Food & Drink

The Best Cheap Eats In Melbourne Right Now

By Urban List Writers

The opening of a best cheap eats restaurant Melbourne, shot from the street.

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 2023, you can barely get a happy hour G&T for $10.

To help save you some cash in this current inflation offensive, we’ve put together a list of the best cheap eats Melbourne has to offer.

Yakimono

CBD

The uber-modern neon-lit diner of Yakimono is dishing up one of the best cheap eats in Melbourne options. Their lunchtime trade on weekdays gives way to their Yaki Yuzu Shio chicken ramen, an umami-rich broth with chargrilled chicken, bitey noodles, greens and a softly boiled soy egg ($24.50). If you're looking to splash a little more cash you can even upgrade your bowl with the panko-fried king prawn version for an extra $6.50. 

A bowl of ramen with noodles, a best cheap eats Melbourne option.

Miznon

CBD

Inspired by Melbourne’s fresh produce, Miznon is a favourite for lunches and dinners as it takes the humble pita to a whole new level and focuses on incorporating the influences of each city into his newest creations. Think minute steak pita with tahini, tomato, pickles and onions for $21 or the falafel with a tomato steak, chilli and sour cream for $16 

A person holding a pita and eating it, a best cheap eats Melbourne option.

Pelligrini's Espresso Bar 

CBD

Pelligrini's Espresso Bar is a right of passage for any Melburnian or tourist to the city and is an essential cheap eats Melbourne inclusion. The tidily-spaced bar on Bourke Street is still lined with dark-wooden veneer where bowls of lasagne and spaghetti bolognese ($22) laden with parmesan and served with bread stream out of the back. 

Tackled alongside a watermelon granita (made in-house), an espresso and a slice of torta della Nonna afterwards and you're all set. 

Sal’s Pizza 

VARIOUS LOCATIONS

Looking for a New York Slice? It doesn’t get much more traditional than this one. Sal’s Pizza has been dishing up NY-style slices since 1975 when the store first opened in Queens. 

Luckily for us, Sal’s son decided to move to Australia and serve up some of the best pizza in Melbourne right across town. You can two 18-inch slices (cheese and pepperoni) for just $10, so, in essence, you could potentially get four for $20, that's some serious cheap eats Melbourne. 

A person holding up a large NYC-style pizza slice, a cheap restaurant Melbourne.

Paik's Noodles

VARIOUS LOCATIONS

This cheap eat restaurant has become a staple, not only for its 'won't break the bank' prices but also for its 4am closing time. Paik's Noodle on Little Lonsdale Street serves up a range of Jon-won Paik's famous Korean recipes like the noodle soup, Gochu Jjamppong; a fiery chilli broth slowly simmered with vegetables, mussels and chewy noodles ($14.80). 

A person eating noodles with chopsticks, a best cheap eats Melbourne spot.

Seoul Toast Bong 

CBD

The Korean hot spot is an ideal cheap eats Melbourne spot, the CBD diner serves up the famed K-Street Toast—two thick-cut slices of white bread that are grilled with an egg mix, topped with fillings, and toasted to perfection. You can opt from sangas like the beef Bulgogi with cheese ($10.50) or the fried chicken variation with bacon ($11.50)—you could even knock back both and still be under $25 for a feed—not bad at all. 

A stacked sandwich, a beast cheap eats Melbourne option.

Shanghai Village Dumplings 

CBD

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?

Ca Com Bánh Mì Bar 

RICHMOND 

A departure from your conventional Vietnamese bakery, Ca Com is the joint venture of chefs JY Lee and Thi Le (Anchovy, Jeow) who have developed this outpost on Bridge Road to critical acclaim. It's not the cheapest banh mi in town but the options here are diverse, and the standards are truly life-changing. There is the revelatory crispy pork belly ($17) and charcoal-grilled turmeric chicken ($15) —a damn fine contender for the best cheap eats in Melbourne. 

