Sydney has an established and well-earned reputation as Australia’s most expensive city, with everything from its eye watering million dollar average house prices, countless toll roads, parking meters that operate 7 days a week (even on public holidays) and hefty restaurant bills making it a challenging place to get by for anyone not earning a six figure salary. Thankfully, the harbour city does have its fair share of cheap dining and drinking options for those on tighter budgets, helped in no small part by the hordes of students (and backpackers) who flock to its sunny shores from around Australia and overseas. Here’s a shortlist of 5 of the top cheap eats spots in Sydney as endorsed by our frugal friends in the True Local team!
59 Liberty Street, Enmore NSW
- Cheapest Food: Turkish Delight $3
Located on a narrow street corner amidst the renovated terraces of Enmore in the heart of Sydney’s bohemian Inner West lies Emma’s Snack Bar – a cosy eatery with communal tables that serves up delicious Lebanese inspired cuisine at very affordable prices. Guests can choose from their well-designed drinks menu including Arak from $8.00, Ciders for $8.00 or $4.00 coffees, whilst meal options include budget-friendly Chicken Kebabs for $12.00, Homous Salads for $10.00 and bargain basement Baklava for $2.50.
“Friendly service, authentic Lebanese dishes made for a casual meal with friends or fam, home cooked style with deep, rich flavours… everything we tried was superb! Reasonable prices” – Pheebs
303-313 Forest Road, Bexley NSW
- Cheapest Food: Souvlaki Skewer (1 piece) $2.50
A little further out of town on a shopping strip in the southern suburb of Bexley lies Gyradiko, which pitches itself as “a taste of tradition straight from the Greek islands to the streets of Sydney”. Since opening in 2015, Gyradiko has experienced strong patronage from Sydneysiders attracted to its very reasonable (by Sydney standards) prices – with its menu featuring great value bites such as large Greek Salad for $12.50, Pita Wraps for just $9.50 and Merida Plates from $18.00.
“Good traditional giros, good price and value all you spect from a place like this well done boys” – cinabrio
Shop 11, Skyview Shopping Plaza, 537-551 George Street, Sydney NSW
- Cheapest Food: Mini Ontama (Udon) Bowl $2.90
Noodles and a frugal student life are a natural fit, which is why Mappen Noodle, nestled high up on the 11th floor of Sydney’s Skyview Shopping Plaza has developed a reputation as a cheap eating destination of choice amongst the city’s army of students, backpackers and CBD workers simply seeking a delicious meal at a great price. As a Japanese inspired eatery with a cramped but cosy Japanese style interior, Mappen offers an extensive menu featuring gems such as Tonkotsu (hot noodles with black garlic, pickled mustard and sesame seed) for the very un-Sydney like price of just $7.50, Kake Curry & Beef for $7.90 or mini Ontama Udon Noodle Bowls for $3.90.
“I love this place. So fast and tasty and – if you can restrain yourself from all the add-ons (good luck!) – it’s so cheap! Check out the rice version next door too if you get noodle fatigued or want some variety : )” – livvie
129 Cathedral Street, Woolloomoolo, Sydney NSW
- Cheapest Food: Black Eyed Peas Bagel $7
Whilst no one who knows the harbour city well enough would associate Woolloomoolo with anything remotely considered to be “cheap”, Smoking Gun Bagels on quiet Cathedral Street is an exception to this iron rule, with this unassuming street corner location serving up A-grade bagels at budget friendly prices. Bagel options include a mix of the sweet and savoury – such as Curried Away for $8.00, Netflix & Dill for $9.00 or Black Eyed Peas for $7.00.
“Smoking Gun Bagels sells bagels Canadian style, which basically means that the bagels are served open. This is definitely a great thing, it means more filling and it’s easier to eat. The bagels here are so good, pretty experimental fillings, a lot of fermented veg which is super good for you” – Miss Forster
Westfield Sydney, Shop 5018A, 188 Pitt Street, Sydney NSW\
- Cheapest Food: Steamed Egg Cake $5.90
A restaurant chain with a great global reputation, Tim Ho Wan has three outlets across metropolitan Sydney which are always busy for a good reason, including their flagship store in Westfield Sydney on Pitt Street. Under the watchful eye of head chefs Mak Kwai Pui and Leung Fai Keung Tim Ho Wan manages to achieve the seemingly impossible feat of serving Michelen starred food at student-friendly prices, with some of their top menu choices including Combo Takeways (1 main, 1 side and 1 drink) for just $14.90, 4 piece Prawn Dumplings for $7.90 and Mango Pomelo Sago’s for $5.90.
“I love yum cha food and more importantly good quality yum cha food, and that’s the reputation Tim Ho Wan has. Although… it’ll never compare to the Hong Kong shop, it’s not bad. Their bbq pork buns are the signature item and it’s great to know I can just buy a pack of 3 to takeaway and enjoy at my work desk!” – kningja