I should point out that the list of cheap eats in Sydney below includes the very cheap, but also has a few restaurants that are closer to $25 and under for mains. I have included these restaurants in the list below because they are still a good value for money, such as Una's in Darlinghurst and Maggie's Cafe in Kings Cross where mains are around $23, but the portions could easily feed two people.
Under each description, we have included a suggestion of what to order plus a price range to help guide you.
The 25 Best Cheap Eats in Sydney
Harbourside Shopping Centre (at the Pyrmont Pedestrian Bridge end), Westfield Shopping Centre in the CBD, The Galeries Shopping Centre, and World Square Shopping Centre
It's all about the burgers at Grill'd and they take their craft seriously. You might find it difficult to choose from the long list of burgers, but don't fret as it's impossible to make a bad choice. If you're feeling like something more “healthy”, the salads are very large and fresh but don't leave out a side order of chips or you will regret it.
Try: Hot chips here are really good, nice and salty with rosemary, the grilled chicken salad is huge and the lamb burgers are Aussie classics.
Burgers under $12, Steak Sandwiches are $15, and Salads under $13
Monday to Thursday 11 am – 10 pm, Friday and Saturday 11 am – 11 pm, and Sunday 11 am -10 pm
2. Yum Cha at Fisherman's Wharf Seafood Restaurant
Pyrmont, Sydney Fish Market
Chinese restaurant is known for its Yum Cha, a.k.a Dim Sum in the States. Yum Cha is servings of small Chinese dishes that include a large variety of mainly steamed items, such as dim sums and barbecued-pork buns, served from trolleys that go around to diners' tables.
Try: Prawn filled steam dumplings, chili fried squid or the barbecued pork steamed buns.
Starters $6-$10, Mains $15-$30
Yum Cha is served daily, Monday to Friday : 11 am – 3 pm, Saturday and Sunday : 10 am – 3 pm
Dinner Monday to Sunday 5:30 pm – 11 pm
3. Guzman and Gomez
Martin Place, Level 6, MLC Centre Food Court or Australia Square Food Court, 264 George Street, and many other locations throughout the city.
From Tacos to Quesadillas, Burritos to Black Beans, this is Mexican food for those short on time who don't want to compromise on quality, flavor, or nutrition.
Try: Chicken burrito with guacamole, or the steak and onions.
Burritos under $11, Tacos 3 for $10.50
Lunch: Monday to Friday 11 am – 4 pm
4. GPO Restaurants
Martin Place, No. 1 Martin Place, under the Westin Hotel
GPO is a collection of restaurants plus a bar, a very popular Friday night hang out especially if a big sports event is on the telly. There are more expensive options at GPO, but don't waste your money, stick to the very thin crust pizza or the salt and pepper squid, served at the counter next to the pizza counter.
Try: Spagnola and salsicce pizzas are the most popular pizzas at GPO for a good reason.
Pizzas under $20
Lunch: Monday to Friday – 12 pm to 3 pm
Dinner: Monday to Wednesday 6 pm – 9:30 pm, Thursday to Saturday 6 pm – 10 pm
5. Le Grand Café by Bakers Maison
City Centre, 257 Clarence Street
This is the main hang out for students from the Alliance Francaise language school and other francophiles as the little french cafe is fluent in many French classics such as freshly baked croissants.
Try: Baguette Melt or Egg & Bacon roll if it's early followed up by one of the pastries.
Breakfast under $10, Lunch under $15
Monday to Friday 8 am – 6:30 pm, Saturday 8 am – 3 pm
City Centre, Queen Victoria Building, Level 1
A quick place for lunch, great central location. A good place to stop and refuel.
Try: Sandwiches cooked by wood-fired oven or a mini calzone. Coffee is not too bad either.
Breakfast under $15, Lunch under $20
Breakfast Monday to Sunday 9 am to 11 am, Lunch Monday to Friday 11 am to 5 pm Saturday and Sunday 11 am to 4 pm, Dinner Thursday and Friday 5 pm to 8 pm
7. Big Bite On Pitt
City Centre, 3/250 Pitt Street
Monster sandwiches on offer at this popular sandwich shop. Sandwiches are big enough to share.
Try: Chicken schnitzel with homemade lemon chive mayonnaise.
All Sandwiches $8
Monday to Friday 7:30 am – 3:30 pm, Saturday and Sunday 9 am – 5 pm
8. Chefs Gallery
Chinatown, Regent Place, 501 George Street (entry on Bathurst Street)
Chinese restaurant that is all about sharing with a friend. You get to try more and split the cost. That's a win for me. Be sure to get a good seat to watch the chefs make the incredible fresh noodles and dumplings.
