Melbourne owes its vibrant, delectable, and even colourful dining scene to the ethnic diversity that calls it home. Migrant population from around the world bring their culinary culture and cooking pots permeating the air with fragrant spices and delicious aromas. What’s more, they serve generous portions at even more generous rates. Soon they become a byword for good food at low prices and yet another success story attains legendary status.
Here are a few of these legends serving cheap eats in Melbourne. Just in case you didn’t get it right, cheap does not translate to greasy, unhygienic, dodgy food slapped down on some plastic utensil. It just means non-pretentious good food cooked with love and served with pride yet costing anywhere between $15-20.
Miznon is about fifty shades of pita and a culinary imagination running wild. Ancient flavours from Israel has found its way to Melbourne via Tel Aviv, Paris, Vienna, and New York. The founder, Eyal Shani is a judge on Israel’s MasterChef when he’s not juggling twelve restaurant kitchens. All that and not one dish over $20 in Miznon Melbourne and that’s what makes this chef the master of his craft. Their grass-fed wagyu and roots stew pita with tahini, onion, and pickles is priced at $18; you get the idea.
Opening hours: 12nn to 10pm (Mon to Sat)
Address: 59 Hardware Lane, Melbourne, Australia, VIC 3000
2. Moroccan Soup Bar
The colourful ambience of MSB lights up the Fitzroy social scene and is an appetiser in itself. This is a vegetarian diner, but you honestly don’t miss the meat as the flavours rule. They have a bustling takeaway section as well as catering if that’s what you’re after. The perennial favourite Harrira soup is available all day for $6 and a sumptuous dinner banquet for $19.50. If you bring your own containers your takeaway prices are even less. They have vegan and dairy-free options on their menu. MSB is a lovely down-to-earth, socially-conscious enterprise that makes you want to return and not just for the low price.
Website: Moroccan Soup Bar
Opening hours: 6pm to 9.30pm (Tues to Sat), 6pm to 9pm (Sun)
Location: 183 St George Road, Fitzroy North, Australia
3. Very Good Falafel
They say it like it is and could add ‘at very good prices’ and still be legit. By sheer dint of flavours and hard work, they worked their way up from farmers’ markets to their own café on busy Sydney Rd. They will not reveal their secret but there’s no denying the magic of their golden falafels that have become the talk of the town. Their Ktzizot, which translates to lamb meatballs, remains unrivalled both in terms of taste and price and yet manages a place on the list of cheap eats in Melbourne.
Website: Very Good Falafel
Opening hours: 11am to 10pm (Mon to Sat)
Location: 629 Sydney Road, Brunswick, VIC, Australia
4. Butchers Diner
Butchers Diner is a classic eatery serving 24-hour burgers in Melbourne. It’s the perfect answer to the question, where to eat in Melbourne CBD? It remains open all hours serving a variety of yummy options from grilled cheese toasties at $7.50 to steak sandwich at $16.50. Just because it fits easily under cheap eats in Melbourne does not mean you can’t eat healthy; you only pay $10.50 for organic chicken with mayo and celery, and $18.50 for the creole salmon cutlet. Side dishes range from steamed beef and pork dim sims for a couple of dollars to warm organic potato salad with parsley and olive oil for $7.50. As you can see, tasty, healthy, filling, and great value for money.
Website: Butchers Diner
Opening hours: Open 24 hours
Location: 10 Bourke Street, Melbourne, VIC 3000, Australia
Take ramen dining to another level with the Ippudo experience. The internationally renowned Japanese ramen connoisseur offers amazing starters like Ippudo Teba Kara, three pieces of which costs $8, the same as Japanese Yam fries. A plate of Beef Sagari Yaki which is tender Angus beef with fried enoki costs $17.50. Healthy fare in the form of salads with ingredients like enoki mushroom, kale, cucumber, sesame, salmon slices, seaweed etc come with miso, citrus oil, or poke dressing and costs from $9 to $12.50. They also have dessert for $10 to $11 made of fresh mango, matcha-infused cheese, kokutou almonds and other fancy ingredients.
Opening hours: 11am to 9.30pm (Sun to Thurs), 11am to 10.30pm (Fri to Sat)
Location: Shop 18, QV Shopping Centre, 300 Lonsdale Street, Melbourne VIC 3000
6. Hi Chong Qing
Where there’s a student body, there’s a cheap eats solution in the immediate vicinity. Hi CQ Café and Noodle Bar at RMIT is the perfect illustration of this pearl of wisdom. They serve absolutely delicious and heart-warming Chinese noodle soup in various combinations for just over ten dollars while their spicy beef noodles go for $13.80 a bowl. Additional toppings such as fried egg, tofu or more meat or noodles cost you another two dollars. Served in ornate bowls that belie the low price, you’ll be forgiven if you forget you’re dining at one of the cheap restaurants in Melbourne for students.
