30 Places to eat for £30 and under
Published 23 September 2019

Padella, credit: Steven Joyce

Dinner at one of The Good Food Guide 2020’s top 50 restaurants may not come cheap, but you can eat for £30* or less at more than 350 entries in this year’s edition. GFG editor Amber Dalton picks some of her favourites from across the UK

Mhor 84, Balquhidder, Perthshire
Modern | British | £30 | £5 off**

This laid-back offshoot of boutique hotel Monachyle Mhor knocks spots off most all-day cafés. With a simple menu built around produce from the owners’ farm and bakery, it’s no wonder there’s glowing support from locals and tourists. Lunchtime means sandwiches, burgers and steaks, while dinner might bring shoulder of lamb with wild garlic potato gratin and salsa verde. mhor84.net

Baba, Edinburgh
Middle | Eastern | £25

This all-day eatery stands out among the casual dining choices around George St and St Andrew’s Square. Small sharing plates include mezze of labneh or baba ganoush, kofta of beef, lamb and bone marrow, or a cauliflower shawarma with ras el hanout, pomegranate and mint. Drink interesting cocktails or good-value wines. baba.restaurant

Six by Nico, Glasgow
International | £29

The concept is simple: a six-course menu that changes every six weeks, at a fixed price. Menus focus around ‘stories’ that may be geographic (New York, Catalonia), whimsical (picnics, childhood) or more esoteric (forest, illusion). Matched wines, an affordable list and extensive gins make for a crowd-pleasing experience. There are branches in Edinburgh, Belfast and Manchester. sixbynico.co.uk

Bouchon Bistrot, Hexham, Northumberland
French | £29 | £5 off**

This place ticks all the right boxes for the French bistro experience – a sympathique atmosphere backed by knowledgeable staff. Established standards include escargots in parsley butter; tartiflette with Reblochon and bacon; lemon sole paupiette, or duck confit. Desserts might include textbook apple tarte tatin, while the wine list opens at £17.50. bouchonbistrot.co.uk

Route, Newcastle upon Tyne
Modern British | £28 | £5 off**

Opened in May 2018, Route is this year’s winner of our Best Local Restaurant award for the North of England. The concept is seasonal small plates with local fish and nose-to-tail meat – say lamb sweetbreads with salt-baked turnip followed by wild North Sea turbot. At £15, the three-course early dinner (Monday-Friday) and Saturday lunch is a steal. routenewcastle.co.uk

Lounge on the Green, Houghton, Cumbria
Modern British | £30 | £5 off**

‘Carlisle has long-awaited a really good restaurant on its doorstep,’ says one local of this newcomer. Set menus offer dinner and weekend lunches. Lakeland beef is cooked slow, then pan roasted. Vegetarians are well served too. loungeonthegreen.co.uk

Skosh, York
Modern British | £25

With its contemporary good looks and a menu of potent Asian-inspired plates, Skosh is one of the most vital addresses in the city. Dishes use the region’s best produce, drawing inspiration from far and wide as when a Lindisfarne oyster is dressed up with pickled ginger granita or Yorkshire pecorino is teamed with beetroot, rhubarb and lovage. skoshyork.co.uk (Image: Karen Turner)

Clam & Cork, Doncaster, Yorkshire
Seafood | £19

Michael Berry serves Mediterranean-inspired plates from this daytime stall in Doncaster’s fish market. Choose from the regularly changing menu, such as tempura monkfish with tamarind-spiked slaw, or prawns seared on the grill. It’s the best fun you can have with your hat and scarf on. clam-cork.business.site

The Spärrows, Manchester
Central European | £15

The Spärrows is named after the birdlike shapes formed when spätzle batter hits hot water. And the resulting pasta is served with mix-and-match sauces – chorizo with tomatoes, spinach and cream, say, or the trad option, käse – a mix of Emmental, Gruyère and braised onions. Supplement this carb-fest with pierogi, pelmeni or pillowy focaccia. thesparrows.me

