Finding an inexpensive restaurant in Sydney is not easy. Sydney restaurants are well known for being over priced, not just in comparison to the States and the UK, but to other Australian cities.
 
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.

Top 25 Cheap Eats in Sydney with Price Range and Recommendations

1. Grill’d

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 11am-10pm, Friday and Saturday 11am-11pm, and Sunday 11am-10pm

2. Yum Cha at Fisherman’s Wharf Seafood Restaurant

Pyrmont, Sydney Fish Market

Chinese restaurant known for its Yum Cha, a.k.a Dim Sum in the States. Yum Cha is servings of small Chinese dishes that includes 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 : 11am-3pm, Saturday and Sunday : 10am-3pm
Dinner Monday to Sunday 5:30pm-11pm

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 – 11am – 4pm

4. GPO Restaurants

Martin Place, No. 1 Martin Place, under the Westin Hotel

GPO is a collection of restaurants plus 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.

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Try: Spagnola and salsicce pizzas are the most popular pizzas at GPO for a good reason.
Pizzas under $20
Lunch: Monday to Friday – 12pm to 3pm
Dinner: Monday to Wednesday – 6pm to 9:30pm, Thursday to Saturday – 6pm to 10pm

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-8am to 6:30pm, Saturday 8am-3pm

6. Vanto

City Centre, Queen Victoria Building, Level 1

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 9am to 11am Lunch Monday to Friday 11am to 5pm Saturday and Sunday 11am to 4pm Dinner Thursday and Friday 5pm to 8pm

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 7:30am-3:30pm, Saturday and Sunday 9am-5pm

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 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 11:30am-3pm, Dinner 5:30pm-10pm

9. Home

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 11am-10:30pm

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 11:30am-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 quick. Be careful when ordering as things add up quick.

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 11:30am-2:30pm, Saturday and Sunday 11am-3pm
Dinner Monday to Wednesday 5:30pm-9pm, Thursday to Saturday 5pm-9:30pm Sunday 5pm-9pm

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12. Mamak

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 11:30am-2:30pm, Dinner Sunday -Thursday 5:30pm-9:30pm, Friday and Saturday 5:30pm – 2am

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 10am-10pm

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 10am-5pm, Dinner 5pm-10pm, Late night 9:30-2am

15. Harry’s Cafe de Wheels

Chinatown and Woolloomooloo, Cowper Wharf Roadway

Harry’s is a Sydney icon, 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 9am–10pm, Wednesday to Thursday 9am–1am, Friday to Saturday 9am–4am, Sunday 10am–10pm

16. Marigold

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 10am-3pm, 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 11am-3:30pm, Dinner 5:45pm-10pm

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 lunch time 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 haloumi. 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 6:30am-2pm

19. Poolside Cafe

Woolloomooloo, 1C Mrs Macquarie Rd

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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 7:30am-4pm

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 7:30am-3:30pm

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 6pm-10pm

22. Phamish

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 6pm-9:30pm, Sunday 5:30pm-9:30pm

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-2:30pm, Dinner 6pm-11pm

24. Una’s

Darlinghurst, 340 Victoria Street

Be sure to show up to Una’s hungry as the portions here often spill off the plate. 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 7:30am-10:30pm, Sunday 8am-10:30pm

25. Four In Hand Hotel

Paddington, 105 Sutherland Street (on the corner of Elizabeth Street)

One of my favourite neighbourhood 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 11am – 11pm, Tuesday, Friday 12pm – 11pm, Sunday 11am – 10pm