Where can I get good cheap meals in Sydney?
September 4, 2008 4:51 PM   Subscribe

Going to a conference in Sydney next week. Can anyone recommend some good cheap single serve eats in CBD? (Will probably live off foodcourts in Haymarket but was wondering if there's anything some native Sydneysiders could recommend.)
posted by BAKERSFIELD! to Food & Drink (10 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
It kind of depends on how far you want to walk and where you're staying. I'll assume that you're in the Haymarket/Ultimo/Darling Harbour area.

Firstly, there's Hannah's Pies right on Harris St near the Powerhouse Museum. This is the factory that supplies Harry's Cafe du Wheels and their pies rock. A "Tiger" is the pie of your choice, mash, peas and gravy and will fill you up for about $7. Probably the best pies in Sydney. (Well, you did say cheap, right?)

Then you can follow Harris St down towards Pyrmont. There's a pub/bistro right on the corner opposite the Powerhouse museum (Duke of something). Ignore the bistro but go up the side street to the Pakhi Cafe. Their pizza's are excellent and their curries are good, filling and very cheap. They also have free internet for customers and were about to start doing kebabs when I was last there - dunno if that's started yet.

Keep going down the west side of Harris St you'll eventually come to an excellent Indian restaurant called Vrindavan - order a Thali platter for a little of everything. About the $15-20 mark there but the food and service are outstanding.

A couple of doors further is a place called Little Siam which does cheap and tasty Thai food. The decor is all wood and wagon-wheels - kind of cute in a kitchy way. I believe they still have some velvet paintings on the walls.

There's a ton more stuff further along Harris St if you're willing to walk that far and you could always go the Fish Markets for a good feed of seafood.

Back in Chinatown proper, there are a couple of food halls along the main mall area but have a look down one of the side streets for a little door to the Saigon Village - a family-owned Vietnamese place that has good lunch specials and terrible music (Vietnamese Dolly Parton, last time I was there). They're fully licensed but try some of their special drinks - lemon soda for me is always a winner - particularly after something full of chilli but the watermelon is lovely too.

If you're willing to go further afield, you can go to Glebe (the Yak & Yeti does great Northern Indian/Tibetan food) or Newtown (hippy/goth/bohemian central) for everything from African to South American. As a bonus, the people-watching is outstanding but it's about a $10 taxi ride from Haymarket.

I've got tons more - me-mail me if you want something specific.
posted by ninazer0 at 8:15 PM on September 4, 2008

Oh oh oh... I can vouch for Vrindavan too. It's not much to look at, but boy is the food good there. I used to live about 90 seconds away and my wife and I would eat out there at least once a week. Great value and great food. It's not exactly in the CBD though.

I'm usually 'meh' about food-courts, but the one under Myers in the Pitt St Mall is pretty good; especially the Japanese outlet. I still miss the chilli chicken and teriyaki beef combination.

Just outside Chinatown (which is about 1km up George St from the CBD) you will find a famous Chinese called BBQ Kings. It's renowned for the quality of its cuisine, the tackiness of its decor and the gruffness of its staff. :) Cheap food, and a place where a lot of restaurant staff and chefs choose to go themselves after work ( in the Sydney Morning Herald a few years back, it was the most popular in an article interviewing "foodies" for their personal favourite).

Good luck. Sydney is fun.
posted by Mephisto at 9:01 PM on September 4, 2008

I worked for a while in Sussex Street in Haymarket and had to ration myself to one laksa day a week, for, err, body mass reasons. The Happy Chef is *fantastic* but get in early to avoid the queue. I'll second Mephisto's recommendation of the BBQ King as well, if you like duck.
Also: on Pitt Street just near Martin place you'll find the Angel Hotel, which does very good sandwiches at lunchtime. $8 (from memory) and you get a sandwich and a beer.
Consider suggesting a meetup in meta?
posted by Fiasco da Gama at 9:13 PM on September 4, 2008

Sussex Centre, as mentioned above, is awesome. The foodcourts in Chinatown are very very good, remind me a lot of being in Singapore. As a Sydney local, I eat at Sussex and especially Happy Chef often.

