Here’s a collection of my favourite cheap places to dine out in Sydney and I’ve even sectioned them by individual cuisine to make your life that much easier. No smart-casual attire needed here…
Chinese: Sydney is home to its very own China Town which is always a favourable option for anyone craving a chow mein. However, to avoid the crowds, you can pay a visit to the underground ‘Dixon House’ food court. This offers a range of Asian food stalls to choose from and prices are usually on the slightly more reasonable side, compared with China Town itself.
Thai: Since I spent my time in Sydney living in the poorly renowned Kings Cross area, I often found myself drifting towards ‘Thai Power’ on a Friday night for their beef massaman curry and healthy portion sizes. Their curry puffs are also a nice addition to your meal, all washed down with a BYOB $6 vino. ‘Satang Thai’ is a more compact, Haymarket based BYOB restaurant, perfect for central city dwellers with a taste for authentic Thai cuisine.
Malaysian: ‘Spice Alley‘ is the little gem of Chippendale and is smack bang near to Central station! This collection of Asian inspired food stalls have a variety of dishes to choose from, with my personal favourite being the Alex Lee chicken curry and roti combo tray. Delicious and of course, BYOB!
Vietnamese: For a cosy and satisfying noodle lunch date, look no further than ‘Biang Biang’ in Haymarket. Roughly around the $14 mark, their stir fry noodle dishes are a mouth-watering representation of traditional Vietnamese delicacies. Stroll further around the same Haymarket area if you wish to sample some Vietnamese ‘Pho’ (noodle soup) at ‘Pho Gia Hoi’ for the attractive price of $12. Why not sample some fresh spring rolls whilst you’re there?
Italian: For pasta, try ‘The Italian Bowl’ in Newtown. With pasta dishes starting from $16, the restaurant is always filled with happy customers, eager to settle their grumbling tummies. The ‘King Prawn Aglio E Olio’ is a personal favourite. For pizza, there is the casual style restaurant; ‘Frankie’s Pizza’ in Central. Their $6 slices are served way into the early hours as it doubles up as a lively bar, serving pints, pizzas and the occasional movie screening. They’re not shy of blasting some live music into your ears either!
Sushi: ‘Sushi train’ always seems to have a stream of hungry customers queuing out of the doors of its small shop in Bondi Junction, so finding a seat around lunch or dinner time often ends in a grievous wait. Despite this chain having a few restaurants to choose from, I’d try to avoid visiting during peak times and instead, head for a late lunch and bask in the novelty of the little dishes whizzing around the bar. I should warn you, this might not be the best place for those with big appetites as these plates tend to stack up quickly!
Indian: ‘The Colonial’ in Darlinghurst boasts ‘British Indian’ cuisine which managed to tempt my tastebuds, after living away from the UK. While locals enjoy their boozy curry night, you can choose from a menu with a full range of flavourful, fragrant curries. They also offer online deals to help stretch those pennies even further. Click here and your next date night is sorted.
Greek: ‘Plateia Where Friends Meet’ is a casual restaurant/ takeaway in Kings Cross which offers scrumptious comfort food with a small outdoor seating area, perfect in summer! Their pitas are filled with an extensive choice of meat or vegetarian options, accompanied with a handful of seasoned chips, greek salad and tzatziki sauce – all for $12!
Lebanese: Cheap and cheerful, ‘Abdul’s Restaurant’ in Surry Hills offers a $16 banquet per person. This classic Meze platter includes chicken skewers, falafel, hummus, olives and more! These platters can also be upgraded to include more options for the fairly inexpensive prices of $21 and $27. As a little bonus, each banquet meal allows use of their private ‘cushion rooms’ where you can enjoy a belly dance display on a Friday and Saturday evening.
Tapas: Unfortunately, Tapas doesn’t come cheap in Sydney but ‘Bar Tapa’ in Darlinghurst will satisfy your cravings for a few mini dishes to share between friends. Their ‘Croquetas del Dia’ are only $9 and alternate every day, so you can keep nipping back for a light bite and a $5 cerveza on tap.
Side note: For those craving a traditional Sunday roast, I can only apologise but in my opinion there isn’t anywhere that I’d consider to be worthy of putting on this list. For a truly authentic roast, do it yourself people!
Personal favourites: Although these last two restaurants aren’t so easy on the purse strings, I felt compelled to mention them due to their generous portion sizes and interesting selections. ‘Unas’ Austrian/ German restaurant in Darlinghurst provides Schnitzels bigger than your head and a delectable beef goulash which will no doubt threaten to burst the buttons on your shirt! Try the traditional soda ‘Almdudler’ for a real taste of Austria.
Last but certainly not least, ‘Milky Lane’ in Bondi beach has to be seen to be believed. Its ‘Last Supper’ inspired wall mural depicts legendary rappers such as Snoop Dogg, Eminem and Biggie all overlooking your table whilst you munch down on a juicy burger, oozing with melted cheese. Your meal can then be washed down with one of their eccentric milkshakes of the month or a signature cocktail. Even their sides are on another level and the staff are always coming up with new ideas to keep bringing those punters back for more. See their Instagram @milkylaneofficial for some serious food porn.