Cheap Eats in London: Six Best Sandwich Shops for Budget Travelers
Cheap Eats in London: Six Best Sandwich Shops for Budget Travelers - The Classic Fish 'n Chips
No trip to London is complete without indulging in the classic British staple of fish and chips. This hearty, fried meal has been popular in England since the 1860s, and locals and tourists alike still flock to chippies all over London to get their fix of piping hot fish and crispy chips.
Fish and chips makes for a cheap and filling meal. A basic fish and chips platter costs just £5-10 at most spots in London. For that reasonable price, you'll be served a hearty portion of flaky white fish deep fried in batter and a pile of thick-cut chips fried to golden perfection. This classic combo hits the spot when you're looking to fill up without emptying your wallet.
Some of the best fish and chip shops in London are local institutions that have been serving customers for decades. At the 19th-century Poppie's in Spitalfields, and at the Golden Union in Soho which opened in the 1930s, you'll feel like you've stepped back in time when waiting in line for their legendary fare. Other renowned chippies include The Fryer's Delight in Holborn, where the fish is sustainably sourced, and Toff's in Muswell Hill, which uses beef dripping for extra crispy chips.
If you want to eat your fish and chips like a true Londoner, head to one of the city's green spaces. Grab your meal to go, and enjoy an impromptu picnic in the grass at Hyde Park, Regent's Park, or along the South Bank of the Thames. Bring a blanket, order some malt vinegar to drizzle on your fish and chips, and soak up the sunshine and views.
Fish and chips may seem simple, but it takes skill to get it just right. The fish needs to be fried at a high heat so the batter becomes ultra crispy without making the fish inside soggy and overcooked. And the chips should be thick-cut potatoes fried until fluffy inside and crunchy outside. When done well, the contrast of the juicy fish and starchy potatoes is hard to beat.
What else is in this post?
- Cheap Eats in London: Six Best Sandwich Shops for Budget Travelers - The Classic Fish 'n Chips
- Cheap Eats in London: Six Best Sandwich Shops for Budget Travelers - Indian Street Food for Pennies
- Cheap Eats in London: Six Best Sandwich Shops for Budget Travelers - Grab a Bite at Borough Market
- Cheap Eats in London: Six Best Sandwich Shops for Budget Travelers - Pret A Manger: Affordable and Fresh
- Cheap Eats in London: Six Best Sandwich Shops for Budget Travelers - Best Sandwiches at Supermarkets
- Cheap Eats in London: Six Best Sandwich Shops for Budget Travelers - Local Pubs: More Than Just Beer
- Cheap Eats in London: Six Best Sandwich Shops for Budget Travelers - Quick Turkish Kebabs On The Go
- Cheap Eats in London: Six Best Sandwich Shops for Budget Travelers - Picnic in the Park on a Budget
Cheap Eats in London: Six Best Sandwich Shops for Budget Travelers - Indian Street Food for Pennies
London boasts a vibrant Indian food scene, with aromatic curries available at upscale restaurants across the city. But for cheap, authentic Indian grub, head to the street food stalls and tiny cafes clustered around Brick Lane and Southall. At these no-frills eateries, you can sample classic Indian street snacks for just pennies per plate.
Samosas and pakoras are classic Indian fried snacks available dirt cheap throughout London. Samosas are triangles of pastry stuffed with spiced potatoes, onions, peas and more. Pakoras are fritters made from chopped veggies like onion or spinach dipped in a chickpea flour batter and then deep fried. An order of a few samosas or pakoras costs £1-2. Pair them with a cup of sweet masala chai for a satisfying snack.
Another Mumbai street food favourite is vada pav, introduced to London by Indian immigrants. Vada pav consists of a spiced potato fritter sandwiched between slices of soft white bread and garnished with chutneys. You'll find vendors serving vada pav at street stalls and hole-in-the-wall cafes for around £2-3.
For an on-the-go breakfast, try pav bhaji. This dish features a thick vegetable curry served with soft bread rolls called pav for dipping. Pav bhaji costs just a few pounds at most street food spots. Or opt for bread pakora—slices of white bread dipped in a chickpea flour batter and fried until crispy on the outside yet fluffy inside. It's the ideal snack to start your day.
