Hi I am hoping for some suggestions on places to shop for picnic lunches, street delis' or good pubs that are reasonably priced in London. Any tips are appreciated
Where in London will you be located? Marks & Spencer's has a food area in their store near Covent Garden and also at Paddington Station. There are Sainsburys all over town as well as Tesco. For something higher end there is the food hall at Harrods.
As has been mentioned, all of the grocery chains have an extensive selection of foods to go and other items that will work for a picnic. Beyond that there are also many, many establishments that focus mainly on "take-away". My impression was that most of London seems to do take out as opposed to cooking or eating out. We were in Kensington and popped into a Whole Foods, big three story operation, and two thirds of it was dedicated to take out and food court type places. My favorite option though is to hit markets, lots of ethnic foods, sandwiches, snacks....at the Portabello Road market there is a place that makes killer Paella.
For pubs, most are reasonably priced, you will run into Gastropubs that seem to charge 15 pounds for a burger, but the Wetherspoon Pubs and the Nicholson Pubs (lots of the pubs you run across will be run by one of these two orgsanizations) do have a dependable, if not similar, menu, decent food, for OK prices. The Fuller pubs tend to be a little pricier, but overall better food and a bit more unique menus.
Beyond that, we found lots of good pizza, Indian curries of course, Pasties, the list goes on. The main killer for a cheap meal though is alcohol, figure 4 pounds for a good pint, 6 pounds for a decent glass of wine.
I would suggest Pret A Manger for take out. They have different pricing for take away. You will see this chain all over London. I am also a big fan of Mark and Spencer's and Princi (Italian). If there is a day when you feel like sitting down to eat I always like Wagamama. Its a reasonable noodle restaurant. There are several in London.
Last year I ate most of my lunches wherever I happened to be at that time: At Westminister Abbey I ate downstairs in their Cafe, at the Tower of London I ate at the new international cafe market, at the Cabinet War Rooms I ate at their cafe. I find musuems and main sights usually have good and hearty budget meals. I was very pleased with London.
I used Pret A Manger the most for take away yogurts, salads, & sandwiches. I also just ducked into a couple of pubs to check them out and the menu. If I didn't like the fare I had a pint and just absorbed some local culture. I stayed at the Lime Tree and had some meals and breaks at Tom Toms across the street.
What neighborhood are you staying in?
You can check out the cafeterias under the Methodist Hall (near Westminster Abbey and in Rick's book) or the crypt cafe under St Martin in the Fields. GBK has fun and good burgers and fries. Most groceries, takeaways and even Boots (admittedly I kept to the grocery stores for packaged food) have the sandwich "box triangles" so hop into a Tesco Express, Waitrose or a department store foodhall for that type of thing. As noted, Pret a Manger has fresh food and sandwiches. Afternoon tea is a good way to combine lunch and dinner and then you can get by with just an evening snack. Have fun!
As someone else mentioned, the cafes in museums are reasonable. We ate at the British Museum cafe last year. Had a great lunch. We also like to get fish and chips from a take-away place in the King's Cross/Pancras area. Can't recall the name, but we've gone there two different trips a couple of years apart. Will go again!
Most of the fresh pasty (rhymes with nasty) places serve up a delicious, filling, budget-friendly pasty. You can look for the meal combos at M & S and other stores. These meals include a sandwich, chips or fruit, and a bottled drink at a very reasonable price. Train stations and pubs are mostly good for reasonably -priced food, especially snack items. I'm getting hungry just thinking about pasties. For a treat (and I haven't been there yet) stop in at the Orangerie at Kensington Palace for tea. I think it's open from lunch time until evening.
Portobello Road market on Saturday. Easy walk from Notting Hill Gate tube station.
Good selection of picnic supplies, breads, cheeses, olives, salads, fresh fruit and vegs etc.
You can back track to Kensington Park for a spot to picnic if the weather cooperates.
Bonus-it's fun to browse the antiques and new merchandise.
I also liked The Kati Roll Company on Poland St off of Oxford. Think of it as an Indian burrito or wrap.