Best Cheap Eats in Melbourne, Australia - eat till your heart's content
For the truly budget-conscious local or traveller in Melbourne, Australia, finding good food at affordable prices can pose a problem, especially if you do not have the scoop on where to go to.
Without a doubt, metropolitan Melbourne has restaurants a plenty. Variety is not an issue, for sure. Because of the influx of migrants from all over the world across a period of 40 years, we are now blessed with a smorgasbord of exciting food from different exotic cultures. While on the whole, most restaurants here are pretty reasonable in their pricing as compared to other cities Down Under, I intend to give you the lowdown on the cheap and affordable Melbourne restaurants that offer quality, great food and service. All these eating in Melbourne information from an insider's point of view!
How do I rate Cheap Eats?
I will categorise the following into two sections: Cheap Eats (restaurants where the main course costs between $10 and $15) and Best Cheap Eats (main course $10 and under).
CHEAP EATS (main course between $10 and $15)
This chain of restaurants has been around for approximately 10 years in Melbourne and offers fine Italian food in the likes of pizzas, pastas and more. This is probably my family's favourite restaurant of all time, as without a doubt, it serves big portions with great service and friendly smiles.
Their delicious pastas (large) are between $12 to just over $14, where we found the servings so generous it could feed two people instead of one! Their pizzas (large - which is much larger than most other Italian restaurants serve in Melbourne) are also of the same ilk, in that it may cost between $14 and $17 but these pizzas easily feed two people. As a family of four, we may pay approximately $60 (inclusive of drinks), but we do take home the leftovers which more often than not, is half of what we ordered! Do note that Sofia do offer more than just pizza and pastas, they also have chicken, veal, beef, seafood on their menu which cost a little more but as main courses they are well worth the dollars. There are about ten Sofia Restaurants around Melbourne, just google it.
La Porchetta has been around Melbourne as long as I have lived here (and possibly more), and that is a cool 20 odd years! Many La Porchetta have sprouted around metropolitan Melbourne over time, some 30 restaurants I believe, BUT THE ONE to go to is definitely the one smack in the heart and vibrancy of Melbourne, located on Victoria Street North Melbourne (close to Victoria Market).
Their pizzas are between $10 to $12 while the pastas are between $12 to $13.50. While portions are not as large as Sofia's, quality is just as good. We particularly enjoy their Fettuccine Carbonara where at $12.30, you cannot go wrong. Our son's favourite, the lasagna, is always done nicely and is priced only at $12.00 for a main course. We particularly find that La Porchetta is the value for money place to go to when you are on a budget but looking for good food while having to feed a number of mouths. We have two teenagers living with us and when they have friends over, this is the restaurant we go to for affordable takeaway.
Situated on Bridge Road in the effervescent Richmond, this humble little eatery offers fantastic aromatic curries at unbelievable prices. You will find a pleasant variety of tandoori, masala, vindaloo, khorma, rogan josh and the like from the Punjabi area of India. Undoubtedly their butter chicken is a firm favourite, many of their hearty main courses are priced between $9.00 to under $20.00. They are opened for 11 am to 9:30pm, lunch and dinner in Melbourne every day of the week.
BEST CHEAP EATS (main course of $10 and under)
Petaling Street Restaurant
Undoubtedly the new kid in town, Petaling Street has quickly become a firm favourite in Box Hill, a suburb in the eastern side of Melbourne. My son and I decided to give this a restaurant a go and discovered that the Salted Fish Chicken Fried Rice to be really nicely done. At approximately $9.00 a dish for majority of the Hawker style foods and dishes that are authentically cooked, it is no wonder that this new establishment has garnered a following as can be seen by the long queues at the door.
Wong's Lucky Bar
Now this must be one of our preferred Best Cheap Eats. Positioned in a traffic island smack in the middle of Maroondah Highway in Box Hill, this basic cafe style eatery offers great Chinese Malaysian cuisine at possibly the cheapest price in Melbourne. The very authentic Hainanese Chicken Rice is sold at only $7.50 while the ever popular Fried Kway Teow is just a shade over $8.00 a pop. Their fare is substantial and includes Hokkien Fried noodles, Roti Chanai with curry and the ever popular Laksa King These meals are served with free Chinese Tea. Cannot find anything cheaper than that in metropolitan Melbourne! Do not expect the décor to be of a restaurant, the prices of the food do not reflect that.