At lunchtime, stop by a street stall for a plate of pani puri. These bite-sized crispy shells are filled with potatoes, chickpeas, onions, spices and mint water that bursts into your mouth when you pop the whole puri in and bite. An order of six pani puris generally goes for around £3. The tasty and fun-to-eat snack makes for a refreshing midday pick-me-up.
In the evenings, join the crowds thronging to Southall's "Little India" for delicious yet affordable curries served streetside. Vendors dish out fragrant chicken tikka masala, baingan bharta (mashed roasted eggplant), and more. You can easily get a full meal for under £5 if you avoid the fancier restaurants. Go for the street food stalls where you can eat elbow-to-elbow picnic style on makeshift benches and save pounds with every bite.
Cheap Eats in London: Six Best Sandwich Shops for Budget Travelers - Grab a Bite at Borough Market
No foodie visiting London should miss Borough Market, a lively and historic food hall stuffed with over 100 vendors selling artisanal treats and street eats from all over the world. But while you could easily drop your daily budget on decadent cheeses, meats and baked goods, it’s quite possible to sample the market’s bounty without breaking the bank. You just need to know where to look.
For a quick and cheap bite, head to the Market Halls and peruse the countless takeaway stalls whipping up sandwiches, salads and more. Pick up a falafel wrap bursting with crisp veggies and tahini sauce from The Falafel Shop for £6. Their massive falafel platters with multiple salads and dips can easily feed two and go for just £10. Or grab a superfood sald from Rubies in the Rubble - we love their Kale Caesar made with kale pesto, toasted nuts and chickpeas for £5.50.
Another budget-friendly option is Piebury Corner, serving hearty British pies for around £5-6. Their chicken, leek and ham pie makes for a satisfying lunch, while Indian-inspired options like the chicken tikka pie offer fun multicultural flair. If you’re craving something sweet, Dark Sugars Bazaar doles out thick Belgian waffles topped with scoops of gelato for just £5 - perfect for an afternoon treat.
For an inexpensive hot meal, check out the street food vendors lining the perimeter of the market. At Bleecker Burger, their freshly grilled patties on brioche buns start at £7, while vegetarians will love the Impossible Burger. GAIL’s serves steaming boxes of paella for £9.50 a pop. Grab a box of aromatic Caribbean curry and rice from Carnaval del Pueblo for £7. And Lombok’s Satay Hut plates up authentic Indonesian satay with peanut sauce and rice cakes for just £9.
Cheap Eats in London: Six Best Sandwich Shops for Budget Travelers - Pret A Manger: Affordable and Fresh
When your stomach starts grumbling in London but your budget is already stretched thin, Pret A Manger can be a wallet-friendly savior. This popular sandwich chain started in London in the 1980s and now has over 530 locations worldwide, with most concentrated across the UK and USA. At Pret, freshly prepared sandwiches, salads and more are ready to grab and go starting at just a few quid each.
Pret keeps prices low by avoiding table service and wait staff. Instead, food is prepared in open kitchens for customers to take to go or enjoy at casual counter seating. Menu items are made fresh daily with quality ingredients. And thanks to the high foot traffic and quick turnover in busy cities like London, nothing sits around for long before being sold.
When scanning the menu boards at Pret, sandwiches are typically the best value at around £2.99-£4.49. Options range from classic combos like the tuna and cucumber or chicken caesar to international flavors like the Mexican chicken or New York club. All come on Pret's signature breads baked fresh in-house daily. The generously stuffed sandwiches could easily be split between two light eaters.
Salads are another smart choice at around £3.49-£4.99 a pop. Pret offers creative combinations like the Posh Cheddar and Avocado or Thai Chicken options along with nutrition-packed picks like the Super Green salad topped with kale, spinach and wheatgrass. Hearty sides like the Lentil, Quinoa & Mint Pot or Moroccan Couscous & Kale Pot will further fill you up for under £3.
To quench your thirst on the cheap, standard bottled sodas, juices and waters are under £2. But Pret also offers fresh fruit smoothies for around £3-4 made with your choice of fruit, yogurt and apple juice. Fill up a reusable water bottle at the complimentary filtered water stations too.
