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Tacos at Mami’s Casa Latina
Photograph: Avril Treasure for Time Out Sydney

The 64 best cheap eats in Sydney right now

Here are our picks for Sydney's best affordable restaurants

Written by
Avril Treasure
Written by
Emily Lloyd-Tait
&
Elizabeth McDonald
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Winter 2024 update: Let’s face it: life is expensive. But the good news is that you don’t need to stay home every night and survive on frozen pizza, thanks to our city’s incredible cheap eats. The best bit? Often they rival any dishes you would find in a fancy fine diner. We’ve rounded up the top places with prices that won’t burn a hole in your wallet, including our current faves Spicy Joint, Emma's Snack Bar and Tita Carinderia. Because life’s too short to eat bad food.

Going out for a meal is sometimes a big occasion, worth the splurge. But it doesn't have to be that way. From banh mi to tonkotsu ramen, biang biang noodles to vegan burgers, and pretty much everything else in between, some of Sydney's greatest culinary hits are the cheapest. Time Out Sydney critics, including Food & Drink Editor Avril Treasure, have eaten their way around town to bring you this list, and while cheap isn't what it used to be, there are still lots of excellent affordable venues to check out. These are the ones well worth their salt.

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Want to spend less at the big-ticket players? Check out our cheap fine-dining hacks.

Looking for a café to sit down at for coffee and brunch? Here's our guide to the best cafés in Sydney.

The best cheap eats in Sydney

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Restaurants
  • Mexican
  • Bondi

Holy guacamole: Mami’s is an all-day cantina serving up delicious and authentic Mexican fare on Bondi Road  – and if you haven’t been, you really need to go. Nothing on the menu costs more than $20, the tacos took me right back to scoffing them standing up in Oaxaca City, and it’s BYO. Plus, if you head to The Royal across the road you can score 10 per cent off beer and 20 per cent off wine. How good is that?

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Avril Treasure
Food & Drink Editor, Time Out Sydney
  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Restaurants
  • Italian
  • Darlinghurst

The seasons change but the steadfast joy of eating old-school Italian fare, right down to a cheeky tortellini boscaiola, at this long-serving red sauce joint never fades. If you have a mighty hunger and not a huge amount in the bank, head here for a pizza and pasta party, and why not BYO? It's only a few bucks a head. We have such a soft spot for it that it took out the Best Cheap Eat category of the Time Out Food & Drink Awards 2022.

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Chinese Noodle Restaurant
  • Restaurants
  • Haymarket

This old faithful is famous for hand-pulled noodles with pork mince, and boiled, fried or steamed Northern Chinese dumplings. Pork and chive are an essential order, but don't overlook the eggplant bathed in a searing hot special sauce with intensely garlicky bok choy that must be one of Haymarket's most frequently ordered dishes.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Restaurants
  • Filipino
  • Marrickville

'Tita’ in Tagalog (the native language spoken in the Philippines) means aunt and this Marrickville café pays homage to its owners’ late aunt, Tita Marlene. In the Philippines, a carinderia is a no-frills roadside café or food stall selling home-cooked Filipino fare for the working class. Tita Carinderia is a modern take on the OG with communal tables out front, bright yellow walls inside and sachets of Tang, Kopiko and Nestea behind the counter for a bit of kitsch. Come for home-style pandesal, a soft, fluffy bread roll that’s a Filipino staple, garlic fried rice topped with a sunny fried egg, tender pork adobo and a vibrant purple ube soft serve.

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  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Restaurants
  • Chinese
  • Haymarket

Haymarket’s Spicy Joint is one of the best cheap eats in town, with a bowl of Dan Dan noodles setting you back just $5.90. Other notable mentions go to the delicious chicken and peanut number, and the crunchy cucumber salad with chilli and enough garlic to repel Edward Cullen and co. In fact, we love Spicy Joint so much they won Time Out’s Best Cheap Eat at the Food & Drink Awards 2023. Our tip: get here early – this Haymarket eatery gets full quick.

