As London is one of the most culturally diverse cities in the world, no matter what type of food you wish to try out, you can find it here. Thai, Chinese, Italian, Indian and more cuisines can be found in all quarters of the city. And many are well within the range of the budget traveller.
Like so many things in London, the West End is where you will find many of its restaurants. The streets of Soho are peppered with restaurants, around streets such as Old Compton Street and Wardour Street. Not far from here you will find London’s Chinatown which is teeming with restaurants and where there are loads of bargains to be found. And London’s famous Leicester Square is where to find those kebab shops open at 2am.
If you want to get off the tourist trail without going too far from the West End, there are many options. Beside Liverpool Street Station is Brick Lane which is famous for it’s curry houses, and north of the city centre are both Islington and Camden. Further west, where you will also find many of London’s hostels, is Queensbury Way.
And finally, if you want to sample local specialties when in the city, there are two you must try. First is ‘bangers (sausages) and mash’ and second is ‘fish and chips’. Granted, they’re not the healthiest meals in the world, but they are extremely enjoyable.
62 Great Russell Street, London, England
Conveniently located right across the road from the British Museum, the Forum Café is a sandwhich bar that is a cut above the rest in Central London. Choose from a variety of sandwich fillings that are made on deliciously fresh bread.
Open Mon-Sat 8am-7pm.
Neal Street, Covent Garden, London, England
Found on a pedestrianised, cobbled street in one of London’s trendiest areas, the food in Frank’s is extremely affordable and the proprietors have yet to take advantage of their exclusive location. Here you can choose from a range of sandwiches beginning at around £2.50. Add an extra pound on top of that for a panini, and if you want something more adequate you can treat yourself to a full hot meal for around the £5.
Open Mon-Sat 7.30am-7.30pm; food starts at £2.50.
50 Earlham Street/29b Shelton Street, Covent Garden, London, England
Belgo Centraal is a popular, Belgian-themed restaurant located in London’s trendy Covent Garden area. Waiters donned in traditional monk’s habbits bring Belgian specialities such as wild boar and sausage and duck leg to the hundreds who pour through its doors every day. Most main courses will set you back around £9 or £10, but the best time to visit this eatery is in the evening. Main courses during their express lunch served between 12 noon and 5pm cost £5.95, while pay a visit between 5-6.30pm (Mon-Fri) and you’ll pay the price at the time shown on your order for a selection of meals.
Open Mon-Thurs 12 noon-11.30, Fri & Sat 12 noon-12 midnight, Sunday 12 noon-10.30pm; food starts at £9 for mains.
47 Villers Street, (beside Embankment tube station), London, England
Opening its doors to the public in 1890, Gordon's is thought to be the oldest wine bar in London. Step in and you feel like you have just stepped back in time, as this bar/eatery even has sawdust on the floor. The food served is traditional English 'pub grub' and is guaranteed to fill.
Open Mon-Sat 11am-11pm; 12pm-10pm on Sun; meals starts at £4.
48 Brushfield St, London, England
According to the S+M Café, sausage and mashed potato is 'the world's no. 1 comfort food'. This could be discussed at length, but there is no denying that the sausages dished out here all day are devilishly tasty. Choose from 'lamb and mint', 'traditional' and other types of sausage and compliment them with traditional mash and gravy. They also do a mean breakfast for £4.95.
Open daily from 8am-10pm.
47 Endell Street, Covent Garden, London, England
Rock & Sole Plaice claims to be the oldest surviving fish and chip shop in London and is open since 1871. Whatever the case, it's certainly the best place in the centre of town to sample the national dish.
Open Mon-Sat 11.30am-11.30pm; 12pm-10pm Sun; fish & chips £5.75 (take away) or £8 (sit down).
21 Lisle Street, Chinatown, London, England
The setting may lack glamour and elbow room, but Mr Kong's menu is one of Chinatown's most enticing, with rarely found Cantonese specials such as sautèed pea-shoots with dried scallops.
Meals are served between noon and 3am daily. Meals start at £7.
Open daily from 12 noon to 2.45am.
1 Tavistock Street, Covent Garden, London, England
This spotlessly clean Japanese noodle restaurant is always a favourite for a quick bite thanks to its informal atmosphere and healthy option menu. Due to the communal type sitting you never know who you might meet when grabbing a bite to eat here.
Open Mon-Sat 12pm-11pm, Sunday 12.30pm-10pm; dishes start at £6.
The Covent Garden restaurant is one of 22 scattered throughout the city. Others can be found in Leicester Square, Islington and Camden.