The 21 Best Cheap Eats in Melbourne for Under $20

You'll find big bowls of ramen, towering Korean sandwiches, chicken parma deals and big cheesy pizza slices at Melbourne's best cheap-eat haunts.
Andrew Zuccala and Libby Curran
Published on May 11, 2024

The 21 Best Cheap Eats in Melbourne for Under $20

You'll find big bowls of ramen, towering Korean sandwiches, chicken parma deals and big cheesy pizza slices at Melbourne's best cheap-eat haunts.

Melbourne's food scene might be world-famous, but it's not all fancy fine-diners and lavish degustations. This fine city of ours also boasts a smorgasbord of top-notch culinary options to suit even the tiniest of budgets. Just because you're saving your dollars — or it's a few weeks out from payday — doesn't mean you've gotta give up the good stuff.

We've scouted the streets for Melbourne's best cheap eats under $20 that'll fill your belly without emptying too much from your wallet. There are big bowls of ramen, towering Korean sandwiches and cheesy pizza slices, each one yours for less than $20. Step away from the mi goreng and check out these budget-friendly food finds all over the city.


Recommended reads:
The Best Pizza in Melbourne
The Best Ramen in Melbourne
The Best Burgers in Melbourne
The Best Banh Mi in Melbourne

  • 21
    Kewpie's pizzas - some of the best cheap eats in melbourne

    Bimbo was a haven for locals seeking cheap eats in Fitzroy well before it burned down and was reborn as Kewpie. And even though some parts of the bar experience changed after the refurb, its famed $5 pizzas didn’t go anywhere.

    Nowadays, you can head up to the rooftop (or hide inside during the cooler months) and nab $5 vegetarian pizzas and $8 meat options any day of the week. There are 20 different pies up for grabs, so every one of your mates will find what suits their tastes. And yes, these pizzas aren’t huge, but you can definitely order two for yourself, plus a basket of fries for $20. It’ll surely hit the spot.

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  • 20
    A1 Bakery in Brunswick - home to some of the best cheap eats in Melbourne

    This Lebanese bakery and grocer has been a Sydney Road favourite for about two decades — serving up some of the best cheap eats in Melbourne the entire time. You’ve got haloumi pies ($6), spinach triangles ($6), labneh pizzas ($10), falafel wraps ($12.50) and a heap of platters that’ll all cost no more than $20.

    Either get these bites to take away or sit in for a cheap breakfast or lunch. You can easily come back here over and over again, scoring a different cheap meal every time.

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  • 19
    Boreks at Queen Vic Market - one of the best cheap eats in Melbourne

    The Borkek Shop at Queen Vic Market is legendary. Everyone knows it’s home to one of the best cheap eats in Melbourne: the humble borek. These filled breads cost just $5, and come stuffed with either spicy potato, cheese and spinach or spicy lamb. The cheap gozlemes, fritters and other wraps are also worth venturing into if you want to build a bigger feast.

    The team is so popular that it took over the adjoining stall in the Queen Vic Market Dairy Hall to make it twice as large, but the lines can still be super long on weekends. Our rec? Walk less than a minute down the road on Elizabeth Street to find its other shopfront where there are always shorter queues for the exact same cheap eats.

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  • 18
    Butchers Diner has some of the best cheap eats in Melbourne.

    This tiny 24-hour diner has become a firm favourite for late-night eats in Melbourne, but you don’t need to be a night owl to appreciate its quality, meat-driven food offering. And you don’t need to be flush with cash, either, thanks to a lineup of daily dish specials that mostly come in under the $20 mark.

    On Wednesdays, you can nab yourself a mighty buttermilk crispy chicken sambo with ranch dressing for $19, while Thursdays are dedicated to hefty reuben sandwiches made with house-made wagyu pastrami ($20). And you can stop by any day of the week to try some of the best cheap eats in Melbourne — its cheeseburger ($17.90), steak sanga ($20), hot dog ($17) and sausage and egg rolls ($15.90).

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  • 17

    There are few bad moods that a big ol’ slice of New York-style pizza won’t fix. So, just imagine what four of them could do. Out of a tiny shopfront in Meyers Place, Pizza Pizza Pizza is slinging a range of hefty 18-inch pies, available by the whole pizza, as well as by the slice.

    And at just $5 a pop, these cheesy triangles are a steal. Choose from classics like margherita, pepperoni, mushroom, and ham and pineapple, or opt for a vegan or vegetarian iteration. Depending on your slice haul, you might even have coin left for an $8 garlic bread.

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  • 16

    As one of the forefathers of Melbourne’s Korean fried chicken craze, Gami Chicken & Beer is a go-to whenever that chook craving hits. Even if you’re feeling extra cheap. Here, $19.50 will get you an RSPCA-approved chicken burger, $13.50 pays for a crispy chicken steak with creamy mashed potato and salad, $16 is all you need for a bibimbab, and $21 (just over budget) will get you the team’s signature fired chicken basket.

    You’ve even got a choice of flavours with this last one — sweet chilli, soy garlic, spicy and sweet mustard  — which you can enjoy either as a coating for your chicken or as a dipping sauce on the side. All that’s left to decide is whether you want that bird boneless or not.

