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, 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. Only 29 years young, Surfers Paradise’s D’arcy Arms Irish Pub doesn’t shy away from a nightly cheap meal offering. Our pick? Homemade crusty pies served with steamed veggies, mash, gravy and a generous pint of beer or glass of wine, all for $20 and only on Mondays.
5. Step away from Netflix and chill next Monday night and make a date with Isle of Capri’s pizzeria, Cicchetti. All day Monday, 10 buckaroos will get you a delish personal pizza, 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).
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 $60. 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 every Sunday night (‘til sold out), means more pocket change for pineapple-filled cocktails at Broadbeach party spot, Aloha Bar & Dining.
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 newbie, 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, $1 dumplings on Thursdays, 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 plus glasses of sangria 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. Never one to back away from a mid-week party, Little Mermaid’s $15 burger, fries and beer special on a Thursday night will help you stay social until next 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 a four-course chef’s tasting menu for just $25pp on Wednesdays, and ends with $22 half rack of beef ribs on Thursdays. Drool.
27. Next Friday night is sorted with Gemellini’s Eats & Beats late-night party, where pizzas go for $15 after 9:30pm and the drinks and DJ tunes flow freely.
28. At Nobby Beach’s local fave, MexiCali, it’s $5 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!
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 $15 a pop.
South | Burleigh & Beyond
34. Knock off early for Harry’s Steak Bistro’s $4 bubbles with unlimited salty frites, only on Fri-YAYs and Saturdays between 2pm and 5pm—guaranteed to get your weekend off to a buzzing start.
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 Tuesday $15 stir-fry night or 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 Mondays and Wednesdays, when 20 bucks will get you a Chee-ze burger plus a 4 Pines beer (Mondays) or glass of house vino (Wednesdays). 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 6pm (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. The Collective has one of the cheapest smashed avo breakfasts in town; piled high, sprinkled with sweet potato crisps and all for just $9.
42. Start the weekend off a night early with Wildernis’ R’n’B Thursdays, where $15 buys you two tasty tacos and a Corona or glass of sangria. This night may or may not end with you dancing on the tables. Just sayin’.
43. A million dollar view and dinner for pocket change? Um, yes please! Currumbin Vikings SLSC invites you to devour $10 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 up a regular craft beer with and a delicious plate of karaage chicken for $15, whenever they’re open. It’s not on the menu, but just ask and the sweet deal is yours for the taking.
45. If you think we rave about this place a lot, you’d be right. House of Hubert is one of our fave brekkie spots on the southern end, but did you know they also open for dinner Friday through Sunday, too? The best deal if your wallet is tight? On Friday, Saturday and Sunday evenings between 3pm and 7pm, come for pizza and a bottle of wine for just $50.
46. 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.
47. Rainbow Bay SLSC, our fave GC surf club, is looking after the budget conscious throughout the week with $10 lunches Monday to Friday and $10 themed dinners Monday to Thursday. 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.
Eaten your way through the best cheap food on the Gold Coast? Nice effort! You’ll probably need some exercise then.
Image credit: Amy Higg for The Urban List