Website: Hi Chong Qing
Opening hours: 10am to 9pm (Mon to Fri), 12nn to 9pm (Sat)
Location: 26 Orr Street, Carlton, VIC 3053
7. Don Don
No one uses space and time like the Japanese. Don Don is proof you don’t need an elaborate set up to enjoy good food and that you don’t need to wait 30-40 minutes for a delicious meal to reach you steaming with goodness. It’s simple; a counter with you on one side and a limited variety of donburi on the other. They make it easy for you to choose; no lingering or twitching as you struggle to make up your mind especially with a long queue waiting like a hungry dragon behind you. They have chicken on rice, curry don, sukiyaki don and a few more. Just pick one. You have to be exceptionally lucky or quick-witted to find seating; if not you have the lawns of the State Library at your disposal. This is one of the best and cheap restaurants in Melbourne for students but since you don’t have to produce a student card you’re in.
Facebook: Don Don
Opening hours: 11am to 9pm (Sun to Sat)
Location: 198 Swanston Street, Melbourne, VIC 3000, Australia
8. Soi 38
Soi 38 brings Thai street food to Melbourne without losing any of its flavours or cultural gravitas. And so, you have boat noodles with beef or pork, the perennial favourite tom yum with pork or prawn, or braised duck soup to which is added your choice of noodles. You get to choose from about six different types of noodles. You also get to choose whether you want it as soup or dry or even half soup. You tick all the right boxes in your order form and pay $10 or upgrade to a $15 bowl if you’re exceptionally peckish.
Website: Soi 38
Opening hours: 11.30am to 4pm (Mon to Sat)
Location: 38 McIlwraith Place, Melbourne, VIC 3000, Australia
9. Delhi Streets
Indian street food at its best prepared and served in Melbourne as it would be in the streets of Delhi. Whether you want a full meal or just a bite, their menu is meant to please. In fact, you’ll be spoilt for choice because they all seem delicious and perfectly priced well below $20 at about an average of $15 per dish. You can get two pieces of tandoori chicken drumsticks marinated in yoghurt and spices for $9 and a mixed grill of kebab, tikka, and chicken for $14. They also have signature dishes like biryani, dosa, thali, as well as wraps and pizzas all for about $15 to $18 per dish.
Website: Delhi Streets
Opening hours: 11.30am to 2.30pm, 5.30pm to 9.30pm (Mon to Fri), 5.30pm to 9.30pm (Sat)
Location: 22 Katherine Place, Melbourne, VIC 3000, Australia
10. Hunky Dory
Generous servings of seafood leave you feeling quite satisfied with proceedings and the good feeling continues as you see nothing costs over $20. You can see they know their seafood and how to get the best flavours out of it. Not surprising since they hail from a family of Greek fishermen who haven’t lost their touch. You get fresh serves of grilled barramundi, whiting, flake, or salmon in exotic marinades and sauces with sides of Greek salad, chips, brown rice or spinach salad to make a highly satisfying meal of it. They also have burgers and wraps, fried packs, grilled packs infused with flavours from around the world.
Website: Hunky Dory
Opening hours: 7 days a week, 11am till late
Location: 670 Chapel Street, South Yarra, VIC, Australia
11. Corner & Bench
Yes, they do have a few cosy corners that give you a tucked-away feeling if it’s your I-hate-the-world kind of day. Their range of toasted sandwiches, omelettes, focaccia, pancakes, and excellent coffees will, however, soon set you straight and on your way. They have lunch options that include generous servings of chicken cooked different ways, delicious stew, and burrito bowls, to name a few. You’re quickly seated with menus in hand and food arrives with minimal fuss as soon as you have placed your order. If you feel pushed for time you can order from what’s on display under the counter. They have generous portions that give great value for your dollar.
Facebook: Corner & Bench
Opening hours: 7.30am to 3.45pm (Mon to Fri), 9am to 2pm (Sat)
Location: 406 Bourke Street, Melbourne, VIC 3000, Australia.
12. Hardware Street Café
Their signature dish is softshell crab on Belgian waffles with sweet chilli mayo for $21.90. You can tell there is a melange of influences possibly French, Swiss, with a touch of Asian. They have vegetarian, vegan, and gluten-free options and all falling comfortably within the $10 to $20 range. The truffle and mushroom with poached egg on sourdough bread is seasonal and priced precipitously close to $20. The Canadian Boy is reasonable at $14.90 and comes with a hot Belgian waffle, bacon, maple syrup and fig jam. They really do have a way with Belgian waffles, and they come with quite a range of toppings from Nutella to blueberry.
Website: Hardware Street Café
Opening hours: 7.30am to 5pm (Mon to Fri), 8.30am to 5pm (Sat to Sun)
Location: 119 Hardware Streets, Melbourne, VIC 3000, Australia
13. Rice Paper
Enjoy Vietnamese speciality food at prices that whet your appetite. Have you had soft shell crab thick broth noodle soup for $16? What’s more, you can eat the shell as well as it is marinated in rich seasoning that makes it edible before it is battered and deep-fried. The all-time favourite crispy skin chicken is just $10. Then there is the stir fry served with rice or noodle dishes all about $16 per dish. Their signature rice paper rolls come with BBQ chicken, prawn, lemongrass pork, avocado all in very imaginative combinations and for less than $4 apiece.