Indian Malaysian at its best! If you had not had Indian Malaysian cuisine, you are most likely missing out on a myriad of flavours that only RIch Maha in Melbourne can dish out. Primarily a cafe-style shop and situated along Burwood Highway in Vermont South, Rich Maha offers a huge variety of Indian Curries so authentic that you seriously cannot tell that it was cooked in Melbourne. My plum favourite is the lip smacking Eggplant Curry priced at $9.00. My sons prefer the Egg Roti Chanai at only $4.00 and served with Dahl and Fish curries. Excellent food at excellent prices!
Fu Long Restaurant
We were introduced to Fu Long Restaurant in Box Hill only 2 years ago and have loved the food they serve. My favourite is without a doubt the Peking Duck. While the duck is priced on the higher side (as most restaurants do as Peking Duck is considered a specialty), the other foods on the menu are well within the my category of Cheap Eats in Melbourne. If you are looking for a cheap lunch, we discovered that Fu Long has a Set Lunch menu whereby for under $10 you get a main course (meat and rice or
noodle) and a drink of your choice from the menu. For a good Chinese Restaurant in Melbourne without all the bells and whistles and at an affordable price, you must give Fu Long Restaurant a go.
This restaurant is on Swanston Street in Melbourne CBD. Their flagship Cantonese dish, the chicken and mushroom claypot rice was cooked with soy and ginger, and like majority of their noodle or rice dishes cooked in claypot, was in the vicinity of $10 and under. Their trading hours are from 10am to 11pm. The cooks are skilled in what they do, the dishes are served very quickly and the food tasty and deliciously fresh. If you are in the eastern suburbs of Melbourne, you will find Claypot King in Glen Waverley.
If there is one restaurant we have frequented over the past 20 years for good food in Melbourne, it would be Pho 888. While our main haunt would be the branch in Box Hill, this restaurant can also be found in Springvale and Richmond, the other two suburbs with pockets mainly populated by Vietnamese. They serve mainly dry noodles or noodle soup, our preference being the Sliced Rare Beef Noodle Soup at $7.50 for small, $8.50 for medium and $9.50 for a large bowl. Known to be cheap and with fast service, This is the place to go to on a cold winter's night for a nice hot noodle soup. As its price of food might suggest, this is not a restaurant with a cosy ambiance for a romantic night, it is more of a sit down, eat your meal and be on your way.
Lord of the Fries
Mmmm... If you are in the CBD, at the corner of Elizabeth Street and Flinders Street just opposite the Flinders Street Station sits the delectable Lord of the Fries. The fries with their mouth watering sauces (Aussie, American, Belgian, Indian, Parisian, Thai and Vietnamese flavours) are really to die for. Our family's favourite, their burgers are also top class, come in three sizes - mega $7.95, big $5.95 and mini $3.95. They cater for the night owls on Friday and Saturday, opening till at least 4am on Saturday and 3am on Sunday.
Now if you would like a quick fresh delicious tasty meal and a movie, you cannot go past Grill'd. Their burgers are cooked to order, with majority of their burgers priced from $10.00 to $12,00 while their smaller Snack burgers are at $6.90. The burger patties are either beef, lamb or chicken. These burgers are definitely the healthy alternative to what is already out there. The great thing with Grill'd is that they have also teamed up with many of the local cinemas to offer movie tickets at sensational prices. For example, when we dined at Grill'd in Melbourne Central, we purchased movie tickets for $10 each with each of our burger purchase to watch the latest movie at that time, "Salt' starring Angelina Joile. People queueing up some few metres away at the cinemas was paying $17.00 a pop. The way I figured, I'd pay $10.00 for a burger and $10.00 for a movie, I'd only be paying $20.00 in total and I had a complete meal before the movie. What a deal!
I hope to keep updating this hub as I discover more cheap eats in Melbourne. And perhaps update with photos as well. Meanwhile, you enjoy your stay in this classy city, this year voted the 2nd most livable city in the world, after Vancouver in Canada.
Take care :)
Ezra Tapania from Chocolate Buddha shares his 5 favourite cheap eats in Melbourne
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