Sometimes you spend money. And then keep on spending money. And then you get hungry. We’ve all been there. It’s not fun.
Sure, your wallet may be empty but we guarantee your stomach will be full (of happiness) after these seriously good cheap eats. We like to think of this as Sydney’s most affordable food safari.
Here are Sydney’s best cheap eats under $10.
Dumplings | Mr. Chen Beef Noodle
If a dumpling happy hour featuring 30c dumplings every single night of the week sounds pretty good to you, you'll want to get to know Mr. Chen Beef Noodle. Here, chef Gary Yuen heads up the kitchen, armed with a casual 40 years experience in traditional Chinese cooking and yes, he is also a dumpling master. Dumplings are made to order so brace yourself for generously stuffed pork morsels either boiled, pan-fried or steamed and fluffy BBQ pork buns to start your feast. Big bonus? BYO is free.
Large Fried Chicken | Hot Star
Ever thought, who needs a knife and fork when it comes to tackling a perfect slab of chicken schnitzel? That's pretty much the idea at Hot Star, where the main event is essentially a crumbed chicken steak that's fried to order and served up hot in a paper bag. It's crunchy, juicy, delicious, and only $9.50 too. Hot Star is also open late, making this our number one late-night cheap feast.
Bacon And Egg Roll | Harvey’s Hot Sandwiches
Harvey’s Hot Sandwiches is filled with retro charm and mammoth sandos packed with all the trimmings. This 1950s American diner meets Aussie milkbar whips up mega stacks of the good stuff with the ultimate sandwich bread—thick and fluffy on the inside, yet nice and crisp on the outside. You’ll want to try the epic bacon and egg roll loaded with a fried egg, crispy bacon, and BBQ sauce. On her own, she’ll only set you back a cruisy $8, or you can start your day right with the “Brekkie Combo", which involves a bacon and egg roll and a coffee for $10.
Doughnuts | Donut Papi
For those of you who sport a sweet tooth more often than not, you’ll want to make sure you spoil your taste buds with the sweet treats at Donut Papi. The Filipino-inspired doughnut shop is one of the best in Sydney, serving handmade, sweet, doughy goodness layered with Asian flavours and stacks of creative flair. Brace your bellies for doughnuts with a pandan coconut glaze, an ube Oreo glaze, and our personal favourite, the apple pie Biscoff fritter, which will only set you back $7.50.
Vada Pav | Durga’s Indian Street Food And Bar
Durga’s Indian Street Food And Bar pays homage to the street food eateries of Mumbai, and you’ll be hard-pressed to find any menu items over $10. The standout on the menu you absolutely need to be aware of is the vada pav—a veggie beauty that is native to the state of Maharashtra in India (located in the western peninsula region of the Deccan Plateau).
The vada pav at Durga’s is essentially Mumbai’s moreish version of the good ol’ burger and you’ll only need $4.90 on you to scoff this bad boy down. The patty is made up of a masala-soaked potato mash that gets deep-fried in a turmeric-based batter. Once this guy is good to go (that is, fried to golden perfection), it gets placed in a buttered “pav”—a square-shaped Indian bread-bun—and is cooked with a heap of butter and garlic and served with tamarind and cilantro chutneys on a thali plate.
Hummus Plate | Shwarmama
Mat Lindsay is easily one of Sydney's most exciting chefs. Shwarmama is his latest venture—a slick standing-room-only kebab spot that breaks a few rules of the traditional kebab shop set up, and ups the ante on taste. Unlike Lindsay's other slick fine dining restaurants and wine bars, Shwarmama is very (very) affordable.
The menu is short and sweet (just six items and nothing over $16), but if we're sticking to the $10 rule, the creamy hummus plate loaded with chickpeas, tahini, harissa, and laffa bread is your go-to.
Pork Roll | Banh Mi Bay Ngo
This is definitely one of the best shops for banh mi in the entire city. At Banh Mi Bay Ngo, you have the choice of pork, pork skin, chicken, meatball, fish patties, and, most vitally, the hard-to-find fried egg roll (why is banh mi made with fresh, fried eggs so hard to come by?!)
The bread is fresh and crispy, and the rolls are so stuffed that you will certainly feel full after one. For less than $5, you really can’t get better. Like all good banh mi joints, things move pretty fast and can get a bit chaotic in front and behind the counter. It’s also takeaway only, so find somewhere nearby to sit and chow down while the roll is still fresh.
