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Mar 28, 2010 06:02 PM

Cheap Eats in Sydney and other places in Australia

I'm going to be in Australia for a couple of weeks (and New Zealand for a couple of days) - are there any signature or must-have cheap eats that I should have while I'm there both including restaurants and other food stands or carts or anything? Particularly in Sydney and Melbourne, but we'll be all around, so open to anything.

Happy to be referred to any quintessential cheap eats threads Australia hounds may know that I may have missed as well. Thanks.

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  1. a meat pie at HArry's Cafe de Wheels in Woolomooloo in Sydney is a must.

    pho in Melbourne, preferably anywhere in Richmond.

    Yum Cha in China Town in Melb, Schezhuan food at Dainty Schezhuan's in Prahran, any number of the cakes at the jewish cake shops in Acland Street, St Kilda, and grab a copy of The Age's "Cheap Eats" in Melbourne

    1. Sailor Thai in Sydney and Lord Nelson Pub in the Rocks are some of my fave cheap eats..
      I'm sure PhilD and other fab posters will chime in.
      Some great pubs with excellent food in Melbourne..

      1. Australia has become expensive over the last few years so you need to be careful. The best bet is to head for Asian food, and I would say Sydney probably has the edge of Melbourne. For good value Australian bistro food then Melbourne has the edge with a much stronger and better value mid-market than Sydney.

        Thai food is very good. Sailor Thai has is expensive so I would recommend "Spice I am" and "Chat Thai" both very good especially if you like heat. "Mamak" is a very good Malaysian Roti house which you shouldn't miss. There are also lots of Pho and Ramen shops around the China Town area of Sydney which are cheap and good, see Helen's blog is a good resource. As with any big city some of the best cheap eats are out in the burbs, i.e. the best Vietnamese will be in Cabramatta.

        If you like Greek, try downstairs at the Civic Hotel in the bistro Monday to Friday lunch, good basic food cooked by one of the cities top Greek chefs grandmother.

        The meat pies at Harry's are a bit of a tourist thing, I prefer a "pie floater" in Adelaide myself, but Harry's has a good location down by the water with a few good pubs close by.

        5 Replies
        1. re: PhilD

          I'm just in Sydney for a few days. I am surprised at how expensive the food is here at even fairly ordinary restaurants in Chinatown. I suppose part of the difference in price compared to American restaurants is that there is no expectation of a 15-20% gratuity here, but still ...

          1. re: racer x

            I'm perplexed why people assume that Australia is cheaper than the US. Without wishing to sound rude, why is this an automatic assumption?

            1. re: mr_gimlet

              I can't speak for others, but I wasn't expecting Sydney prices to be lower than in the US.
              My surprise is at how much higher they seem to be compared to a number of international cities I have visited, as well as US cities.
              And I'm also thinking in terms of restaurant prices vs. hotel and public transit prices in Sydney (then thinking about what those ratios seem to be in other cities).

              1. re: racer x

                Fair enough. Australia's economy is very strong at the moment, and so is our currency, so there is substantial impact there. I would also note that prices in the middle of the CBD (Chinatown) are generally a lot higher than the burbs, where most of the good, cheap restaurants are located.

                1. re: mr_gimlet

                  It's all relative , historically the exchange rate has been much more favorable to the US Dollar. Australia has developed a stronger economy in recent years by exporting raw materials to communist China and have developed a bit of a nouveau riche persona along with a more valuable currency.
                  Business owners in Australia also have to pay into the retirement fund of all employees, unlike in the US where only the elite get such a benefit. So the overhead is by definition higher than the US.
                  However, Canada also has a strong economy and worker benefits, yet they can still serve you a pub hamburger for less than $16 and a chicken caesar salad for less than $15 -- so I really think something is not quite right with the food pricing in Oz these days.

        2. For Sydney:
          I really like the Lebanese food at Jasmin - and it is so close to the train stop. Two of us ate there for under $20. Also in love with Laksa. Also check out the Gumshara Ramen. There are many places to get laksa, but I like a place on Hunter

          also Chat Thai and Spice I am.

          1. Can't speak much for Sydney, but while in Melbourne I've got a few prize suggestions. I lived downtown for a couple years, and most of my haunts were by foot. So I'll pick places in the CBD.
            To add to the "Pho" comment, I'd say Vina Bar is the best, on Lygon St, although Richmond I'm sure would be a good bet as it has a huge vietnamese population.
            Great cheap asian/japanese easts found at Don Don's, corner of little Lonsdale and Swanston.
            If you like greek, go for a lamb souvlaki at Stalactites. If you're feeling brave, go for the double meat order. Bring a bib.
            A MUST try are barbeque pork buns at this little chinese joint on Russell. Not sure what it's called, but it's in between Lonsdale and Little Bourke. There's a few roasting ducks hanging in the window and all the giant bamboo steaming pots in the window.
            Grilled - a burger franchise also make pretty killer burgers. There's a bunch now in the city, but one for sure at the QV. Not AS cheap, but still cheap for Melbourne, around 10 bucks. I've gotta say, Melbourne's food although great, comes at a price at most places, my first 17 dollar burger was at the James Squire....... yes, it was amazing. But 17 dollar's for a burger?.....ouch.
            As for a signature Aussi meal?.... not sure where you're from, but a standard is Chicken Parma served on a bed of chips (thick cut fries). Not exactly "aussie" I suppose, but they all love it.