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  • 15

    Don’t be fooled by Shujinko’s legendary ramen bowls’ generous portions and big flavours — these are some of the best cheap eats in Melbourne. Most of the six varieties come in at $20.50 (just over our $20 budget), but its signature bowl costs a healthy $19.50.

    The famed ramen joint has long been a win for budget-conscious diners on the hunt for a hearty comfort food fix, renowned for its Tokyo-style tonkotsu ramen made with a signature slow-cooked pork broth. The soup base takes 12 hours to prepare and is finished with an array of top-quality local ingredients, yet you can slurp up a whole bowl without breaking the bank.

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  • 14
    Good TImes pasta - best cheap eats in melbourne

    It’s been around a while now, but unassuming Fitzroy North Good Times is still pulling queues. And it’s easy to see why. The laidback St George’s Road eatery is doing a bang-up job of living up to its name, with cheerful, honest dishes and a comfy, home-spun vibe ticking all the right boxes for northside’s savvy dining set.

    From the kitchen comes a cheerfully simple, produce-focused offering, where pasta is the star of the show. And most of them will cost you less than $20. Score the bolognese ($16), creamy walnut ($16), smoked rainbow trout ($18), mushroom ($18), and puttanesca ($9) any day of the week. Just be sure to get there a little early — the word is out about this Melbourne pasta joint’s cheap eats.

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  • 13
    Soi 38 one of the best restaurants in Melbourne CBD.

    Soi 38 is one of the best restaurants in Melbourne. And it doesn’t cost you much to try its greatest dishes. All of its noodles are around the $15 to $20 mark and include the likes of beef and pork boat noodles, tom yum noodles and braised duck noodle soup. The papaya salads are also brilliant for those seeking a healthy lunch in the CBD.

    And if you’re going with a mate, you can share the Thai barbecue hot pot for $20 each. It comes with a big pot of broth, in which you cook your own meat, seafood, noodles, tofu and vegetables. All the cheap eats at this Melbourne Thai restaurant are exceptional. It should be on the bucket list of any local food lover.

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  • 12
    Lamb on Chapel - home to some of the best cheap eats in Melbourne

    You don’t have to overthink cheap eats in Melbourne. A lot of the time, a great kebab or souvlaki will do the trick. And you’ll struggle to find any priced over $20. The day that happens, we’re done. Among all the best kebab joints in Melbourne, Lamb on Chapel is one of our favourites.

    Instead of being heated by electric grills, the giant lamb and chicken slabs are cooked over coals, elevating the whole experience. Either get a classic souvlaki or opt for the beloved halal snack pack with chips. Small bites, including dolmades, spicy grilled sausages, grilled calamari and traditional Greek salads are also available.

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  • 11

    Hidden in a basement just off Little Collins street, Dodee Paidang is a vibrant eatery bursting with aromatic smells and bustling conversation which perfectly captures the energy of a Bangkok diner. Opened in 2017 by Somporn Phosri, who grew up working in his mother’s kitchen, this Melbourne Thai restaurant now has several locations. But this one is the original and, fair to say, the best.

    The menu is vast and can be daunting to those who don’t know much about Thai food. It’s also stacked with some of the best cheap eats in Melbourne. Some of our favoruites include the larb chicken ($18.90), spicy papaya salad ($15.90), green curry ($19.90), chicken omlette ($17.90), pad see ew ($18.90) and deep fried soft shell crab ($18.90). Better yet, DoDee has its own takeaway spot located upstairs — called Khao Kang — which sells boxes of cheap, daily-changing lunches to hungry office workers.

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  • 10

    Spice up your life — the budget-friendly way — by hot-footing it down to Delhi Streets. A buzzy, modern Indian eatery tucked away down Katherine Place, it’s plating up a menu of blissfully affordable street food, with so many dishes priced under $20.

    You’ll find naan pizzas, burrito-inspired wraps, tandoori classics and a whole range of dosas. Opt for something like the vegetarian thali — two vegetarian curries served with rice, naan, papadums and pickles for $20 on the dot. If you’ve got some spare change, wash it down with cooling mango lassi ($3.50).

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  • 9
    Spread Eagle - best cheap eats Melbourne

    Melbourne pubs are traditionally home to some of the best cheap eats in Melbourne. But you can score even better prices when you know what days to visit. You’ve got steak nights, trivia nights and meat raffles, but you can’t go past the humble chicken parma deals.

    The Spread Eagle offers big $20 parmas with chips and salad on Sunday arvos, when you can also join free trivia. But if you’re looking for cheap parmas on another day, we have you sorted. Head to the Great Northern Hotel on Mondays, Terminus Hotel on Tuesdays, The Imperial South Yarra on Wednesdays and The Prince Alfred every Thursday. Each of these spots cooks up a mean parma for $20 or less when you visit these days.

