Cheap eats around Australia

Melbourne 

Nhan Ngai (178 Swan St, Richmond VIC 3121)

Lunchtime crowds flock to Nhan Ngai for freshly-made rice paper rolls and banh mi. For up to $3.90, you can choose between one of 10 rice paper roll fillings and six dipping sauces. If you’re after something more substantial, try a banh mi – the signature NN Chicken roll costs $8.50, while a crispy pork and crackling variety will set you back $9. 

A1 Bakery (643-645 Sydney Rd, Brunswick VIC 3056)

Catch the tram up Sydney Road to visit one of Melbourne’s favourite bakeries. Although it may be hard to choose between the delicious range of pies, pizzas, breads and wraps, try the A1 special pizza – it’s got everything from zaatar and beef to haloumi cheese. A1 also doubles as a Middle Eastern grocer, so stock up on goods such as oils, dips, spices and sweets before you leave.  

Don Don (198 Little Lonsdale St, Melbourne City VIC 3000)

This Melbourne institution is notoriously difficult to find, but it’s worth looking for when you only have to pay $7.70 for a bowl of chicken teriyaki donburi. Be aware that the line to order can get long around lunch time, so try and schedule your visit around peak times.  

Sydney 

Marrickville Pork Roll (362 Illawarra Rd, Marrickville NSW 2204)

Head to Sydney’s inner west to sample one of the city’s best banh mi rolls from an unassuming hole-in-the-wall counter. The lines can get long, but the service is so efficient that you’ll have a delicious pork roll in your hands in no time. The best part? A pork banh mi will only set you back $5.  

El Jannah (4-6 South St, Granville NSW 2142)

The trek out to Sydney’s west will be worth it for some of El Jannah’s famed chicken with garlic sauce. For $7.50, you can get half a chicken with a small tub of garlic sauce. You can also grab falafel, shawarma and tawouk rolls for under $10. 

Mappen Noodle Bar (Shop 11, Skyview Shopping Plaza, 537-551 George St, Sydney City NSW 2000) 

One of many Japanese restaurants in Skyview Plaza, Mappen stands out due to its cafeteria-style service and consistently delicious noddles. Grab a large bowl of tempura with your choice of udon or soba noodles for $9.90 – bring along some spare change if you’d like to try some of the sides, like a mini kara-age bowl ($3.90). 

Brisbane 

Govinda’s (358 George St, Brisbane QLD 4000) 

A vegetarian institution in Brisbane’s city centre, Govinda’s is a fantastic option for hungry bellies on a budget. Their ‘feast meal’ for students is unbeatable in terms of value for money – you get vegetable curry, dahl, vegetable koftas, rice, pappadams, dessert and drinks for a $10 note. 

The Bagel Boys (126 Adelaide St, Brisbane City QLD 4000)

With all bagels $10 or under, this popular Brisbane shop is perfect for a cheap but delicious breakfast or lunch. If you’re feeling hungry, try the Bagels Boys Club ($9.50) with chicken, bacon, tomato, lettuce and aioli sauce. Vegetarians and vegans can also rejoice -there’s a number of suitable options on the menu, like the Feta ‘n’ Beet bagel ($8.50). 

The Tibetan Kitchen (216 Petre Terrace, Spring Hill QLD 4000)

Enjoy some traditional Tibetan cuisine with a bowl of spicy, dumpling-laden Mount Everest soup for $7.90. Add some Tibetan bread for $4.90 to round out this delicious meal. 

Adelaide 

Sit Lo (30 Bank St, Adelaide SA 5000) 

A popular lunch spot in the city, you’ll be able to grab a huge bowl of pho, a raved-about banh mi or three rice paper rolls for a $10 note.  

Revolucion Mexicana (Shop 47, Central Market Arcade, 30 Gouger St, Adelaide SA 5000)

If you’re a Mexican food fan on a tight budget, this is the place to go in Adelaide. Make use of some of the awesome weekday food specials – Mondays offer $9 burrito lunches, Taco Tuesdays bring $4 tacos and Wednesdays give students 20% off all food. 