Belzan, Liverpool
Modern European | £25 | £5 off**

‘Not a single false note in the entire evening and delightful service,’ noted one visitor to this bistro and bar. The small plates menu might take in baked celeriac, Tunworth cheese, thyme and shallots, or charcoal-braised beef shin with polenta and Parmesan. Look out for the daily fish specials and the six-quid ‘staff dinner’ – perhaps pork belly ramen. Carafes of house wine from £13. belzan.co.uk

Joseph Benjamin, Chester
Modern European | £29

This lively operation has a family friendly feel. Regional produce combines with ideas from around the world – seen in a popular sharing dish of baked St Marcellin cheese with cured chorizo, lomo Ibérico, chutney and sourdough, or a sea bass fillet with curried butter beans, coconut raita and coriander oil. European wines start at £18.50. josephbenjamin.co.uk

Delilah Fine Foods, Nottingham
Modern European | £20

Head to the mezzanine of this deli for a menu of platters, frittatas, salads, soups and tapas-style dishes. Olive wood boards are piled with your choice of fine cheeses, charcuterie or antipasti. Add polenta chips with smoked garlic mayo and a Delilah Pale Ale for a simple but satisfying meal. delilahfinefoods.co.uk

Woolf & Social, Norwich
Modern British | £25 | £5 off**

This restaurant is the sort of no-nonsense place you’d love in your neighbourhood, which is why it’s one of our Best Local Restaurant regional award winners. Top-quality ingredients are met with homegrown and global flavours. While meat and fish are prominent, vegetables are ushered into the spotlight with the likes of broccoli with miso and chilli or Jerusalem artichoke with black garlic and pine nuts. woolfandsocial.co.uk

Amélie, Cambridge
French | £27

A sunflower-yellow Citroën van at the top of the escalators in the Grafton shopping centre signposts this all-day eatery. On offer in this unexpected spot are crisp-edged Alsatian flatbreads, made to order and topped with crème fraîche and onions, then the likes of smoky bacon and Gruyère or spinach, ricotta and red pepper pesto. Apple and cinnamon with chocolate and rum-soaked raisins is pick of the sweet versions. amelierestaurants.co.uk

Delhish, Bicester, Oxfordshire
Indian | £16

This family-run vegetarian establishment with Gujarati cooking and Mumbai street food is a subcontinent away from the Oxfordshire norm. Chef owner Jaya might well talk you through her enticing list of daily specials for lunch or dinner: spiced jackfruit wrap, say. Highlights include the khaman dhokla, a savoury steamed cake and the ever-popular thali. delhish.com

Ultracomida, Aberystwyth, Ceredigion
Spanish | £16

Pass through the deli to the restaurant at the rear where a relaxed set-up may see you sharing large tables with other diners. The tapas-style menu features charcuterie, white anchovies and houmous with aromatic lamb. Fluffy churros should not be missed. Vermouths, gins and cocktails bolster the wines on the drinks list. ultracomida.co.uk

The Warren, Carmarthen, Carmarthenshire
British £29

This community-minded restaurant champions local suppliers, so Welsh mussels might come in a Welsh cider and bacon cream with bread baked in house, beef will be from Carmarthenshire and hyper-seasonal produce from nearby Blaencamel Organic Vegetable Farm. The results speak for themselves, which is why it’s our Best Local Restaurant regional winner for Wales. warrenmanselst.co.uk

Bunch of Grapes, Pontypridd, Glamorgan
Modern British | £30 | £5 off**

This former labourers’ watering hole offers a stunning selection of beers and a great menu. In the evening, pan-fried cockles with leeks, laverbread and pancetta might be followed by slow-braised ox cheek with potato and celeriac terrine and homely desserts of tiramisu, or sticky toffee pud. The beers are matched by an impressive wine list. bunchofgrapes.org.uk

Gambas, Bristol
Spanish £20

This converted shipping container is dominated by an open kitchen with its plancha and paella pans. While you’ll find tapas staples – tortilla, patatas bravas, cod brandada tostada – do seek out daily specials such as cuttlefish stew or the choice of gambas – from soft-shell baby prawns to Carabineros. Sherries, Spanish beers and wines keep it all authentic. gambasbristol.co.uk

