There are so many places to eat in Birmingham as the UK’s second largest city ‒ even more so because internationals from across the globe choose Birmingham to live and study in. Birmingham’s international student population already makes it a culturally diverse city, and on top of this, there are ongoing development schemes in the city which are set to further the fusion of food, culture, and community. Send My Bag has put together a list of the cheapest places to eat in Birmingham, which also showcase the city’s culture.
Cheapest Places to Eat in Birmingham: Indian Cuisine
Hen and Chickens: This establishment brings Indian classics to an English-style pub. Indian curry dishes like Korma, Madras, and Tikka Masala are all homemade, so they won’t be lacking in freshness or flavour. You can get one of these main curry dishes for £8.25. There is also a full section of the menu dedicated to vegetarian dishes. A 15-minute walk will get you here from Aston University and Birmingham City University.
Indian Brewery Snowhill: A restaurant that brings Indian street food and craft beer together. This might not be a familiar combination, but it has worked wonders for the restaurant, as many have rated it on Trip Advisor for being different to standard Indian curry houses. It has an original twist and its industrial style décor gives it a modern and urban vibe. The average price for the street food on offer here is between £3-£8 and the in-house craft beer starts at £3.40. The restaurant is situated near Birmingham’s Jewellery Quarter, a 15-minute walk from Aston University and Birmingham City University, but further from the University of Birmingham – 10 minutes by car or 30 minutes by train.
Cheapest Places to Eat in Birmingham: Asian Cuisine
Kimchi Korean Restaurant: A small and simple restaurant that is popular for its authentic Korean food. As it is still a small restaurant, it feels like somewhat of a hidden gem. Many have talked about its great value on Trip Advisor, with the prices being super affordable. Kimchi has a mid-week lunch special for £6.90, which includes a main, the staple Korean side dish kimchi and miso soup, and a drink, which is truly a deal that can’t be missed! The restaurant is within easy reach of the University of Birmingham, being only a 10-minute walk away.
Yakinori: A family-run Japanese restaurant with locations at Grand Central Station, Selly Oak, and Bristol Park Street. The Selly Oak restaurant is only a 10-minute walk from the University of Birmingham. It is all about the Japanese experience, as there is an open kitchen where dishes are freshly prepared by fusing together all sorts of Japanese tastes and spices. Most of the meals average between £9-£11, from a hearty bowl of ramen, to teppanyaki noodles, to Japanese-style curries. You can also order sushi starting at £4, or there is a menu devoted to vegans and vegetarians.
Café 55: This is a counter-service sit-in and take-away restaurant. This doesn’t mean, however, that the food is in any way old, stale or thrown together. The restaurant’s speciality is traditional Chinese, Japanese, and Korean food dishes that are prepared freshly every day. There is a mix of Asian street snacks, or hearty main meals like ramen, soup noodles, and egg fried rice dishes from £8-£12.
Cheapest Places to Eat in Birmingham: Italian
La Vera: Only a 9-minute walk from Birmingham City University, this is a hidden gem on Martineau Way, away from the hussle and bustle of the city centre. People are raving about its truly authentic Italian pizza. Cooked in the restaurant’s Italian-style wood oven, the crispy thin-crust pizza will definitely hit the spot. Peri-peri chips and Nutella pizza for dessert are other tasty dishes on offer. The restaurant is also vegan and vegetarian friendly. Pizzas start at £5.90 and go up to only £8.90, or pastas range between £6.50-£7.50. Buon appetito!
Cheapest Places to Eat in Birmingham: English, American and Australian
Walkabout: An Aussie-style bar located on Broad Street in Birmingham’s city centre that goes right back to the 90s, when it was first named the ‘outback bar’. It has since become a sought-after spot in Birmingham and other cities because of its laidback Australian vibes and cheap prices. All of the Aussie/ British-style mains on offer are under £10, and include simple dishes like great white fish ‘n’ chips and steak and ale pie. Or there are dishes suited for lunch from £4-£7, such as a vegemite and cheese toastie (which is an Aussie favourite), a steak and onion sarnie, or a fish finger sandwich. You can get one of these lunch dishes and a drink for £6 if you head there between 12-5pm, Monday to Friday!
Grand Central Kitchen: Located on Stephenson Street, which is a 10-15 minute walk from Birmingham City University and Aston University, this simple café does the best of British and European food for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. It won TripAdvisor’s certificate of excellence for 2017-2018. Many TripAdvisor users have celebrated its full English breakfast as the best in Birmingham. From fry-ups to omelettes, paninis, wraps, pizzas and burgers, this café has classic dishes with prices to suit even the smallest of budgets.
The Meat Shack: Americans do big burgers and so does this burger bar, which is all about filthy goodness. The Meat Shack’s hand-smashed burgers are hefty and messy but worth tackling, as many have voted them the best burgers in Birmingham. The restaurant also made it into Time Out’s 2019 list of the top 25 restaurants in Birmingham. The Meat Shack can be found in a backstreet location on Thorp Street. This location, together with the graffitied walls on the inside, creates a cool and hipster experience for the customer.
Our Other Cultural Picks
Bodega: A Latin-inspired bar, also known as a ‘cantina’, bursting with colours in terms of both its setting and its food. Here, they serve colourful dishes of homemade South American food, including classics like nachos, burritos, and quesadillas for between £5-£7. Larger meals still have a reasonable price tag, with most of them being under £12. There is also a two for £9 deal on Latina-style cocktails. Bodega was ranked 16th in Time Out’s list of the best restaurants in Birmingham in 2019. If you want a food and cocktail fiesta, then this is the place to be!
The Royal Watan: A restaurant that has been up and running and specialising in Balti cooking in Birmingham since 1984. Birmingham is said to be the birthplace of Balti food, which was brought to ‘Brum’ back in the 70s by Kashmiri immigrants. This created the Balti Triangle in Birmingham – a long stretch of Balti-inspired restaurants. The Royal Watan is one of the best and most established of these restaurants, having been set up by a Kashmiri family. They have a selection of specialities that are cooked in no other Balti restaurant, all of which are under £10!
Sabai, Sabai: A Thai restaurant with four locations in Birmingham, which has been awarded the title of best oriental restaurant for delivering an all-round Thai experience through its food and atmosphere. There is a lunch menu that runs daily from 12pm-2.30pm, which is inspired by Thai cities. Lunch platters are priced at around £13, with each being named after a different Thai city. On each large lunch platter you get to enjoy four of that city’s local dishes. Sabai, Sabai’s Waterloo Street location is close to Birmingham City University, whereas the Harborne location is closer to the University of Birmingham.
Birmingham is a multi-cultural centre for food, and students can take advantage of the budget cultural cuisines that we’ve put together in this blog.
If you’re studying at one of Birmingham’s universities or are going to be soon, and are thinking about shipping your stuff back and forth, our door-to-door luggage service at Send My Bag will do this for you. All you need to think about is what food you’re going to try when you get there!