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 an the UK but to other Australian cities.
We should point out that this Cheap Eats Guide for Sydney includes some very cheap eats but also has a few restaurants that are closer to $25 and under for mains. We have included these restaurants in the list below because they are still a good value for money, such as Una’s and Maggie’s Cafe 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.
Add Your Suggestions
Below our list of Sydney’s Cheap Eats, you can have your say. Let us know if you think we have left anything out, need to add a new place or drop one of the restaurants off the list. We would love to hear from you and discover a new restaurant.
Cheap Eats Sydney
Vietnamese restaurant with excellent rice paper rolls and steamed dumplings. A great place to grab a quick bite to eat before or after touring the Sydney Opera House or having a cocktail at the Opera Bar.
Try: Peking Duck Pancakes, 4 pieces $12. Bargain!
Starters $2-$6, Mains under $15
Open Daily From: 7.30am – Late
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
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
From Tacos to Quesdillas, 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
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.
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
Not your typical burger joint, more on the gourmet side. They also have other sandwiches besides burgers.
Try: Onion Rings, hard to find in Australia so grab them when you can, and the chili crab burger are excellent.
Burgers under $20, Toasted Sandwiches under $15
Shopping Centre Hours
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: Quiche Lorraine followed by the apple tarte tatin.
Breakfast under $10, Lunch under $15 Cash Only!
Monday to Friday-8am to 6:30pm, Saturday 8am-3pm
This tiny cafe is run by Becasse, one of Sydney’s famous fine dining restaurants, see our list of restaurants worth the splurge. Plan B is an inexpensive option to taste the best Sydney has to offer but watch out for the lunch time crowd as it can be packed to the rafters. Best option is takeaway then head to Hyde Park for a picnic.
Try: Dessert, in fact skip the sensible lunch options all together and go straight to dessert. If you’re on holiday, why not? Live a little.
Breakfast under $10, Lunch under $15 Cash Only!
Monday to Friday 8am-4pm
Quick place for lunch, great central location. A good place to stop and refuel.
Try: Sandwichs 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
Monster sandwiches on offer at this popular sandwich shop.
Sandwiches are big enough to share.
Try: Chicken schnitzel with home made lemon chive mayonnaise.
All Sandwiches $8
Monday to Friday 7:30am-3:30pm, Saturday and Sunday 9am-5pm
Chinese restaurant that serves some of the cutest food you’ll ever see, no not kidding. Be sure to get a good seat to watch the chefs make the increadible fresh noodles and dumplings.
Try: The cute black sesame filled pig faced buns that come with bows for the girls.
Starters under $13, Mains under $20 BYO; corkage $10 a bottle
Lunch 11am-3pm, Dinner 5pm-10pm
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
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
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
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
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
This Thai restaurant is the star of Sydney’s “Thaitown”. 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
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
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
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
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 Sheppard’s pie instead.
Try: Cheese toastie with smoked ocean trout, Sheppard’s pie or the Andalusian salad with roast butternut squash, quince, eggplant and taleggio cheese. And of course, finish off any meal with a coffee.
Breakfast under $15, Lunch under $15
Monday to Friday 6:30am-2pm
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
Great little spot in Woolloomooloo to stop for lunch. Serves fancy sandwiches.
Try: Panino with beef rissole or baguette with fresh ricotta, tomato and basil.
Breakfast under $10, Sandwiches under $10
Monday to Friday 7:30am-3:30pm
Yes Miss Chu is listed twice, one of my favs. The Darlinghurst location doesn’t have the view of the Opera Kitchen location but it does have more of a neighborhood vibe. Miss Chu is a Vietnamese restaurant with excellent rice paper rolls and steamed dumplings. A great place to grab a quick bite to eat before or after touring the Sydney Opera House or having a cocktail at the Opera Bar.
Try: Peking Duck Pancakes, 4 pieces $12 Bargain!
