all photos: Aleksandra Bliszczyk

The VICE Guide to the Best Cheap Eats in Melbourne

From the inner city to the suburbs, here are the best cheap eats you can find across Melbourne for under $25.

Finding cheap eats in Melbourne is a slog these days with the cost of living so high it’s in outer space. Once upon a time these lists consisted of meals $10 and under and sure, if you want a couple of sushi handrolls for lunch, $10 will get you that. But I’m after value here. So here are the best cheap restaurants in Melbourne with the best value meals to stuff you to the point of sickness – all for under $25.


Best cheap eats in Melbourne’s CBD

1. Chinger Biang Biang - Melbourne CBD/Carlton (edge of the city)

The best Shaanxi-style hand-pulled noodles in the city for the best price. This tiny halal restaurant covers Chinese cuisines from the Shaanxi and Xinjiang regions with a stacked menu of rujiamo, noodles, dumplings, soups and salads. The classic noodle is still the best: hot oil seared biang biang noodles with ground beef, shitloads of garlic and chilli and many other goodies for $13.8 and you will be full for hours . This is the best cheap eat in Melbourne, I say.

74 Victoria St, Carlton

2. Hi Chong Qing - Melbourne CBD/Carlton (edge of the city)

Literally around the corner is another tiny noodle shop that specialises in one particular beef noodle soup dish the central Chinese city bordering on the Sichuan province is known for. A bowl of its signature noodle soup is $12.80 and the most expensive thing on the menu is under $20. A splendidly cheap restaurant in Melbourne.

UniLodge, D2/26 Orr St, Carlton

3. Saravanaa Bhavan – Melbourne CBD

cheap eats melbourne Saravanaa Bhavan CBD

This South Indian chain has three locations around Melbourne but the King Street restaurant right by Southern Cross station is probably the most bustling. Saravanaa Bhavan is famous for its roast dosa – arm-length, served with three chutneys for $11.90, or potato-stuffed for $14.90 – but the real winner here in my opinion is the special unlimited thali because legit thalis like this are hard to find in Melbourne. As a daytime dish it’s only served at lunch. The giant metal platter comes with a mound of rice encircled by veg curries, daal, sambar, mixed vegetables, curd and sweets for $24.90. And to reiterate, it’s unlimited. I.e., free refills!!!!


131 King St, Melbourne VIC 3000

4. Mr Ramen San - Chinatown

cheap eats melbourne Mr Ramen San - Chinatown

Mr Ramen San's tonkotsu ramen.

Melbourne isn’t known for ramen restaurants, or cheap ones, but it is known by all residents that Mr Ramen San does the best tonkotsu chashu ramen. The slick, 10-hour broth is so rich with collagen and fat you won’t even need to ask for free extra noodles they offer to all customers. At $18.90, it’s one of the most deceptively filling and best value portions you can find. Go hungover and use your remaining $6 on a cup of brown rice tea.

Midcity Centre, 12a/200 Bourke St, Melbourne

5. Jang Go Mama – Melbourne CBD

cheap eats melbourne Jang Go Mama CBD

The best gimbap in Melbourne.

Melbourne’s best gimbap restaurant is also one of Melbourne’s best cheap eats. All the gimbap are $15-17 and each a huge, balanced meal that you can eat on the go, one-handed.

147 Lonsdale St, Melbourne

6. Xinjiang Lamian – Melbourne CBD

cheap eats Xinjiang Lamian - Melbourne CBD

Da pan ji AND a beer!!!!!

There are only a handful of cheap restaurants in Melbourne serving Xinjiang/Uyghur cuisine and Xinjiang Lamian is probably the best in the Melbourne city area. It’s also probably the only one serving alcohol. Order lamb skewers (4 for $16), da pan ji (“big plate chicken” with chicken curry and wide hand-pulled noodles) for $16.50 – oh my god – and a bunch of salads, all under $10. Don’t forget to BYO wine.