Editors note: Ca Com is temporarily closed, head over here for more details 

A thick banh mi with fillings, a best cheap eats Melbourne option

Hella Good 

CBD, CHADSTONE, FITZROY 

It’s all there in the name, Hella Good’s Souvlakis are some of the best in the business. Committed to keeping things simple and dishing up some of the tastiest souvlaki in Melbourne, Hella Good has a range of different options, but it’s hard to pass up their marinated lamb ($16 )which is cut straight from the spit.

There's also the Hella Snack Pack with chicken giros, hot chips, pita and Tzatziki ($18) and even a vegan souvlaki option ($14) with vegetable fritter, house-made hommus and salad. 

A table of Greek food and pepper grinders, a best cheap restaurant Melbourne.

Pho Bo Ga Mekong Vietnam

CBD

One of the most storied restaurants on Swanston Street, Mekong is an institution, an unassuming giant—simply some of the best pho and top cheap eats in Melbourne in 2023.

From your staple sliced beef ($18) to the incredibly char-grilled pork ($19) both options result in a hearty bowl of glistening soup with perfectly cooked noodles and a side plate of Vietnamese mint, bean shoots and lemon slices to garnish. Game. Set. Mekong.

Butcher's Diner

Those after a quick feed at any time of day—or night—need look no further than Butcher's Diner. First things first, as the name eludes to, they take their meat seriously with much of it aged in-house.

Get started with the basics done right, like steak and eggs ($22) or a cheeseburger ($19.50) that has to be one of the best in the CBD; otherwise, try something different like a duck heart skewers ($10) and pair it up with one of the many brews on offer at one of the best cheap restaurants in Melbourne CBD. 

A diner with bottles of sauce and a burger, a best cheap eats Melbourne spot.

Very Good Falafel

BRUNSWICK

If a restaurant is confident enough to put it in the name, it’s promising that it will indeed be very good. You’ll probably never find it empty either, as Very Good Falafel has become a local favourite with some of the best vegetarian food on offer, although they do have a few meat options.

At only $13, their Falafel plate will satiate even the biggest appetite, and make sure you try out some of their fresh salads, all of which are vegan with some gluten-free options for good measure. With homestyle cooking and bright open space, if you’re looking for the best cheap eat in Melbourne, it’s hard to go past this joint. 

Shujinko 

CBD, GLEN WAVERLEY

Offering up steaming bowls of expertly crafted ramen and a bill total that keeps the budget in check, Shujinko is a mandatory inclusion on any cheap eats Melbourne list. Their signature collagen-rich Tonkotsu Ramen ($19.50) is guaranteed to bring you back to life no matter what state you’re in.

The broth is poured over a soft halved egg, roast pork belly and wheat noodles which are made in a windowed bolthole at the back of the restaurant. For sharing dishes, don’t miss the crispy croquettes, chicken Karaage ($13.50) and pan-fried gyoza ($11.50).

Two bowls of ramen inside a restaurant, a cheap eats Melbourne option.

Lucky Coq

WINDSOR 

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. 

Hakata Gensuke 

CBD, CARLTON, HAWTHORN

Offering serious bang for buck, Hakata Gensuke is a speciality ramen bar with shops in the CBDHawthorn and Carlton. Touted as some of the best ramen in Melbourne, the cost per bowl here is well within friendly budget territory with their staple umami-rich Tonkotsu ($22) with slow-cooked pork belly, or you could opt for the God Fire ($23.50) a spicy broth of noodles, chicken cha su and bamboo shoots. 

Two bowls of ramen with the noodles being lifted out at a best cheap eats Melbourne restaurant.

Belles Hot Chicken

CBD, FITZROY  

A cult favourite for north siders, Belles Hot Chicken is an easy inclusion in the cheap eats Melbourne conversation. All about simplicity and flavour, the fried-chicken haven on Gertrude Street will keep you well-fed without busting the bank account.