Piroshki Café (Shop 3, Adelaide Central Markets, 44-60 Gouger St, Adelaide SA 5000)

Head down to the Central Markets to sample some traditional Russian cuisine. Grab boiled beef, potato or pork dumplings for $9.50, or try a bowl of borsch instead ($9.50). 

Perth 

Taka Japanese Cuisine (150-152 Barrack St, Perth WA 6000 and 6 Henderson St, Fremantle WA 6160)

For cheap and delicious Japanese food, make sure you visit one of Taka’s popular restaurants. A large serving of chicken katsu with free miso soup will set you back $8.50, while a bowl of chicken ramen will give you change from a $10 note. 

Toastface Grillah (Corner of Wellington and Barrack St, Perth WA 6000)

With clever names and unique ingredients, you’ll be sure to find a tasty toastie at Toastface Grillah. Stick to a ham, cheese and mustard variation ($7), or branch out and try the ‘Pear Grillz’ ($9) – it’s crammed full of blue cheese, pear and lime chutney. 

Tommy Sugo (225 Oxford St, Leederville WA 6007 and Broadway Fair Shopping Centre, 88 Broadway, Nedlands WA 6009)

Enjoy some quality pasta for a touch over $10 at Tommy Sugo’s revered Perth restaurants. Choose a regular serving of pasta from $10 before adding your choice of sauce, whether it be the Mr Meaty Bolognese or Hulk Pesto, from $1. 

Canberra 

Zaab Lao Thai Street Food (Shop 2, 9 Lonsdale St, Braddon ACT 2612)

Workers and students alike flock to this popular restaurant for their unbeatable lunch box offer. If you’re one of the first 50 people to buy your lunch on weekdays from 12pm onwards, you’ll get a rotating selection of meals, from tofu laksa to yellow chicken curry, for only $8.50. 

Indo Café (Ground floor of Waldorf Apartments, London Circuit, Canberra ACT 2601)

Another popular lunch time haunt in Canberra, this restaurant serves up an economical lunch box special. Choose between rendang, satay, mi goreng and many more dishes for only $8. 

The Goods Wholefoods (Level 1, 40 Marcus Clarke St, Canberra ACT 2601)

If you’re looking for cheap, healthy food options, try the topped toast at this Canberra café. For $9, you can top your piece of wholemeal toast with avocado, beetroot hummus, pea smash or ricotta and strawberries. 

Hobart 

The Soup Stop (4 Barrack St, Hobart TAS 7000)

For inexpensive but quality vegetarian cuisine, head to this store in Hobart’s city centre. The Indian inspired menu does rotate occasionally, but you’ll find delicious options like samosas ($7.90) and refreshing mango lassis ($5.5) available all year round. 

Mint (44 Elizabeth St, Hobart TAS 7000)

If you’re after quality South-East Asian street food, head to this hawker-style outlet for rice paper rolls ($4 each) and Vietnamese-inspired baguettes ($9). 

Sawak Café (131 Collins St, Hobart TAS 7000)

For delicious but inexpensive Malaysian take-away, try Sawak Café’s range of rice, stir fry and noodle dishes. Nasi goreng with vegetables or a barbecue pork noodle soup will set you back $10, while snacks such as chicken wings and roti canai cost under $5. 

Darwin 

CHOW Restaurant (19 Kitchener Drive, Darwin City NT 0800)

One of Darwin’s most popular restaurants, CHOW offers great Vietnamese food at a reasonable price. If you’re sticking to a budget, try their lunch menu – you can grab a banh mi or small plates of food for $10. 

Sari Rasa (Unit 6, 24 Cavenagh St, NT 0800)

While this Indonesian café can be hard to find, it’s worth the look for its generous servings of flavoursome food at a cheap price. For $12, you can opt for a small plate of three hot dishes with your choice of rice or noodles. 

Mary’s Laksa (Parap Village Markets, 3 Vickers St, Parap NT 0804)

Head out to Parap Village on a Saturday morning to sample what many believe to be Darwin’s best laksa. Navigate your way through the market to find Mary’s Laksa stall and for $9.50, you can grab a bowl of homemade laksa or noodle soup. 

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