Try: Definitely split one of the handmade noodles and then get a small share plate like the BBQ Pork Bun or the Spicy Prawn and Pork Wonton, if you can handle spicy food.
Starters start at $13, Noodles start at $20, BYO corkage $15 a bottle
Lunch 11:30 am – 3 pm, Dinner 5:30 pm – 10 pm
Chinatown, 299 Sussex Street
Cool little Thai restaurant that serves fast authentic street food. Watch out, curries can be spicy.
Try: Green mango salad, Thai fish cakes, and the deep-fried soft shell crab.
Starters under $12, Mains under $25, BYO corkage $4 a head
Daily 11 am – 10:30 pm
10. Sydney Madang
Chinatown, 371A Pitt Street
The Korean barbecue experience seems a bit odd at first but is fun dining as you get to barbecue directly at your table. Sounds a bit weird but trust me, you'll get into it.
Try: Baby octopus and the thin cut strips of beef in special sauce.
Starters under $17, Mains $15-$50 BYO; corkage $4 a head
Daily 11:30 am – midnight
11. Din Tai Fung
Chinatown, Shop 11.04, Level 1 in World Square
These Chinese dumplings are a once-a-month visit for me. It's good to show up a little early for lunch as it gets crowded. Also, be careful when ordering as things add up quickly. You can always order more.
Try: Prawn and pork wontons and Xiao long bao, Shanghai dumpling soup.
Starters under $10, Mains under $25 BYO; corkage $10 a bottle
Lunch Monday to Friday 11:30 am – 2:30 pm, Saturday and Sunday 11 am – 3 pm
Dinner Monday to Wednesday 5:30 pm – 9 pm, Thursday to Saturday 5 pm – 9:30 pm Sunday 5 pm – 9 pm
Chinatown, 15 Goulburn Street
Be prepared to wait in line at this popular Malaysian restaurant, don't worry though as the line moves faster than you would think. Your order will begin to arrive before you give back the menus.
Try: The roti canai and beef skewers are a good place to start. Lamb curry and the fried chicken are solid chooses for dinner. The more adventurous might want to go for the smoky Mee Goreng and hot sambal prawns.
Starters under $10, Mains under $20 BYO; corkage is $2 a head
Lunch 11:30 am – 2:30 pm, Dinner Sunday – Thursday 5:30 pm – 9:30 pm, Friday and Saturday 5:30 pm – 2 am
13. Gumshara Ramen
Chinatown, 25-29 Dixon Street, Eating World
Nothing like the cheap ramen noodles college students survive on. This noodle stand is located in a busy food court off Dixon Street with very little to tell it apart from the rest except for its fans slurping away close by.
Try: Pork spareribs and tonkotsu soup.
Starters under $5, Main under $15
Tuesday to Sunday 10 am – 10 pm
14. Chat Thai
Chinatown, 20 Campbell Street and Level 6 Westfield Centre.
This Thai restaurant is the star of Sydney's “Thai Town”. The open grill will entertain you while you wait in line for a table.
Try: Definitely start with some fresh spring rolls and try the house specialty, coconut ice cream on sticky rice.
Starters under $20, Mains under $25, BYO corkage $3.50 a head
Lunch 10 am – 5 pm, Dinner 5 pm – 10 pm, Late night 9:30 – 2 am
15. Harry's Cafe de Wheels
Chinatown and Woolloomooloo, Cowper Wharf Roadway
Harry's is a Sydney icon, a very popular place to get something quick to eat after a big night out.
Try: The Tiger, beef pie with mushy peas, mash and gravy.
Pies under $15
Monday to Tuesday 9 am – 10 pm, Wednesday to Thursday 9 am – 1 am, Friday to Saturday 9 am – 4 am, Sunday 10 am – 10 pm
Chinatown, Levels 4 and 5, 683-689 George Street
Not only is Marigold the biggest but it's also thought to be the best Yum Cha in Sydney. It's not unusual to see one of Sydney's celebrity chefs ordering dumplings at one of the many tables. Try to arrive early or make a booking: 02 9281 3388.
Try: Caramelized roast pork steamed buns.
Yum Cha under $25, Dinner under $50
Lunch Daily 10 am – 3 pm, Dinner Daily 5:30 pm – late
17. Spice I Am
Surry Hills, 90 Wentworth Avenue
An absolute favorite not just because of the no-charge BYO, but also because there isn't a bad dish to be had. Be careful though as spicy truly means spicy.
