Who said romance has to break the bank? These five budget-friendly restaurants in the big smoke are perfect for those looking to treat loved ones this Valentine’s Day without breaking a sweat.
Remember to book train tickets to London Paddington in advance to get the best travel deals.
6 Southwark Street, SE1
Nothing says ‘I love you’ like a lip-smacking plate of pasta. Padella in Borough Market is the place to take yours truly if you’re in the mood for top-notch gnocchi, ravioli or tagliarini.
Expect fresh ribbons of pasta swimming in sumptuous sauces, such as the pappardelle mixed with slow cooked Dexter beef shin ragu. Pasta prices start from as little as £4 and work their way up to £12.50 for a main dish: pretty good if you ask us.
The restaurant is atmospheric and cosy (super small). There’s a no booking policy here so you’ll have to join the queue to snag a seat. Get there early before opening hours – queues can form 30 minutes pre-opening and the restaurant accepts the first 60 people in line.
Nearest underground: London Bridge
10 Charlotte Street, W1T
For some seriously kickin’ Korean cuisine in London, head to Bibimbap on Charlotte Street (just one of the restaurant’s three locations with venues in Soho and Leadenhall too). Their signature dish is also their namesake – Bibimbap – delicious bowls of rice topped with scrumptious veggies, meat and an egg, if desired.
You can customise the type of bowl you eat, which adds to the fun, and the menu side dishes are equally as tasty. The seats in the restaurant are close together and the service is quick, so this is an ideal lunch-spot to treat your Valentine. Most main dishes will give you change from a tenner: what’s not to like?
Nearest underground: Oxford Circus
5 Stable Street, N1C
Add some spice to your love life (oo-er) with dinner at Dishoom. With five restaurant locations in London, this Bombay-inspired eatery is an institution in the capital. The King’s Cross branch is extra classy, with a unique and colourful interior that shows off the exposed brick walls, urban steelwork and monochrome tiles at their finest.
If your budget is tight, the small plates are a great option. Enjoy buttery buns filled with minced lamb and peas and warm, rich vegetable samosas from just £4.20. Like Padella you’ll need to join the queue in order to bag a table, but that’s all part of the fun, right?
Nearest underground: King’s Cross
94 Waterford Road, SW6
Armed with a wood-fired oven and fresh dough that a Neapolitan pizza master would be proud of, Santa Maria is the place to go for slices of the good stuff. The pizzas are crispy-thin with puffed crusts and toppings sure to send you to seventh heaven. Their new vegan menu is especially popular, and with prices for a very sizeable pizza averaging between £10-£12, you can’t go wrong.
Nearest underground: Fulham Broadway
20 Sherwood Street, W1F
Ooh la la, Brasserie Zédel is where it’s at if you’re looking for a deliciously affordable meal with a side of je ne sais quoi. The restaurant decor is even more impressive than the menu with an opulent Art Deco interior that is fancy and charming without being posh.
When it comes to the food, you’ll find authentic French dishes including chicken chausseur and steak tartare. The pièce de résistance is without doubt the prix fixe menu, which offers two courses for £10.95 or three courses for £14.25.
Nearest underground: Piccadilly Circus