I’ve recently been asked for student budget friendly places to eat and the best lunch deals in Birmingham city centre and beyond – hopefully this post should cover both.
I know how important affordable lunches are. As a young twenty-something I worked for a news agency in the middle of the city. I was paid next to nothing to work horribly long hours whilst getting yelled at daily. My lunch hour was frequently spent at my desk gagging at the smell of my colleague Alison’s microwaved mackerel, crying into a soggy Tesco egg mayo sandwich because I thought I couldn’t afford better. Due to spending all my spare money at that time on ill-fated relationships and some particularly poor life choices, I was probably right – but I wish I’d known about places to get a well-priced lunch deal rather than living off flaccid sandwiches and the occasional scream in the ladies toilet.
While I work from home now (and the only person who loses their shit at me is.. well, me) I like to take myself out to work a lot, and this often involves lunches. In truth, the city has evolved a lot since 2008 and I have discovered lots of places you can get an affordable lunch to improve even the most bleak work days. So if you’re a student on a budget or an office hobbit that needs to get out for an hour to save your sanity, this blog (mainly consisting of independents) of deals for £7 and under is for you.
Anderson & Hill – Central
Ranging from £4-£5.50, you can get what most agree is probably the best deli sandwich in the city centre. There’s interesting options when it comes to fillings (I usually pick the Iberian or the Parisian) and the bread is pure satisfaction – quality from start to finish. Available Monday to Friday only.
Rebel Chicken – JQ
Based up in Jewellery Quarter, this place offers a £7 weekday lunch deal including a drink. It’s eat-in or takeaway and choices include half a kilo of wings, buttermilk fried chicken burger or wrap with fries, or a quarter chicken. There’s also a veggie falafel option.
All Greek Streetfood – Central
For £5.50 you can devour your choice of filled pitta including meat options like chicken and pork gyros or souvlaki, or halloumi if you’re vegetarian. They mostly come served with salad and sauces inside but you can tailor your order to suit. For £7 you can have it with fries.
The Meat Shack – Southside
On Fridays my favourite burger joint offers a choice of burger or chicken bombs plus some fries for £6. The offer runs 12-3pm and you have to eat in, but this is an absolute steal.
Habaneros – Central
This street food van is open 11:30-3pm on weekdays just off Colmore Row, outside ‘pigeon park’. There’s always a queue but the burritos and bowls are banging and cost from just £4.50. On Mondays you get a side of nachos and a soft drink for free – yes really. It’s takeaway only.
Fazeley Social – Digbeth
Over in Digbeth there’s a daytime cafe offering great lunch deals for people living and working in the area. The menu changes each week but there’s always specials on from midday that are mostly under £6. For example, recently they had a Thai green curry with wild rice for £4.95.
Hookways – Central
Hidden away in Minories arcade, this tiny takeaway offers hot food but it’s the salad bar many people love. You can grab a small box filled how you like it for £3.50 at lunchtime during the week.
The Stable – Central
If you like thin base pizzas and cider this restaurant has a £6.50 lunch menu that may be up your street. There’s a choice of pizza, wrap or salad – it’s eat-in only.
Salcooks – St Paul’s
Probably the smallest deli in the city, there’s always queues at lunchtime and it’s only open 11:30-2:30pm on weekdays – but the takeaway lunches are brilliant. The menu changes constantly but £5 or less can (for example) get you a slice of freshly baked pie and a pastel de nata for pud.
Damascena – Central
The central branch of Damascena offers a lunch bargain with a falafel wrap (with delicious pickles on the side) and a full size fattuush salad for £6.95. It’s lot of food for very little money.
Indian Streatery – Central
At lunchtimes during the working week you can get chaats and curry bowls from £4.95. There’s two venues (one on Bennetts Hill, one at Bullring) and you can eat in or takeaway. It’s a lovely independent and the food is undeniably super value.
Rudy’s Pizza – Central
Calling all the vegans: did you know you can get the Marinara for just £4.90? It’s topped with the house tomato base, garlic, oregano, basil and olive oil. They’ve just introduced takeaway at Rudy’s apparently, so not just an eat-in option anymore.
The Village – Moseley
£6.50 here gives your choice of sandwich or wrap plus fries or a cup of soup, as long as you visit between 12-3pm during the week. If you fancy something even cheaper, head to Peacer up the road for a big slice of pizza for £3.50.
The Lost & Found – Central
This bar has a lunch menu featuring salads, topped flatbreads and pizzas. It’s eat-in only so better for lunch with friends and costs just £7.
Yakinori – Selly Oak
For £5.99 you can get the main of the day, plus a small miso soup and a green tea. The last time I went it was katsu curry with rice, but they often have noodle dishes available. The offering changes daily (eg there’s no set weekly menu) but the price remains the same.
As well as these deals and cheap eats above, don’t forget to sign up to discount apps like Wriggle and Independent Birmingham. You can also use apps like Too Good To Go to bag yourself leftover grub from restaurants and cafes while saving food from going to waste.
As the city has a massive student population, a lot of places (particularly the popular chain restaurants) also take NUS/student cards so it’s worth asking when you visit places if yours in valid.