Islington doesn't exactly have a reputation for being one of the cheaper London boroughs, but, like most places, if you know where to look you can always nab a bargain, especially when it comes to cheap eats. Most of the places listed in this guide probably won't cut the mustard if you're looking for a fancy spot to celebrate your rich auntie's birthday, but if you're looking for an affordable bite to eat that won't break the bank, then you're in the right place. Here's our guide to budget-friendly restaurants in Islington.
Guide to budget-friendly restaurants in Islington
In this guide
Cheap eats in Islington
- Norman's Café – Throwing it back
- Max's Sandwich Shop – Levelling up the humble sandwich
- Kanada-Ya – One for the ramen lovers
- Taquería – Top-notch Mexican fare
- Black Bear Burger – Dry-aged beef from grass-fed cows
- Breddos Tacos – Tacos, tostadas and tequila
- Pizza Union – Cheap and cheerful
- Indian Veg – A veggie buffet
- Le Mercury – A classic French set menu
- Keren View – Plant-based Eritrean food
- Afghan Kitchen – Fragrant Afghan cooking
- Wolkite – A true taste of Ethiopia
- Xi'an Impression – Humble Chinese restaurant
- Jai Krishna – BYOB Indian meals
- Preto – All-you-can-eat Brazilian restaurant
Cheap eats in Islington
The best budget-friendly restaurants in Islington
Throwing it back
Get a blast into the past at this classic British cafe with a contemporary twist. Norman's takes your old favourites and sprinkles them with a hefty serving of nostalgia, packing out the menu with old childhood classics, like buttery chip butties, kippers on toast, beans on toast with Red Leicester and more. Although the menu sounds straightforward, there's a solid focus on high-quality ingredients and a genuine appreciation of British food culture. It's a simple cafe with a handful of tables, black and white chequered flooring and hanging blackboards with the menu scribbled across them.
Levelling up the humble sandwich
Max Halley takes the classic sandwich and gives it a mega makeover at his sandwich shop in Crouch Hill. This cosy cafe is tucked away in a quiet part of North London and has earned a reputation for its incredible chunky sarnies. They’re more than just a sandwich; they’re transformed into a satisfying and filling meal guaranteed to keep you full for hours. Opt for the slow-cooked ham hock with piccalilli and malt vinegar mayo, or keep it classic with the Et Tu Brute, a contemporary take on the caesar.
One for the ramen lovers
Kanada-Ya is an award-winning Japanese ramen restaurant with branches dotted around the city, including one in Angel. They specialise in hot, steamy bowls of rich, brothy ramen made with 18-hour chashu (barbecued pork) bone broth, secret sauce and hand-pulled noodles, which you can pick up at an affordable price. They also serve a range of sides, onigiri, rice dishes and drinks, including hot sake.
Top-notch Mexican fare
You’ll find Taquería perched on the streets of the bustling Exmouth Market. They started out as a stall on the legendary Portobello Road before investing in a permanent site in Clerkenwell. You can enjoy traditional and modern tacos, ceviche, tostadas and weekday Mexican lunch plates in their buzzy restaurant. The food is best enjoyed with hand-shaken margaritas made with 100% blue agave.
Dry-aged beef from grass-fed cows
Black Bear Burger is another Exmouth Market venture serving fully-loaded, succulent burgers. They craft their burgers using high-quality, dry-aged beef, which is sourced from the South West from native breeds that are all grass-fed. The Exmouth Market branch has indoor and outdoor seating for all weather scenarios and a basement bar perfect for enjoying the range of cocktails, wines and craft beers on offer here.
Tacos, tostadas and tequila
Breddos Tacos is another Mexican spot in the heart of Clerkenwell, inspired by the owners’ travels to Mexico. They use quality British produce to craft Mexican favourites, like tacos, burritos and more, all to the sound of vinyl spinning away in the background. They also serve a variety of beer, tequila, cocktails and mezcal to accompany the food.
Cheap and cheerful
Pizza Union, located right on the border of the part of King’s Cross that counts as Islington, is the place to go for extra crispy Italian pizza that’s super cheap and super fast. The pizzas are Roman-style, with an extra thin crust for optimum crispiness. You can choose from an extensive menu spanning everything from the Calabria with spicy 'nduja sausage and pollo with chicken and mixed peppers.
A veggie buffet
For a cheap and cheerful vegetarian Indian meal, try Indian Veg. This local favourite opened in 1985 and serves an all-you-can-eat buffet of more than 30 classic Indian dishes, including salads, chutneys and more. They’re always switching up the dishes on offer, so you can be sure that there’s always something new to try every time you visit. The space is relaxed, dressed-down and very casual, so don't worry about wearing your best fit for this one.
A classic French set menu
This French brasserie-style restaurant on Islington’s buzzy Upper Street serves a tasty menu of starters, mains, sides and desserts in a chic, bright space. If you want to be super economical, opt for their set lunch or dinner menu, where you’ll get to sample the best parts of the menu whilst keeping the cost down. Expect dishes like oven-baked camembert, lobster and crayfish ravioli and sumac-crusted cauliflower steak, to list a few.
Plant-based Eritrean food
Keren View in the heart of Holloway specialises in authentic vegan Eritrean dishes, all homemade and jam-packed with flavour. This welcoming restaurant is small and casual and is a popular spot for dining within the plant-based community. You can enjoy a meal for one for under ten pounds, but if you visit with a group, you’ll be able to spend less and try even more.
Fragrant Afghan cooking
Sample the very best of Afghan cooking at this cosy restaurant in Angel. Hearty, fragrant homemade dishes are the main focus here, like the lemon chicken, braised lamb and fish stew; all served in their unfussy, light, utilitarian restaurant. Sit downstairs on any of the long tables and take a look at the pots of stews lining the glass counter to see which one takes your fancy. Everything is reasonably priced, so as long as you don’t try every dish on the menu, you can definitely come away with change from a twenty.
A true taste of Ethiopia
Sample authentic and flavour-packed Ethiopian cuisine without breaking the bank at Wolkite. This humble restaurant is next to Emirates Stadium and has a friendly and welcoming atmosphere. Try a range of dishes to share, served in the traditional way on top of injera bread. Ethiopian beers and traditional honey wine complete this experience.
Humble Chinese restaurant
Local restaurant Xi'an Impression is a big name on London's food scene but it serves budget-friendly meals in a cosy and calm environment. Customers head to this humble eatery for hand-pulled noodles and street eats like Xi'an-style burgers.
BYOB Indian meals
Near Crouch Hill you'll find budget-friendly Indian cooking at Jai Krishna. This vegetarian and vegan eatery serves classic home cooking in a simple space with no frills. A large choice of affordable dishes are on the menu here including curries, paneer, and desserts. Make your meal even more affordable by bringing your own alcohol.
All-you-can-eat Brazilian restaurant
Preto is a group of vibrant Brazilian restaurants with a colourful setting, serving rodizio-style buffets. The meats range from gammon to chicken hearts, with the premium cuts complemented by a sides bar with dozens of hot dishes and salads. The Preto Angel branch also features exclusive special offers.