year I have craved ceviche, the typical peruvian dish made with white fish marinated in lime juice and served with onion, chilli pepper and salt. It’s not easy to find good ceviche in London, most of the times it’s lacking in freshness, acidity and brightness. El Inca Plebeyo is the gem of my restaurants notebook that I like to share with a few lucky ones. The staff is super friendly and happy to help with the menu while telling the story of how they moved to London from Ecuador.
Pro tip: sprinkle some chanca (toasted corn kernels) on your fish for the ultimate crunch.
Tuna tiradito at El Inca Plebeyo – Photo credit: El Inca Plebeyo
Kanada-ya: Ramen in Leicester square
Two things make of Kanada-ya an authentic ramen shop: first of all the systematic queue that inevitably goes from the entrance door up to 2 blocks down – Japanese can patiently wait hours in line just to eat good ramen and so evidently can the Brits. Secondly a cloudy – red oil spotted – tonktotsu (pork broth simmered for 18 hrs) that will bring you back memories of Ichiran Ramen in Shibuya with the difference that you are in central London and there is a waiter to take your order instead of a vending machine.
Without any doubt Kanada-ya is my first choice when I need some good ramen. Remember to be polite and slurp up those noods as loud as possible.
Bowl of ramen Kanada – ya
Dip&flip: Burger – various locations
I need to explain to you the name of this place in order to fully understand the greatness of their burgers. Let’s start with flip: in this case they are referring to the beef patties being smashed then flipped on a very hot griddle. Let’s move now to the dip because here comes the genius. The guys of Dip&Flip, in a bold move, took their already bomb burger and decided to add a layer of gravy dipped roast meat and serve it with extra gravy for further dippage – just saying…. If you don’t feel like having a burger – are you ok? – you can still enjoy the juiciness of the gravy dipped roast meat in a dip sandwich, a sub roll dipped in gravy (single or double dipped, up to you) then stuffed with meat, pickles and coleslaw. And of course extra gravy for dippage.
The Dip & Flip Burger // Photo credit: Dip & Flip Burger
Wolkite: Ethiopian in Arsenal
If you go to Wolkite you need to be mentally ready to eat one of the best meals of your life and for sure one of the biggest. Ethiopian food is sharing, eating with your hands from the same plate and enjoying delicious food. It’s all about the sourdough flatbread called injera, cooked on a large round serving tray and then covered with little heaps of curried veggies, chickpeas and stewed meats. Everyone tears a piece of bread and use it as a vehicle to scoop food into their mouth as well as improvised scarpetta or as a sponge to absorb the sauces off their hands. I recommend trying the kitfo, a super lean beef tartare smothered in spiced butter with hints of cardamom that is just next level.
Injera bread sharing plate // Photo credit: Wolkite.
Pho Anh: Vietnamese in Wandsworth
Pho Anh is a small, friendly family run restaurant where you get some delicious authentic vietnamese dishes at a reasonable price. The menu is short but sweet, the flavours of family recipes passed on from generation to generation. The pho is impeccable, light and tangy, topped with tender slices of beef brisket, coriander and a wedge of lime. You cannot leave without trying the spring rolls, the goi salad and the bun vermicelli but also the com rice and the bun bo as well. Just order the whole menu to not miss out anything.
Beef brisket pho // Photo credit: Pho Ahn
Lahpet : Burmese in Shoreditch
It’s hard to describe the Burmese cuisine, think of the spiciness and richness of Indian food and the tang and fishness of the thai cuisine in one plate. The food at Lahpet is a journey to South-east Asia that you wish would never end. I was particularly impressed by the tea leaf salad, their signature dish, and the yellow pea paratha (a traditional flaky flatbread that is just heaven). All the curries I tried were an explosion of flavours and all unique in their own way. The staff is friendly and the interiors are vibrant and trendy. I can’t recommend this restaurant enough.
Mohinga Curry // Photo credit: Lahpet
Sufi : Persian restaurant in White city
If you ask me – what’s your favorite food? – I would say bread, bread, bread! Even better if there are dips. So you might understand my hype when I found out that Sufi has a traditional conical oven to make taftoon (persian flatbread) served with all sorts of dipping – humous (you know this one), olivieh (a chicken and veg salad), mirza ghassem (tomatoey aubergine dip), kashke bademjan (smokey aubergine dip, the best!), mast-moosir (yogurt base dip). So you could go to Sufi, have just the bread starter and live happily ever after. Or you could go to Sufi, unfasten a button of your belt, and have the bread + dippings, followed by a mixed grill of kebabs and tah digg (persian crispy rice) and live happily heavier after.
And don’t forget to order some doogh (yogurt drink) with your dinner.
Dips // Photo credit: Sufi
Lahore kebab house : Indian in Whitechapel
Classic BYOB curry house where you should bring a large group of friends so that you have an excuse to order the whole menu and try a bit of everything. Don’t miss the famous grilled lamb chops to start off your meal: juicy, tender, they really are something special. Then move on to some really spicy jalfrezi chicken curry or some house specials like the nihari stew or the deep flavoured daal gosth, everything accompanied with fragrant, freshly baked naan bread. In the kitchen you can see a platoon of cooks bustling around, grilling meats and stirring curries. There is nothing fancy about the restaurant interiors, it’s all about the food and that is how it should be.
Grilled lamb chops // Photo credit: S. Jindal
Andy’s taverna is an institution in Camden with more than 50 years of serving authentic Greek food. Over the years they built up an affectionate clientele, including celebs, that the staff welcome like members of the family. The food is honest, simple and delicious, the portions are abundant and great value for the money: the sharing plate could feed a crowd. Shout out to the meat platter and the fried calamari. At the end of the meal they offer a shot of amaretto!
The space is warm and cozy, the service attentive and caring, giving you that family owned restaurant vibe. Ideal for big groups and parties, booking recommended.
Starters at Andy’s // Photo credit: D. Del Gorge
Leave a comment if you have other RESTAURANTS TO RECOMMEND in London or if you have been to some places on my list! I would love to hear of your dining experiences in London.