Updated: Sep 27
Ali Earl Gray shares with us her favourite spots for delicious food which won't break the bank.
Right next to Arsenal football stadium (don't let this put you off) Xi'an is a tiny little restaurant serving the most delicious hand-pulled noodles, potstickers (fried dumplings) and steamed dumpling. Everything tastes fresh and not your classic china town 'Chinese'. Don't miss the smacked cucumber, sounds like an unnecessary side but it cuts through everything!
Potentially the best pizza in London (in my humble but extensively researched opinion). You need to book this tiny little restaurant as its packed every night! Just off Newington Green, you are spoilt for choice for lovely pubs to have a pre/post pizza pint.
Koya serves Udon noddles - hot or cold, tempura and some rice dishes. Great for a solo lunch as its only bar seats and no bookings. You can look into the open kitchen where they make and cook the noodles in front of you. Very much no-frills this feels like an authentic Japanese restaurant. My favoured dish is the Hiyashi Ten - cold udon noodles with dipping sauce and tempura - flavoursome and filling!
Maybe not the cheapest of cheap eats, but set in Brixton village market the quality of food coming out of this tiny restaurant is exceptional. Get down there for 'Nduja croquettes with aioli' and try some of the most delicious low intervention, organic and biodynamic wines - they have a wine shop next door, so if something tickles your fancy you can pick up a bottle to take home!
We are spoilt for choice for great burgers in London, but I think Bleeker is the best, very much a fast-food restaurant, you wouldn't go there for a long drawn out first date! But I would recommend if you are hungry and in need a good great, simple burger. Some say one just isn't enough. There are a few around London, but South wise - head to Southbank.
The most Italian feeling restaurant this side of East London! For a big bowl of pasta, a nice glass on wine and prime people-watching seats looking over Columbia road flower market you can't wish for more. The inside seating is also lovely, each room feels like a different restaurant, no dud dishes!
Either Clapton or Victoria Park. In Victoria Park don't expect great/quick service but do expect incredible dumplings (does what it says on the tin) and some great braised pork belly and sticky chicken wings. In Clapton they have a unique outdoor space called the hanging garden that you can rent out (pre COVID times) in groups of 8 - 40 and offering the most incredible £25 set menu, you get everything on the menu. You can comfortably leave £40 poorer full of great food and more than enough drinks!
Ali and I quote said 'I am so sorry, but I never eat out in West London - except for Kricket.' So I thought I'd take over from here as I am West born and bred.
Ida in Kensal Rise is one of my favourite restaurants in London. It has been home to more birthday parties than I can remember. Which is no surprise as the food is delicious and unpretentious, and the same can be said for the wine list. All this and a setting I would like happily move into. Any date nights in the future - make this your go-to.
Let's end on a British classic, Fish & Chips. However, Kerbisher & Malt isn't your usual chippy. It is sleek, smart without losing that je ne sais quoi of a fish and chip shop. The fish is sourced sustainably & cooked to order so no drying out under orange lights & the chips are all made on-site with the with locally sourced potatoes. All that and it has 'Fish Finger Butty' on the menu - what more could you want.