255 Elizabeth St, Melbourne

7. Korchi City – Melbourne CBD

Kor. Chi. Kor-ean, Chi-nese. This affordable restaurant specialises in the Chinese-influenced Korean cuisine that originated in Incheon, Korea where workers from China began immigrating in the 1800s, bringing the flavours and techniques of their homes to Korea. One of the cuisine’s most famous dishes is jjajangmyeon – noodles topped with thick black bean sauce mixed with diced pork and vegetables like onion, carrot and zucchini. Korchi City does Melbourne’s best. It’s also known for its jjamppong – noodle soup with a seafood and pork broth dyed neon with gochugaru chilli and topped with squid, prawns, mussels, cabbage, onion, zucchini and carrots. Korchi City’s is so big I literally have never been able to finish it.

441-443 Little Bourke St, Melbourne


Best cheap eats in Melbourne’s south and eastern suburbs, from Richmond to Box Hill to Dandenong

1. Thanh Ha 2 - Richmond

Thanh Ha 2 - Richmond cheap eats melbourne

The banh xeo. The only banh xeo.

A standout on an excellent dining strip and the best banh xeo in Melbourne. This place is known for it for a reason so do not not order it!!! Giant (seriously) crispy turmeric with pork belly, prawns and sprouts served with herbs, lettuce and dipping sauce. It is a feast.

120 Victoria St, Richmond

2. Kowloon Cafe 866 - Box Hill

I swear Hong Kong breakfast is the ultimate stoner food – peanut butter stuffed French toast drenched in condensed milk??? Macaroni with beef and gravy??? Cheese baked fried rice!!!! Fuck yes. This Hong Kong cafe does said french toast slabs for $7.50 which is enough to fill you up but if you want more everything is under $18.

866 Canterbury Rd, Box Hill South

3. MKS Spices ‘n’ Things – Dandenong

cheap eats melbourne MKS Spices ‘n’ Things

THE BEST TAKEAWAY. All this was $44.

This South Indian and Sri Lankan supermarket chain also has one of the best bain marie selections in Melbourne. Get rice and any combo of meat and veg curries and stir fries for under $15. Throw in a fish pan roll packed full of curry leaves for an extra couple bucks and you will find nirvana.

Locations also in Epping, Ashburton and Preston.

23 Pultney St, Dandenong.

4. Shanxi Lee's Kitchen – Box Hill

cheap eats melbourne Shanxi Lee's Kitchen – Box Hill

I’m telling you, this place is not well-known, but Shaanxi cuisine is my number-one favourite so I did the work to find this food and this cheap restaurant is probably the best I’ve had in Melbourne. All the hand-pulled noodles and salads are under $20. The best thing I’ve eaten there was mo (unleavened flatbread typical of Shaanxi cuisine) with a cold sliced pork’s head terrine and a vinegar dipping sauce for $16.80. Better than any ham sandwich.


568 Station St, Box Hill

5. Pacific BBQ House - South Yarra

A classic. With locations in Richmond and South Yarra, wherever you find yourself in the south, and for whatever reason, Pacific House Seafood BBQ is there for YOU. This Cantonese restaurant is famed for its roast pork and duck with rice (incredible value at $16) but they also do entree specials where you can get a plate of spring rolls or dumplings plus a glass of wine for $15.

A second location is also in Richmond.

Shop 1/210 Toorak Rd, South Yarra

Best cheap eats in Melbourne’s north, from Fitzroy to Brunswick and beyond

1. Citrus - Fitzroy North

Citrus - Fitzroy North cheap eats buffet

Perhaps the best cheap eat in Melbourne.

The city’s most beloved Sri Lankan buffet is still probably the best affordable restaurant in Melbourne and the best value meal in the whole state of Victoria. A huge selection of unlimited curries, stir fries, mallums (salads), chutneys and sambols for $25. Honestly mind-blowing.

252 St Georges Rd, Fitzroy North

2. Danny’s Burger's – Fitzroy North

One of Melbourne’s oldest burger joints is also one of Fitzroy’s best cheap eats. Known for their burgers, but I go hear for the steak sandwich. A huge, tender, juicy feed for $20 with the lot. They also do amazing chips and steamed dim sims.

