Remember the days when cheap eats meant fumbling to hand over a bunch of coins that you’d found down the back of your sofa/on the floor of your car/in the bottom of your bag? Awkward ‘here’s $10 in silver change’ moments, be gone! Thanks to the latest mobile payment wizardry, like ANZ with Android Pay, which lets you load your bank card on your phone, cheap eats are now as easy as ordering, noshing and tapping your phone to pay. Seriously, you don’t even need to carry a bank card.
We’ve rounded up the best cheap eats in each of Australia’s food-savvy cities to present you with the ultimate guide to bargain venues that let you pay using your phone. So grab your essentials (that’s your phone and keys—you don’t even need the wallet anymore!), tap to pay and tuck in without breaking the bank.
Spice Alley | Chippendale
You will find a world (or an alley?) of choice at Spice Alley, just off Sydney’s Kensington Street. Expect the colour, fun, choice and fabulous flavours that you would expect to find in a traditional hawkers market overseas, but with the type of quality food you expect from a restaurant. From Malaysian to Thai, chatterbox chicken rice and Japanese ice cream, Spice Alley has cheap eating in Sydney sorted.
The Foundry | Surry Hills
This hidden cafe in Surry Hills is well known to the hordes of workers and locals that frequent on the daily for their cheap lunch options. With no main over $12 and choices which include burgers, pies, chicken wraps, and tasty salads, all made fresh each day, it’s no surprise that The Foundry has many Sydneysiders hooked.
Dumplings and Beer| Potts Point
We’re staunch believers that one of the best food combinations going around is when you combine some tasty dumplings ($9 for six) with an ice cold brew, and it’s made even better when you can afford to keep the plates coming. The Dumplings and Beer hole-in-the-wall joint has a cool interior and eclectic vibe making every night in Sydney dumplings and beer night.
Bourke Street Bakery | Barangaroo
If you love carbs as much as we do, you need to get yourself and your mates down to Bourke Street Bakery. From pork and fennel sausage rolls to beef, beer and bacon pies with cheesy mash all tastes are catered for at this Sydney bakery. There’s also a range of sandwiches for under $10 as well as a range of daily specials because we all love just a little bit of choice when it comes to our baked goods.
Stix & Pita | Enmore
The Greeks know a thing or two when it comes to meat and the yiros scene in Sydney is all the better for having Stix & Pita firing up the coals. Choose from pork belly, slow cooked lamb, haloumi and other great treats at this Enmore restaurant where a pita will cost you $9.90 and you can add some seriously good looking chips and a drink for an extra six bucks, it’s easily the best thing you’ll eat this side of Athens.
A25 Pizzeria | Melbourne CBD
If drool-worthy Italian fare is your favourite cheap eat, pay a visit to the team at A25 in Melbourne CBD. One of Melbourne’s most cutting edge pizzerias, you’ll find squid ink, matcha and spelt-base pizzas topped with beef cheek, veggies and juicy seafood for a mere $15 at lunchtime Monday – Friday, with the added bonus of $15 pizzas on Monday evenings and $15 pasta dishes on Tuesday evenings. Hell freakin’ yes.
Mr Scruff’s | Collingwood
Mr Scruff’s is situated on one of the most buzzing strips in the city—Smith Street—making it a must-visit when you’re in town. Burgers are usually a pinch at $12 each, but on Wednesdays you save even more on your favourite patty. From 6pm – 10pm, all food is half price, meaning you can order, tap and tuck into twice as much food for the same spend. Winner.
Gami Chicken | CBD, Fitzroy, Hawthorn, Box Hill
From humble beginnings, Gami Chicken has grown into a cheap eats institution in Melbourne and beyond. Their Korean fried chicken (8 pieces for $10, or 12 for $14) is mouth-wateringly moreish, just make sure you leave room for the Just Cheese Please deep fried cheese sticks with cabbage salad and sweet chilli sauce for $7.
Little Ramen Bar | Melbourne CBD
Ramen, gyoza, seaweed salad and all the edamame you can eat! At Little Ramen Bar, dishes start from $5.90, with our current fave being the Hokkaido ramen, which comes with corn, butter, BBQ pork and veggies. They can also make you an entirely vego option too, a bargain for $13.90!
Belleville | Melbourne CBD
With crab banh mi sliders for $7.50, poutine for $11 and two pieces of pirate corn for $5, you just KNOW Belleville is going to deliver the goods. This hidden CBD venue is probably the coolest cheap eat in the state, making it a must for any self-respecting foodie who’s counting their digital pennies.
Corbett & Claude | CBD
Not only does Corbett & Claude let you make your own cheese boards (so dangerous!) they also are one of the only places in town that do excellent, authentic pizzas for under $20! Flying the flag for seriously high quality, locally sourced ingredients, and championing delicious ‘healthy options’—who knew healthy pizza was a thing—, you’d be mad not to stop by for a post-work tipple and a feed.
Phat Elephant | CBD
Hunting down great Thai in the CBD? New kid on the block, Phat Elephant is pumping out some seriously authentic Thai street food for the hungry corporate crowd! With local and Thai brews on offer, a sinfully good cocktail list, and all of your faves, including a killer fried rice served in a hollowed out pineapple—swoon!), say goodbye to your local take out joint!
Morning After | West End
Everyone’s fave West End eatery (and famed for their bloody great coffee), Morning After’s menu reads more like a high-end restaurant than casual café. The kitchen certainly has a creative streak; using only the highest quality local ingredients, delicacies like the tempura barramundi tacos, red velvet hot cakes and coconut milk panna cotta with apple foam, will tickle your tastebuds even more when you get change from a $20!
Pizzeria Violetta | Paddington
Custom-made wood fired oven? Check. Italian chefs making the best-tasting dough this side of the Mediterranean? Check. Pizzeria Violetta ticks all the boxes when it comes to delicious Napoli-style pizzas that don’t cost the earth. Enough said.
Mama Tran | Claremont
Dishing up delicious, authentic and, most importantly, cheap Vietnamese eats, you won’t find anything on the Mama Tran menu that’s over $16. We are huge fans of their rare beef pho, pork bahn mi and vermicelli noodle salads.
Pinchos Bar De Tapas | Leederville
When the clock strikes happy hour (5:30pm to be precise), Pinchos Bar De Tapas is the place to be. You’ll find $1 pinchos on the bar and ponies of Estrella Damm for just $3.50 a pop.
Nao Japanese | Perth
The $11 ramen bowls have people lining up out the door on the daily at Nao Japanese. They’ve got every variety, from soy and miso to salty and spicy.
Holy Smokes | Fremantle
Six chicken wings for $6, 100g pulled pork for $8.50 and an entire reuben sandwich for $7? Holy Smokes, that’s good value!
Francoforte Spaghetti Bar | Northbridge
For pasta just like nonna makes it that won’t break the bank, Francoforte Spaghetti Bar is the place to go. Coming in around the $15—$16 mark, the carb-loaded piccolo serving size will fill you up in a jiffy!
For more ways to pay using your phone, check out ANZ’s handy guide.
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Image credit: Ariana Gillrie, Elle Borgward, Jenna Fahey White, Federica Portentoso