Eating out can be expensive – unless you know where to go. While the east is home to many high-end eateries, it’s also full of generous gems, the kinds of places where you can eat well without forking out a ton of cash. From burger and burrito joints to dumplings on demand, these are our favourite cheap and cheerful eats.
Fishbowl Poke Bar
Fishbowl Poke Bar
Smoking Gun Bagels
Sometimes, all you want is a sandwich. When that happens, go to Bake Bar, the Double Bay bakery that’s known for its brekkie rolls. Served on an onion roll, the ham, aioli, baby spinach, cheese, tomato, poached egg and hollandaise is a crowd favourite ($9). The smoked salmon is slightly fancier at $10.50, but either way, you’ll probably have change for a pastry.
Shop 15, 451 New South Head Road, Double Bay
Wander a little further down the shore, and you’ll hit Fishbowl, which offers a cross between Hawaiian poke bowls and Japanese sashimi salads. The result is a bowl that’s packed with rice or noodles, colourful veggies, protein, dressing and a bit of crunch (like coconut flakes). There are five ‘OG’ bowls to choose from in the $13.90 to $17.90 price range, otherwise you can build your own bowl.
180 Campbell Parade, Bondi Beach
Start the countdown now for next Wednesday, and head to this Darlinghurst dumpling bar. On hump day, you can feast on as many dumplings as you want (or can) for just $1 each. The usual daily deal is pretty good, too – it’s six dumplings for $9.50. Everything’s made in house, and the prawn gow gee and chicken and water chestnut dumplings fly out of the kitchen.
Taylor Square, Level 1, 383-387 Bourke Street, Darlinghurst
At this Japanese-inspired spot, gyoza (dumplings) dominate. The little flavour explosions are available grilled, poached or fried, and $10 will get you five. The duck, pork and kimchi, lemongrass chicken are tasty, and there are also cheese and vegetarian options on offer. Wash down your dumplings with a Japanese beer (like Kirin Lager) or iced green tea, and if you’re still hungry, order a steaming bowl of noodles for $13.
9-15 Bayswater Road, Potts Point
When you’re in the mood for Mexican, go to Beach Burrito. The casual eatery serves up fresh, filling food, and has deals every day of the week. Get there before 4pm on weekdays, and you’ll be treated to $10 burritos, chicken burgers and Mexican ‘bento boxes’. Otherwise, all meals are $15 on Mondays, and Taco Tuesday involves $3 tacos – the fish ones are amazing.
Shop 3, 252 Campbell Parade, Bondi
The brainchild of Neil Perry, the Burger Project pumps out burgers, wings, fries and milkshakes. With a tag line saying, ‘fast food, slow values’, they don’t cut corners. To tuck into a juicy American cheeseburger with grass-fed beef, pickles, tomato, lettuce and Perry’s secret sauce, all you need is $9.50. The same goes for the bunless burger, which is wrapped in lettuce and just as good.
241 Oxford Street, Bondi Junction
On Mondays and Tuesdays, this pizzeria has an all-you-can-eat offer for a crisp $20. It’s worth every penny, too – at Society, the pizzaiolos specialise in Sicilian woodfired pizza that’s light and crispy on the base, and topped with fresh ingredients. There’s gluten-free and even activated charcoal dough available, and plenty of options for vegetarians. Our pick is the pistachio pizza, with sausage, mozzarella bufala and grated pistachio.
65 Bondi Road, Bondi
The only thing that’s better than cheap is free – and if you have kids, spend your Sunday afternoon overlooking the water at Watsons Bay. Between 5-7pm, you’ll score one complimentary kids meal with each main purchased, so bring the whole family to make the most of it. The pub sometimes hosts activities for the kids to get involved in, like hermit crab racing.
1 Military Road, Watsons Bay
Just steps from Clovelly Beach, this burger shop is a local institution, and so popular that people often spill out onto the footpath. The burgers are huge, and will set you back somewhere between $5 and $9, depending on extras (like bacon and egg). The chalkboard menu lists beef, veggie, chicken, BLT and fish burgers, all of which come with lettuce, tomato, carrot, beetroot and cheese. Bargain!
272 Clovelly Road, Clovelly
For a brekkie that’ll kick-start your day, go to this tiny shopfront in Woolloomooloo. The bagelry dishes up Montreal-style bagels, which are smaller, sweeter and crispier than the usual varieties. The Morning Glory bagel is made up of woodfired bacon, fried egg and Smoking Guns’ secret sauce ($8), while the Lil Kimcheese will get you housemade kimchi, mayo and cheese for just a blue note.
129 Cathedral Street, Woolloomooloo
Tacos are great, and they’re even better when they clock in at just $6 apiece. That’s the case at local haunt El Topo, where you can chow down on cheap-as-chips pork, chicken, lamb, fish and soft shell crab tacos – or one of each! Soak up the cheery vibe and colourful interiors as you eat, and finish your Mexican fiesta with a boogie on the way out.
500 Oxford Street, Bondi Junction