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Avril Treasure
Food & Drink Editor, Time Out Sydney
  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Restaurants
  • Enmore
  • price 1 of 4

Emma’s swings open the doors at 5pm and by 5.15, it’s usually rowdier than a frat party, with a room packed with cult followers who just can’t seem to get enough of the electric garlic dip, the butter-smooth hummus, the smoky-as-all-hell baba ghanoush, the addictive lady’s fingers, the succulent Moorish chicken and all the rest of it.

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  • Restaurants
  • Coogee
  • price 1 of 4

There’s always a throng of people waiting to get their fix at this Clovelly corner spot. She’s not very big, but she packs them in - then out the door and onto the footpath. The fish and chips come wrapped in paper, proper old-school like, so you can cart them down the hill to the beach. Speaking of fish and chips, sustainably sourced NZ hoki and chippies will set you back $11, and a classic hamburger costs $15. Our pick is the fish burger, a fresh, succulent, delicious mess – and $15 too.

  • Restaurants
  • Indian
  • Camperdown

Brendan King says his nanna never cooked while he was growing up, and instead always remembers his grandpa in the kitchen, preparing spiced tandoori wings and fiery pork vindaloo. Derrel’s – Camperdown's late-night diner located on Parramatta Road – is named after King’s grandpa and is a nostalgic ode to his food and the dishes that King loves to cook and eat himself. Get around those spiced tandoori chicken wings, five for $17, and an $8 chip butty with butter chicken gravy. Drool.

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Avril Treasure
Food & Drink Editor, Time Out Sydney
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  • Restaurants
  • Mexican
  • Dulwich Hill
  • price 1 of 4

Rosa Cienfuegos is famous for her tamales, steamed hot pockets of white corn flour (masa) flavoured with chicken and sharp tomatillo salsa. Or maybe you want the earthier flavours of the mole version. A liberal dose of green (mild) or spicy (red) salsa from the mortars on the bench is the winning play, and there’s hot sauce to ratchet up the capsaicin-based endorphin rush. Each tamale will set you back $10, so there's more reason to buy a bunch.

Bill & Toni's
  • Restaurants
  • Darlinghurst
  • price 1 of 4

Look, we're not going to say Bill & Toni's serves up the best spag bol in Sydney. But it's pretty bloody good. Maybe it's the fact that it costs $18, or that the bowl is piled high like Everest, or heck – it could even be the free orange cordial that it comes with. But we love it, and we love Bill & Toni's. Since 1965, this Italian joint on Stanley Street has been serving up massive (and cheap) meals to Sydney's hungry hoards. May it never stop. 

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Avril Treasure
Food & Drink Editor, Time Out Sydney
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  • Restaurants
  • Bakeries
  • Ryde

Top Ryde Baker’s House is located in the Top Ryde shopping centre next to Woolies. The first thing you need to know is that it’s very likely you'll be met with a line snaking along the glossy tiles. Do not be deterred. The second thing you need to know is that the wait is very much worth it: Top Ryde Baker’s House pumps excellent banh mi. If it’s your first time, go for the classic pork roll. It has a golden and crunchy exterior, and it’s light and fluffy in the middle. The roll is slathered with sweet mayo and pâté, with a generous filling of cold-cut pork, as well as fresh radish, onion, coriander and fried shallots for texture.

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Avril Treasure
Food & Drink Editor, Time Out Sydney
  • Restaurants
  • Lebanese
  • Lakemba
  • price 1 of 4

There are “generous portions” and then there are the mixed plates at Jasmins. First comes a complimentary plate of pickled salad, chilli, olives, tomatoes, onions and mint. Then, the platter itself arrives: hummus, tabouli, falafel, baba ghanoush, kofte, kibbeh and shish kebab. Unless you’ve got hollow legs or haven’t eaten for the better part of a month, one will feed two. Talk about bang for your buck...

