Ugh, that stomach-sinking, depression-inducing feeling when you’ve got a grand total of $37 in your bank account, four days before pay day.
Well, don’t sweat it, because we’ve done you and your back pocket a major solid, penning a list of the best cheap food on the Gold Coast. So, you can quit bulk buying those mi goreng noodles now. Hurrah!
How many of the best cheap eats on the Gold Coast have you tried?
NORTH | Surfers Paradise & Beyond
1. Relive your childhood memories with an all-you-can-eat pizza sesh at Salt Meats Cheese’s pizza pig out on Monday nights ($20 per head with any drinks purchase, from 6pm).
2. Treat yo’self to possibly the best toasties in the entire city at Surfers Paradise’s Sandwich Bros. Their killer lunch special includes a baguette, side salad and water for just $10; otherwise penny pinchers will love the daily $7 baguette special du jour.
3. See what all the fuss is about with a cheap-as-chips meal from the burger joint that’s fast taking over the nation. Surfers Paradise was the location for Betty’s Burgers second ever store and it’s safe to say these are some of the best cheap eats on the Gold Coast. Our pick? We’d go the southern fried crispy chicken burger for a wee $12.
4. Love cheese? Our course you do! Southport fave, Mr P.P.'s Deli & Rooftop is serving up $5 tasting boards every Monday to Friday (4pm to 6pm), leaving more dollies for #allofthewine.
5. Isle of Capri’s pizzeria, Cicchetti is serving homemade pasta and delish personal pizza lunches for $10 each every Tuesday to Friday (12pm to 3pm), leaving change for espresso martinis and Negronis, because priorities.
6. You’d best be planning ahead if you wanna take advantage of Tribeca NYC’s hugely popular Wednesday night ribs special. Get a finger-licking serving of slow-cooked BBQ pork ribs with slaw and fries for a very tidy $19.95 (with any drink purchase). Did we mention $10 cocktails?!
7. Southport’s SOPO Dining Room is one of our fave spots for eats and drinks in the north. They’re dishing up a tonne of fab nightly specials, though being tight doesn’t need to mean acting totally pov. On Wednesday nights, their ‘Hump Day Date Night’ includes a three-course dinner with bottle of wine for TWO people, all for a tidy $70. Stellar deal, SOPO!
8. When in Southport, you don’t need to wander far to stumble across some of the best cheap food on the Gold Coast. VN (Vietnamese) Bakery in Australia Fair is cheap and seriously cheerful with crusty $7 bahn mi and huge bowls of fragrant pho for $10.
9. While you’re lurking around Southport, Maruya Japanese is a hands down local favourite for authentic gyoza, sashimi, Wagyu beef tataki, crispy tempura and more. Without question, this is some of the finest cheap food on the Gold Coast.
10. Word on the street is you can get regular coffee and a guilt-free raw cake treat for $10 at Southport’s Blendlove, all day on Wednesdays. You don’t need to tell us twice!
11. Eclectic Southport cafe, Randy Wallhole is a bargain lover’s dream with everything on the menu priced neatly at 13 bucks or less. Take your pick of jaffles, granola and brekkie bowls, loaded bagels and a Coco Pops iced latte. Are these some of the best cheap eats on the Gold Coast for breakfast? You betcha.
12. Keen for ethnic eats but the wallet is tight (like a tiger)? Look for a line up of CBD workers at Southport’s no-bells-and-whistles cafe, Le Star Lebanese. Why? Because this unassuming joint is dishing out Middle Eastern-style burgers which are addictive as hell.
13. Much-loved brunching cafe among the northern crew, we give top points to Black Sheep Bistro’s $10 flat-rate breakfast menu with ample choice including a bacon and egg burger, rhubarb and coconut yoghurt pancakes or avocado and white bean bruschetta.
14. You can always rely on NightQuarter for a jolly good night out without breaking the bank. Head to Helensvale any Friday and Saturday evening from 4pm for an extensive selection of street eats and the best cheap food on the Gold Coast—just don’t forget to leave room for dessert.
Central | Broadbeach To Miami
15. One dollar oysters (natural or with house made pineapple salsa) every Sunday night from 5pm (‘til sold out), means more pocket change for pineapple-filled cocktails at Broadbeach party spot, Aloha Bar & Dining! Can't make it on a Sunday? They're serving $10 poke bowls and $5 skewers on Tiki Tuesdays, $1 dumplings on Wednesdays and half price tacos (at $2 a pop) on Thursdays. Amaze, right?
16. Dumplings and craft beer are always a good idea. But what if you add gyoza, ramen, agedashi tofu, karaage and the most insane thing you’ve ever put in your mouth, salted caramel dessert gyoza? Harajuku Gyoza in Broadbeach is super well-priced, with most dishes coming in at $10 and below. So, grab a few friends and try them all.
