London, UK is a world’s top travel destinations. Covent Garden, Soho and Westminster are some of its most popular tourist areas, but if you want to see like the real Londoners live and eat great cheap food away from the tourist crowds the East End of London is really worth a visit.
East London is well known for its many chip shops and curry houses, but if you are looking for a bit of variety (and traveling on a budget) here are a few suggestions of where to start: five cheap and tasty East End eats that aren’t fish and chips or curry!
1. Tas Firin (109 Bethnal Green Road)
Tas Firin, just off Brick Lane, offers a wide selection of Turkish food. Everything I’ve had there has been delicious – especially the lamb kofka and pides (a kind of Turkish style pizza). The hummus and mezes are also great and there’s also a big choice for vegetarians. The food is made in front of you in this licensed family-run restaurant, and the service has always been great. It’s quite popular so there can be queues at weekends. Get there early and sit in the window to watch passers-by before the rush begins!
2. The Stingray Globe Café (109 Columbia Rd.)
The Stingray Globe Café, does big pizzas for £5!! There’s a wide range of toppings and styles of pizza (the calzones are always delicious), complimented by a good selection of cocktails as well. There’s plenty of seating – inside and out. Its Columbia Road location means that it gets pretty busy on Sundays when the flower market is on. Apart from that Columbia Road in general is very quiet so you’re pretty much always guaranteed a seat. If not – they also do take away.
3. Columbia Road market
Columbia Road (but only on Sundays) is worth checking out for breakfast too. There’s a stall amongst the flower stands selling the most mouth-watering breakfast rolls (sandwiches) all day long. Any combination of eggs, bacon and sausage will set you back a mere £3 -£4. This place is pretty well hidden, but it’s worth asking (or, alternatively following the scent) as there is nothing better to eat while you meander round the flower market on a cold Sunday morning.
4. The Prospect of Whitby (57 Wapping Wall)
The Prospect of Whitby is hidden in a much untrodden part of East London. The cobbled streets of Wapping which run along the Thames offer a number of good pubs, but I believe this to be the best. Dating back to 1543, it was a famous meeting place for smugglers. The clientèle these days are often suited types working in the city, meaning it gets pretty busy at during lunchtimes and immediately after work. However, I think it’s worth fighting through the crowds to get a seat on the two-tiered decking looking over the river. Getting here at the right time ensures a really beautiful view of Canary Wharf glittering in the setting sun. The food is quite cheap and tastes great. I’d recommend the nachos every time.
5. Brick Lane Beigel Bakery (159 Brick Lane)
Brick Lane Beigel Bakery, serves a selection of bagel sandwiches and pastries very cheaply. There are people who swear by salt beef, gherkin and mustard bagels and those who prefer a simple cream cheese and smoked salmon. Make your own mind up by checking this place out at any time of day or night as the shop is open 24 hours a day. It’s quite an East End tradition to get a bagel at the end of a night out and maybe this’ll encourage some more adventurous choices of fillings! Can get very busy, but there are always plenty of colourful people in the line with you.