“Top 100 brilliant budget restaurants,” “Eat on the cheap,” “Awesome eats for a fiver.” As a city, London is obsessed with finding a bargain. Especially at a time when there’s barely any change from £20 for avocado on toast and a latte. But the increasing importance of terms like ‘budget’ and ‘cheapness’ brings with it some problems. What is a cheap eat: something that costs £20 for a meal? £10 for a lunch? £5 for a snack? This fixation on price means that the “cheap eats” can be relegated to a lower rung than more feted restaurants — best of the rest, a last resort for that last weekend before pay day.
But cheapness can be suggestive of other, more important qualities too. It suggests value — a virtue in scarce supply in a city of rising rents and costs. It suggests generosity, and the primacy of the idea that a restaurant should feed its guests rather than impress them. It suggests community, for those cafes and restaurants which have chosen to serve the needs of the local — often a working class or immigrant — population, particularly during coronavirus lockdown when a polo-mint economy gave restaurants outside the centre a new relevancy.
The Eater London 38 is a guide to the most innovative and essential restaurants in London, the restaurants that have turned London into a destination food city and the most vital place to eat out in Europe. The following list of restaurants is essential in another way: for Londoners, these restaurants span all the neighbourhoods and cuisines that define the city. They’re the places to visit two, three times a week for cooking that tends towards home and comfort. They’re reminders that sometimes great value just means ... Great.Read More