London: Meal Deals and Steals

022607_ArbutusF.jpg In London, pre- and post-theater dining is a terrific way to save money when dining out. Here are some places where we’ve struck gold in the past.

For a prix-fixe deal on classic French food, head to Café des Amis (11-14 Hanover Place, WC2E, Covent Garden), the ground floor of L’Escargot (48 Greek Street W1D, Soho) or Arbutus (63 Frith Street W1D, Soho), where two courses before 7 p.m. will set you back less than £15. Philippe Starck-designed Asia de Cuba (45 St. Martin’s Lane, Covent Garden) does three-course bento boxes for those in need of a quick bite, and Bali Bali (150 Shaftesbury Avenue, Soho) offers a pre-theater menu for £9 featuring six Malaysian and Indonesian dishes, served in a casual, family-run eatery that prides itself on authenticity.

Budget Eats at Any Hour

Belgian: Cross the metal gantry in Belgo Centraal (150 Earlham Street, Covent Garden, 020/7813-2233), where a mound of mussels costs less than £10 and you can sample the largest selection of Belgian beers in the country. Continuing the Continental theme, the same road offers Bunker Bierhall (41 Earlham Street, Covent Garden, 020/7240-0606), where you can sit on the benches and quaff pilsner from a two-pint stein.

Italian: For those who prefer authentic Italian, there’s Amaretto (116 Tottenham Court Road, Soho, 020/7387-6234), a family-run restaurant with solid red-sauce cuisine, or Spaghetti House (30 St. Martin’s Lane, Trafalgar Square, 020/7836-1626), a local chain offering pizzas and pastas.

Pan-Asian: For dinner, drinks, and dancing in a hip, Asian-accented lounge, The Langley (5 Langley Street, Covent Garden, 020/7836-5005) offers great value on green curries, battered prawns, and other bar favorites in a futuristic space. Fusion pizza restaurant Fire and Stone (31-32 Maiden Lane, Covent Garden, 020/7379-4793) serves traditional dough bases with toppings inspired by five continents, all below £9. The Koh Samui pizza features coconut curry sauce, roasted chicken, fried shallots, hot chiles, and mozzarella. Bon appetit!