When an afternoon slump hits, grab a quick pick-me-up without blowing your budget. Pret's cookies, brownies and snack bags of potato chips start at under £1. Muffins and scones are £1.25 each. And croissants with jam are £1.75 for a tasty pastry fix.
Cheap Eats in London: Six Best Sandwich Shops for Budget Travelers - Best Sandwiches at Supermarkets
When you're watching your wallet in London but need to grab a quick meal on the go, supermarket prepared foods can really save the day. Grocery stores across the city stock grab-and-go sandwiches, salads and more at prices that won't break your budget. With so many options, it can be tough to know which chains offer the best bang for your buck. I did some investigating to uncover the top supermarket sandwiches for budget travelers in London.
According to many savvy locals, Marks & Spencer is a go-to for fresh, affordable sandwiches to take away. Their extensive selection includes both classic and gourmet combinations for around £2.50-4 per sandwich. Keep an eye out for meal deals where you get a sandwich, snack and drink bundled for £3.50-5. Can't decide between the Chipotle Chicken or Ploughman's Crunch options? The meal deal lets you mix and match so you can sample a few for cheap.
Tesco is another favorite supermarket for sandwiches on a budget. Their £3 meal deal gets you any sandwich, drink and treat. I'm partial to the Chicken Bacon Ranch on malted brown bread and the Hoisin Duck wraps. And for only £1.50, Tesco's basic range offers solid sandwich options like Egg Mayo, Tuna Mayo and Cheddar & Pickle for when funds are extremely low.
At Sainsbury's, look for the Cou Cou brand which offers quality sandwiches at just £1.25 each.Fill up on underrated combos like the Cou Cou Chicken, Bacon & Stuffing on malted bread. And keep an eye out for £2.50 meal deals that pair a Cou Cou sandwich with a snack and drink.
For epic sandwich creations, head to Waitrose where gourmet varieties stuffed with high-end fillings run £2.60-5. A favorite is the Waitrose BLT with Wiltshire cured bacon, beef tomato, salad and aioli on malted bread. Vegetarians rave about the grilled halloumi and roasted red pepper ciabatta. And at only £2.60, the prawn and dill mayo on brown is an indulgent bargain.
Cheap Eats in London: Six Best Sandwich Shops for Budget Travelers - Local Pubs: More Than Just Beer
Far too often, visitors dismiss London's pubs as mere watering holes for lager louts. But local pubs offer so much more than just pints of beer. They serve as community hubs where both tourists and residents can soak up an authentic slice of English culture for the price of a cheap meal and a drink.
Pop into a cozy neighborhood pub around dinnertime, and you’ll likely find it buzzing with groups of friends meeting up for a bite. The menu will feature classic British fare like bangers and mash, shepherd’s pie, fish and chips, and more hearty dishes for under £10. Veggie options like cheese and potato pie or toad in the hole cater to non-meat eaters. And Sunday roasts with Yorkshire pudding remain a weekly tradition at many local pubs.
Pub grub provides an affordable way to sample true British cooking without paying sky-high prices at tourist traps. Meals are often served from midday onwards, making them a wallet-friendly option for both lunch and dinner. Portion sizes tend to be generous as well. Order some garlic bread or homemade soup for the table to share, and one dish could easily feed two light eaters or provide leftovers.
While you tuck in to comforting classics, admire the charming, historic decor that makes British pubs so atmospheric. Many retain original features like wood beams, stone walls, candlelit fireplaces and antique furniture, transporting you back in time. Outdoors, sprawling beer gardens allow you to dine alfresco when the weather cooperates.
Stick around after eating to mingle with the locals and sip reasonably priced draft cask ales, lagers and ciders. Playing darts, shuffleboard or billiards alongside regulars is a great way to meet new people. Live music, comedy and quiz nights provide free, festive entertainment to enjoy over a pint.
