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By Tamar Cranswick and Marissa Ciampi
February 02, 2021
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By Tamar Cranswick and Marissa Ciampi
February 02, 2021
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SET MENUS TO ORDER WHEN YOU WANT TO EAT WELL BUT FOR LESS THAN $50

Pay less, eat more.

It's no secret that living in Sydney is mighty tough on the hip pocket sometimes. In between rent, bills and the occasional house deposit-diminishing avocado on toast, there's often not a lot left over for the finer things in life — like dining out.

Never fear though, you don't have to sit at home eating two-minute noodles to stay on budget. We've rounded up our list of the top places where you can eat well without breaking the bank. These generous venues all serve up set menus for under $50 — think Middle Eastern and Italian feasts, Thai banquets and Mexican Peruvian fusion, plus vego options aplenty.

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    Gone are the days when vegetarians and vegans were made to feel like social pariahs — when veg options were, at best, a footnote on most restaurant menus, and at worst, a nuisance. Surry Hills stalwart Yulli’s helped promote the cause of meat-free eating long before it was cool to do so. Here, you can sit down to a vegan banquet, and, at only $44 bucks for four courses, you won’t have to decide between dinner and next week’s rent. Start with steamed leek and ginger dumplings with plum sauce, then step it up a level with roasted eggplant, crispy king brown mushroom and spinach compote. By the time dessert arrives — a choice of passionfruit cheesecake, sticky date pudding or chocolate and rum petit four — you’ll be feeling smug and satisfied.

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  • 6

    Heaps of Thai restaurants line Newtown’s streets, but Thai Pothong has been a local favourite for over 20 years now. The expansive dining room offers Thai food in an ever-bustling atmosphere. Thai Pothong also offers several banquet menus, starting from just $30 per person and maxing out at $49 per person. Think fish cakes, curry puffs and tom yum soup to start, followed by the likes of roasted ‘duck’ salad (on the vego menu), lemongrass prawn choo chee, chilli basil barramundi and barbecue pork, plus panang and green curries to boot. Yep, it’s one seriously satisfying meal.

    Image: Cassandra Hannagan

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    At Newtown’s Calle Rey, you’ll find a pisco bar that’s serving up Mexican Peruvian fusion — all of which just happens to be vegan. Try a range of these plant-based creations with the restaurant’s incredibly reasonable $28 set menu. Think smoked ‘chicken’ chilaquiles, Japanese-Peruvian style ‘tuna’ sashimi, tacos al pastor and caramel and chocolate churros. It’s all made with vegan ingredients, but the chefs do a rather impressive job of making you think otherwise. Alongside the food, you’ll want to grab a pisco sour, or the bar’s pisco takes on classic margaritas and espresso martinis.

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  • 4

    Darlinghurst stalwart Bar Reggio has all the right ingredients for your next group get-together. Come here with ten mates and you can access the set menu ($35–45). While it changes regularly, a few of our favourite dishes include the garlic bread, gnocchi puttanesca and the signature Reggio and Nick’s pizzas — the former comes topped with chilli prawns and garlic, and the latter is a vego number with spinach, parmesan, garlic and bocconcini. Whatever you find on the menu that day is going to be good, though. Be sure to book a table in the back garden to enjoy the lively atmosphere, and don’t forget to BYO beer or wine while you’re at it.

    Image: Leticia Almeida. 

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    Golden Gully

    Leichhardt’s Golden Gully truly heroes Aussie ingredients and creative vegetarian eats. Try the best of Head Chef Emma Evans’ (The Sunshine Inn) ever-changing menu with the $45 feast. At the moment, it includes barbecue mushroom skewers with fondant potatoes and wattleseed, roasted figs with an incredibly convincing ‘bacon’ crumble and saffron buckwheat risotto with saltbush and nutmeg cream. The venue offers plenty of cheap-and-cheerful drops to accompany your dinner, so you don’t need to break-the-bank on the bar side of things, either.

    Image: Trent van der Jagt

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    The Sultan's Table

    The Sultan’s Table has been an Enmore stalwart for nearly 20 years. The casual Turkish restaurant does all of the classics very well, including dips, kebab, pides and mixed grill — and you’ll get to try all of these if you order the banquet. Costing just $42 a head, for a minimum of three people, the banquet option is generous. In fact, the restaurant promises you’ll ‘eat like a sultan’ if you order it. As well as the aforementioned dishes, you’ll get to choose sweets for dessert and sip on tea or coffee. There are vego options available, too. Plus, it’s BYO.

    Image: Cassandra Hannagan

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    DD's

    After Redfern Continental closed its doors, it was replaced by a new budding mainstay, thanks to the Golden Gully team. Patrons no longer need to venture out to Leichhardt to enjoy Head Chef Emma Evans’ top-notch vegetarian fare. You can opt for a la carte in the front restaurant (dubbed The Sunshine Inn), but we recommend booking a table in DD’s instead — the back cocktail bar offers a degustation-only menu, spanning from three-to-five courses ($39–59). Expect the likes of turnip ravioli with almond ricotta, asparagus and avocado ceviche with lemon myrtle oil and corn-crusted fennel confit with smoked chat potatoes. The Australian-focused wine and cocktail lists can up the price, but every drop will be so worth it.

    Image: Cassandra Hannagan

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Top image: Bar Reggio by Letícia Almeida

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