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The 8 Most Romantic Restaurants In London For Date Night On A Budget

Image by: Mr Bao

From ramen to roast duck, between undiscovered and rave-worthy restaurants, these are the best places to go for a romantic dinner date in London, on a dime. 

We are currently in the depths of cuffing season, A.K.A., the time of year when you look to get settled down with someone, since, well what else is there to do in winter? So it’s likely that during this time, you’ve either already cuffed someone or, you’re looking to cuff. Well, either way in an age of political turmoil and social unrest, romance has never been more necessary. Despite this, the traditional notion of ‘dates’ has been on the decline. With 'Netflix and chill' becoming such a popular concept, the real, thoughtful and planned dates are being pushed aside. Presumably since Netflix & chill is far less costly than dinner & drinks. But dinner dates are a great opportunity to dress up, look nice, and go out and share an experience with someone you really like. But, in London especially, it can start to add up if you tend to frequent a lot of different restaurants (or a lot of different Tinder dates!).

In order to save dinner dates from dying and to hopefully add some romance to your 2020, we at Octer are going to fill you in on the best affordable places to take a special someone on a romantic dinner date. You may argue that with the right variables any place can be made romantic, and while we appreciate these ambitions, having the perfect atmosphere helps the romance levels of a date exponentially. That’s why, when putting together this list of the best romantic restaurants to go on a date on a budget, we considered three key factors: ambience, food, and price. Each of these places offers some great eats, surely at least one to accommodate any niche palette preferences, and they have a nice atmosphere for a date, whether you’re going for buzzy or relaxed. Plus, at each of these restaurants you can manage to score two entrees and drinks for under £50. Now that is what you call a triple treat.!

So go on, Valentine’s Day is coming up, and cuffing season still has a way to go. Get your reservations in early! Romance on a budget never goes out of style.

Cafe Boheme


This cool-people hot-spot is a charming and laid back French brasserie come 19th century-style restaurant in the heart of Soho, central London. Here, for a early dinner at 4:00-6.30pm or a late one from 10-11:30, you can grab 3 courses and a glass of wine or beer for 18 pounds per person. Choices include classic French cuisine like bacon and garlic escargot starters and mouth-watering roast duck or moules marinières mains, that you can wash down with some vin blanc while listening to live jazz in the background. A surefire way to seem cultured and of good-taste on a first date.

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Borough Market

If you're in the know when it comes to pasta, then you'll know about this authentic Italian restaurant. And if you're a true romantic foodie, you need to know about Padella. Situated right in Borough Market, the setting of this restaurant is buzzing and packed with charm. Be warming, it's walk in only and only has space for the first 60. However, if you're in the area for opening time, you can use the Walkin to queue virtually, so you can browse the market stalls or pop for a drink before you dine. Note: if trying to sway a lady and the tramp moment, we recommend the Tagliarini with dry chilli and garlic.

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Mr Bao


A wise man once said, ‘nothing can beat a good bao’. Ok, we are that wise man. But this bao is pretty hard to beat. This restaurant is a precious hole-in-the-wall in Peckham that will make you seem like the connoisseur of unique romantic eats in London. While bao may not seem like the most traditional romantic cuisine, the dimly lit, compact yet charming atmosphere and sharing style menu makes this spot a captivating place for a cheap date. From the recommended 3-4 plates per person, with a mix of bao and sharing plates and a glass of delicious sweet plum sake each, at the end of the meal you should both be safely stuffed, and have a total just short of £50. 

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Clapham and Battersea

There’s a myth spreading around London that finding good tapas in the city will entail a pretty big bill at the end. We’re here to debunk that myth. Boqueira has locations in Battersea and Clapham, giving us a menu full of all your traditional tapas dishes, from croquetas to calamares. Portion out your plates as you like, and you should have room to accommodate churros as dessert in your wallet… but maybe not room in your stomach.

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Cafe Monico

Picadilly Circus

Managed by the Soho House group along with Cafe Boheme, this restaurant looks so elegant you'd be shocked to find out that on 6 days of the week you can score a 'prix fixe' with 3 courses for £21, just as long as you dine between midday and 7 PM. For the perfect date flow, start with the burrata, end with tiramisu, and finish the date with an aperitif and a goodbye smooch if you're both feeling swept off your feet.

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Bonnington Cafe


Dating a vegan? Are a vegan? Appreciate good food and a charming atmosphere? Whichever of these questions you answered yes to, this restaurant is your next romantic date spot. This cafe serves up affordable, homemade and delicious options, with a menu created fresh each day by the chef. It’s a perfect way to show your savvy and think outside the box with your date planning.

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Viet Soho


Unless you’re a confident slurper, save this restaurant for a second or third date. Or you can scrap the first date etiquette and lift that bowl to your chin and tilt just the way you're craving to, and hope it shows commitment to full experiences and flavour. Despite the faux pas suggestions, Viet Soho is a relatively undiscovered, tight and quaint spot for great Vietnamese food- all for a startlingly cheap price point, considering it’s location. Plus, it’s BYOB. Because nothing says romance more than sharing a bottle of wine you scored for less than a tenner across the street at an off-license.

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Circolo Populare


Before we even get to the food, the aesthetics of this restaurant are worthy of a wedding, let alone a early-stage date. Potential nuptials aside, this star of the Big Mamma Group situated in the heart of glitzy and bustling Fitzrovia serves up some fantastic proposal-deserving recipes. Try one of their raved about Neapolitan pizzas and help yourself to some red or white - starting at a modest £5 per glass. Be sure to grab a few snaps of the wine stacked walls and the floral draped ceilings as well, because this intimate setting is a crime not to share.

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Looking for an affordable brunch option?

Discover the Octer guide to the best bottomless brunches in London for under £40