17. Throw your diet to the curb with cheap as chips (and hella gourmet) burgers from Broadbeach fave, Main Street Burger Bar. Our pick? The buttermilk fried chicken burger with spiced chipotle mayo is a very reasonable $12.
18. One of those places that just seems like it’s always been there, Cha Cha Japanese at Broadbeach is an institution for some of the best cheap food on the Gold Coast because it ticks all the right boxes. BYO, cheap and delicious! They’ve got all your favourites: sticky pork gyoza, teriyaki salmon, nanban cuttlefish, seaweed salad, miso steak and did we mention it is BYO?
19. We’re going gaga over Lucky Bao’s pillowy clouds of deliciousness. Bao down with their $16 two-bao lunch special, selling hot every Monday through Friday.
20. Undisputed kings of the best cheap food on the Gold Coast, served with a friendly smile and a buzzing local vibe, we heart Mermaid Beach’s Après Surf. Every night there’s a cheap deal going, so slide on in for $5 cheeseburgers on Mondays, 50-cent wings on Fri-YAYs (5pm to 7pm) and $10 parmy with chips on Sundays. Cheers, lads!
21. Easily some of the best tacos on the Gold Coast, forget Taco Tuesdays, it’s all about Taco Thursdays at Mermaid Beach’s BonBon Bar, when these delicious morsels go for five bucks a pop. Hola!
22. Another local fave is MUSO Ramen Noodle & Gyoza Bar which sits comfortably in the best cheap food on the Gold Coast category, given every bursting-with-flavour bowl of ramen sells for less than $15.
23. This Mermaid Beach diner-slash-menswear-boutique-slash-barber is our fave for a sneaky burrito. If you’re looking for the best cheap food on the Gold Coast, you can’t go wrong with anything on Alfred Diner‘s menu, with prices ranging between $12 and $14. We highly recommend the pulled BBQ pork burrito, particularly as a hangover remedy, or as brunch, or just a snack. You get the picture…
24. Glenelg Public House is deservedly known as serving some of the best steaks on the Coast. Their top value sunset menu (two courses for $35 or three courses for $40) is available between 5pm and 6:30pm Wednesday through Sunday and is the best way to try out this Mermaid Beach fave if you're counting the pennies until pay day.
25. A list of the best cheap food on the Gold Coast would not be complete without mention of Sparrow Eating House’s stellar Wednesday night deal. It’s not dirt cheap, but it’s ridiculously good value, where $50 will get you four of the most creative and beautifully presented share plates you’ll find anywhere on the Coast (shared between two people). Date night, anyone?
26. If you’ve not been to Fire Cue in a while, we’ve got three very good reasons to make the trip back. It starts with $5 hand-pressed tortilla tacos on Tuesdays, continues with $20 steak night on Wednesdays, and ends with $25 half rack of beef ribs on Thursdays. Drool.
27. Craving authentic Japanese eats but the wallet is tight as? Nobby Beach institution Hachi is as affordable as they come, paired nicely with a bottle of BYO wine and Friday night = sorted.
28. At Nobby Beach’s local fave, MexiCali, it’s $6 taco night EVERY Tuesday night and, honestly, who doesn’t love a damn good taco?!
29. Wanna know where to find $5 craft beers and 50-cent wings every day, between 4pm and 6pm? No, that’s not a typo. Nobby Beach’s Bine Craft Beer Bar is serving up some of the best cheap food on the Gold Coast, including another fave: $15 chicken parmy with a beer tasting paddle on Thursdays. Hick! (NB: No chicken wing special on Tuesdays.)
30. Head upstairs to Saiko in The Kitchens where you’ll find a crazy good lunch special with your choice of Teppanyaki stir-fried protein plus veggies, steamed rice, salad and miso soup all for around $13 to $18. We call bargain!
31. If you’ve been to Canada, you’ll appreciate an authentic bowl of hot wings and blue cheese when you see one. The Lake Brewhouse in Varsity is about as Canadian as you’ll find on the sunny Gold Coast, so you’ll wanna visit on a Wednesday night when all wings sell for half price and absolutely must go down with a genuine Caeser. Sweet, eh?
32. Six bucks won’t buy you much these days, but it will get you a tasty tapas plate on Wednesday nights at Miami Marketta’s regular mid-week shindig. Here you’ll find loads of ethnic options to satisfy even the fussiest of dinner dates.
33. We envy those who live in strolling distance of Miami local hangout, The Good Wolf. Bad wolf hangover cures come in the shape of burgers, hot wings, Mexican bowls and thickshakes and all for around $14 to $16 a pop.