Cheap Eats in London: Six Best Sandwich Shops for Budget Travelers - Quick Turkish Kebabs On The Go
London is dotted with quick and delicious Turkish kebab shops, perfect for hungry travelers on a tight budget. These grab-and-go spots churn out piping hot kebabs wrapped in rich flatbread and stuffed with savory meats and veggies for just a few pounds per portion. The kebabs fill you up quickly so you can refuel without draining your wallet.
Turkish immigrants have been dishing up kebabs in London since the 1960s and 70s when many came to the UK as migrant workers. Today, you’ll find kebab shops sprinkled across various neighborhoods, though areas like Hackney, Stoke Newington and Haringey boast a particularly high density. Doner kebab is the most classic and common variety – shaved roasted lamb and beef layered in soft flatbread with tangy sauce and fresh salad. But you’ll also find chicken, falafel and other fillings to suit most tastes.
“I never leave London without my Almost Famous doner kebab in Soho,” gushes Dan, a frequent visitor. “The meat is so flavorful and tender. And less than a fiver for a whole meal – can’t beat it!” He recommends the mixed meat doner wrapped in fluffy pita bread with garlic and chili sauce. Pair it with some crispy fries for under £7 total.
Other favorites around town include MeatLiquor for late night doners, and What The Pitta which stuffs kebabs in pillowy pitta pockets then tops them with unique sauces like mango chili or smoked garlic. The chicken shawarma at Temple of Seitan is a must for vegetarians and vegans – their meat-free kebabs actually taste like juicy meat!
When looking for an easy yet satisfying meal that is kind to my bank account, I am never disappointed by the Turkish kebabs all over London. The convenience of being able to just walk right up to the counter and grab a piping hot kebab in mere minutes makes them ideal for hungry travelers on the move. And starting around £2.50 for a basic doner, they provide plenty of flavor at a price I can afford, even on a tight budget. I like to customize my order with extras like fries or rice for a heartier meal, plus some tangy chilli or garlic sauce, all while still keeping the total bill under £5 in most spots. If I want something lighter, I’ll get just a doner wrap which runs about £3-4 on its own.
Cheap Eats in London: Six Best Sandwich Shops for Budget Travelers - Picnic in the Park on a Budget
London is home to many sprawling green spaces perfect for an impromptu picnic. Pack up some simple snacks, spread out a blanket in a grassy park, and soak up the sunshine without draining your travel budget.
In posh Primrose Hill, groups of friends congregate with picnic hampers and bottles of wine. But you don’t need a fancy Fortnum & Mason wicker to picnic on a budget. At grocery stores like Tesco and M&S, assemble a picnic feast on the cheap. Crusty baguettes, cheese, and grapes or cherry tomatoes make a classic French-inspired spread. Or opt for finger sandwiches, veggie sticks and hummus, and some juicy fruit for sweetness. Meal deal bundles that include a sandwich, snack and drink start around £3.
Regent’s Park offers lots of scenic spots to picnic under the roses in Queen Mary’s Gardens or alongside the boating lake. Pack your purchases from the nearby Waitrose for easy access. In pot-friendly Hyde Park, clusters of friends share meals and joints sprawled on blankets by the Serpentine. Pick up falafel wraps, samosas and mango lassis from the White City underground station to sample flavours of India as you chill.
If you’re already touring Greenwich, stock up on goodies at the market. Grab and go hot salt beef bagels from Greenwich Peninsula Food Market or put together a DIY grazing platter from the cheese, bread and charcuterie vendors. Then head down the hill to unfurl your blanket on the lush lawns of Greenwich Park with unbeatable views of the city skyline.
Over in Hampstead Heath, one of London’s wildest green spaces, the sprawling fields host everything from lively football matches to serene sunbathers. Pick up a hearty premade sandwich deal at M&S Simply Food by the tube station. Or forage for berries and edible flowers growing throughout the heath to create a landscape-inspired DIY spread.
In East London, snag vada pav, samosas and fresh mango juice from the street food stalls of Brick Lane. Head to funky Shoreditch Park to picnic surrounded by street art. South of the river in Peckham Rye Park, grab Nigerian meat pies and Isle of Wight tomatoes from East Dulwich’s Nour Cash & Carry to enjoy in the grassy bowl beneath hilltop views.