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  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Restaurants
  • Middle Eastern
  • Newtown
  • price 1 of 4

Best falafel in Sydney? It's a big call, but these super crisp, fried-to-order handfuls of chickpea and herbs studded with sesame seeds are definite contenders. Have 'em in a pita pocket or on a platter with dips and pickles, and if the carnivore in you has an itch that needs scratching, the charcoal-grilled meats are as charry and juicy as you want them to be.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Restaurants
  • Indonesian
  • Darling Harbour

Unlike most Indonesian restaurants across Sydney that focus on Javanese cuisine, here you’ll find the food of Medan, the North Sumatran capital known for its distinct mix of indigenous Batak, Malay and Chinese flavours. The rendang at Medan Ciak is where it’s at, tender as heck, with the slow-cooked complexity that comes from time and dozens of ingredients.

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  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Restaurants
  • Surry Hills
  • price 1 of 4

At Malibu, which you’ll find down a Surry Hills alley, there’s just one man, Marc Aebi, taking orders, chopping fillings and waving you off with a smile and a ginormous, foil-wrapped sandwich. Pick from an array of tins holding crunchy butter lettuce, sweet beetroot, pickles, and crisp cucumbers. A green, herby mayo forms the base of your ‘wich. Beware: structural integrity could be compromised if you play too fast and loose with additions. In good news, Aebi now accepts card payments. And, the ginormous schnitty sambo costs just $12. 

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Restaurants
  • Japanese
  • Darlinghurst
  • price 1 of 4

At Keita Abe's pocket-sized ramen venue the broth is the colour of an egg yolk. It tastes unlike any other ramen in Sydney. If anything, it’s like a Sichuan hot-pot but less aggressive, slightly nutty, with that same addictive savouriness all good ramens have. There’s no chashu on top, but there’s a cluster of coriander leaves, some springy wood-ear mushrooms, three velvety medallions of chicken and a smear of crimson chilli paste along the edge of the bowl. It’s called chilli coriander ramen and it's one of Sydney's favourite noodle soups.

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  • Restaurants
  • Haymarket
  • price 1 of 4

Queues still snake outside this Chinatown cheap eat during the week and for good reason. The roti is paper thin, stretchy and the perfect vehicle to mop up nutty lentil curry and funky sambal. But our go-to is Malaysia’s national dish: nasi lemak. Coconut rice is surrounded by crisp fried anchovies, sweet and fiery sambal, cool cucumbers, a boiled egg and peanuts. It’s a steal at $13, and you can opt to add a fragrant chicken curry for an extra $5 (which you should).

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Avril Treasure
Food & Drink Editor, Time Out Sydney
  • Restaurants
  • Thai
  • Prospect

Found on the corner of Elizabeth Street in Zetland, Mon Thai doesn’t look like much from the outside. With brick armour, a couple of sky-blue chairs out the front and photos of meals stuck on the street-facing wall, you may even drive past the eatery and not notice it, such is the no-frills aesthetic of this Thai restaurant. But that would be a real shame, because this ten-table joint is home to excellent and affordable Thai food. Most plates cost around $15. Go to Thai town.

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Avril Treasure
Food & Drink Editor, Time Out Sydney
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  • Restaurants
  • Italian
  • Sydney
  • price 1 of 4

Fratelli Fresh, in all incarnations, is the unofficial champion of the happy hour and meal deal. When a company has as many franchises as the Fratelli family does, it's easy to expect the quality to drop and for things to get a bit so-so but despite the odds, diners can still get some seriously quality chow and a bottomless Aperol Spritz to boot. Parents can also breathe a sigh of relief because kids under 12 eat free every Sunday.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Restaurants
  • Filipino
  • Blacktown
  • price 1 of 4

At the centre of every Filipino celebration is lechon, a spit-roasted whole suckling pig that’s equal parts crackling and tender flesh. The Cebu Island version is said to be the best, stuffed with aromatics like star anise, garlic, lemongrass and shallots, before slowly being roasted over charcoal for three hours. It's the star of the show at this casual eatery, which is now found in Blacktown. Nothing is over $19. We love to see it.

