When you’ve got a limited lunch break and you need food to go, you don’t want to have to factor in finding an ATM – and nor should you. These local legends have no minimum spend on card purchases, and you get a super-fast meal that beats any homemade lunchbox fare.
BL Burgers is situated on a busy stretch of Oxford Street. It's a long space decorated with colourful graffiti, and there's a slide at the side, leading from the upstairs kitchen into the dining area, that they sometime shoot burgers down. There are six burgers plus a special on offer, and while you could have a cheeseburger, these guys are known for their riffs on the classics. Try the Blame Canada instead. It's a thick beef patty topped with maple-glazed bacon, cheese, poutine and maple aioli. There's a lot in there so you probably won't be able to tell the elements apart. But this is a bloody good, if indulgent, burger.
If you like your Vietnamese super fresh, super fast (and often served by the sweetest little old ladies in the world), Great Aunty Three is your jam. Here, they roast their pork bellies in house, and you can order slices of fatty, meaty goodness in a classic bahn mi, or as a component in a salad bowl, bright with shredded and pickled veggies. Vegetarians have a lot of choice too, with deep fried tofu and faux chicken making regular appearances on the menu. If you are a carnivore, it’s hard to go past the roast duck rice paper rolls. They’re a sweet, salty house special that can instantly brighten a bad day at the office.
This Newtown pie shop is nothing like your usual neighbourhood pie-hawker. For starters, you can grab a seat at a communal table in the industrial-chic shop and have a glass of wine with your pire, or down some Wayward's beer. Pies range from your usual steak and ale to exotic numbers involving Nepalese curries and boscaiola. They’ve got Marrickville’s Double Roasters coffee available all day, plus milkshakes from vanilla to chocolate and caramel. Need something sweet? Order a slice of the maltesers pie, or the cherry ripe delight – all of their pies are baked fresh on the day.
The Cross Eatery brings brunch vibes to your midday meal. Imagine Kitchen by Mike with a corporate edge. The queues build quickly after noon as people clamour for a slice of salad bar action, which boasts serving dishes packed with an autumnal palette of roasted root vegetables with almonds and a fetta dressing. A blush of pink grapefruit peeks out from behind a jumble of Brussels sprouts, witlof curls and walnuts. Break up the roughage with the lamb tagine or two long zucchini canoes stuffed with bulgar, dressed in labne and bejewelled with pomegranate seeds and sultanas.
The Asian-style salads at Banana Blossom are massive, filling and totally delicious. In the Manly outfit, each salad is made fresh in front of you in the open kitchen beyond the counter. There are a few simple tables inside and a couple of cute wicker tables and chairs outside, but most people choose to take away to sit and eat on the beach, so you’re likely to be able to nab a seat even when it is busy (if the beach doesn’t tempt you too). They do rice paper rolls which are mammoth and so have been cut up into four, but our ultimate pick is the satay rice noodle salad.
When it comes to the handheld lunch, banh mi is king. Oddly enough Chatswood has been without a great pâté-spiked roast meat roll spot for years now. Saigon Rolls have arrived to eradicate this problem. Get the pork with crackling – it's a little more indulgent that your typical roll with loud, crunchy pork crackles, sweet pickled carrots and lean-to-fatty strips of pork. The pâté is salty and savoury but not overpowering and you should ask for extra chilli if you want extra kick. Not so hungry? Go for the mini, which is only $5.30, or if you want to go breadless try the summer noodle bowl.
This little Market Lane kitchen is doing just two things damn well; poke bowls (the Hawaiian fish salad) and momos (Nepalese dumplings). It may sound like an odd combo, but somehow Nepalese-Japanese-Hawaiian-via-the-Northern Beaches works an absolute treat. Order up a hearty bowl filled with bright green edamame, violet cabbage, soft hunks of ultra-fresh salmon and shreds of orange carrot, topped with sweet toasted sesame dressing and fried shallots for crunch. It’s nourishing, fresh and filling, and maybe the best poke bowl we’ve had in Sydney. Also try the dumplings, which see pudgy pockets filled with lentils, pork or lamb, and come swimming in a paprika butter spiked broth.
The little CBD sister of the Surry Hills roaster has been doing ripper coffees since opening just north of Town Hall in early 2015. Service is friendly and never snobby, you can buy your own beans and the takeaway brekkies are ace. Go the healthy route and try an on-the-go boxed breakfast with poached eggs, sweet potato hummus and roast cauliflower topped with a dust of hazelnut dukkah and sprigs of coriander. Or choose one of the NLTs (next level toasties), including the classic Croque Monsieur, with smoked ham, a cheddar-infused creamy béchamel and pickled veg for freshness.