Fifteen years ago you could have bought two large sausage rolls, three party pies and a Nippies chocolate milk for your Friday school lunch order and still get change from five bucks. Now, in 2022, you can barely get a happy hour G&T for $10.
To help save you some cash, we’ve put together a list of the best cheap eats Melbourne has to offer.
Nico’s Sandwich Deli
All under $16, Nico’s sandwiches are one of the best cheap eats Melbourne has to offer, and some of the heftiest. The chicken schnitzel sandwich is every bit as good as it sounds with crispy panko crumbed thigh fillets—if you listen closely you can almost hear the crunch. The meatball sub is another indulgent offering, complete with bone marrow and pecorino cheese. They even do ice cream sandwiches for when you’re in need of something sweet. We promise once you’ve tried Nico’s sandwiches, you’ll be going back for more.
Did someone say gnocchi for $15? That’s right, Good Gnocchi is the place to go for a hearty feed on a budget. Gnocchi is the ultimate sustenance food and at these prices, and that's why it's coming in hot on the list of Melbourne's best cheap eats. There are five options on the menu—bolognese, tomato sauce, walnut pesto, butter sage, and vegan pumpkin gnocchi. You can add some garlic bread too if you’re feeling extra peckish.
Banh Mi At Trang Bakery
Collingwood, Prahran & Camberwell
Trang’s banh mi are exceptionally tasty. What really sets Trang apart from the many other Vietnamese bakeries in Melbourne that qualify for this list is how they spoil their customers for choice. As well as the usual barbeque pork, crispy pork and roast chicken, there are several different vegan options. Tempura eggplant, vegan roast chicken, vegan duck and lemongrass tofu are available to have in your banh mi. A must on your cheap eats hit list for 2022,
Punjabi Curry Cafe
Curries that won’t hurt your hip pocket but will fill you up are the kinds of curries we live for here at Urban List. Punjabi Curry Cafe is a family-run business with fifteen years behind them who specialise in exactly that. Just about everything on the menu is under $20, from entrees and tandoor treats to hearty curries. You won’t go home hungry or broke after a trip to this local favourite.
Chicken Katsu Curry At Don Don
As far as cheap eats Melbourne CBD has to offer, Don Don is up there. Authentic, and most importantly affordable Japanese, Don Don is a favourite with corporate office workers just as much as it is amongst students. With almost everything on the menu under $10 and generously portioned, Don Don is just about the best value for money meal you will find in the CBD.
You’ll be lucky to nab a table, but you can always take yourself across the road to the lush lawn outside the State Library and enjoy your midday meal in the sunshine. We have to say, it’s lunch specials Melbourne CBD doesn’t need when you’re getting this much bang for your buck.
Pasta At Good Times
It didn’t take long for Good Times in Fitzroy to become a local staple thanks to its pasta coming in at $9 to $16 a plate. Using fresh ingredients, the pasta, albeit simple, is delicious. The menu of this pasta bar is ever-changing, but the prices rarely change. Good Times is without a doubt a staple to anyone's 'cheap eats Melbourne' list.
Croissant At Agathé Pâtisserie
South Melbourne & CBD
This little place is a pastry lover’s dream. There is a range of pastries available including some pretty unique flavours, but the croissants are the stars of the show, and without a doubt some of the best breakfast Melbourne CBD is serving up right now. There are matcha croissants, red raspberry croissants, croissants made with coffee extract, pandan croissants, squid ink croissants and pretty much any type of croissant you can think of.
Chicken Tawouk Wrap At A1 Bakery
Melbourne’s original Lebanese bakery, and Brunswick’s favourite destination for cheap eats. Almost everything on the menu at A1 is around $10, but our favourite is the chicken tawouk wrap: marinated chicken, hot chips, pickled vegetables, coleslaw and garlic, wrapped and toasted for $10.50.
Shanghai Village Dumplings
A rite of passage for uni students and CBD office workers on a Friday night alike, Shanghai Village Dumplings has become a Melbourne institution over the years for cheap eats. Not only can you pick up a plate of 15 fried dumplings for $7.80, you can also grab any of their noodle dishes for under $9. If you’re still not seeing the appeal, it’s also BYO, need we say more?
There’s nothing worse than ordering the vegan option and finding out it’s double the price of the meat ones. Lucky Coq is keeping things fair with their $8 pizzas across the board, making it a hot contender for one of Melbourne's best spots for a cheap eat. Whether it’s the veg mushroom truffle number, or the meat lovers parma pizza, all of their pizzas are $8. It’s the perfect destination for when half the group wants to kick on and half the group wants to get food.
In 2022, Soi 38 is a quintessentially Melbourne restaurant. They serve world-class street food, the noodles are $10, and it’s hidden away in a car park. Soi 38 started as a pop-up and has now settled into a permanent location under a Wilson’s car park in the CBD. Their specialty is Thai Boat Noodles, a traditional dish that is packed full of flavour with vermicelli noodles, meat and an intricately made broth. It’s designed to be eaten with chopsticks in one hand and a spoon in another, so you can eat the noodles followed immediately by the broth. Be prepared to wait during the lunch-time rush though, for everyone who’s come across Soi 38 it’s a favourite.
Starting at $8.50 for a cheeseburger, 1090 Burgers on Swan St is the perfect spot to satisfy your burger cravings without breaking the bank. Synonymous on many cheap eats lists, 1090 is dedicated to Umami burgers, which translates to delicious taste in Japanese. The name comes from the ratio of fat to meat that makes up the burger patties which are made by hand onsite each day, and include 9 secret spices to create the famous flavour.
Five Points Bagels
There are over 30 bagels on offer at Five Points and all of them are under $14. If you’re looking for a quick and cheap breakfast in the middle of the CBD then look no further for a cheap eat in Melbourne. The bagels are sourced from everyone’s favourite bakery, Glicks, and are filled fresh in front of you.
It’s hard to miss the line outside of Just Falafs every night along St George’s Road, but trust us, it’s worth the wait. The venue was inspired by the falafel bars in New York City, with crisp, fresh falafels served with a generous mix of sides and sauces. The pitas are all under $20, as are most of the plates, which come loaded with all the sides you can imagine. Make sure you try the fries, tossed with fresh garlic and rosemary oil…they may just be some of Melbourne's best.
It doesn’t get much better than fresh pastry straight off the grill. At Goz City they’ve mastered the technique of creating traditional gozleme, rolling out the layers with meticulous attention. There are four different flavours of goz, all coming to $11, but we can’t go past the classic cheese and spinach.
I Love Pho
CBD & Richmond
It’s healthy, served steaming hot, and under $15…what more could you want? Melburnians love Pho, in fact asking someone where to get the best bowl of this delicious broth is a controversial question. But there’s no denying I Love Pho is on everyone’s list.
Going to Citrus is like stepping inside a family home where food is synonymous with love. The servings are generous and the flavours are delicious at this family-run Sri Lankan restaurant. All of their meals are under $16 and can be washed down with one of the traditional Sri Lankan soft drinks they have on offer.
Kalimera Souvlaki Art
Meaning ‘Good Morning’ in Greek, Kalimera has become a pillar of the Souvlaki community in Melbourne, its store on the top end of Oakleigh’s main hub is constantly heaving with a raft of loyal locals. Serving up authentic Greek-style souvlaki, (that means no lamb) they have the option of pork and chicken Gyros which are served in a house-made pita with chips, tomato, and signature Kalimera sauce. You can pick them up for just $9.
Now you know where you’ll be eating, check out what’s on this month in Melbourne.
Image credit: Annika Kafcaloudis