Regarded by many as Australia’s second city, Melbourne is now the country’s undisputed food capital. With its San Francisco-esque vibe, Melbourne continues to welcome immigrants from across Europe, the Middle East and Asia, all of whom bring their culinary traditions in tow. While Melbourne continues to push the envelope with fine dining—it’s hosting the World’s 50 Best awards this year—it’s the more affordable fare that truly sets the city apart. Here are the best cheap eats in Melbourne.
Known for its vast range of produce, meat and seafood, Queen Victoria Market also houses a number of local vendors that promise to feed you well—without emptying your wallet. Market favorite Bratwurst Shop & Co. sells every variation of bratwurst imaginable, each of which is more than enough for a meal and will set you back less than $7. While it may be tempting to try them all, Queen Victoria’s signature bratwurst, which is mixed with sauerkraut and mustard, is unparalleled. If you’re looking for an alternative, visit the Borek Shop, located right next door. Each massive börek—a rolled Turkish flatbread filled with spinach and cheese, lamb or spiced vegetables—costs $3 and will keep you full all afternoon.
Melbourne’s Chinatown continues to draw massive crowds of hungry visitors. There are tons of restaurants here; however, if you’re looking for delicious takes on classic Shanghainese fare, head to Shanghai Village for spring-onion pancakes and famous dumplings (which cost less than $10 for 15). It’s also BYOB, making it the perfect dinner spot to indulge in Chinese classics without feeling overly stressed by the exchange rate.
At the top of Melbourne’s cheap-eats pyramid is A1 Lebanese Bakery. Located north of the Central Business District in the Brunswick neighborhood, A1 Bakery is a local institution that attracts eaters from all corners of Melbourne. Though the joint offers a wide range of Middle Eastern baked goods, its specialty flatbreads and pizzas, which all cost less than $8, make A1 Bakery one of the most deliciously unique and cost-effective places in the city. Make sure to try the A1 Special, which features a za'atar pizza base topped with tomato, onion, black olives, capsicum, Turkish beef sujuk, spinach, and Danish feta and halloumi cheeses.
Melbourne has the best Vietnamese food outside of Vietnam itself, full stop. Thanks to a huge Vietnamese population that’s divided into two communities, both of which offer a delicious range of restaurants representing every corner of Vietnam. Be it pho or bun bo Hue, you can find anything your heart (or stomach) desires, and all on the cheap. For one of the best banh mi you’ll ever have, stop by one of Nhu Lan Bakery’s two locations and enjoy a true taste of Ho Chi Minh City, all for under $5.
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