Facebook: Rice Paper
Opening hours: 10am to 10pm (Sun to Thu), 10am to 11pm (Fri to Sat)
Location: 245 Swanston Street, Melbourne, VIC 3000, Australia
14. Shanghai Street
If you’re looking for good cheap food in Melbourne, you can’t go past Shanghai Street. Apparently the dumplings here are to die for. And so the longest queue in the world still does not deter customers from getting their dumplings and other favourites. But the helpful staff make every effort to get you started by coming out to the queue to get your order even before you’ve put a foot inside the establishment. In terms of seating and ambience, you really can’t be all that fussed but the food when it arrives will surely take your mind of such inanities. They serve pork buns, steamed buns, rice dishes, stir-fried meat and veggies, fried chicken and more and all within $15 to $20 if not lesser.
Opening hours: 11.30am to 3pm (Sat to Sun), 4.30pm to 9pm (Fri),
4.30pm to 8.30pm (Sat to Thu)
Location: 342 Little Bourke Street, Melbourne, VIC 3000, Australia
15. Roule Galette
Traditional French Creperie is tucked away in Flinders Lane looking like it didn’t really want to be found. But the popular cafe is an open secret among its increasing clientele and with good reason. They serve a variety of crepes and galettes for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and of course, take away and you can have a hearty serving for less than $20. There’s the added attraction of hearing French spoken as you sip your Orangina, excellent cup of coffee, or French cider. Somehow your order sounds fancier when it is repeated in French. They also have vegetarian, vegan, and gluten-free options. There is a small outdoor seating area which adds to the charm.
Website: Roule Galette
Opening hours: Mon to Thurs: 7.30am – 8pm; Sun: 9am – 5pm; Fri: 7.30am – 9.30pm; Sat: 9am – 8pm.
Location: Scott Alley, 241 Flinders Lane, Melbourne, VIC 3000, Australia
16. Peko Peko
Peko Peko is a Taiwanese restaurant serving an incredible variety of food from starters to dessert all within $20 and generous portions too. Perhaps for this reason, it can be hard to get a foot in during peak dining hours and can be quite noisy with excited chatter that good food can often generate. They serve meat and seafood dishes in various sauces and flavours along with soups, rice, and noodle options. Would be a good idea to check spice levels when placing your order if you’re sensitive to high levels. Or you can dig into some delicious dessert.
Facebook: Peko Peko
Opening hours: Mon to Sat: 12pm – 4pm and 5pm – 9pm.
Location: 190 Wells Street, Southbank, Melbourne, VIC 3205, Australia
17. Purple Peanuts Japanese Café
Japanese cuisine with an edgy twist that makes curry come alive and definitely great value for money. From usuals such as miso soup and sushi rolls, the menu goes on and gets exciting with items like grilled chicken curry rice, salmon sashimi rice, chicken soba and more. Main dishes are around $15 or so and can get even cheaper later on in the day. The seating is limited, and you sit where you can. Things move around quickly here and so there’s not a long wait for your food to arrive.
Facebook: Purple Peanuts Japanese Café
Opening hours: 10am to 8.30pm (Mon to Sat)
Location: 620 Collins Street, Melbourne, VIC 3000, Australia
All you can eat Indian vegetarian at unbelievably low prices. They have a cheap set menu for everyday of the week with a main rice dish accompanied by vegetable preparation made of lentils, chickpeas, red kidney bean, pumpkin, or spinach. If you like pappadums, you’ll be pleased to know they accompany every meal. Exotic desserts made of pineapple, carrots, dates, as well as apple crumble, almond toffee are part of the set menu. You also get to pick a drink. All this and warm, friendly service for below $10.
Opening hours: 11.30am to 8pm (Mon to Sat)
Location: Level 1&2, 123 Swanston Street, Melbourne, VIC 3000
A great place to have a hearty breakfast on a weekend or a quick bite on your way to work. They have homemade scones, cakes, and sausage rolls on display, if you’re really in a hurry. The servings are generous, tastes delicious, and offer great value for money. On top of great breakfast options, they have soups, chicken mains, and other great ideas for a lazy brunch or workday lunch. Their homemade sauces and relish take your dining experience up a couple of notches. The place can get a bit busy over weekdays.
Opening hours: 6.30am to 4.30pm (Mon to Fri), 7am to 5pm (Sat to Sun)
Location: 1/320 Carlisle Street, Melbourne, VIC, Australia
20. Jimmy Grants
Greek street food is definitely one of the cuisines to try in Melbourne. At Jimmy Grants, you get the real deal and a wide range at that. Have a souvlaki with mustard sauce and crusty chips wrapped inside along with the usual suspects. The souvas as they call it, costs anywhere between $10 and $16.50 or you can have it all in a bowl for $14.90 to $17.90. Salads and sweets complete the meal and you’re still in good shape, wallet-wise.
Website: Jimmy Grants
Opening hours: 11am to 10pm (Mon to Thur & Sun), 11am to 11pm (Fri to Sat)
Location: 113 St. David Street, Fitzroy, VIC 3065, Australia
These are just some of the best and cheap restaurants in Melbourne that will satisfy your tastebuds without blowing a hole in your wallet. Did we miss your favourite cheap food in Melbourne? Share your recommendations in the comments section below!
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