Are your fine dining tastes starting to take their toll on your savings? Never fear. Savvy Melburnians know that some of the best eats in this city are also some of the cheapest (and most cheerful). Whether it’s juicy handmade dumplings or piping hot oven-roasted pizzas, these are the best cheap eats in Melbourne serving up delicious food that won’t break the bank.
If you're thinking of eating at New Jaffa, be prepared to sit elbow-to-elbow with new friends, given two large communal tables dominate the front room, while chowing down on some of the best cheap eats in Melbourne. There'll be plenty to bond over, however, with the kitchen's dmoreish Middle Eastern cuisine sure to elicit mutually appreciative sighs of delight and appreciation. Silky bowls of hummus, meat-filled pitas and the eatery’s famous Tunisian fricassee sandwich, along with a budget-friendly pricepoint, have won New Jaffa fans from every corner of the city.
$9 - $26
32 Stanley Street, Collingwood
Those serious about their bread and budget will find a cost-smart haven at Wild Life, where the team makes 24 hour-fermented sourdough and experimental breads alongside some of the best pastries in the north. Inside the wide minimalist café set up inside a former mechanic's shop you can watch bakers at work while drinking Market Lane coffee and eating next-level toasties, for one of the best cheap eats in Melbourne.
90 Albert Street, Brunswick East
This 24-hour butcher-cum-café joint on Bourke Street is always packed full of hungry revellers hankering for some of the best cheap eats in Melbourne. The space is reminiscent of a ’50s American diner with checkboard tiles on the floor, a long communal bench and a shiny meat cabinet. If it’s full of saturated fat and made of meat, it’s on the menu: blood sausage and devilled egg rolls, offal ‘yakitori style’ or cheeseburgers with house bacon, pickles and mayo.
10 Bourke Street, Melbourne
This pocket-rocket diner is just the place to kick back and enjoy traditional Mexican fare. The team is devoted to making tortillas from scratch so don’t expect your standard Tex-Mex here. Standouts include pork al pastor with pineapple-habanero salsa, slow-cooked beef cheeks with green tomatillo salsa or refried beans with crispy rice, and, of course, the quesadillas, tostadas and tacos draw a crowd.
72 Stubbs Street, Kensington
A local institution, crowds have been flocking to Brunswick’s A1 for over 25 years to pick upfresh out-of-the-oven Lebanese baked goods. Open seven days a week from 7am, you can get your hands on the house-made flatbread scattered with za'atar, pillowy halloumi-filled pies and juicy chicken tawouk wraps overflowing with crunchy pickles and garlic sauce pretty much whenever you want. Best of all, A1’s famously creamy dips also come in take-home packs.
643- 645 Sydney Road, Brunswick
What started as a humble burger joint in leafy Albert Park back in 1939 has since turned into one of the city’s most-talked-about hotspots, and arguably, serving up some of the best cheap eats in Melbourne. The eatery is now a spacious, sleek CBD diner with booths, neon lighting and minimalistic white tiling. Forget gourmet toppings and fancy brioche buns – Andrew’s is all about good, honest burgers. The Andrew’s Burger comes with egg, bacon, double cheese, tomato and grilled onions – burger traditionalists rejoice. Whenever you’re in the mood for an old-school burger (hopefully that’s between 11am to 9pm!), it’s got to be one from Andrew’s..
144 Bridport Street, Melbourne
Biggie Smalls isn’t your average kebab shop. From the blaring hip-hop beats to the New York diner-style layout, this hotspot does everything bigger and better.Every ingredient is painstakingly prepared. The roast lamb is marinated for two days then slow-cooked for 12 hours, while the crunchy falafels are made to order – all trademarks of renowned chef Shane Delia. Grab yourself a kebab with these classic fillings or venture into new territory with fried chicken kebabs, whiting fillet kebabs or even fried dim sims if you so desire.
86 Smith Street, Collingwood
A sophisticated Carlton wine bar that is easy on the wallet, Melbourne’s Heartattack and Vine offers something a little different to your stock standard cheap eats in Melbourne. Alongside an impressive drinks list, this charming eatery serves an ever-changing roster of cicchetti, Italian-style snacks inspired by the bars of Venice. Expect the likes of tomato-drenched meatballs, pickled vegies and loaded crostini. Indulge in delectable eats from breakfast into the evening, Heartattack and Vine’s old-world Italian hospitality and cosy ambience will have you feeling like you are dining in Rome.
329 Lygon Street, Carlton
When you’re after a warm hug in a bowl, this cult Melbourne cheap-eat spot hidden inside a Bourke Street arcade. Mr Ramen San may be easy to miss but it always impresses some of the best soup this side of Tokyo. With noodles made onsite daily and the eatery’s signature meat stewed for hours to achieve that melt-in-your-mouth sweetness, you’ll really have no problem ordering anything off the menu.
Shop 12A/200 Bourke Street, Melbourne
Operating on a pay-what-you-feel model, diners contribute what they think their meal and experience is worth. At this St Kilda hangout, you’ll find anyone from students to foodies nestled in the homely space, with exposed brickwork and local art adorning the walls. The menu changes daily based on what food has been donated that week. Some dishes reoccur every so often, like the vegan okonomiyaki and green lentil burger. From the queue that lines up each weekend, you know you’re in for one of the best cheap eats in Melbourne.
As much as you want it to be
41 Blessington Street, St Kilda