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  • 8
    Laksa King - best cheap eats in Melbourne

    If you’re after a knock-your-socks-off laksa to stave off the winter chill, you can’t go past Flemington’s Laksa King. While there are plenty of delicious menu items that are sure to catch your eye, we believe that everyone in Melbourne should have a combination curry laksa ($16.80) at least once in their lifetime, filled with mixed noodles, shrimp, fishcake and chicken. Seven of the eight other laksas also cost less than $20, so you there’s plenty of room to explore the menu.

    Believe it or not, all this slurping is still pretty thirsty work. And thankfully, laksa King let’s you BYO wine for $8 per bottle. It’s got some of Melbourne’s best laksa, is one of the top BYO restaurants in Melbourne and is a cheap eats haven. If you’ve never been, add it to your hit list, stat.

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  • 7
    HuTong - one of the best BYO restaurants in Melbourne.

    An absolute cheap-eats classic, the humble dumpling is your friend no matter how skint your bank account’s looking. And if it’s bang for buck you’re after, you’ll want to roll on into somewhere like the long-standing HuTong, in the heart of Chinatown.

    These Shanghainese specialists are serving up a rollcall of dim sum’s greatest hits, including dumplings in abundance. Here, you can dig your chopsticks into a steamer basket of xiaolongbao ($17.80 for eight), plump prawn parcels ($13.80 for four), or maybe the boiled pork dumplings ($18.80 for 12) and wontons in a chilli broth (8 pieces for $14.80). Head over with a bunch of mates to share a heap of these for under $20 per person.


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  • 6
    Burgers at Leonar's House of Love - some of the best burgers in Melbourne.

    Leonard’s House of Love is one of Melbourne’s best bars and is also home to a stack of banging cheap eats. All of its burgers cost less than $20, and the same can be said for its fried chicken tenders and next-level fried chicken sandwiches. We could rave about these for days.

    Once you’re done eating, you’ll likely have some coins left over to play a few rounds of pool out back. This is ideal for winter, as the billiards room has its own open fireplace that heats up the whole space.

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  • 5
    Mamak melbourne - Malaysian hawker food - BYO

    One word: roti. Mamak is famous for a good reason, and that reason is flaky, buttery, delicious and dipped in curry. You can get a serving for $10, but it’s probably not going to fill you up. That’s why we recommend ordering its roti with chicken or lamb for a very reasonable $18. Plenty of bigger mains will also cost you less than $20, including the lentil curry, mee goreng, and Mamak’s rojak salad that comes with prawn and coconut fritters, fried tofu, boiled eggs, cucumber and a thick spicy peanut sauce.

    And on top of all that greatness, Mamak is BYO at $4 per person. Bring a cheap bottle of wine from home to share with some mates and you’ll have a big night out for a very reasonable price.

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  • 4
    Pacific House Richmond- Cantonese restaurant in Melbourne. bbq.

    You’ll notice Richmond’s Pacific Seafood BBQ House from the street with its array of ducks hanging in the windows and chefs working frantically behind them. The street scene tells you everything you need to know — this is a place that’s serious about food and not much else. There are no bells and whistles here, just deliciously made Cantonese food that won’t let you down.

    Inside, it’s all plastic chairs and tables, lazy susans, and menus blu-tacked to the walls. And there are countless dishes under $20, including its roast duck on rice, several of the loaded fried rices, noodles in all kinds of soups, as well as regularly changing chef specials that often sell for just $13. You’re spoilt for choice here.

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  • 3
    Miznon - home to some of the best cheap eats in Melbourbne

    Melburnians rejoiced when Miznon, the world-famous Israeli street food eatery run by celebrity Israeli chef Eyal Shani, landed on Hardware Lane in 2017. From the outside, the Melbourne CBD restaurant might look small, but the whole space weaves around three narrow floors.

    Here, the menu is made for sharing, but there are a few cheap one-person dishes that are ideal for those on a budget. The falafel burger ($17) is exceptional, as are all the pitas that mostly come in at under $20. These bad boys will all keep you full for yonks.

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  • 2
    best pho in sydney - i love pho

    This one’s all in the name. With a focused and easy-to-read menu that doesn’t compromise on variety, I Love Pho is your go-to for quick, no-fuss cheap eats in Richmond. It’s home to some of the best pho in Melbourne, each costing just $17 a pop.

    There are topping options all across the spectrum, including brisket, meatballs, tendon, heart, liver and giblets — but its vegetarian option with tofu and veggies is one of our faves.

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  • 1
    vegan mexican food at trippy taco in fitzroy - on gertrude street

    Trippy Taco is cheap and cheerful Mexican that proves, with an all-vegetarian menu, that the flavour ain’t necessarily in the meat. Trippy’s menu looks like you’d expect: tacos, burritos, quesadillas and nachos — but they all come served sans meat and with the option of vegan soy cheese. The secret is in the beans, actually — there are lots of  them and they’re incredibly rich and tasty.

    Every single dish costs less than $20 (that’s the beauty of vegetarian food), so there’s no need to deprive yourself of anything when dining on a budget. Just make sure you rock up early — the no-frills cantina can only seat 45 amigos, and it can get a bit squishy.

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Top image: DoDee Paidang

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