South | Burleigh & Beyond
34. Harry’s Steak Bistro’s top value Harry's Hour is guaranteed to get your weekend nights off to a buzzing start. Between 2pm and 5pm, Friday through Sunday, settle in with select wines and beers starting from $5 and $6 (bargain!), cocktails from $10 and a rotating selection of bar snacks like Jamaican jerk prawns and Korean beef tartare. Just be sure to leave stomach real estate for Harry's famed steaks and endless frites later.
35. Hidden away in the Old Burleigh Arcade, Sway Thai (in the spot previously occupied by Slurping Panda) is bursting with authentic flavours. If you’re on a budget, come for their Wednesday $15 curry night. Pair it with a $5 glass of vino and that’s dinner sorted for just 20 bucks.
36. Ze Pickle are delivering some of the best cheap food on the Gold Coast to spice up your afternoons. Between 5pm and 6pm daily you can devour $7 kumera fries and $7 chicken wings, washed down with $5 beer and wine. Cheers, boys!
37. Want bangers that give bang for your buck? Served from a cute up-cycled shipping container at Burleigh’s Stockland Shopping Centre, the boys from The Wiener Haus dish up gourmet hot dogs with all the trimmings (beetroot, guacamole, sauerkraut, pineapple, bacon… you name it)—all for just $10 to $12 each. Oh, and throw them a d*ck joke, they love it.
38. Scrounge under the couch for some loose coin and head to Burleigh’s Wahoo’s Fish Tacos, where you can stuff your face silly with three monster tacos for an easy tenner. Try ‘em all or just order a round of their best seller—the real Baja fish taco.
39. An oldie but a goodie, Govindas has always offered some of the best cheap food on the Gold Coast. This Hare Krishna ran, not-for-profit vegetarian/vegan institution is always friendly and full of diners tucking into heaping plates of curries, pasta bakes and salads for around $12 a plate.
40. What’s better than oysters? Um… what about oysters for $1 a piece? Yes, you read that correctly. Get down to Palm Beach’s Burgster for $1 oyster happy hour—every Friday between 3pm and 5pm (or until they run out). But you’ll wanna chase it with one of their epically fab burgers.
41. It’s true. You can still have a house mortgage and eat smashed avo on sourdough. Iron & Resin has one of the cheapest smashed avo breakfasts in town; piled high, sprinkled with feta and all for just $12. Or BYO stretchy pants and devour one of their ridic brekkie burgers instead.
42. We heart Spanish-inspired Palm Beach gem, San Sebastian. On Tuesdays, you can order two delicious tapas plates for 20 buck-a-roos, leaving muchas cashola for sangria. Hola!
43. A million dollar view and dinner for pocket change? Um, yes please! Currumbin Vikings SLSC invites you to devour $12 dinners on Mondays and Wednesdays and 2-4-1 meals on Tuesdays and Thursdays (all from 5pm).
44. Tugun’s top craft beer hangout, Backbone Bar is offering a kick arse selection of local craft beer and on Thursdays, you can pair your brew with TWO delicious plates of bao for $20 (brew not included). It's little wonder they're a Tugun fave.
45. One of our faves in Kirra, Tupe Aloha Bar & Grill will sort you out with 2-4-1 burritos on Wednesdays, otherwise every Tuesday you’ll score three tacos for a tiny $10. Those tiki good vibes come for free.
46. Baskk at Kirra Point is coaxing you in on Mondays with their local roast night special, where $15 per person will buy you a share board of juicy seasonal roast meats, roast vege, gravy and a crusty roll. Delish!
47. Rainbow Bay SLSC, our fave GC surf club, is looking after the budget conscious throughout the week with $13 roast night on Mondays and Tuesdays or $13 schnitty night on Thursdays (or just $11 for members). Some of the best cheap food on the Gold Coast with a free view of the manic wave-slashing action that is Snapper Rocks? Don’t mind if we do!
48. Another southern gem that’s helping make Tuesday everyone’s favourite day of the week is Coolangatta’s Bin 72. Get an awesome choice of gourmet tacos from $6 a pop; not too shabby when you match it up with a good drop of red and some ocean views!
49. No shirt, no shoes? No problem! Little Mali, Rainbow Bay’s come-as-you-are hole-in-the-wall cafe lacks knives and forks and tables and chairs (milk crate, sir?), but that helps keep the prices down at one of our southern go-tos for a cheap and very cheerful breakfast on the run.
50. Worth a trip across the border for one of the best cheap eats going, is to Osteria’s Wednesday night soup kitchen. You’d better act fast to beat the hungry locals, where the daily soup du jour and a crusty bread roll sells for $9.50; available until sold out. Missed out? Make a booking for Thursday and enjoy a three-course dinner for $33!
Eaten your way through the best cheap food on the Gold Coast? Nice effort! You’ll probably need some exercise then.
Image credit: Hayley Williamson for The Urban List