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July 5th - London, United Kingdom

Central London: Five Cheap Eats in Soho

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I am an eight-inch travel writer based in London. It's not always easy being a tiny traveller but it's seldom dull. This is a place for me to share my weird and wonderful travel stories with the rest of the world.

Dining in Central London doesn't have to be expensive. Check out these five cheap eats in Soho for great food with tiny price tags.

If you’re looking for cheap eats in Soho then look no further than this list of terrific Central London eateries. From luxurious Lebanese cuisine beside a brothel to sinister meat cleavers and juicy steaks, Soho boasts some of London’s most impressive budget restaurants.

Yalla Yalla – Lebanese Mezze

Back in 2012 Time Out named Yalla Yalla’s luxuriously textured and richly tart sautéed chicken liver with garlic and pomegranate molasses (Sawda Djej) as one of the best 100 dishes in all of London. And since then Lebanese chef/owner Jad Youssef and his wife Aga have proudly plastered the ‘best 100’ badge all over their marketing literature, including the menu, making it almost impossible to visit Yalla Yalla without ordering the chicken liver.

But don’t just visit this Beirut street food joint for the Sawda Djej. The aubergine dip (Baba Ghannoujj) manages to exact the perfect balance between smoky and creamy, the feta and halloumi pastry (Samboussek Jibne) puts the humble cheese and onion pasty to shame and the herby lemon Tabboule salad has a sharpness capable of transporting your taste buds to the Mediterranean.

But this isn’t a luscious yellow citrus orchard in Lebanon; this is a dirty backstreet in Soho. Sure, there’s not much room inside. And sure, you might end up sharing the poky back alley with men standing beside signs for ‘SEXY MODELS UPSTAIRS’. But street food is supposed to be a little rough around the edges and you’ll struggle to find better street food than this.

About £4 per mezze dish. Order 2-3 per person.

1 Green’s Court,

Franco Manca – Neapolitan Pizza

If Naples is the spiritual home of pizza then Franco Manca has to be its official residence in the UK.

Run by the guy who gave London the Neapolitan pizza back in 1987, this mini-chain serves authentic slow-rising sourdough pizzas at temptingly low prices. Artisans from Naples are shipped over to build specialised ovens, which blast the pizzas and their locally sourced toppings with 500 degrees of heat for 60-90 seconds. The result is a deliciously soft and elastic chewy-but-charred-in-places base, topped with sweet tomato sauce, rich and creamy buffalo mozzarella and aromatic basil leaves. Staples such as chorizo, capers, olives, anchovies and mushrooms are also available to decorate the dish.

£5.90 for a margherita pizza.

51 Berwick Street, W1F 8SJ

Flat Iron – Steak

If you’re the kind of person who gets overwhelmed by the number of different breads you can buy in a supermarket or the seemingly endless choice of lampshades on offer in Ikea then Flat Iron could be the place for you. There’s something strangely satisfying about a full-page menu with only one item on it: steak.

The flat iron is a tasty but economical cut of beef. It is cooked to order and then served pre-sliced on a rustic stone chopping board with a little pot of green leaves. All the regulars – chips, creamed spinach, peppercorn sauce etc. – are also available to complement the meal. Almost as impressive as the tender juicy meat is the classy-yet-sinister looking meat cleaver they provide to eat it with.

£10 for a steak. I know it’s a little more than others on the list but come on. It’s a tenner. For steak. In Soho.

17 Beak Street,

Thai Cottage – Stir-fries and Curries

This little family-run Thai restaurant serves up great-tasting stir-fries and curries at affordable prices.

The interior design – bright red walls, large canvassed pictures of pink orchards and snowflake-like metal fascias – is not going to have Laurence Llewelyn-Bowen losing any sleep at night but it certainly won’t detract from the food. The coconut curries have a nice kick to them but are not so strong as to overpower the fragrant herbs and the noodle dishes have a subtle nutty flavour, which makes them wonderfully moreish.

All in all a very agreeable experience and a great way to lunch for less during the week.

£5.50 for the lunch menu.

34 D’Arblay Street,


Honest Burgers – …

British restaurants sold a whopping 1.35 billion burgers last year but it is unlikely that many of those patties were anywhere near as tasty as the 35-day, dry-aged British steak known as the Honest Burger.

This responsibly sourced burger joint takes the recent trend of ‘posh fast food’ and sticks it in a sweet brioche bun to be served alongside rosemary fries and a can of hoppy craft ale. But be warned: this place is no secret and the queues can run for close to an hour on the weekend. Luckily, they have a clever SMS system that allows you to sink a pint in a nearby bar whilst you wait for your table. This way you won’t irritate the neighbours by standing outside like a zombie with drips of food-envy-drool dripping from your mouth.

£8.50 for a beef burger and chips.

4a Meard Street,

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