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We ask popular food bloggers from London to Tel Aviv share their best-kept secrets for where to find meals that’ll satisfy your taste buds AND your bank account. Their tips don’t disappoint…

Europe

AMSTERDAM – Thai Bird Snackbar
“Sitting opposite a restaurant of the same name, Thai Bird is the worst-kept secret in Amsterdam. This place is small, and as such, you’ll probably have to wait for a table or be prepared to share with strangers. But the food is authentically Thai, and comes piping hot and in large portions. You’ll only need one bowl of red curry prawns with rice to keep you full all evening.”
– Julia Hartbeck of confusedjulia.com

BELGRADE – Pizzeria Botako
“You wouldn’t usually associate Belgrade with pizza, but I’ve been dreaming about this cute Italian restaurant ever since I visited the city. The pizzas are huge and topped with any number of delicious ingredients; try the large $12 Serbiana pizza with pancetta, mushrooms, sour cream, sausage and hot peppers – it’s big enough for two to share. If the weather’s nice, make like a local and sit in the pretty courtyard out front.”
– Julia Hartbeck of confusedjulia.com

LONDON – Talli Joe 
“The Lunch Dabba for £10 at Talli Joe continues the classic Indian tradition of lunching from a 3-tiered metal lunch box containing fresh, hot dishes delivered to you at work. These dabba include a snack or salad, a meat or veg option as a main, plus rice or bread. The dishes are just fantastic, and to top it all off, if they don’t get it to you in 10 minutes it’s on them.”
– Hari Ghotra of harighotra.co.uk

LONDON – Padella
“Padella is probably one of the finest Italian places ever. The pasta is freshly made every day, the sauces are simple but to die for, and most dishes are under £10. Be aware that you will have to queue, but it’s worth the wait, especially if you go for the pappardelle with 8-hour Dexter beef shin ragu. It’s sensational!”
– Hari Ghotra of harighotra.co.uk

[Photos: Padella and Mber, courtesy of Hari Ghotra]

LONDON – Mber 
“This funky little bar on Pudding Lane hosts an incredible menu of pan-Asian small plates. The food is fantastic, full of colour, flavour and new and exotic ideas. Admittedly, you’re always tempted by the fantastic cocktail menu, which can push the price up somewhat.”
– Hari Ghotra of harighotra.co.uk

LONDON – Borough Market
“I love this place – it’s a foodie’s heaven. The market is teeming with artisanal producers, but the food stalls range from Vietnamese to Indian, Chinese, Ethiopian – you name it, they have it. Horn OK Please! are an Indian street food trader serving the most amazing vegetarian South Indian dishes. The moong dal dosa are huge, stuffed with a spicy potato filling, chutney and a salad on the side all for about £5. The chaat is tangy and delicious, but it’s not just about the food – it’s the theatre of the cooking. Watching them make the dishes is mesmerising.”
– Hari Ghotra of harighotra.co.uk

MANCHESTER – Bundobust
“Think of this as Indian-style tapas. Dishes are small – and cheap – yet filling and cooked to perfection, so order as little or as much as you like. They offer a great express lunch menu during the week for under $10 and serve a range of craft beers, including some of their own unique brews. I urge everyone to try the now famous ‘vada pav’ burger – it’s like the ultimate comfort food on a plate.”
– Julia Hartbeck of confusedjulia.com

PARIS – Chez Alain Miam Miam 
“Alain Miam Miam is a favourite of mine, I love sinking my teeth into these delicious galettes. Nestled in the Marché des Enfants Rouges, you’ll find Alain himself personally handling every galette, crêpe or panini order. He’ll take the time to pause and chat with you, generously pile on the fresh organic ingredients, and give you free tastings as well. Another reason I love this place? Alain takes pride in his work, he isn’t in it for the money and will outright refuse your tips.”
– Nhan Nguyen of myloveforparis.com 

PARIS – Les Bols de Jean
“For a modern Parisian foodie experience, Les Bols de Jean is the place to go for a light lunch. Refreshing and surprising ingredient combinations cosy up in your Eric Kayser brioche bread bowl. The ‘bols’ on offer change regularly, and best of all is the novelty factor of being able to eat your own bowl. Try and avoid the 12-1pm rush hour if you can!”
– Nhan Nguyen of myloveforparis.com 

[Photos: Yard, courtesy of Julie Neis]

PARIS – YARD 
“YARD is popular with foodies and chefs because they make beautiful food and offer a noteworthy selection of natural wines. They’re located in the northeastern corner of Paris by the Père-Lachaise Cemetery, and they have one of the best lunch deals in town. If you want to try contemporary French cooking at a fraction of the price, go here for lunch. You can get 2 courses (starter/main or main/dessert) for €16, or all 3 courses for €19, and you get to choose from 3 options in each category. Last time I went, I had watercress soup with a poached egg, a piece of perfectly pan-roasted fish with tomatoes, and a chocolate ganache with sea salt that I still dream about.”
– Julie Neis of parisfoodaffair.com

PARIS – L’Avant Comptoir 
“If you want a delicious, filling and super cheap lunch on the go, head straight to L’Avant Comptoir in the 6th arrondissement. They make gourmet crêpes (to-go only) that are just €6 for a 2-ingredient crêpe with a drink, or you can get their crêpe du jour, usually stuffed with delicious ingredients like cured ham, melted Gruyère cheese, mushrooms, artichokes or arugula. Good luck not being tempted to wander inside to try their gourmet bites (hanging signs show you the photo and price), the beautiful selection of natural wines, or the heaping mound of community Bordier butter from Brittany.”
– Julie Neis of parisfoodaffair.com