Corkage, Bath
British | £25

Although wine is the driver at this tiny space, food is chalked on a board that does the rounds. Small plates might bring prawns sautéed with bone marrow on sourdough toast or a salad of celeriac, radish and peanuts in a Thai dressing. Inspired wines are poured with garrulous aplomb. corkagebath.com

The Royal George, Appledore, Devon
Modern British | £30 | £5 off**

Enjoy real ales, pub staples and a dining room with spectacular views across the Taw Torridge Estuary, from where much of the daily changing menu is sourced at this family run inn. Dogs are welcome in the ground-floor bar and the roof terrace is hugely popular on sunny days. trgpub.co.uk

Tremenheere Kitchen, Gulvall, Cornwall
Modern British | £28

‘What a spot!’ exclaimed one first-timer to these impressive sculpture gardens within sight of St Michael’s Mount. The café and restaurant ramps things up on Friday and Saturday evenings: tender Cornish pork belly might be paired with kimchi, while local hake is dressed in parsley and lemon butter. The wine list opens at £24. tremenheerekitchen.com

Brassica, Beaminster, Dorset
Modern British | £30

The winner of our Best Local Restaurant award for the South East, this former toll house has a menu that’s big on regional produce and fresh flavours. Roast leeks with hazelnut and pickled celery might be followed by partridge and red wine ragù with polenta and grilled treviso. brassicarestaurant.co.uk

Wild Flor, Brighton
Modern European | £30

This Hove newcomer delivers a repertoire inspired by the classics. A blackboard lists daily specials such as rack of lamb, served pink with girolles and a pretty much perfect lemon tart to finish. The wine list includes sherries, cellar selections and sterling options by the glass and carafe. wildflor.com

Peg, Hackney, London
Japanese | £25

Chicken figures prominently on the retro pegboard menu at this little place inspired by Japan’s yakitori restaurants – for example, tender hearts under fresh horseradish, or wings encrusted with shichimi togarashi. These are beautiful, low-budget dishes prepared with precision. You can’t book so get there early, not least as it’s our Best New Entry, London. peglondon.co.uk

The Drop, King’s Cross, London
British | £25

This little wine bar is tucked under arches in a corner of Coal Drops Yard. The changing menu has dishes with influences from all over – whether it’s half a dozen native oysters, sharing plates of cheese and charcuterie, or roast squash with onions, pumpkin seeds and sage. Portions are as generous as the flavours are meaningful. thedropwinebar.co.uk

Hereford Road, Notting Hill, London
British | £29 | £5 off**

‘One of the most agreeable restaurants in London’ was the verdict of one satisfied regular to this well-established eatery. The short, regularly changing menu sees mostly meat-based dishes, say duck livers and hearts with green beans and tarragon, or mains of braised lamb shank and carrots. Old-fashioned desserts include sticky date pudding. herefordroad.org

Padella, Borough, London
Italian | £20

This popular pasta restaurant occupies the hallowed ground where really decent prices meet really decent food. While even a blow-out bill – antipasti, pasta, pudding and wine on tap – may be reasonable, there is a price: long and almost constant queues. The WalkIn app will help you bypass this. padella.co (Image: Elena Heatherwick)

JoJo’s, Whitstable, Kent
Mediterranean | £30

Whatever the weather, this seafront restaurant has a sunny disposition that is matched by the cooking. The bare wooden tables and light, bright dining room set the tone for fuss-free tapas made from impeccably sourced ingredients. Mutton and feta koftas and patatas bravas are mainstays, but there’s also chargrilled mackerel with a seasonal dip, or marinated bavette steak. Wines start at a very reasonable £4.50 a glass. jojosrestaurant.co.uk

Dory’s Margate, Kent
Seafood | £20

This seafront café is an all-day, no-reservations hangout that satisfies the urge for a bottle of wine and something simple to eat. Expect keenly priced small plates that might take in Whitstable rock oysters, smoked prawns with aïoli, cod brandade or seafood tart stuffed with lobster and crab. English wines feature on a list that opens at £19.50. angelasofmargate.com

* The average price of a three-course dinner (unless otherwise stated), excluding drinks.
** The restaurant is participating in the GFG’s £5 voucher scheme; 10 vouchers can
be found at the back of the print edition of the GFG 2020.

Published September 2019