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Eating Out on a Budget

Home > Melbourne > Bars | Cafes | Food and Wine | Fun Things To Do | Pubs | Restaurants
by Sean Goedecke (subscribe)
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 September 7th 2011
Melbourne's a city with a great food culture. We've got restaurants to suit anybody, food styles from all over the world, and coffee to match. This is usually good - it's hard to have a great time without great food. However, the best food is usually the most expensive, and most of us aren't looking to drop a few hundred dollars on poached quail eggs and shaved truffles every time we go to get a meal. Luckily, Melbourne's full of smaller restaurants and cafes that offer great value for money - you just have to know where they are.

Crossways Food For Life

Let's start with Crossways, the Hare Krishna restaurant on Elizabeth St. It's only open for lunch, but the food-per-dollar can't be beat. Five dollars will buy you a gigantic plate of curry, complete with pappadums, a hearty-if-not-healthy halva for dessert, and unlimited lassi to drink on the side. Beloved by poor students and stressed-out businessmen all over Melbourne, Crossways is an excellent place to get your Indian fix. It's all vegetarian too – even vegan if you ignore the dessert – so don't worry about bringing your friends along. If you can't get enough of Crossways, Gopal's nearby is similar and open for dinner.

Bimbo Deluxe Restaurant

For those less spiritually inclined, Bimbo Deluxe is a great place for lunch or dinner. It's a bar at the corner of Brunswick and Rose St, distinguished mainly by a spectacular range of four-dollar pizzas. They're only available at that price for dinner and lunch on certain days (check the link for more details), but it's worth making the effort to go then. From the Australian-style pizza with kangaroo meat to the Mexican Poncho, which is basically nachos on a pizza base, and far tastier than it sounds, Bimbo Deluxe is easily the best value food on Brunswick St.

Bimbo Deluxe
Sister restaurant Lucky Coq is also pretty good.

Thresherman's Bakehouse
Thresherman's Bakehouse, at 221 Faraday St near Lygon St and Melbourne University, is like Brunetti's little brother. It offers a range of pastries, coffee and hot food, but it's more relaxed and far less expensive than Brunetti's. Twelve dollars will get you a three-course meal (unfortunately all on the one plate). The real attraction of Thresherman's Bakehouse appears later in the day, when the pastries table and sandwiches drop in price. Grab a four-dollar salami or salad sandwich and finish by choosing a sweet dessert from the pastries table, where almost everything is a dollar or a dollar-fifty. If you're a student at Melbourne University, you've really got no excuse for not visiting this place regularly.

Those are just three options out of many. Camy Shanghai Dumpling has gone unmentioned, as has the Bar Fred pizza or Konjo's Ethiopian Restaurant's enormous portion sizes. One caution, though: if you're taking a date out to dinner, don't tell them you heard about it from an 'Out on a Budget' article, that might not go down well.
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Why? Because cheap food can be good food
When: For lunch or dinner
Where: All over Melbourne
Cost: $5 or under
Om Vegetarian on Level 1 28-32 Elizabeth St is great too. It was really close to my work so I visited all the time, the staff are friendly and it was all you can eat for about $6.50
By theastronaught - senior reviewer
Sunday, 11th of September @ 08:04 am
Other suggestions for cheap eat outs:

Don Don - a quirky little Japanese cafe with several branches. Meals start at about $6.50. The branch near Grattan street has a nice layout & atmosphere, and actually feels like a decent place to dine.

Chinatown - meals for less than $8 are everywhere. Dumplings, rice with a dish, noodles, and more. Quality varies from store to store though.

Lentils as anything - you can search up the review on Weekend Notes. It's a vegetarian restaurant with several branches across Melbourne. You pay as much as you think the food is worth. So depending on your ethics, that could be a cheap meal option too haha
By Winnie - senior reviewer
Sunday, 11th of September @ 03:44 pm
Let's not forget Kim Seng at Port Philip Arcarde. Serves Chinese food of reasonable portions at cheap prices ($6 for most of the items on the list). Ordering is simple, you just look at the pictures and remember the number. One thing you have to remember is that all items on the menu serve plain rice by default, even if the menu item says 'fried rice'. Fried rice costs an additional $0.60, but it's still cheap. The cheapest item? $4.50 for a plate of special fried rice (bean sprouts, pork, egg). It's my #1 choice for a quick and cheap lunch nowadays.

They're second when it comes to speed of getting your food(Don Don is still tops).
By stan.1 - reader
Tuesday, 13th of September @ 03:22 am
Crossways is amazing. I drop by every chance I get. Nothing like a big plate of curried vegetables and baked apples with custard, all washed down with a big cup of lassi. Delicious. The atmosphere is always really interesting too. People from all walks of life dine at Crossways, which makes for a very different and delightful lunch indeed.

Lentil as Anything in Abbotsford is a beautiful place for lunch or dinner. All you can eat served up in a beautiful old convent nestled on the banks of the Yarra - what more could you want?
By Kallen Johnstone - senior reviewer
Sunday, 25th of September @ 03:44 am
Lalibela in Footscray, if you're not turned off by eating with your hands. The food is simple, comes served to you on a round piece of injera, the bread, which has a slight pancakey taste and texture. Rip of bits of that to scoop up your food with ... yum.
By Sue Stevenson - senior reviewer
Wednesday, 28th of September @ 11:45 pm
I tried Indianbelly from Caulfield farmers market. Their chickpea and daal makhni curry is to die for. I found it cheap too. What you get at restaurants for $15-$16 per dish, they sell for $10.
By annar - reader
Monday, 27th of May @ 02:35 am
I am from UK and authentic Indian food I found here in Melb is what Indianbelly makes.
By annar - reader
Friday, 5th of July @ 03:16 am
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