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  • Restaurants
  • Vietnamese
  • Hurstville

Ringing in at eight bucks, the classic pork roll at this much-loved Vietnamese bakery arrives in a fresh and crunchy baguette that’s lathered with mayo and pâté and loaded with pork belly and Vietnamese devon, cucumber, shredded carrot, red onion, coriander, spring onions, chilli, King’s famous soy sauce and salt and pepper. Happiness in a bite? It’s pretty bloody close.

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Avril Treasure
Food & Drink Editor, Time Out Sydney
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  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Restaurants
  • Darlinghurst
  • price 1 of 4

The orange neon signage and lacklustre shopfront may not look like anything special, but anyone who’s tried an Indian kebab from here knows that this Oxford Street late-night haunt is a very special place. Pick your naan (go on, live a little and get the cheese naan), then with metal tongs they’ll smash together pieces of grilled chicken tikka with either aloo chop (fried potato) or an onion bhaji. Finally, pick your curry sauce (butter chicken, vindaloo, Rogan Josh or korma) and watch them fold it up into one of the tastiest wraps you’ve ever had.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Restaurants
  • Surry Hills

A tried and true stalwart of Sydney's fierce Thai restaurant scene. The menu is a staggering 82 items long, so make like the rest of Sydney: start from the top, work your way down, and repeat over and over again. Or just start with #79: the revelatory omelette in a sour Thai soup, and head backwards from there.

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Xi An Cuisine

Xi An Cuisine doesn't have a website, though you can find the hole-in-the-wall on 90 Hay Street Haymarket – and you absolutely should. This place is as cheap and cheerful as it gets, with most plates costing around $13. Must try: the fatty pork "Chinese burger" (its actual name is rou jia mo) with lashings of chilli oil, which comes in at a sweet $6.50.

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Avril Treasure
Food & Drink Editor, Time Out Sydney
  • Restaurants
  • Malaysian
  • Arncliffe

Born in Malacca in Southwestern Malaysia, Azizah Mohamed and husband Mahdhar Mustapha love to cook the food of their homeland. Now, the duo has opened up their first bricks-and-mortar restaurant in Sydney's south west, called Warung Taming Sari, inspired by the warungs dotted all over Malaysia. Come for the life-enhancing $13 beef rendang, served with a rich, sweet and salty sambal. Or Warung Taming Sari’s signature dish: charcoal-grilled meat skewers paired with a spicy peanut satay sauce, rice cakes and fresh cucumber. You can snag five chicken bad boys for just $15.

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Avril Treasure
Food & Drink Editor, Time Out Sydney
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  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Restaurants
  • Vietnamese
  • Rosebery

You won’t find pho, spring rolls or vermicelli salad on the menu here, but what you will find are ridiculously good namesake banh xeo: lacey-edged, luminous turmeric-gold coconutty pancakes with any number of fillings, from sweetcorn to king prawns to crisp nuggets of pork. A banh mi with free-range soy sauce eggs makes for a refreshing change of pace, and if you’re still craving soup, bo bun hue – a lemongrass beef noodle number – is the answer.

  • Restaurants
  • Granville

Even if you didn’t know about El Jannah, the smell of the smoke would likely lure you straight into what started as a Granville chicken shop and soon grew into a chain because it's just so darn good. This is charcoal chook at its finest, complemented by a supporting ensemble of Lebanese bread, fluorescent pickles and an almighty garlic sauce so pungent it could ward off an army of vampires.

