16 Ways To Eat Cheap At Restaurants In London and Across England

May 16, 2018

You don’t need to spend a fortune to eat well in Britain. Here are 16 tips to ensure maximum taste on minimum budget

1. Save money on Mondays

Monday is Britain’s quietest dining night, so restaurants offer deals aplenty. Top picks include Hawksmoor’s Monday Wine Club, where diners can bring their own booze to pair with sizzling steak in London and Manchester for a £5 fee (normally £25 per bottle). Prego serves Monday night pizzas for £6.95 and the Yo! Sushi offers 45 plates for £2.90 each every Monday at restaurants across the country.


2. Pig out in pubs

Along with cosy fires, real ales and cider, a reliable constant in most British pubs is hearty grub. Ranging from approximately £7 to £15 for a main course (depending on whether you’re in a traditional ‘boozer’ or a fancier gastropub) the plates are almost always stacked satisfyingly high.

3. It pays to eat early

Many British restaurants have offpeak periods with fixed-price, ‘early bird’ or pre-theatre set menus. In Inverness in Scotland, consider the two-course pre-theatre menu at the Glenmoriston Town House Hotel’s brasserie, which overlooks the River Ness. With dishes like Highland steak and Shetland mussels on the menu between 5pm and 6.30pm, the two-course deal is a steal at £14.95.

4. Enjoy Michelin-starred lunches

At the Michelin-starred Simpsons in Birmingham, the three-course lunch menu is just £45 including wine, whereas the evening menu will set you back £60, excluding wine. In London, indulge in a two-course lunch at Peruvian hotspot, Lima, for £23, which is less than some of the main dishes alone on the evening menu.

5. Use discount websites

Sign up to OpenTable for access to special offers – including half-price deals – at eateries across Britain. Lastminute.com has pages dedicated to ‘Offers under £20’ and ‘Top 10 Restaurant Deals’. Moneysavingexpert.com highlights Britain-wide deals and specific family offers.

6. Brunch it up

Consuming a big brunch can remove the need for lunch. In Oxford, an hour’s train ride from London, the brunch menu at Oxfork features pancakes and organically-sourced egg dishes. In Cardiff, The Pot serves its extensive brunch menu – including a breakfast wrap of scrambled eggs and chorizo with a Mexican.

7. Go veggie

Vegetarian restaurants are often cheaper than their carnivorous counterparts, and Britain boasts some excellent options. Try Nottingham’s not-for-profit Crocus Café, where main meals will set you back around £5 or £6 or, The Warehouse Café in Birmingham, where the award-winning dishes cost no more than £8.95. Happy Cow, an online directory of global veggie restaurants, has more than 1,700 British listings.

8 Dine in London for £10

One of London’s ultimate bargain restaurant is Brasserie Zédel, just off Piccadilly Circus. The vast, Art Deco-style basement dining room looks chic and offers a two-course fixed-price menu for only £10.50.

9. Bring Your Own (BYO)

One of the biggest dining costs is alcohol. Remove corkage fees by eating at one of Britain’s many bring-your-own (BYO) establishments including Wheeler’s Oyster Bar, the oldest restaurant in the Kent town of Whitstable, 50 miles east of London, and The Company Shed, a family-run seafood stalwart in Colchester, 50 miles north east of London.

10. Eat Michelin-starred pub grub

Britain’s only Michelin-starred pub, the Hand & Flowers in Marlow, sits on a bend of the River Thames just one hour from London by train. Fill up on two delicious courses from top British chef, Tom Kerridge for just £25.

11. Eat fish, fresh off the boat

For the freshest, cheapest seafood, eat in Britain’s seaside towns. In Topsham just outside Exeter, The Galley is one of Britain’s finest coastal restaurants and serves a set lunch from just £13.50.

12. Use vouchers

Let companies like Groupon, Living Social, Wowcher and Travelzoo do the hard work for you by sending restaurant deals straight to your inbox.

13. Check out Chinatown

Chinatowns across Britain offer bargain dinner options. In Birmingham, the New Sum Ye diner serves three roast meats – lacquered duck, crispy pork belly and tasty char sui – with delicate rice and bok choi for less than £10.

14. Try award-winning and affordable

Bib Gourmands are awarded by Michelin to restaurants that offer good food for no more than £28 per three courses. Top picks include the Green Café in Ludlow, Shropshire and The Restaurant at The Seaview Hotel on the Isle of Wight.

15. Try High-end, low prices

High-end restaurants usually come with sky-high price tags but pick wisely and you can dine on fancy fare for less. Lido Restaurant in Bristol (overlooking an outdoor public swimming pool) provides a quirky setting from which to enjoy a three-course meal for just £20. London’s Criterion Restaurant is a decadent dining room strung with chandeliers that serves a two-course meal for £29.

15. Eat fish and chips

For a truly British dining experience, order battered cod or haddock and chunky chips. It’ll be cheap (typically £5 – £6) and generously-sized. With an estimated 10,000 shops across the country, you’re never far away from a fish and chip fix.