3. Melbourne Kebab Station - Coburg

Melbourne Kebab Station - Coburg cheap eats


The biggest Turkish kebabs I have ever seen. Cash only, freshly baked bread (they bake it all day so it’s fresh fresh fresh when you order) and the most incredible dips and sauces to smear on it. If you get the kebab option (rather than a plate), the doner meat version is $15, shish or adana kebab is $16 or falafel kebab is $8. EIGHT FUCKING DOLLARS.


451 Sydney Road, Coburg

4. Wazzup Falafel – Northcote

The best falafel in Melbourne. Owner Ahmad Alalaea, a Palestinian refugee who grew up in Jordan, switched a career in personal training to bring the food of his homelands to Melbourne. First a food truck, now a real shop on High Street. And everything is vegan and under $25.

343 High St, Northcote

5. Diamond Indian and Hungarian Restaurant - Clifton Hill

Of all the cheap eats in Melbourne, this is probably the most unique. It’s Indian food and Hungarian food. Possibly the only place in the world where you can dip a cheese-stuffed fried langos bread into a malai kofta. But it’s also incredibly cheap. A Kransky sausage with all the trimmings is a measly $5, beers are $6 and they have lunch and early dinner specials for $10-20. The best cheap dinner in Melbourne.

149 Queens Parade, Clifton Hill VIC

6. CCWOK - North Melbourne

CCWOK - North Melbourne

chee cheong fun at CCWOK

My favourite Malaysian restaurant (after Rasa Corner in Coburg closed RIP) with standout assam laksa ($18.90), curry mee (curry noodle soup, $17.80), lor mee (pork noodles, $17.80), curry puffs and chee cheong fun (rice rolls, $13.90). Don’t skip $6 kaya toast for something sweet, definitely one of Melbourne’s best cheap eats.

464 Victoria St, North Melbourne

Best cheap eats in Melbourne’s glorious west

1. Karlaylisi Restaurant – Braybrook

Karlaylisi Restaurant – Braybrook cheap eats

Da pan ji (big plate chicken) at Karlaylisi in Braybrook.

Melbourne’s best Uyghur food, best hand-pulled noodles, best lamb skewers, best everything. If you haven’t eaten there yet literally what are you doing tonight???


Central West Business Park, 9 Ashley St, Braybrook

2. Tan Thanh Loi – Footscray

Tan Thanh Loi – Footscray cheap eats melbourne

Here's what to look for.

Turn off the main strip and you will find the best Vietnamese broken rice (com) in Footscray – also one of Melbourne’s cheapest restaurants. Broken rice, grilled pork on the bone, pork loaf, pickles, veggies will set you back $17 and line your stomach.

73 Nicholson St, Footscray

3. Xuan Banh Cuon – Sunshine

cheap eats melbourne sunshine

Melbourne’s most delicious suburb also has Melbourne’s best banh cuon. These soft, fragile rice crepes are made to order and so thin they’re translucent before being rolled with minced pork and wood ear mushrooms and served with herbs, lettuce, pork floss, pork loaf, fried shallots and dipping sauce all for $15. Add a shrimp hashbrown for a feast for $18.

232 Hampshire Rd, Sunshine

4. Gojo Ethiopian Cafe – Sunshine

One of the few places you can get a massive range of Ethiopian breakfasts, from ful (fava beans) to kitfo and fresh cheese. The Ethiopian coffee is incredible and makes this sunny spot smell amazing. One of my favourite cheap restaurants in Melbourne hands down.

10 Clarke St, Sunshine

5. Migrant Coffee – West Footscray

Migrant Coffee – West Footscray cheap eats melbourne

A really awesome cafe with really awesome bagels with a huge variety of fillings featuring Filipino flavours. All under $20, plus a pint of iced coffee, and you’ll be resurrected from any hangover or comedown.


3/576 Barkly St, West Footscray

6. Kiwi Pacific Store – Laverton North

Melbourne’s first Samoan restaurant and food store opened 20 years ago and today you can get one of the city’s best value feeds there. It’s all-you-can-eat comfort food from Aotearoa and the Pacific Islands, pay by weight and stuff your face.

6/110-116 Fitzgerald Rd, Laverton North

Aleksandra Bliszczyk is the Deputy Editor of VICE Australia. Follow her on Instagram.