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  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Restaurants
  • Haymarket
  • price 1 of 4

Cult ramen restaurant Gumshara has a new location in Chinatown, and while you may have to line up for a bowl of goodness, it's absolutely worth it. It takes a whopping seven days to make the pork stock for the tonkotsu ramen and just three ingredients: water, miso and 120kg of pork bones. The result is a rich, soul-warming bowl of noodle soup with an incredible porky flavour.

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Avril Treasure
Food & Drink Editor, Time Out Sydney
  • Bars
  • Sydney
  • price 1 of 4

Some of the very best burgers in the entire city await at this CBD stalwart, and perhaps the very best of them is the Blame Canada. It's a cult classic, a thick, 200-gram Wagyu patty topped with crisp, maple-glazed bacon, American cheese, poutine (!) and maple aioli on a milk bun. Hangovers, be gone!

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  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Restaurants
  • Korean
  • Surry Hills

You won’t be able to find a website for Kood. That’s because the Korean tea café and kitchen doesn’t have one. Instagram? Forget about it. What you will find, though, if you happen to stroll past 414 Elizabeth Street around lunchtime, is a line nearly snacking out the door, proving old-fashioned word of mouth still works. And that’s because this place is really, really good. Come for the mixed plate, which comes with two main numbers, three sides, rice and japchae, cooked by owner chef Mary Lee. And it costs just $16.50, which, let’s face it, is less than a glass of wine these days. This is Seoul food at its best.

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Avril Treasure
Food & Drink Editor, Time Out Sydney
  • Restaurants
  • Taiwanese
  • Ultimo

Taiwanese food is as hard to come by in Sydney as a city lunch priced under $15. Ultimo’s Taiwanese-style bento shop, Ommi Don, ticks both of those boxes without compromising on flavour or fun. Ex-Aria Aria and Barangaroo House chef, Omar Hsu, dishes up the street food flavours of his homeland with dons (rice bowls), hot snacks, cold sides and refreshing Taiwanese teas. Ommi Don’s three-cup chicken don checks in at a pocket-friendly price of $14, complete with your choice of sushi rice, purple rice or udon noodles. Turn your don into a set with sides and a drink for a total of $20.

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Melissa Woodley
Travel & News Editor, Time Out Australia
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Boon Café
  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Restaurants
  • Haymarket

By day, it’s an ace café spruiking East-meets-West brekkies like croissants smothered in mossy green pandan custard. By night, it’s a casual BYO diner dishing up classics from a multi-page menu of Isaan cuisine. To top it all off, it’s brought to you by the forces behind Chat Thai and set inside a wonderland of a grocery store, piled high with hard-to-get-your-hands-on produce and all sorts of Thai delights.

  • Restaurants
  • Portuguese
  • Marrickville

Frango in Petersham has long been a crowd favourite – so popular, in fact, that there are Frango stores popping up all around Sydney, including Bella Vista, Concord, Drummoyne, Edmondson Park, Gregory Hills, Penrith, Smithfield. Now there's one in Marrickville, too. It's no wonder it's popular – they've been perfecting their butterflied and charcoal-grilled chicken more than 30 years. It's also loved for its chicken burgers, lathered with mayo, as well as chilli sauce if you like it spicy.

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Melissa Woodley
Travel & News Editor, Time Out Australia
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Ayam Goreng 99
  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Restaurants
  • Indonesian
  • Kingsford
  • price 1 of 4

Grilled over charcoal, deep-fried, or deep-fried and coated in a sweetish glaze, Javanese style: those are the three choices you have when it comes to how you want the famous chicken prepared at this Kingsford Indonesian mainstay. Bring the crew, order all three, compare notes and don't skip the satay or sambal either.

  • Restaurants
  • Enmore

All thrills, no frills and open till midnight all seven days of the week, this Indian-Pakistani institution offers pretty much everything you could ever want in a classic curry house. Slow-cooked curries over rice? Tick. Solid tandoori chicken? Sweet, fluffy Kashmiri naan? Tick. And for the adventurous? Spicy brain nihari all the way.

