8 of Melbourne’s best cheap eats
These cheap and cheerful Melbourne restaurants serve up quality food that won't break the bank.
By Ellie Schneider
Melbourne is renowned for its dining culture, and for those travelling on a budget there is plenty of good food that's also friendly on the wallet. We've scouted the streets of Melbourne to bring you a few of our favourite, fuss-free eateries.
Hanoi Hannah Express Lane
Avoid the queues at Hanoi Hannah and head to its no-frills eatery next door. The space is dedicated to Hanoi Hannah's takeaway operations, but a tiny communal table indoors lets you watch the chefs whip up their hawker-style Vietnamese fare. You can order favourites from the restaurant menu such as vermicelli salad with char grilled chicken or tender beef pho, or try something different such as pork belly banh mi or lemongrass beef stir fry.
Miss Katie's Crab Shack
Having done the rounds of Melbourne and settling in Fitzroy, Miss Katie’s Crab Shack has become the go-to spot for crustacean cravings. The roving restaurant, headed up by chef Katie Marron, offers an authentic take on southern soul food. Think pots of prawns, fried chicken and waffles, fish tacos and a build-your-own Louisiana-style boil in Old Bay seasoning. Bibs are supplied in case things get messy.
One of the busiest restaurants in Windsor, don't be put off by the crumbling walls and peeling posters – she's a diamond in the rough. The menu at Tokyo Tina features favourites such as gyoza and bao, but not always as you might expect. While you might not call it fusion, the chefs here certainly take influence from different cuisines around the world – and they aren't afraid to try something new.
Where: City centre
With Australia's largest Greek population, Melbourne is no stranger to a pita. But thanks to the arrival of Israeli eatery Miznon, the city has been introduced to a new brand of Mediterranean street food. Minon means "kiosk" in Hebrew, and this casual space is super festive and fast-paced. Most food comes served in a paper bag and pitas are stuffed with a range of different ingredients, such as lamb rib (pull the bones out and watch the flesh fall away), steak and egg, ratatouille and golden fish. Don't leave without trying the tatami, a coffee soaked layered biscuit cake dusted with cocoa.
Where: City centre
Burger-loving locals need not head far to get their fix. 8bit, which started out in the westside suburb of Footscray, has set up shop smack bang in the middle of the city centre on the corner of Swanston and Little Bourke streets. Order the towering Double Dragon (double beef, double cheese and double bacon) or the Golden Axe (crispy fried chicken, sriracha mayo and slaw), with a side of crispy onion rings or beer battered fries. To finish, try the salted caramel milkshake.
Belles Hot Chicken
This retro diner in Fitzroy is giving Colonel Sanders a good run for his money by taking the humble southern-style fried chicken to greater (and spicier!) heights. At Belles you start by choosing your protein – chicken tenders, drumsticks, wings, fish or mushroom – then choose from five levels of heat, ranging from mild to extremely hot. Throw in your favourite sides, such as collard greens or Old Bay fries, and slather with sauces. Our pick is the Belles blue cheese.
Smith & Deli
The brains behind Latin-inspired Smith & Daughters in Fitzroy have opened an all-vegan delicatessen, Smith & Deli, around the corner on Moor Street. This takeaway-only business offers a hefty menu of sandwiches, such as the Friend Zone, a vegan take on the classic ham and grilled cheese toastie, and the Rubenstein, made from mock pastrami, sauerkraut, pickles and Russian dressing. They're so delicious that carnivores frequently need to be reminded they're meat-free. There's also a good selection of pies, soups and baked goods such as Twix tarts and challah sticky buns.
Where: St Kilda
For a bit of Mexican flare, head to Melbourne's beach suburb of St Kilda and tuck into Juana Taco. The menu is straightforward, featuring tacos, enchiladas and quesadillas as well as a range of share plates. There are also several options for vegans, making it a great place for all of your friends to get together and enjoy a feast alongside some of their signature margaritas. Looking for a real bargain? Taco Tuesdays mean $4 tacos all night.