7 of Adelaide's best cheap eats
From market stalls serving pasta to American-style diners and Jewish cafés, Adelaide's budget dining scene will keep your stomach and wallet full.
By Marc Llewellyn
Adelaide offers high end restaurants, exciting local produce, inventive bars and some of the best wines in the world. But when it comes to eating on the cheap, the capital city of South Australia is one hot cookie - and because of the cultural and ethnic mix, visitors to can enjoy Vietnamese food one night, Ethiopian the next, followed by Afghani, and so on. Here are just a few of Adelaide's best cheap eats.
The Flying Fig Deli, North Adelaide
The Flying Fig Deli has put Jewish food on the map in Adelaide. Staff at this deli boil their own bagels, pickle their own dills, and smoke their own meats and salmon. Breakfasts include those bagels and eggs on organic sourdough rye with beetroot remoulade. Go all out with The Kibbutz, an Israeli breakfast of fried eggs, house pickled sardines, tabouli, Persian feta cheese, orange and fennel labneh (strained yoghurt) and dark rye bread. The pastrami on rye bread with carrot and horseradish for lunch would bring tears to the eye of a visiting New Yorker, and it's big enough to share. This old stone corner building has its doors flung open from breakfast till lunchtime.
Burger Theory, city centre
Adelaide has plenty of travelling food trucks that serve up everything from Colombian sausages to Hungarian chimney cake. Burger Theory had a food truck in a vacant block on Union Street in the city centre selling two types of American-style burger, until the block was redeveloped in 2013. Today, you'll find a Burger Theory diner below an office block instead. The most popular burger comes with lettuce, tomato and American cheese in a brioche bun. Vegetarians will love the falafel burger, which features a crispy chickpea patty, tomato, lettuce and tangy mayo.
Sit Lo, city centre
If you fancy a tasty meal of steaming pho, the Vietnamese noodle broth soup with herbs and meat, Sit Lo is the place for you. About 40 per cent of Adelaide's residents were born overseas, and there's a large Vietnamese population in the northern suburbs of the city. In this Vietnamese restaurant, wheels on the wood-decked walls pay homage to humble three-wheel bicycle taxis, once common from Hanoi to Ho Chi Minh City. Try a springy steamed bao bun or two – the soft shell crab version is best. The pork belly banh mi bread roll, with pickled carrot and daikon radish is a tasty option too. When it's crunch time, delve into a cone of crispy lotus root chips.
Lucia's, city centre
Adelaide Central Market is a vibrant, bustling food hall loaded with bakeries, patisseries, cafés, grocers and artisan food stalls selling everything from roasted nuts to local cheeses. It has been the beating heart of Adelaide since it opened in 1870, and many people say it's the most atmospheric market in Australia. With eight million visitors a year, it's the most visited place in South Australia. It's a colourful and noisy place, animated by traders going about their business and foodies on the prowl. Join the locals for breakfast, brunch or lunch (and dinner on Fridays) at Lucia's, an Adelaide institution run by the same family since 1957. This being an Italian establishment, the coffee is excellent. Poached eggs, tomatoes and mushrooms on artisan bread will fill you up; the spaghetti carbonara, and the spaghetti vongole are also particularly good.
Kutchi Deli Parwana, city centre
The smell of frying spices should pull you by the nose towards tiny Kutchi Deli Parwana, a hole-in-the-wall Afghan lunchtime eatery with limited pavement and counter seating. You'll find it in Ebenezer Place, just off Adelaide's main pedestrian mall, Rundle Street, where the city's main department stores are located, as well as plenty of other shops, street performers and quirky statues. Kutchi Deli Parwana is an offshoot of the bigger Parwana Afghan Kitchen, which is run by the same family. Enjoy the crunch of fried dumplings stuffed with leek and topped with lamb mince and split pea sauce. Nibble on chicken pieces marinated in yoghurt and Afghan spices. Or fire up your palate with a lamb curry, washed down with Afghan chai tea. Tables turn over fast, despite the generous servings.
Chinatown eateries, city centre
Adelaide's Chinatown, based around Gouger Street and close to the Adelaide Central Market, is a colourful place jam-packed with restaurants, cafés, wine bars, pubs and food courts. As well as plenty of cheap Chinese restaurants you can also find inexpensive Indian, Malaysian, Japanese, Thai, Vietnamese, and Nepali eateries here. Adelaide's Chinatown might have the traditional Chinese archway and dragons, but in reality it evolved thanks to the mix of immigrants from Asia in the 1970s. Ying Chow Chinese Restaurant serves up the likes of tea smoked duck and red wine vinegar ribs. Head to Bánh Mì Vietnamese Rolls for authentic Vietnamese cuisine. The Chinatown Café is another favourite; expect a varied menu of Chinese, Singaporean and Malaysian dishes, such as seafood laksa, fried Hokkien noodles, and curried chicken and rice.
Star of Siam, city centre
Australia has a love affair with Thai food, and these days the cuisine of old Siam is giving Chinese food a run for its money when it comes to popularity. The award winning Star of Siam is an inexpensive but authentic example. You can find it on the foodie hotspot of Gouger Street, named after Robert Gouger, one of the men behind the establishment of the colony of South Australia in 1834. You are in for a warm welcome from the manager inside this unpretentious eatery, which is open from lunchtime to dinner. Start with a tom yum prawn or chicken soup for that hot and sour kick. Then move onto a red curry of duck with lychee and pineapple, or traditional pad thai rice noodles with prawns, ground peanuts, bean curd and chives.