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  • Restaurants
  • Turkish
  • Barangaroo

Named after the word for ‘spice’ in Turkish, Baharat is a cocktail bar and restaurant in Barangaroo inspired by the buzzing drinking spots and spice markets of Istanbul. Executive chef Arman Uz has drawn on his Turkish heritage to create authentic and tasty street food plates. Mezes cost between $7 and $28, and that could include creamy hummus with chilli oil; pickles; stone baked bread; and fresh chopped cucumber and tomato salad. Snag an authentic lahmacun (a flatbread topped with spiced and salty minded meat and fresh herbs) for $12.

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Avril Treasure
Food & Drink Editor, Time Out Sydney
  • Restaurants
  • Vietnamese
  • Marrickville

Nope, your fellow diners aren’t taking a test. They’re customising their Vietnamese meal boxes on cleverly designed wipeable menus. Choose your preferred rice, main, vegetable, salad and soup and it’ll all get assembled in a lacquered bento box for one. It’s hard not to agonise over all the available options.

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  • Restaurants
  • Bakeries
  • Mascot
  • price 1 of 4

Banh mi here are a celebration of simple things done well: the soft yet crunchy roll, three types of pork, the fistful of salad, hearty pâté, special chilli sauce and all. It’s been around for more than 30 years, and if there’s one Vietnamese bakery that transcends suburban lines and draws crowds from near and far, Mascot’s Hong Ha has to be it.

Imperial Peking Restaurant
  • Restaurants
  • Blakehurst

You may associate Sydney's southern suburbs with golden beaches, national parks and the quarter acre block, but a love of yum cha transcends all postcodes in the Harbour City, which is why you may want to book for this Blakehurst Chinese restaurant taking care of dumpling cravings in the south. As with all yum cha, the bill will reflect just how carried away you may or may not get but individual dishes and getting full rather than stuffed is absolutely achievable on a budget here. Delivery and pick up are available.

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  • 4 out of 5 stars

Willoughby isn't exactly the first place that comes to mind when you think of Sydney dining destinations but to dismiss this tiny hole in the wall would be a mistake. La Botte on Willoughby Road is in the class of old-school Aussie-Italian eateries, with simple dishes done very, very well. The paper-thin sheets of pasta in the ravioli is an absolute must order.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Restaurants
  • Vietnamese
  • Marrickville
  • price 1 of 4

Never had banh cuon? You need to. These silky rice noodle rolls are a traditional Vietnamese breakfast staple, usually cooked at little roadside stalls as swarms of scooters zoom past, and Banh Cuon Ba Oanh's are about as close as Sydneysiders can get to the real deal. That includes a tiny kitchen cloaked in clouds of steam and squishy tables with ankle-high stools that will test your flexibility. Order the classic version, and your rice noodles will be rolled with a rubble of pork mince and flecks of crunchy black fungus.

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  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Bars
  • Circular Quay

The Inner West junk food lords have been flipping burgers worth crossing town for since 2013. And while they’re a still a major drawcard, the addition of a dynamite vegan menu at the Circular Quay location has made Mary’s worth falling in love with all over again. The plant-based burger patties have a proper taste and texture, and solidly seasoned cauliflower serves as a knockout stand-in for fried chicken. Amen.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Restaurants
  • Chinese
  • Sydney

Thick, chewy, slurp-worthy noodles the width of a belt slathered in chilli and finished with slow-cooked pork and crunchy vegetables? Sign us up. Make sure you head here hungry as hell, because a flaky roujiamo – another Xi’an street food staple, often considered China’s answer to the burger – is an essential part of the experience. (Hot tip: the Haymarket outlet is BYO.)

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  • Restaurants
  • Potts Point

Bolognese-filled arancini, steaming pasta set on newspapers, ciabatta rolls filled with Italian pork, perfectly-piped cannoli... it's the kind of food you want to grab and wander around a Tuscan market eating. Thankfully, there's no need to head that far – you can now pick it up in Kings Cross.

