Impress your date with $20 or less
Tell them to meet you at Soma in Ultimo and get two takeaway coffees ($3.50 each if you don’t like them fancy). Then walk them down the Goods Line, all the way to Darling Harbour for a wander around the picturesque Chinese Garden of Friendship. It’s romantic, it’s an unexpected slice of tranquillity in the city and entry is just $6 each. Link hands as you enter, and move in for a kiss as you cross the bridge over the lily pond, facing towards one of the garden’s pagodas.
Take them to the Art Nuevo Hornsby Odeon cinema, where all tickets on a Tuesday are $8. There’s only a single screen, so what you’re watching is whatever they’re playing, but with $4 left in your pocket after tickets, you can clinch the deal by springing for a packet of Maltesers.
Let’s be real here: boozing it up is not cheap in Sydney, particularly if your vibe isn’t 1980s carpets, fluro-lights and the ring-a-ding-ding of nearby pokies. The answer is the Dock in Redfern – a perfectly cute small bar where you can still get tinnies for $5. Have a couple each, flop down on the couch near the window, revel in the flattering fairy lights and get to know each other a little better.
Head to El Jannah and split a whole chicken, complete with bread, pickles and rivers of sauce for $19.90. There are three locations to hit up (in Punchbowl, Granville and Blacktown), and they’re all open till 11pm or later. The portion is generous enough that you’ll probably end up with a takeaway bag to fight over. And if the fight gets really bad? No problem. You don’t have to deal with the consequences of all that garlic sauce.