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 five 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 Young Henrys beer. Pies range from your usual steak and stout to exotic numbers involving African curries and carbonaras. They’ve got Marrickville’s Double Roasters coffee available all day, plus milkshakes from vanilla to lime 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.
This dinky little shopfront offers a five-strong selection of $10 sambos. What they do is very popular, and when it’s gone, it’s gone. You’ll have to get in early to pick up one of Lucky Pickle’s pork belly baguettes, spread with duck-liver paté and punked up with pickled carrot and daikon, cucumber, coriander, mayonnaise and chilli sauce. Same goes for crisp strips of chicken katsu with red cabbage, mayonnaise and tonkatsu sauce (think of it as Japanese Worcestershire). Veggos should dive straight for the soft and slightly musky goat’s cheese with slices of fresh pear, chopped fresh walnuts, dressed salad – and, surprise peas! It’s a really big scene for such a little sandwich shop.
Like to have your menu’s ingredients, packaging and preparations laid out in front of you as you eat? Then Boon Café in Haymarket is going to be right up your alley. It's one-third styled-up city café, one-third restaurant and one-third Thai supermarket. The menu is overwhelmingly long, but thankfully there are lots of pictures, which make it easier to choose. Try the duck and rice lunch for a carb fest that'll keep you full till dinner. Sandwiches are the thing here too; but they’ll serve the fillings over rice if you’re not into gluten. Between the menu and the shop, it’s a culinary adventure in the heart of the city, and we think that’s pretty special.
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.