If you’re like me and find your schedule sadly does not accommodate to the Melbourne Sunday Brunching Tradition; (or rather your budget doesn’t), and you’re running out of excuses to tell your friends why you can’t come out and eat a $20 acai bowl – look no further. I’ve compiled a list of the 15 best affordable restaurants in Melbourne – ones that won’t sacrifice taste for affordability. Your bank account will thank you in the future.
1. Have a clear conscience at an all-vegan pizzeria at Red Sparrow Pizza in Collingwood.
Even if you aren’t a ‘save the animals’ advocate, Red Sparrow will still have your mouth watering for their all-vegan, gluten free pizzas – sans the usual, stringy disappointment that is vegan cheese. A pleasant ambience, decent prices, and top-notch service; Red Sparrow is a must for all you broke vegans out there (and non-vegans too!).
2. Craving authentic Thai street food but can’t afford the airfare? Wokks away!
Located in between RMIT building 80 and Melbourne University on Swanston St, Wokks is a popular restaurant for students and CBD workers alike. Specialising in flavoursome Thai street food well worth the price for their large servings; it’s a restaurant that will certainly provide you with the sustenance you need for that busy day ahead – without breaking the bank.
3. Go on a dumpling scavenger hunt and find your treasure at ShanDong MaMa.
Located inside a Bourke St arcade, owners Ying Hou and Meiyan Wang serve dishes inspired from the fishing town of Yantai on the Shandong Peninsula. Although every dish is a hit, Shandong is known for its seafood (the fish dumplings need to be on your bucket list); and with the highest menu item being $17 for 10 dumplings, this hidden gem doesn’t have to remain hidden for your broke self.
4. Don your sombrero and head over to La Tortilleria in Flemington.
La Tortilleria’s authentic Mexican cuisine will definitely put you in the mood for a siesta – and with their cheap prices, you can sleep without the regret.
5. Only enough money for a coffee? Grab a borek instead at The Borek Bakehouse.
Cheaper than most Melbourne coffee; The Borek Bakehouse in the CBD sells their original boreks for $3.50, made fresh and available with or without yeast. Warm, cheesy bread to get you through the day or mediocre coffee? You decide.
6. Commence your journey to the Roti Road.
With two stores in Footscray and Maribyrnong, this Malaysian restaurant is famous for the captivating roti-making show provided by the chef, with the quality and price of the menu almost as good as the chef’s freestyling to Chinese pop.
7. Let the nostalgia wash over you at 8bit’s retro burger bar.
On the corner of Swanston and Bourke St, 8bit’s interior pays homage to the 80s arcade era inside a cosy setting. Their soft bun burgers, hotdogs, and milkshakes will give you that vintage diner feel with prices before inflation hit the economy.
8. Kalimera Souvlaki Art in Oakleigh will leave you feeling inspired…to buy art supplies with the money you’re saving here.
Although this restaurant isn’t found at the heart of the CBD, Kalimera Souvlaki Art is a must for those wanting both affordable and authentic Greek cuisine.
9. Craving Korean cuisine after watching the PyeongChang Olympics? Head on over to Hankki in Carnegie.
Only $10 for the lunch special, the Korean owned restaurant is the place to go if you’re looking for cheap, wholesome Korean food as if it was made by a Korean grandma on the streets of Seoul. If you’re looking for value for your money, Hankki in Carnegie is a must for all you broke students out there.
10. Spend your 15-minute lunch break and limited funds at Don Don’s.
Albeit the outside of this store doesn’t look like much; Don Don’s are known for their lightening speed meals and customer satisfaction. Under $10 for a Japanese style box, this restaurant is perfect for broke university students who are looking to break their 4-day Maccas bender.
11. Enjoy a DIY dining experience at Pepper Lunch.
Pepper Lunch is the place to go if you’re feeling a little fussed over who (and how) your meal is being prepared. A hotspot for students and CBD workers alike; Pepper Lunch puts you in charge of cooking your meal, so if your food tastes a little burnt…that’s on you.
12. Very Good Falafel is synonymous with Very Good Bank Account.
Only $8.50 for a falafel pita, Very [very] Good Falafel in Brunswick provides you with the glorious sensation of freshly cooked pita warming your soul. Suitable for all diet types without the usual extra cost.
13. $2 Taco Tuesday specials at The Dan O’Connell Hotel.
If you’re really stretching your budget, the $2 bean tacos at The Dan O’Connell Hotel has got you covered. From 5.30-9.30pm, this special also includes beef tacos and mini enchiladas for $3. A super chill place to just sit back and relax or play a game of pool post dinner.
14. Warm, toasted New York style bagels at Five & Dime Bagel Company; a restaurant true to its name.
Using traditional baking methods in their special bagel oven, Five & Dime are well known in Melbourne for their bagels that won’t break the budget.
15. Melbourne University students should take a quick walk to Don Tojo.
Just a short walk away, Don Tojo is conveniently located on Cardigan Street – an easy location to visit for a quick meal for all Melbourne University students (especially if you don’t want to head back to the CBD during your short break). Time is money, so save yours.
If you’re like me and find you die a little inside every time you eat out with friends, you no longer have to worry about budgeting the rest of your month’s pay cheque. Whether you’re a student, a frugal office worker, or just someone looking to save money, these 15 affordable restaurants in Melbourne will leave you feeling rich AF whilst looking at your bank statement.