On the menu, there is a slew of options, but the go-to is the staple Nashville hot chicken—opt for the wings ($19) drumsticks ($21) or tenders ($21)— you can then choose your spice level and sides—fries, slaw, potato and gravy or mac and three cheese. 

Fried chicken and fries in red trays at a best cheap eats Melbourne spot.

Biang Biang

CBD

If you’re looking for some quality street food without a heft pricetag, then look no further than Biang Biang. Thick, hand-pulled noodles with various toppings are on the menu here, and boy do they do it well.

You’re looking at prices from as low as $11.80 for their cheapest option, which is the wide noodle topped with chilli oil, but if you want to splurge, their stewed pork or lamb only sets you back a measly ($20.50). They also serve up cold rice noodles ($13.80), making it one of the best cheap eats in Melbourne.

Laksa King

FLEMINGTON

You should come to Laksa King with one thing in mind and one thing only. Laksa. Thick, rich, fragrant Laksa, and Laksa King do it as well as anyone. The vegetarian bowl is only $14.50, and their ever-popular combination with fishcake, prawn and chicken is $15.50.

Nearly all of their noodle dishes are under the $20 mark, and make sure you try their Nasi Lemak special as well as their sago pudding, perfect on a hot day.  

Mr Ramen San

CBD

In the belly of Mid-City Arcade, you’ll find Mr Ramen San tucked away on the Little Bourke St end, usually with a line outside. One of the oldest ramen joints in Melbourne, and certainly some of the best ramen in Melbourne, this eatery is known for their 24-hour tonkatsu broth and housemade noodles. 

Mr Ramen San offers up different ramen variations such as the spicy chicken ramen, seafood ramen (the most expensive at $17.90), family-style hotpot with pork broth and most impressively, an entirely vegan ‘Charsu’ ramen. 

Nico’s Sandwich Deli

FITZROY, BRUNSWICK & CBD

With most sandwiches being $18 or under, 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. 

A person ordering a from a blue shopfront, a best cheap eats Melbourne option.

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 2023.

Punjabi Curry Cafe

COLLINGWOOD

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 $21, from entrees and tandoor treats to hearty curries. You won’t go home hungry or broke after a trip to this local favourite. 

Don Don

CBD, FOOTSCRAY & SOUTH MELBOURNE

As far as cheap eats Melbourne 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 $15 and generously portioned, Don Don is just about the best value-for-money meal you will find.

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. 

Good Times

FITZROY NORTH

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.

A shopfront with a colour yellow-painted menu, a best cheap restaurant Melbourne.

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. 

A1 Bakery

BRUNSWICK 

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. 

Soi 38

CBD 

In 2022, Soi 38 is a quintessentially Melbourne restaurant. They serve world-class street food, the noodles are $15, 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 lunchtime rush though, for everyone who’s come across Soi 38 it’s a favourite. 

A crowd of people lining up at a best cheap eats restaurant Melbourne.

1090 Burgers

RICHMOND

Starting at $10 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, that certain heart-savoury flavour that you can’t quite put your finger on. 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

CBD

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 great cheap eat in Melbourne. The bagels are sourced from everyone’s favourite bakery, Glicks, and are filled fresh in front of you.

Just Falafs

FITZROY NORTH

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.

A person holding a thick pita with falafel, a best cheap eats Melbourne option.

Goz City 

CBD

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 $14, 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. 

Citrus 

FITZROY NORTH

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 $17 and can be washed down with one of the traditional Sri Lankan soft drinks they have on offer.

Kalimera Souvlaki Art

OAKLEIGH

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 $16.

A tray with chargrilled skewers of pork, a best cheap restaurant Melbourne.

Check out more of Melbourne's best over here: 

Melbourne's best restaurants
Melbourne's best cafes
Melbourne's best bars
Melbourne's best breakfast

Image credit: Annika Kafcaloudis

Get our top stories direct to your inbox.

Get our top stories direct to your inbox.