Alice's Makan
  • 3 out of 5 stars
  • Restaurants
  • Sydney

In moving to a CBD food court, what it may have lost in suburban charm it has made up for in regular accessibility. Is Alice Tan's char kway teow still the best in town? It certainly gives the competition a run for its moneybags.

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  • Restaurants
  • Indian
  • Harris Park
  • price 1 of 4

The hype, queues and Friday evening bustle are due to the fact that Chatkazz serves street food as it’s done in Mumbai, and they were the first in Sydney to do so. Expect to find soft, white, heavily buttered bread rolls plated up with rich chickpea stews, puffy flat breads crisped on a hot grill and samosas. Or maybe just bits of fried dough, smashed and splattered with yoghurt and tamarind syrup.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Restaurants
  • North Sydney
  • price 1 of 4

Loyalists swear by the ramen at Ryo’s, and who could blame them? Duck your way past the noren curtains and you’ll think you’re in a traditional Tokyo noodle house. Everywhere you look, it’s heads down, hoeing away and slurping full-throttle tonkotsu broth and squiggly noodles from giant bowls very, very loudly.

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Pho Tau Bay
  • Restaurants
  • Cabramatta

It’s worth pausing a minute when your bowl of pho arrives at Pho Tau Bay. Hold your head over the deep bowl of beef soup chock-a-block with rice noodles, raw beef slices and curls of onion and breathe in deep. The stock is the clincher in any pho noodle soup, and the version here is a winner – light on oil and punchy with flavour. 

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Restaurants
  • Bakeries
  • Ashfield
  • price 1 of 4

Grab a plastic tray, a pair of tongs and load up on yum cha favourites like har gow, pork siu mai and char siu bao, or have at the pineapple buns, red bean sesame balls and traditional desserts like Cantonese white gourd pies. Whatever you pick, you won’t go wrong – this is one of the best Chinese bakeries in Sydney.

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  • Restaurants
  • Haymarket
  • price 1 of 4

The odds are in your favour at Chat Thai – you can point to pretty much anything on the menu and walk away a winner, which is why it has grown into a restaurant empire. The multi-level Thaitown outlet might just be the best of lot, if only for the late-night trading hours and the added bonus of BYO.

  • Restaurants
  • Vietnamese
  • Marrickville

Banh mi are almost a Sydney religion and here they make them cheap and crunchy. Pick your preference when it comes to choosing chilli, pâté and the special sauce (make sure you get it all). There is the traditional pork (a cold cut combo), deep pink barbecue pork, crackling pork belly, chicken or dense meatballs. It's so popular that if you do go to this one, on Illawarra Rd near the corner of Marrickville Rd, you'll likely have to queue. Hot tip: there's another one down the other end of Illawara Rd that's less busy. And there are others that have popped up in Darling Square and on Loftus Lane in the CBD.

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  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Restaurants
  • Chatswood

Thai food takes some modern turns at this buzzy Chatswood eatery beneath Westfield. Case in point: the ‘yum salmon’, a tartare of sorts with seaweed, shallots, kaffir lime leaf and a palm sugar dressing, and then there's those tom-yum-flavoured chicken wings. You can, however, still get your hands on classics like a killer kra pao. Holy Basil, indeed. 

  • Restaurants
  • Indian
  • Harris Park
  • price 1 of 4

Taj boasts one of the biggest ranges of Subcontinental sweets in Australia – we’re talking probably close to 100 different chewy, sticky, stretchy, fragrant treats. That’s what greets you at the door and it’s probably enough to stop you in your tracks, but have a seat and go to town on the all-vegetarian menu first. North and South Indian thali plates are a smart way to try as much as possible.

