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 December 13th 2011
It's been said that there's something special about eating out – and that's true. There's also something special about rolling down a winding road in the French countryside in a shiny red convertible, sipping expensive champagne with one hand. Unless you're a millionaire, there are going to be many special experiences that you can't afford. Don't despair, though: the best things in this world are free. Well, not entirely free, but cheap. Actually, the very best things are quite costly, but you can get some pretty good things for a low price if you're willing to compromise. And isn't that what life's all about? Here's a few places in Brisbane where the food tastes good enough that you can shut your eyes and pretend you're a rich person.
The Little Greek Taverna is at 1 Browning Street, Shop 5, in the West End. It's open for lunch and dinner every day but Monday. Every so often the stars align and you get friendly service, delicious food, and a prime location in the same restaurant – and this is one of those restaurants. When you think about cheap Greek food, you think about chewy, dry meat and fast-food style presentation. Despite being very reasonably priced – the larger main meals come to around fifteen dollars – the Little Greek Taverna delivers the kind of meat you'd get from a fine dining establishment. This isn't a place you can afford to miss if you like Greek food. Book ahead if you're eating here, since it's understandably popular.
Unassuming fronts often hide surprising interiors – a dusty old cupboard can contain the magical realm of Narnia, plain sugared donuts might have a delicious jam filling, and the latest Adam Sandler movie might be good after all. Sing's Asian Kitchen is like the movie Funny People: from the outside, it looks like just another mediocre Thai cafe, but when you order the chilli blackbean with beef you discover that Judd Apatow is actually capable of directing a good movie. Sing's Asian Kitchen produces regulars at an alarming rate – visit there a few times and you might become one yourself. It would be pointless choosing a dish to recommend, since every dish on the menu hits the spot. And it's cheap, too, so if you don't mind eating in a packed restaurant, give Sing's a visit on 5 Nash Street.
Marine World Seafood Cafe
The Marine World Seafood Cafe is located in Tingalpa, on 1029 Manly Road Shop 19. It looks like just another fish and chips shop – average calamari, average chips, average squid – but the fish itself is fresh enough to travel for. Best of all, they're generous with their portion sizes (a must for a fish and chips shop) and if you're lucky, they'll give you a platter of fruit with your meal. The care Marine World Seafood Cafe puts into making their customers happy is obvious, but here's one clear example: they're the only fish and chips shop in Brisbane that offers crumbed and battered fish that are gluten-free. Celiacs and people with gluten intolerances, rejoice – this is like a vegetarian discovering that there's a place with fake meat that actually tastes like meat.
There's plenty of budget restaurants in Brisbane: hidden gems that locals keep secret. But let's be generous, just this once, and share what we've found with each other. If you know a restaurant that deserves to be on this list, mention it in the comments – we'd love to hear from you. And if you're interested in other budget Brisbane restaurants, check the comments as well, since there are bound to be plenty of interesting suggestions there.
My Pho Bar at Jindalee. Fab fresh spring rolls, generous Pho, and a few other delicious main course choices. About $15 per main and spring rolls are 3 for $7. Friendly service and easy parking. BYO or they also have great fruit cocktails.
Phuong Trinh at the Civic Centre in Inala. The best viet restaurant I've been to in Brisbane - two huge bowls of delicious beef pho (if you can finish it, you are a champion) and two diet cokes for $31! All their food is delicious, very reasonably priced and there is always parking! I eat at this place at least once a week - sometimes two if I'm feeling kitchen-lazy.