Pastizzi | Pastizzi Cafe
Pastizzi are synonymous with Malta. Ask any Maltese person about the country and they will spill into a misty-eyed recollection of childhood memories and family anecdotes heavily featuring the small flaky, diamond-shaped pastries filled with ricotta or mushy peas. One of the best spots for Pastizzi in Sydney is Newtown's Pastizzi Cafe, where there are around 20 flavours to choose from, ranging from sweet to savoury, each priced between $3 and $4.30.
Hot Chip Roll | El Jannah
The Lebanese eatery kings of Sydney, El Jannah always do their patrons a solid when it comes to pricing. The standout here has to be the epic hot chip roll packed with all the fried potato-y good stuff, garlic sauce, tomato sauce, crunchy coleslaw, and green pickles for $6.90.
Chicken Schnitzel Burger | Out Of The Blue
Out of the Blue is a legendary Eastern Suburbs takeaway joint known for burgers, fish and chips, and its breezy beachy location. Hit the chicken schnitzel stack (sitting at $10), which is loaded with Out of the Blue’s iconic garlic mayo, beetroot, lettuce, tomato, and carrot. Is it one of the best burgers in Sydney? You’d be brave to try to convince us otherwise.
Pizza By The Slice | Frankie’s Pizza
If you’re in the mood for a night of grungy rock n roll and greasy pizza, then Frankie’s Pizza is your go-to destination. You can grab any of their pizzas for as little as $6 a slice, in between rounds of pinball and guitar noise. We highly recommend the Italian sausage pizza with mushrooms, mozzarella, shaved parmesan, and truffle paste. It’s a no-brainer.
Xiao Long Bao | New Shanghai
Naturally, some of Sydney's best dumplings had to feature on this list. If you’re looking for the comfort that only Chinese food can provide, New Shanghai’s xiao long bao at $9.90 a pop (which is made up of eight pieces) is the dish to order. That hot, soupy dumpling will explode in your mouth.
Giant Cookie | Flour Drum
You'll find Flour Drum at the quieter end of King St, but this cafe deserves a tonne of noise and attention for its pretty and sweet treats. If you have $8 lying around and are desperately craving a warm, gooey giant chocolate chip cookie, then you’re in luck. These legends bake cookies bigger than our faces each day and the regular flavour is M&M's with choc chips.
Noodle Soup | Gourmet Noodle House
The majority of the feeds on Gourmet Noodle House’s mammoth menu are under $10, so you’ve just scored big time here. Try some of the best and greasiest spring rolls in Sydney for $6 a plate or slurp down a bowl of beef brisket noodle soup for as little as $8.
Giant Sandwiches | South Dowling Sandwiches
Darlinghurst and Alexandria
This family-run favourite amongst locals is exactly what you’re in need of when a cheap office lunch is on the cards. South Dowling Sandwiches boasts absolutely enormous sandwiches, most of which cost around $9 (shout out to the chilli chicken stack with red pesto and rocket) and are created with fresh ingredients and service so fast you won’t have time to blink.
Banh Mi | Hong Ha Bakery
Saving money? The entire menu at Hong Ha Bakery is your feasting dream. Everything slides in under the $10 mark, which means dim sum for $1.50 each, a meatball salad box for $8.50, or even a sweet chicken roll and a soft drink for $7.50. You’re welcome.
Chicken Wings | El Camino Cantina
It's one of the most popular Tex-Mex establishments in Sydney for a few reasons. Firstly, El Camino Cantina plates up some of the tastiest tacos, nachos, and guac and in the city. Secondly, they serve extra-large slushie margaritas, but also—El Camino's does a famed “Wing Wednesday”, which sees its saucy chicken wings going for 10-cents a pop with the purchase of a margarita, beer, wine, or soft drink.
Toasties | Dutch Smuggler
Toasties are the pride and joy of CBD cafe Dutch Smuggler. Known for packing these babies to the brim, there are plenty of warm breakfast sambos under $10 to try, but the real MVP is the now-iconic Mi Goreng noodle toasty built with a fried free-range egg, cheddar, and magic sauce for $9.50.
Looking for more cheap things to do in Sydney—from oyster happy hours through to bushwalks, all-you-can-eat sushi, bike rides, and speciality bakeries, jump over here.
Image credit: Banh Mi Bay Ngo, Mr. Chen Beef Noodle, Donut Papi, Durga’s Indian Street Food And Bar, Banh Mi Bay Ngo, Flower Drum, South Dowling Sandwiches