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  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Restaurants
  • Bexley
  • price 1 of 4

Combinations of flavours and textures don’t get much better than gyros – how the charry, pillowy pita soaks up the juices from the freshly carved pork and hits the high notes with the crisp chips, thick tzatziki, slivers of sharp red onion and sweet tomatoes. It’s impossible to eat one of Gyradiko’s without making a royal mess, but let’s be honest, that’s most of the fun.

Flying Tong
  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Restaurants
  • Korean
  • Newtown
  • price 1 of 4

A lot of work goes into getting the chicken right at Flying Tong. There’s the overnight brining in more than 12 spices, the thin batter mix, the housemade breading powder and the pitch-perfect deep fry. Then there are the sauces: garlic soy, sweet chilli and peanuts, or the so-called ‘Spicy Bomb’. Pick one if you must, but know that this Korean fried chicken is very on its own,  and doesn’t even need ’em.

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  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Restaurants
  • Japanese
  • Surry Hills

The speciality at Gogyo is kogashi, or burnt miso, ramen. But you probably knew that already because you were one of the hordes of people who lost their minds when this Japanese chain landed in Sydney in 2017. Or you simply walked in for a bowl of ramen, smelled the scorching woks and spotted bowls of the black stuff on every other table. Whatever the case, if you haven’t tried it, do. 

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Restaurants
  • Auburn

You know the drill. It starts with the slowly spinning vertical rotisserie, jammed tight with chicken, lamb or beef. Pick your protein and they’ll carve on the spot, stuffing it into a lightly toasted flatbread wrapped up with lettuce, tomato, onion and your choice of sauce. It's the simple things. 

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  • Restaurants
  • Vietnamese
  • Waterloo

Yen’s knocks it out of the park on a few different fronts. Both the beef and chicken pho are outstanding, each with a collagen-rich broth you’d happily drink by the gallon, and the crisp-skinned chicken option is a worthy upgrade. The rice paper rolls more than do the trick, and if a colossal crepe is what you crave, the banh xeo has your name on it.

Ume Burger
  • Restaurants
  • Burgers
  • Barangaroo

There are only a handful of burgers on the menu, but Kerby Craig's Barangaroo burger joint makes a convincing case not only that more burgers should have Japanese accents, but also that ridiculously crunchy lotus root crisps should stand in for French fries more often. The housemade sodas are a must, too.

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  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Restaurants
  • Korean
  • Epping

Soondubu jjigae. This Korean favourite is more than just a soft tofu soup. You get a quivering wobble of soft-set tofu – like a savoury version of panna cotta – simmered in a mini cauldron of bubbling spiced soup. The broth is guaranteed to warm you up from the tips of your fingers right down to your toes, and don’t freak out about the angry red tinge – it’s not half as spicy as it looks.

  • Restaurants
  • Indian
  • Harris Park
  • price 1 of 4

These guys call themselves the ‘Pioneers of Dosa Culture’, and while many consider the crisp, parchment-thin pancakes galore on the menu to be some of Sydney’s best, the chicken dishes make noise, too. Butter chicken and biryani are safe bets, but the chicken 65 – deep-fried morsels tossed with curry leaves and doused in sticky Chinese-Indian-style chilli – is the jackpot.

 

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  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Restaurants
  • Bakeries
  • Kingsford
  • price 1 of 4

Baklava cheesecake, moussaka pie and a whole world of modern takes on traditional Greek pastries are what this Dulwich Hill bakery is all about. The filo is painstakingly made by hand, and an ice-cold Freddo cappuccino (add one sugar!) is an essential part of the experience – no matter what you pick from the mind-boggling display at the counter. They now have locations in Kingsford and Roselands, too.

Bar Italia
  • Restaurants
  • Leichhardt

Serving Leicchardt since 1952, Bar Italia is the Platonic ideal of the suburban Italian restaurant. Arrabbiata, amatriciana, bolognese, carbonara, marinara, napoletana, parmigiana, pizzaiola, puttanesca – you name it, they've got it. Not to mention cannoli and baked ricotta pie to top it all off. 

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