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Find your new favourite (affordable) restaurant

Udupi Dosa Vegetarian Indian Cuisine storefront.
Image Credit: Hannah Theodore

When you think of cheap eats, you might be tempted to seek out the many recognizable fast food chains that London is home to. But, throughout this vast city, there are many locally owned and operated restaurants offering home cooked options at an affordable price. Many of these restaurants prepare meals that you might have a hard time finding anywhere else, and the diversity of these lesser-known food spots might just convince you that London is a food city, teeming with flavour and delicious cultural delicacies. The trick is taking the time to try new things, and doing a little extra research to seek out the city’s hidden gems.

For example, London is home to many popular Indian restaurants. You may have tried one of the popular Massey’s Fine Indian Cuisine or the beloved Aroma of India. While both of these spots are delicious in their own right, prices can quickly add up, especially if you’re hoping to try a variety of curries and appetizers. Luckily, a more affordable option can be found right downtown.

“Located on Hamilton Road in the city’s east end, this vegan gem has been converting meat eaters since its first inception.”

Located at 350 Dundas St., Udupi Dosa is a hidden gem in the city, serving up various South Indian delicacies like dosas and uttapam. Their menu is also almost entirely vegan, with many dishes able to be made gluten free as well.

The best part? Curries are available from as little as $6.25, with most starters like samosas and pakoras coming in at less than $5. Alternatively, consider Mint Leaves located at 1080 Adelaide St. N., a unique Indian spot with most vegetarian curries coming in under $10, and apps for under $2.

A little further away (but well worth the trip) is a Latin restaurant located in South London, called Los Comales. Located in a strip mall at 561 Southdale Rd. E., Los Comales is your go-to for affordable El Salvadorian fare such as pupusas and Mexican dishes like tacos and quesadillas. Their combos are the real deal, with both options coming in under $20 for a massive plate of Latin choices, including flautas, empanadas, tostadas and pupusas. If you can’t make the trip down, their entire menu is available to order on DoorDash, making this the perfect option for a night out or an evening at home. Like Udupi Dosa, Los Comales is extremely accommodating towards those with dietary restrictions, with most options able to be made vegan and gluten free.

Speaking of vegan options; it’s no secret that a vegan diet has been criticized for its often high prices and lack of options that truly resemble the foods they aim to mimic. Then there’s V Food Spot.

Located on Hamilton Road in the city’s east end, this vegan gem has been converting meat eaters since its first inception as a take-out joint in a convenience store in 2017. As the business grew, V Food Spot was relocated to Hamilton Road in collaboration with the Neighbourhood Laundromat, before moving once more to a stand-alone location in 2020. “Chickn” sandwiches, pulled jackfruit wraps and an ever-expanding variety of doughnuts are just some of the delicious options that keep customers coming back over and over again. Not to mention their reasonably priced pub-style starters like deep fried pickles ($9) and mozzarella sticks ($10). It’s rare to find a vegan restaurant that truly embraces “unhealthy” foods, with many opting instead to go for a whole foods, clean-eating approach. Still, you’ll probably end up feeling better after eating a plate of cauliflower wings than after a pound of chicken wings.

The truth about eating affordably anywhere is that it takes research and a whole lot of trial and error. When browsing apps like Uber Eats and SkipTheDishes, try refining your search by customer ratings, rather than by popularity. Finding your favourite Forest City restaurant might mean venturing beyond downtown London, to a strip mall in White Oaks, for example. But the journey is worth it to find hidden gems scattered in every corner of London.