Eating out in central London doesn’t have to be expensive. Here are 5 of my favourite cheap eats – where the food is great but the bill doesn’t make you cringe!
Ma’ Pluckers, Soho
I’m a big fan of American style chicken ‘n’ waffles – Yardbird in Miami is one of my all time favourites. If you’ve never tried fried chicken this way then let me tell you – you are missing out big style!
Ma Plucker’s in Soho really hits the spot this side of the pond and it’s number 1 of the cheap eats. Choose your base – waffle, salad or bun, choose your sauce (my go to is Maple chilli glaze) and then choose how you want your chicken – crispy coated buttermilk dipped, rotisserie style or slow cooked pulled. For a mouth-watering £6-10. Sides are also a must – don’t miss the Crack ‘n’ Cheese which is a huge gooey macaroni cheese ball (see above). Ma’s Slaw is also a winner. You’ll leave with your trousers un-buttoned for sure.
75 Beak Street, London W1F 9SS
Franco Manca’s, Broadway Market
Quite frankly, the best pizza around. And trust me I have tried a lot. Franco Manca began in Brixton Market but now there are more than 20. Broadway Market is my local, so my favourite, and its close proximity to the pub also helps.
The sourdough base really makes the difference here. There’s a small but perfectly formed menu of just 6 toppings such as; Gloucester old spot ham, wild broccoli or organic chorizo priced at £6.95 a pizza tops. Add to that a No Logo craft brewed lager (£3.35) or glass of red wine (£3.75) and you can eat here for around a tenner each. Take away also available and has proved a dangerous habit for me.
52 Broadway Market, London, E8 4QJ
Flat Iron, Soho
Just a few doors down from Ma Plucker’s on Beak Street in Soho is my favourite place to go for steak. My mouth is watering just thinking about it!
The flat iron steak, priced at £10, is the main gig here. It comes beautifully sliced on a wooden board with a cleaver style knife and a small side salad. Get one each, plus a sauce and then order one of each of the sides, like creamed spinach or market greens, as you can see from the picture of the table below – its pretty rammed.
In general I find the no reservations policy of most central London restaurants high on the scale of annoying but at Flat Iron it doesn’t bother me as much. Get there early, a long queue starts to form outside by 6.30pm weekdays, put your name on the list and then you’re free to walk away! They have a handy little system online where you can track your position in the queue. And of course they text to let you know your table is ready.
Flat Iron has 2 soho locations now, and a Covent Garden branch but Beak Street will always be my favourite.
17 Beak St, Soho, London, W1F 9RW
First things first, Viva’s caramel manhattan cocktail (£8.50) is by far the best cocktail I’ve ever had – fig bourbon, Vermouth & caramel and is reason enough for me to visit on repeat. But this small independent Mexican restaurant isn’t just about the drinks, the food is delicious too.
Located on a busy corner in Dalston, Viva is like a treasure trove inside with a very intimate atmosphere. The menu of Mexican street food is great to share tapas style with friends. We always order nachos and guacamole to start, pulled pork blue tacos, caramelised onion or butternut squash quesadillas and spicy oven baked chorizo. Prices around £6-8 a dish so its definitely a winner on the cheap eats scale.
2 Stoke Newington Road, London N16 7XN
Viet Food, Soho
I had long been a fan of the Kingsland Road Vietnamese restaurants until a friend took me here, to Viet Food, telling me the owner used to be head chef at Hakkasan, Mayfair. That was good enough for me. Each dish is fresh and additive free, and also reasonably priced considering it’s tourist-central location in the theatre district.
One of my favourites to order is the betel leaf wrapped grilled beef (£5) followed by Vietnam free range chicken “curry” (£6.80) and rice or the Vietnamese grilled chilli sirloin (£8.80). Cocktails are also a hit.
34-36 Wardour Street, Soho, London W1D 6QT
Let me know if you’ve got any cheap eats to recommend?