Starters $2-$6, Mains under $15 BYO corkage $2 a head
Perfect Darlinghurst neighborhood location for breakfast or lunch. As you may have guessed from the name, this little Darlinghurst hangout is under an Italian influence. For breakfast you’ll find frittatas on the menu and for lunch a daily chef’s special that ranges from large pasta dishes to homemade gnocchi.
Try: Scrambled eggs with haloumi and white beans or for lunch, try the chef’s daily special, especially the gnocchi with pork and fennel sausages if on offer.
Breakfast under $16, Lunch under $20 BYO corkage $3 a bottle!
Monday to Friday 7:30am-3:30pm, Saturday 8:30am-3pm
Voted Sydney’s favorite pizza by the Sydney Morning Herald in 2011 makes this one of the most popular pizza joints in the city. 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
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
Neapolitan pizza from the wood-fired oven with traditional Italian toppings. Thin light pizza packed with flavor.
Try: Definitely start with zucchini flowers stuffed with mozzarella cheese.
Pizzas under $26
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
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
This Vietnamese restaurant is a very tasty quick spot for lunch. Can often appear to be crowded but don’t worry they have more seating upstairs.
Try: Combination vermicelli salad or wonderfully fragrant laksa combination.
Lunch under $13, Starters under $16, Dinner under $25
Lunch Monday to Saturady 11am-3pm, Dinner Monday to Saturday 5pm-late
Description: A little french coffee house specialising in a French breakfast and lunch, with plenty of baguettes, brioche and crepes to choose from.
Try: Smoked salmon eggs benedict is to die for, crepes are a close second. Service is excellent and the coffee is even better.
Breakfast under $15, Sandwiches under $10
Open of Breakfast and Lunch only.
Dimly light Japanese restaurant with good sake selection. To miss the crowd and save some cash try the early bird dinner special at $15, includes rice, miso soup, sashimi and main dish.
Try: Finish off dinner with wasabi ice cream served in a swanky cocktail glass.
Starters under $13, Mains under $20 BYO corkage $6 a bottle
(Sorry, Doma has recently closed it’s doors.)
A unique Czech and Slovak restaurant, that offers central European food with a great selection of European beers. They have five Czech world-class beers (Krusovice, Pilsner Urquell, Velkopopovicky Kozel, Budejovicky Budvar and Zlatopramen), including Krusovice Lager on Tap and Bernard Lager on Tap. Then there are spirits like Slivovice (a first class liqueur distilled from selected plums), Becherovka Liqueur, Borovieka, Fernet Stock, Griotte and 70% Absinth – an event in itself.
Try: Smoked loin of pork with creamed spinach and dumplings or the beef goulash.
Starters under $13, Mains under $23
Monday to Thursday 5pm-late, Friday and Saturday 12pm-ate, Sunday 12pm-10pm.
A good location, away from the noise of Kings Cross and facing the leafy Springfield Gardens. This is a Vietnamese restaurant with definite French influences has been operated by one family for generations.
Try: Start with the prawn paste or scallops stuffed in mussel shells. The five spice duck is nice and crispy.
Starters under $13, Mains under $20 BYO corkage $3 a head
Monday to Thursday 5:30pm-10pm, Friday to Sunday 5:30pm-10:30pm
One of my favourite neighbourhood pubs. There is a two hat restaurant if you want to have something a little more up scale but they also serve good bar food. The Sunday roast is one of the best in the city.
Try: Braised lamb shoulder with chickpeas.
Starters under $14, Mains under $24
Lunch Monday to Friday Noon-3pm, Saturday Noon-4pm, Sunday Noon-5pm
Dinner Sunday to Monday 6pm-9pm, Tuesday to Saturday 6pm-10pm
The London Tavern is mentioned in all the travel guides because it’s historical significances but don’t tell any of the locals that as to them it’s just one of the best pubs in Paddington. Be sure to explore both levels as there are two courtyards, one downstairs and one up stairs.
Try: A good place to stick to the usual pub grub as they do it well here. Try the wagyu beef burger or beer battered fish and chips.
Mains under $30, most dishes are under $20.
Monday to Saturday Noon-Midnight, Sunday Noon-10pm