It’s no secret that like any major city, Sydney can be an expensive place to live, work and eat out. With the rising cost of living affecting rental prices, transportation, groceries and more, dining out can sometimes feel like a special occasion.
However you don’t need to spend a small fortune to enjoy a meal out in Sydney. From the Inner West’s Marrickville to Chinatown, through to the Sydney CBD, we’ve compiled some of our favourite cheap restaurants, take-out spots and eateries so you can dine on a delicious lunch or dinner without stretching the budget.
If you’re looking for cheap eats in Chinatown, dumplings are always a good idea. Considered a Chinatown Sydney institution by locals, you’ll find hearty but affordable Chinese fare ranging from hand-pulled noodles, stir-fried green beans, soups, fried rice and of course, plenty of dumpling options.
A half-serve of dumplings (five pieces) costs just under $9, while a plate of pork, chicken or vegetarian noodles comes to $16.80. We recommend dining in with friends so you can try a little bit of everything.
Located in Sydney’s West, Hawa Charcoal Chicken has made a name for itself for its namesake dish: charcoal chicken. Spit roasted and cooked over charcoal, the results are deliciously moist and succulent BBQ chicken with crispy, charred skin.
Get the ¼ chicken meal deal which includes a quarter piece of chicken, a small garlic sauce (toum), a small serving of hot chips and a can of drink for $12.50.
Look past the award-winning restaurants and hipster cafes of Paddington and you’ll stumble upon this not-so-hidden gem on Oxford Street in Sydney’s East.
Opened from 4pm until late and only available for takeaway, you’ll find delicious homemade Indian-style kebabs featuring fluffy naan bread and your choice of filling including chicken tikka, curry sauce, alo chop, onion bhaji or samosas starting from $11.50.
For affordable restaurants in Sydney’s CBD, Jimmy’s Falafel is a great option for casual Middle Eastern-style eats. Located right in the heart of George Street, don’t be surprised when you see a line of office workers during the lunch rush Monday through to Friday.
As their name suggests, come for their falafel and you won’t be disappointed. Offering both a dine-in and takeaway menu, you can score three falafel balls for $6 and fries for $8 on the takeaway menu making it a cheap lunch option in Sydney CBD.
Marrickville in Sydney’s Inner West is home to a thriving Vietnamese community which has resulted in a number of fantastic authentic South East Asian dining options. None are more famous than the iconic Marrickville Bánh Mi.
With locations in both Marrickville and Darling Square, this takeaway shop serves Vietnamese baguettes filled with cold cuts, pate and fresh veggies known as a bánh mi in Vietnamese or pork roll. The standard pork roll sets you back $8, while a crackling pork belly roll costs $10.
Ever heard of a HSP? This very Aussie fast food dish stands for Halal Snack Pack and arguably the best in Sydney are served at Metro One Kebab in the suburb of Ashfield.
Not for the faint of heart, a HSP features golden hot chips seasoned with chicken salt that’s topped with halal-certified doner and chicken kebab meat, mozzarella cheese and your choice of sauces (we highly recommend the garlic, BBQ and chilli sauce trio). Prices start from $19 but it’s so big, it could easily feed two people.
Be prepared to cue for a seat inside this small but mighty Japanese restaurant serving cheap eats in North Sydney. Famous across the city for its authentic tonkatsu-style ramen, a bowl features springy ramen noodles with slices of pork and spring onions in a hearty broth made from simmering pork bones.
Open for lunch and dinner, a standard bowl of ramen will set you back around $16. Ryo’s also serves a number of other Japanese dishes including karaage chicken for $12, gyozas for $9 and a roast pork rice ball for $5.
Affectionately known as “The Shakey” by locals, the Shakespeare Hotel is a classic Aussie pub serving cheap eats in Surry Hills.
You’ll find pub grub dishes like a beef burger with a side of chips for $19, chicken schnitzel with chips or mash and salad for $18, butter chicken with rice for $18, and salt and pepper squid with salad for $18. For smaller meals, The Shakey also offers $6 fish or haloumi tacos and Korean spiced chicken wings for $15.
*Prices are accurate at the time of publishing.