Some words don’t sound right together. Like Brad Pitt and married. Or affordable and Mayfair. It feels like there are more Louis Vs and Tiffanys around here than at a debutante ball. So how are you going to find a meal for around £20 when that’s what everyone’s blowing their noses on? Well, actually, it’s quite easy. Because we’ve done all the legwork for you. In actual fact, Mayfair has plenty of restaurants for lunch or dinner, from handmade noodle specialists, to classic pizza joints, that will feed you well and won’t break the bank.
If we could have Stampa in our back pocket all over London, we wouldn’t be displeased. Because having the constant option of handmade rigatoni carbonara (complete with guanciale) for £7.50, or pici cacio e pepe for £6.50, would be very welcome. That’s what this simple little 20-ish seater corner café and restaurant offers. It’s only open throughout the working week, but the hours run from 7am until 10pm. That, combined with the very good pasta, would make it a useful restaurant in any of London’s neighbourhoods, but especially in Mayfair.
Every area should have a no-nonsense Italian restaurant that slings out crusty pizza and saucy pasta that fills you up and makes you smile for a completely reasonable price. Delfino is Mayfair’s. It’s casual, it’s homely, and it feels like it’s been on the corner of Mount Street forever (and hopefully forever will be). A pizza comes for between £11 and £15, and the pastas more the latter. if that still feels dear to you then just factor in the Mayfair tax. But know that everything will be solid and tasty, and ’Fino’s will always be here when you need it.
Mayfair 1 is the type of place that a lot of Londoners rely on throughout the working week. It’s a little cupboard-sized lunchtime-only spot making satisfying wraps. A warm falafel number with the usual suspects: dressed cabbage salad, pickles, chilli, lettuce and the gang, will cost you under £5. As will a lamb kofte or sucuk (that delicious red spiced Turkish sausage) one. It’s very much a takeaway thing, but if you come pre or post rush, there are a few of stools to pop a squat if you fancy it.
Specialising in anything is a feat. Apart from, like, picking your nose. But specialising in gyoza is really something. Imagine someone asking you what you did and replying “well, actually, I’m a gyoza specialist”. Power. Move. Anyway that’s what Titu, a little corner restaurant in Shepherd Market, is. Five chicken and foie gras (it’s Mayfair hun) gyoza will set you back just under £10, while other options are cheaper. There’s stuff like tacos and miso aubergine too, and it’s decent choice for a very chilled and inexpensive meal.
Ergon Deli is an all-day Greek deli on Maddox Street making everything from homemade spinach and feta pies to hot and cold mezze, like falafel, hummus, and tabbouleh on warm pitta. Everything here is priced between the £5 and £11 marks, and it’s open from 8am till 7pm. It’s solid rather than spectacular, but it’s great for a quick snack or casual lunch. Heads up that it gets busy, so expect to wait at peak hours.
Tibits has an extremely strong M6 southbound service station energy about it, and we say that in the nicest possible way. That’s just the aesthetic that this vegetarian and vegan buffet restaurant gives off, but the food itself is very solid. Wander into this roomy spot on Heddon Street on any given day for lunch or dinner, and you’ll find it buzzing with people serving themselves lentil salads, mushroom pies, and slices of cheesecake. It’s priced by weight, and you can get a hefty plate of freshly made good stuff for £10 to £15.
The counter at Sabor is one of London’s finest and funnest (it’s a word, okay) front row restaurant seats. You’ll more than likely have to wait a little while for a seat, because it’s walk-in only and this tapas spot is popular. But once you do get in you’ll be watching the chefs do chef stuff opposite, whilst enjoying a gooey chorizo tortilla for under a tenner. What with it being tapas and all, it can add up if you aren’t careful. So just be careful. An order of pan con tomate, cuttlefish pappardelle, and tortilla is where we’d start.
You don’t have to order carefully to get your money’s worth at this Chinese restaurant just off Piccadilly. The food is from Xi’an, and you’ll probably want to begin and end with their hand-pulled noodles. A single £11 bowl of excellent biang biang noodles will satisfy most appetites, but if you’re sharing you should definitely get involved in a pork murger and a bowl of their must-order steamed rice noodles, which we challenge anyone not to get another portion of to take home and stick in the fridge. It gets busy here, so if there’s more than two of you you’ll probably need to book, but you should know that there’s more space downstairs which makes it a pretty good spot for an inexpensive low-key birthday dinner.
Shepherd Market feels a little like an 18th century maze because around every corner, down every passage, there’s another restaurant. One of which is Iran Restaurant, an old school Persian place making the kind of mezze we could easily eat everyday. Ideally you want to come here with a few friends as the menu is hefty, and the best way to spend twenty-odd quid here is by sharing some warm flatbread, a couple of mezze plates and something off the grill, like zereshk polo ba morgh - which is a big and tasty plate of saffron chicken and barberry rice.
Boisdale is the kind of restaurant that has enough mahogany panelling, haggis, and taxidermy to make you think of Balmoral. Or Bambi’s mum. Either or. We’ll be honest, nothing about tartan carpeting and a cigar terrace leads us to think of affordable menus, and really a lot of the steaks here will set you back over £35, but just ignore all that and direct your attention straight to their classic hamburger for £10.75. It’s a thick Scottish beef patty covered in lemon-tarragon mayo and although the hand-cut chips are an extra £4, it’s definitely worth it, as they’re what us professionals call ‘fucking huge’. Heads up, there’s also a daily £1 oysters happy hour from 5-7 pm.
Bar Remo would be your any-and-every day of the week restaurant in any area of London. The fact that it’s slap-bang in the middle London’s most expensive district means that if you are a regular in Mayfair, you should be stopping in here for coffee and breakfast - as well as lunch or dinner - at least once a week. Pizzas start at £9 and are thin, tangy, generously topped, but not so heavy or doughy that you need a nap afterwards. They also serve pastas, salads and mains, all of which are around the £15 mark, and all of which are kind of perfect for those times when you want a quick and casual meal.