I don't particularly care for restaurants elsewhere in the CBD.
posted by wingless_angel at 10:12 PM on September 4, 2008

OMG - you must go to Newtown!! Catch the train, turn right as you come out onto the street, stay on that side, it is a few blocks up but you'll smell it as you get closer. It's not far from the CBD at all. This isNewtown. Here's their map. But it might help if you correlate it with this map.

It's called Tamanas. It is the goddamn sexiest Indian I've ever eaten. Mmm, it is just so damn good!! Get extra and save it for lunch?? Make sure you eat a cheese and garlic naan for me, ok? Yeah... I would so fly to Sydney and back just to eat that stuff!! Last time I was there it wasn't 'cheap' (as such), but it was 100% totally reasonable. (Rocking my world was just a surprise bonus.)
posted by mu~ha~ha~ha~har at 1:57 AM on September 5, 2008

Jeez, mu~ha~ha~ha~har, Tamana's isn't that good. It's not bad halfway through a Newtown/Enmore/St Peters pub crawl but in the end it's just decent curry. For the purposes of the OP's request & information, Newtown is well outside the range of CBD meals.
A decent lunch if you find yourself toward the Circular Quay end of town: the bizarrely named and rather hard to find Le Chifley Bistrot a Vin who at my last visit did $6-$7 small lunch meals and did a good line in cheap over-the-counter house reds and whites.
posted by Fiasco da Gama at 5:11 AM on September 5, 2008

Thank you all. I have printed out your suggestions and am taking them along with me when I fly out tomorrow. I only hope I get around to trying all these. They all look so good.
posted by BAKERSFIELD! at 10:07 PM on September 5, 2008

(Not the OP but) I took some suggestions from this thread and tried Hannah's Pies when visiting Sydney yesterday, and it was awesome - $5.40 for a Beef, bacon and cheese tiger.
Then for dinner I got some takeaway BBQ beef from the Dixon Foodcourt in Chinatown - $8.40 for enough food for two meals, and delicious as well.
posted by jacalata at 6:19 PM on September 9, 2008

(Also not the OP but) I'm also in Sydney for a conference at the moment. Last night I went to Menya, a great little Japanese restaurant in the area.

I got a Teriyaki Chicken Combo for AUD$14, which was more than enough to fill me up, having not eaten much all day. And it was good. For that price, I got a salad, plenty of chicken, rice, and a large bowl of ramen. Under $10 gets you the same minus the ramen, I think. Or you can get 2kg+ of "Godzilla" ramen, which is either $30 or free if you can finish it in under 30 minutes... (hey, you asked for cheap, and free is cheap...)

Anyway, did I mention that it was all really good? I've been told that the other restaurants in that complex (all Asian of some sort, I believe) are quite good as well.
posted by whatnotever at 8:09 PM on September 12, 2008

OP here. I was staying at the Ibis on Darling Harbour so the Harris Street stuff was really close to where I was staying. I ended up trying Little Siam, Vrindavan and Happy Chef and was very happy with these. Was at Happy Chef at 11am and was still quite busy at that time of the day. Didn't get to try the pizza place but walked past and it smelled jolly good.

The only thing I have to add is the pies from the pie shop opposite the Powerhouse can be bought from a pie cart opposite Haymarket so if you want to try one of these you don't have to go all the way up to Harris St for these.

Had very terrible fish and chips on Circular Quay on a whim, should've have bought them at Manly where the roads are paved with F&Cs but I had some stupid romantic idea about eating greasies by the Opera House at sunset. I found it hard to find beer to take back to my room on a balmy night, took me ages to figure out you can't alcohol at convenience stores, you need to find licensed bottle store. Oh and if you want to buy groceries steer clear of convenience stores where the mark-up is quite high, find a Coles (supermarket) instead.

Thanks everyone, I ate well.
posted by BAKERSFIELD! at 12:33 AM on October 1, 2008

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