Melbourne’s Best Cheap Eats
The life of the student is already hard enough, balancing assignments, maintaining your health and keeping a social life, all with one eye on your bank balance. Luckily we are here to try to help you balance both your budget and your rumbling stomach. Here are 10 el cheapo food places that will cost you $15 or less!
1. Don Don
You won’t find an RMIT student who has never heard of Don Don’s. It’s walkable proximity to most CBD universities and cheap-yet-filling menu is the student’s ultimate option for a quick feed between classes. Most days of the week you’ll find students eagerly lining up outside its doors to get their fix but don’t worry, the fast turnover means food is served within literally minutes of ordering. In addition to their dependable curries and bento boxes, Don Don’s is also recommended for their vegetarian alternatives, such as the beloved Tofu Curry. Don Don’s has a buzzing atmosphere, super friendly staff and, of course, free Wi-Fi.
2. Coconut House
You know Coconut House is sought after when the owners have to open up two adjacent shop spaces. On being seated by one of the staff (roaming between the two shops), you will at first be frazzled by the menu’s images of Malaysian delicacies both savoury and sweet. To save you from being overwhelmed, beginners should try the traditional Nasi Lemak, crispy chicken ribs with curry vegies, fried egg, rice, and its crunchy nuts-fish assortment. Quench your thirst (and curiosity) with any of their Teh Tarik milk tea, served hot or cold.
3. Jimmy Grants
With an ever-expanding Jimmy Empire (with stores in Fitzroy, Richmond, Ormond and the Emporium), Jimmy Grants’ modern take on Greek cuisine is a definite crowd-pleaser. Their souvas are named after iconic Greek personas like the Mr Papadopoulos with its lamb and chips dressed with mustard aioli, onions and parsley in a traditional pita. The tidy selection of beers and ciders means you could follow in the footsteps of the hedonistic Athenians and enjoy a long boozy break.
4. The Rice Workshop
If you’re dying for tasty, cheap and convenient Japanese food then you would be wise to drop in on Rice Workshop. With over seven branches in Melbourne there is no excuse for why you shouldn’t be able to find one to try this addictive food-perience. The “workshop” concept stems from you designing your own meal, picking each component as you move along a line. The Rice Workshop emulates the experience of the Japanese rice bar, which speaks to a love of convenience but also for authentic ingredients and sauces.
Much like the chambers of Hogwarts you’ll forever be finding secrets within the confines of RMIT, much like this hidden gem tucked away on A’Beckett Street. Proud of its one of a kind Instagram-worthy experience, Wonderbao exclusively offers bao burgers as a level-up to their traditional baos. With affordable meals from the price of $4, you will be treated to classic Taiwanese-style flavours. Start your adventure with the succulent roast pork belly gua bao, and the melt-in-your mouth fried silky tofu. Finish off with the sweet egg custard bao for a complete trendy experience. If you’re lucky you might even be able to nab a special gelato bao, with a scoop of gelato tucked between a fluffy white bao bun.
6. Kim Sing
This place used to be a secret known only by word of mouth thanks to its semi-hidden location in the Port Phillip Arcade and distinct lack of brand promotion. Nowadays, Kim Sing is packed daily with students, tourists and professionals on their lunch break. Everyone comes here for the popular (and big) Chicken Pork Steak, a crispy treat served on a generous share of fried or steamed rice. The ambitious food connoisseur should endeavor to try every single one of its 40+ meals on the menu, all $9 and under!
Melbournians have known and loved Huxtaburger since its 2012 opening in Collingwood. The sweet buns partnered with tender grass-fed Wagyu patties and mustard and mayo is perfection in any season, washed down with beer in the pub-like atmosphere. What’s best is that the simplicity of its menu means a no fuss delicious meal for lunch or dinner with your greatest mates.
8. Chilli India
By the same founders of the Malaysian Chili Padi, Chili India is as close as you can get to what genuine homemade Indian cuisine tastes like and on a student’s budget. At only $11, you will be treated to a serving of rice, Dal and roti with two curries of choice. A samosa worth under $2 is nothing short of snackable to say the least and is worth every cent for the starving student.
9. Sambul Kampung
Located in the heart of the CBD, this Malaysian haven is a love letter for foodies craving rich Asian flavours. Like a mini food-court in itself, Sambal Kampung is always buzzing with people in all hours of the day. A warning to the wanderer, grab your food before or after the lunch hour rush. Try the Nasi Goreng or the staff’s favourite, the Curry Laksa. If you’re feeling adventurous (or if you’re a spice lover), their homemade chili sauce is surely going to be your new best friend.
10. Lentil as Anything
Though it’s technically a short detour from the CBD, this place requires special mention. Lentil as Anything’s unique non-for profit community approach is a breakthrough in business enterprise and encourages generosity, equality and respect. With restaurants in St Kilda, Abbotsford, Preston and Footscray, the café-like atmosphere promotes interaction between members of the community and asks only for gold coin donation. At the end of the day you decide how much your meal is worth, with some small guidance from the restaurant as to what your meal actually cost. All Lentil as Anything staff are volunteers and the revolving vegetarian menu is always loaded with delicious meals using local produce.
11. Om Vegetarian
All you can eat! At only $6.50, you and your friends can indulge in Indian cuisine that’s also healthy for you. The extremely affordable price comes with rice, butter nans, dal, one curry, a pickle and even Gajar ka halwa for dessert. One of the best things about it is that it’s known only through word of mouth so you won’t have much competition inside!