Sean Goedecke is a freelance writer trying to visit every cafe in Australia. If you enjoy his articles, it can't hurt to click the 'like' link at the bottom or subscribe.
Published November 25th 2011
Although you might wish it were otherwise, at any given moment the Melbourne CBD is likely to be full of two kinds of people: scruffy hipsters and suited businessmen. Likewise, the food culture of Melbourne is an odd combination. On the one hand, there's cheap cafes that deliver excellent coffee and not much else; on the other hand, there's restaurants that won't let you in unless you can tie a Windsor knot with your left hand in under thirty seconds. Is it possible to find moderately classy cafes or budget restaurants in Melbourne? Fortunately, yes, starting with...
On 183 St Georges Road, the Moroccan Soup Bar is an absolute gem. If you're vegetarian, not having been there is unforgivable; even if you're not, it's still pretty shameful. From the tiny glasses of tea at the beginning of the several-course banquet to the strong sweet coffee and pastries at the end, eating here is a pleasure. Better still, it's only twenty dollars per head. There are a few quirks - the menu is delivered verbally, for instance, and changes frequently - but they only add to what makes the Moroccan Soup Bar unique. Keep an eye out for the pita bread, yoghurt and chickpea dish; whatever it is, it tastes incredible.
In Yarraville, across the road from the Sun Theatre, the Cornershop is worth visiting. It's slightly less vegetarian than the Moroccan Soup Bar - there are a few meat options - but almost as unique. Try the zucchini and mint fritters or the braised meatballs, and sit inside if you want the candle on your table to stay lit. The Cornershop's coffee is pretty good, as well, and unlike the Moroccan Soup Bar, it's open for breakfast and lunch.
Gaylord Indian Restaurant
There are at least four different kinds of meat on that plate.
Gaylord Indian Restaurant, on Tattersall's Lane next to Camy Shanghai Dumpling, is a different breed from the Morrocan Soup Bar or the Cornershop. It's louder, for one thing, and gaudier - this restaurant used to be a disco and has the mirrors on the roof to prove it. The food is sloppier, greasier and a little cheaper. Think of it this way: the Cornershop's food is made to be shared over a glass of wine with a friend or two, while Gaylord Indian's food is made to be shared with your mates over a few bottles of beer. Speaking of beer, Gaylord Indian is one of the few places in the city where you can get Haywards 5000, a staple Indian brew that's one of the most drinkable beers in the world.
Yoyogi Japanese Restaurant
From Moroccan, to Mediterranean (ish), to Indian - and now, finally, to Japanese. Yoyogi, at 211-213 Swanston St, delivers a decent menu of cheap dinners. Here's a helpful tip: instead of ordering a main meal, order a selection of entrée dishes. You'll get just as much food, with more variety. As always, you can get a large bowl of meat and rice for under ten dollars, but wouldn't you rather try the sweet eggplant or the fried octopus? Of course you would.
Any list of the 'best' budget restaurants in Melbourne is going to be controversial. Almost everybody has a local restaurant that they'll defend to the death, no matter how overcooked the steak or how greasy the pasta is. If you know a place that deserves to be on this list - or think that restaurants above are part of Melbourne's most overrated - then share your thoughts in the comments below.
If ever your in Sydney go to Kurakura level 1 76 Ultimo Rd Haymarket, right in the middle of Chinatown, we had 6 entree's (quite substantial) and a bottle of house wine at a cost of $54. Best Value in the heart of Sydney, you can't go wrong.