Try: So many good dishes you really can't go wrong with any of them, but to help you out try pad prik king crispy pork belly or the massaman duck special.
Starters under $10, Mains under $25, BYO no charge! Cash Only!
Lunch 11 am – 3:30 pm, Dinner 5:45 pm – 10 pm
18. Single Origin Roasters
Surry Hills, 60-64 Reservoir Street
Be sure to pair your coffee with breakfast at this Surry Hills coffee mecca. There at lunchtime instead? Why not try Single's pale ale with a Shepherd's pie instead.
Try: Avo Toast with hummus and pickled fennel or Lemon and Pepperberry
Chicken Toastie with shaved halloumi. And of course, finish off any meal with a coffee and splurge on a Portuguese tart.
Breakfast under $18, Lunch under $18
Monday to Friday 6:30 am – 2 pm
19. Poolside Cafe
Woolloomooloo, 1C Mrs Macquarie Rd
Enjoy the panoramic views over Sydney Harbour and watch the lapping swimmers from behind the café’s floor-to-ceiling glass windows or the open-air terrace. Pool patrons can pop upstairs to grab a bite to eat or you can breeze in from the Domain for breakfast and Campos coffee or enjoy lunch with a glass of wine.
Try: On a nice sunny day, this is the place to be for breakfast or weekend brunch.
Breakfast under $20, Lunch under $20
Daily 7:30 am – 4 pm
20. Collier's Sandwich Company
Woolloomooloo, 87 – 91 Cathedral Street
Great little spot in Woolloomooloo to stop for lunch. Serves fancy sandwiches.
Try: Colliers club sandwich, lamb wrap baguette or the chicken focaccia.
Breakfast under $10, Sandwiches under $11.50
Monday to Friday 7:30 am – 3:30 pm
21. Lucio Pizzeria
Darlinghurst, Republic 2 Courtyard, 248 Palmer Street
Lucio has been one of the most popular pizza joints in the city for years. Instead of waiting in line just give them your name plus mobile number then go have a drink at The Village pub next door and they will give you a bell when your table is ready. What service!
Try: Pizzas are cooked in a wood-fired oven and toppings are fresh. Can't make up your mind try the Lucio's signature.
Pizzas under $25
Wednesday to Monday 6 pm – 10 pm
Darlinghurst, 50 Burton Street
This is a very fast-paced Vietnamese restaurant. The best way to conquer Phamish is to work as a team. Pick out what you want from the daily menu listed on the wall, then one person head to the counter to order, and the other quickly grabs a table if available. Phamish is located on a residential street off Oxford Street in the courtyard of an apartment building. Well worth searching it out.
Try: Chicken and prawn pancakes or the duck and banana flower salad.
Starters under $15, Mains under $20 BYO corkage $2 a head
Tuesday to Saturday 6 pm – 9:30 pm, Sunday 5:30 pm – 9:30 pm
23. Sushi Yachiyo
Darlinghurst, Shop 1/13 Kirketon Road
It is a bit louder than most sushi places but good and cheap keeping customers coming back for more. The lunch bento boxes are a bargain.
Try: The rainbow roll is excellent and the chicken sesame katsu is a good follow up. But for sure the lunch bento boxes are the best deal.
Starters under $25, Mains under $35 BYO wine corkage $3.20 a head
Lunch Tuesday to Sunday Noon – 2:30 pm, Dinner 6 pm – 11 pm
Darlinghurst, 340 Victoria Street
Be sure to show up to Una's hungry as the portions here often spill off the plate. The food here is your basic German affair, nothing fancy. Service is usually very quick.
Try: Chicken schnitzel, the cheese stuffed pork fillet or the goulash. Also a great spot for a large breakfast.
Breakfast under $15, Starters under $12, Mains under $25 BYO $2.50 a head
Monday to Saturday 7:30 am – 10:30 pm, Sunday 8 am – 10:30 pm
25. Four In Hand Hotel
Paddington, 105 Sutherland Street (on the corner of Elizabeth Street)
One of my favorite neighborhood pubs. There is a two-hat restaurant if you want to have something a little more upscale but they also serve good bar food. The Sunday roast is one of the best in the city.
Try: Ask what the daily special is. They often have a 2 for 1 special. Burgers are good as is the chicken schnitzel.
Starters under $14, Mains under $24
Monday, Wednesday, Thursday, Saturday 11 am – 11 pm, Tuesday, Friday 12 pm – 11 pm, Sunday 11 am – 10 pm
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