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 16th 2011
Melbourne can be an expensive city, with classy restaurants to suit even the most picky foodie. For those of us with limited funds, a visit to Vue de Monde means eating out on a budget for the rest of the month. Luckily, Melbourne's also full of cheaper restaurants and cafes.
Don Don, on 321 Swanston St, is a reliable option for quick, delicious Asian food. The menu is always the same – around six bucks for a large bowl of rice and meat – and the service is spectacularly fast. Don't bother waiting at a table; your meal is usually ready before you've even finished paying. Don Don's sister restaurant, Don Tojo, is nearer Melbourne University for hungry students.
Speaking of Melbourne University, Thresherman's is another popular student haunt. You can pay twelve dollars for a three-course hot meal – expensive, by student standards – but the real attractions are the sandwiches and pastries in the afternoon. Large sandwiches drop to four dollars each, and muffins to a dollar-fifty. It's not unknown for people to buy two sandwiches in the evening; one for dinner, and one for lunch the next day.
Crossways Food for Life
On 123 Swanston St, lunch at Crossways might just be the best value for money in the city. The 'menu' (a single dish and dessert) changes daily, but it's always five dollars for a gigantic bowl of rice and curry, a glass of yoghurt lassi and a custard pudding for dessert. And 'gigantic' means gigantic: you'll only be able to finish it if you're genuinely starving. Everything's vegetarian, as well (vegan, if you don't count the dessert), so bring your friends.
Again on Swanston St, Dumplings Plus is a nice option for a quiet night out. Think Camy Shanghai Dumpling, but with more class – although you'll still be able to get huge piles of dumplings for a few dollars. Best not to experiment with the prawn options here; stick to what you know you like. The beef dumplings are an excellent place to start, as are the vegetable dumplings.
Got a favourite place for cheap eats in Melbourne? Think one of the cafes on this list is somehow still overpriced? Share your thoughts in the comments – we'd love to hear from you.
Cheap food is fine by me but one question, have you checked out these kitchens for cleanliness? I think that should be a given if you are recommending cheap food.
It's true that there are some notoriously bad (Asian) cheap restaurants... having said that, I've eaten out at cheap places around Melb CBD for years and never had issues with gastro.
Anyway, when you work for a restaurant kitchen or hear stories from friends, you quickly realise expensive places don't necessarily have optimal standards of cleanliness. Haha I guess the safest thing is to eat at home if hygiene is a big concern.