When Pay Day Seems a Lightyear Away…

When Pay Day Seems a Lightyear Away…

As we all know while London life may not be getting any cheaper, its appetite for great value food has never been bigger. With the cost of rent and travel taking ever-growing bites out of our salaries, knowing where to find London’s best budget restaurants is more important than ever.

Some of the venues in the list below have been around for ages, while others have popped up mere weeks ago. What they all have in common in a dedication to serving excellent food at extremely fair prices.


A short walk from Oxford Circus, all-veggie Ethos is a self-serve buffet where you pay by weight (of the food, not yourself). At lunch £2.50 buys 100g of nourishment (£2.70 per 100g at dinner). The daily offerings might include dishes inspired by Japan, South-east Asia, Italy, Korea, India, Mexico and Lebanon, plus the kitchen’s own creations. Rather than worrying about whether Thai sweetcorn fritters go with Tuscan salad, you should surrender to a world tour – a mini-adventure in flavour, colour and texture. Though this is primarily a lunch spot, the drinks list includes three beers and a dozen wines. Keenly priced, vegetarian, great West End location – Ethos has it all

Apollo Banana Leaf

Disco lights twinkle round the door, cheap wall art depicts idyllic mountain scenes, but it’s the cooking that attracts devotees of fiery food to this modest Tooting restaurant. The prices are divertingly low (especially when you factor in the BYO policy), and spice levels are at authentic Jaffna levels: so prepare to face the heat. Street food snacks (‘short eats’) include croquette-like mutton rolls with clove-spiked meat fillings. Follow them with typically Sri Lankan string-hopper dishes (featuring rounds of steamed vermicelli noodles), or rich, warmly spiced crab masala – claws and all. Worth getting messy for (NB: unlicensed; no corkage charge).


Consistently the busiest restaurant in this most Turkish of locales, Gökyüzü retains its position as the go-to venue on Green Lanes for Turkish cuisine. Portions are generous, bordering on the reckless, for exceptional cooking. Start with the huge ‘small’ mixed meze served with bread from the wood-fired oven: highlights being a sprightly kısır loaded with mint and spring onion, a haydari rich with dill, and a fresh-tasting soslu patlıcan (grilled aubergine with tomato sauce). Continue with a kebab, or güveç (lamb and aubergine casserole) stewed to tender perfection in an earthenware pot. Occasionally rushed service, a large utilitarian interior and a limited wine list barely detract from the excellent food