PARIS – L’As du Fallafel 
“I absolutely can’t resist getting a bursting-with-flavour falafel sandwich from L’As du Fallafel anytime I’m in the Marais district. People say it’s the best falafel outside of Israel, and for €6.50, it can’t be beat. Line up (guaranteed to be a line, for good reason), place your order, and pay the man patrolling the line. Then step up to the window to receive your warm pita filled with hot and crispy fried falafel, roasted eggplant, cabbage, tomatoes, cucumbers, yogurt sauce and spicy red sauce. Take it over to Places des Vosges to enjoy.”
– Julie Neis of parisfoodaffair.com

PARIS – Zia
“If you’re visiting the Eiffel Tower on the weekend, you should 100% plan to stop for brunch at Zia on your way over. They have a beautiful, bright little space just around the corner from the Champ de Mars, serving Dutch baby pancakes with fried eggs, bacon and Comté cheese; a breakfast burrito; or avocado toast with cucumber and poached egg. During the week, they have fresh salads at lunch, and they also serve great coffee, craft beers and natural wines.”
– Julie Neis of parisfoodaffair.com

[Photos: Zia – 2 at left courtesy Lindsey Kent, Pictours Paris; at right courtesy Julie Neis]

ROME – Mesob
“As a long-time Rome resident, I have a natural affinity for pasta and pizza, but my favourite cuisines are much more spice-driven than the food my adopted city offers. Sadly, we don’t have passable Mexican or Southeast Asian spots in the Italian capital, but there are some very good Ethiopian options, including the spectacular Mesob on the ancient Via Prenestina, not far from the heart of Pigneto. The deeply flavoured simmered vegetables and perfectly seasoned chicken and beef stews are served on house-made injera, a spongy sourdough flatbread.”
– Katie Parla of katieparla.com

ROME – Mercato Centrale Roma
“Rome’s main train station, Termini, is probably not the first place that comes to mind when you’re searching for a good meal, but walk along the Via Giolitti to its far edge to the Mercato Centrale, and find almost overwhelming choice. There’s Bonci Pizza, Sicilian arancini from Ara, cheese from Beppe, Trapizzino, an artichoke stand, juice bar, gelateria, burgers, pizza and pasta.”
– Gillian Longworth McGuire of gillianslists.com

ROME – La Licata 
“Romans start their day with a fast cappuccino and a cornetto (breakfast pastry similar to a croissant) standing at the bar. This family-run place near the Colosseum, however, also has American-style breakfast if you need a little more sustenance for your day. For lunch, choose from a range of choices including vegetable soups, salads and baked pasta.”
– Gillian Longworth McGuire of gillianslists.com

ROME – Panificio Mosca
“This bakery a short walk from the Vatican Museums entrance has been making some of Rome’s best pizza bianca and pizza rosso since 1915. Grab a number, get in line, and show the server how big you would like your slice.”
– Gillian Longworth McGuire of gillianslists.com

Middle East

ISTANBUL – Çiya Sofrasi
“Çiya Sofrasi has been hailed by locals as possibly the best restaurant in Istanbul. Located across the Bosphorus on the less touristy Asian side, they’re known for offering regional dishes you can’t find anywhere else. The chef prepares different dishes daily, so there’s no menu. Just point at whichever dish catches your eye, and the server will bring it to your table.”
– JB & Renée Macatulad willflyforfood.net

[Photos: Çiya Sofrasi courtesy JB & Renée Macatulad]

TEL AVIV – Shlomo & Doron
“Travel back in time to simpler days, when eating out in Israel meant sitting outside on plastic chairs at one-menu item shops, like Shlomo & Doron’s hummus haven. Don’t be fooled, options for hummus are endless. Opt for the historic hummus-ful (a type of fava bean) bowl, served here since 1937, or the more creative recent addition to the menu “hum-shuka” (hummus topped with tomato and egg shakshuka). If you aren’t too full after scooping your hummus with Yemenite saluf bread and onions (trust me, try it), order a creamy malabi and black coffee or mint tea for a sweet ending.”
– Inbal Baum of deliciousisrael.com

TEL AVIV – M25
“In a city that lauds itself as a vegan haven, getting your quality (and inexpensive) meat fix in Tel Aviv takes some searching. Meander 25 metres from the butcher street of the Carmel Market to this no-nonsense carnivore’s paradise, which opens to a large courtyard with rustic wooden benches. Choose a juicy 240-gramme hamburger, shawarma topped with fresh tomato salad, or spicy merguez sausages.”
– Inbal Baum of deliciousisrael.com

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TEL AVIV – Miznon Tel Aviv
“A gourmet street food eatery may seem like an oxymoron, but this brainchild of Israeli top chef Eyal Shani is your best choice for highest-quality local ingredients with a fun vibe to boot. My fave choices for filling their pillowy pita are the Minute Steak or Entrecote and Fried Egg for meat-eaters, or the Vegan Ratatouille. Reasonable prices means you can (read: must!) enjoy the whole roasted cauliflower as a side dish. The 2 original branches are in Tel Aviv; others are now open in Paris, Vienna and Melbourne, with one opening soon in NYC.”
– Inbal Baum of deliciousisrael.com

Looking for more affordable eats around the world? Check out our tips for the Americas, as well as Europe and the Middle East.

What is your experience of local restaurants where you live? Do you find exciting meals for less than the equivalent of US$20? [approximately €17/£15]


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