PLAYMAKER
The Playmaker
Let's play
PLAYMAKER
  • It's Friday
    What day is it?
  • Now
    What time is it?
  • Anywhere in Melbourne
    Where are you?
  • What do you feel like?
    What do you feel like?
  • And what else?
    And what else?
  • LET'S PLAY
18° & CLOUDY ON FRIDAY 6 DECEMBER IN MELBOURNE
FOOD & DRINK

Where to Eat When It's Not Quite Payday But You Just Can't Eat Anymore Leftovers

Warm the soul with ramen, tuck into a stacked burger and dip into a curry, even when money is tight.
By Leisha Kapor
October 15, 2019
  shares

Where to Eat When It's Not Quite Payday But You Just Can't Eat Anymore Leftovers

Warm the soul with ramen, tuck into a stacked burger and dip into a curry, even when money is tight.
By Leisha Kapor
October 15, 2019
  shares

WHERE TO EAT WHEN IT'S NOT QUITE PAYDAY BUT YOU JUST CAN'T EAT ANYMORE LEFTOVERS

in partnership with

Warm the soul with ramen, tuck into a stacked burger and dip into a curry, even when money is tight.

We've all been there — determined to stretch that bank account until payday by eating lentil bolognese for dinner five days in a row. You swear you won't dip into your savings account this fortnight. But on day six of toasted sandwiches made from dumpster-dived bread, it's time to say enough is enough, and treat yourself to a satisfying dinner. You deserve it.

Thankfully, Melbourne is brimming with hospitality legends pumping out delicious and nutritious food for less than what a trip to the supermarket will set you back. With a little help from American Express, we've put together a list of spots around town where you can fill your tummy without bankrupting yourself before payday. When leftovers just won't cut it, these small businesses have you covered, and will let you pay using your American Express Card.

  • 8
    Roti Road

    When it comes to saving money on a meal, your best bet is to order something you can share, and hopefully walk away from with leftovers for tomorrow’s lunch. Melbourne’s west has no shortage of multicultural eateries that fit the bill, like Footscray’s Roti Road, which serves up authentic Malaysian-Chinese dishes with modern flare. On weekends from 11am–3pm, you can enjoy a yum cha feast, with all plates coming in at under $10. There are also lunch specials Monday through Friday — a bunch of rice and noodle dishes that’ll have you full and happy for less than $15 each. Otherwise, try the signature roti canai served with curry, sambal and dhal lentil ($6.90), with extra sides of curry chicken and rendang beef or chicken for just $6 each.

    READ MORE
  • 7

    In a similar vein, dig into an Indian curry with all the trimmings at Mukka. Delhian brothers Prateek and Aditya Dhawan are at the helm, with assistance from their mother assuring the food is simple and real, like a comforting home-cooked meal. In a brightly coloured space with hanging greenery and illustrated chalkboard specials, you can try dosa, biryani and other traditional plates for one for less than $20, or put together a feast of classic street food starters, tandoori grill dishes, curry pots and all your favourite sides. Drag your housemate along to split a couple of dishes, and the bill.

    READ MORE
  • 6
    Yellow Bird Cafe

    If you’ve never wandered into Yellow Bird while on Chapel Street, you’ve been missing out on some good times. Since 2007, the retro diner has been providing cheap and delicious drinks and meals from 8am till late, seven days a week. Simple food with a tex mex tilt, the menu covers breakfast all day (you can’t go past the Death Benedict or breakfast burrito, both $16.50), burgers, sandwiches and salads, plus nachos, burritos, quesadillas and soft tacos — heaps of options and nothing over 20 bucks. Those in the know (that’s you, now) get down and snag a booth at Yellow Bird for happy hour, daily from 4–7pm, for $8 pints and $3.50 tacos.

    READ MORE
  • 5
    Ichi Ichi Ku Izakaya

    For when you’re craving some fresh sushi or a big bowl of udon, Ichi Ichi Ku (or Ku to the regulars) is pumping out quality Japanese dishes without the monstrous bill you might expect from other izakayas around town. As well as all the usual menu staples — like sushi, sashimi, gyoza, tempura, bento boxes, and salad, rice and noodle dishes — you can try the Ku take on a wellness bowl, breakfast ramen, Japanese milk buns filled with meat, or desserts like pumpkin mousse, matcha tiramisu and homemade Ichi Licks ice cream. Dine in, or order to take away and treat yourself to a picnic across the road at the Royal Botanic Gardens.

    READ MORE BOOK A TABLE
  • 4
    Shujinko

    Don’t despair at the crowd perpetually gathered outside Shujinko, the wait is worth it. The Russell Street joint didn’t originally intend to open all day and night, but it happened, and now we are blessed with delicious, Tokyo-style ramen at our fingertips 24 hours a day. A bowl of the signature Shujinko Ramen — thick and rich pork-based tonkotsu broth, with housemade noodles, char siu pork, marinated egg, bok choy, bean sprouts and spring onion — is $13.80, and the spicy miso, karakuchi and black ramen varieties are just an extra $1. You can also snack on gyoza, karaage and edamame, with the most expensive food item on the menu, Oden, coming in at an easy $16.90. Shujinko, which means hero or main character, is the hero we deserve.

    READ MORE
  • 3
    Mama Manoush

    Step into the neon-signed, mural-adorned Mama Manoush and let Mama herself feed you a week’s worth of authentic Lebanese food in one sitting. Elizabeth Kairouz opened her restaurant in Fitzroy in 2014, before moving to a bigger space in Brunswick East in 2017. So, now everyone can try her hummus, baba ganoush and labneh, skewers of charcoal-grilled meats, bowls of tabouli and fattoush, and crispy falafel and sambousik. If you can spare a pineapple, Mama’s Banquet is $45 a head for a generous selection of her best dishes. Out the back in Mama’s Garden, there’s a smaller menu of wraps, plates and sides, where you can fill up for 20 bucks.

    READ MORE
  • 2

    We couldn’t really put together this list without including some awesome pizza. Our pick for traditional, home-style Italian food for when your next pay still hasn’t landed is Kaprica. Just off Swanston Street, before you get to the main Melbourne Uni campus, this rustic little eatery keeps the menu short, sweet and handwritten. Take a few friends along and get a couple of pizzas ($24 each for a large), some garlic chilli prawns ($16) and a salad to share. There’s also a couple more entrees, plus butternut pumpkin risotto ($22), gnocchi with buffalo mozzarella and basil ($24), and three simple spaghetti dishes. Sip wine from latte glasses and eat like you’re on holiday in Italy.

    READ MORE
  • 1
    Shaanxi-Style Restaurant

    The authentic northwestern Chinese food draws in so many customers that Shaanxi-Style Restaurant had to expand the original dining room into the space next door. As the name suggests, the food here all originates in the Shaanxi province in northwest China, where strong flavours of garlic, salt and onion are common. Try regional specialties like roujiamo (flatbread meat sandwiches), biang biang noodles and paomo, which is a lamb soup popular in the province’s capital, Xi’an. If you walk away from Shaanxi-Style Restaurant with a bill of more than $40, we’ll be very surprised, as dishes range from $3–19.90 and most of the dishes sit at around the $12 mark.

    READ MORE

Love where you live and shop small to support the local stores that make Melbourne so great. To learn about American Express and the Shop Small initiative, visit here. Then, head this way to find more must-visit spots. 

Top image: Julian Kingma/Visit Victoria.

  •   shares
      shares
  • VIEW COMMENTS
Tap and select Add to Home Screen to access Concrete Playground easily next time. x