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FOOD & DRINK

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

Try roti bread tacos, feast on dumplings and split a pizza with your mates, without breaking the bank.
By Dominic Gruenewald
October 15, 2019
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Where to Eat When It's Not Quite Payday But You Just Can't Eat Anymore Leftovers

Try roti bread tacos, feast on dumplings and split a pizza with your mates, without breaking the bank.
By Dominic Gruenewald
October 15, 2019
  shares

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

in partnership with

Try roti bread tacos, feast on dumplings and split a pizza with your mates, without breaking the bank.

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, Sydney 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.

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    Surry Hills locals and burger-enthusiasts alike will probably already be familiar with Ume Burger’s sister restaurant Bar Ume, which has been dishing up tasty burgers since its casual rebrand in 2016. Under the steady hand of Kerby Craig (who is also behind the new Japanese-inspired Pasta Wafu), Ume Burger is a smart Japanese-influenced reimagining of the humble burger. Featuring dishes such as the mouthwatering fish katsu burger and umami onion rings, alongside classics like Ume’s beef burger (one of the best in town), this conveniently located eatery is a great spot for a bite and a beer after work or before a night of bar-hopping along the harbour. Plus, nothing on the menu is over $16.

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    The comfort of well-made food in a traditional, family-owned and operated Italian restaurant is one of life’s most timeless and enjoyable culinary experiences. Bar Reggio is doing it right — good, simple food that won’t break the bank. This restaurant, going strong since 1992, offers dishes such as barbecued quail and mussels marinara, as well as a bunch of traditional pastas and rustic pizzas, with plenty of vegetarian options on the menu. This place is strictly BYO, at $3 per person, making Bar Reggio an easy choice for a casual date or low-key family get-together.

    Image: Leticia Almeida.

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    Emma's Snack Bar

    A charming little neighbourhood gem, Emma’s Snack Bar in Enmore delivers wholesome, unpretentious mezze-style food in a laidback setting. Dishes on the blackboard menu range from arak garlic prawns to chicken shawarma and some truly spectacular homestyle kebabs. It’s all designed around snacking, so it’s best to go with friends and share a few plates between you. Banquet and group menus are offered at $48 a head and, of course, you can BYO wine for $4 per person.

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    Happy D’s know’s what we want — the menu even asks the question “more chilli?”. With a solid range, weekly specials and that hipster vibe of Redfern, this is about as straightforward as a dumpling joint could get. The menu keeps it simple with eight types of dumplings — including prawn gow gee and pork soup — alongside peking duck pancakes and some killer bowls and sides. And every item is under $15. Throw in a drinks list of local craft tins, Asahi Black on tap, Asian-inspired cocktails and a short, unpretentious wine list, and it’s sure to be a good night out at a very reasonable price.

    Image: Bodhi Liggett.

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    Owned and run by three friends, Mamak has come a long way from the stall it started out as at the Chinatown Night Markets back in the day. In 2007, the friends set up a permanent shop in Haymarket, and now, Mamak still sees lines out the door for its tantalising array of hawker-style Malaysian cuisine. Expect to see roti canai (an absolute steal at just $8), traditional chicken and beef satay and teh tarik (sweetened tea with a frothy top) on the menu, which sees the faithful regular customers and newcomers packing out this bustling Chinatown joint — and its Chatswood outpost. Stop by for a roti, mee goreng or nasi lemak — a dish of fragrant coconut rice, crispy anchovies, sambal peanuts, cucumber and a hard-boiled egg for $11 and the option to add meat for an extra $4.

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    Brick Lane

    This stylish Darlinghurst hangout offers traditional Indian fare with a few modern ‘rule-breaking’ twists. To give you an idea of what sets this apart from other Indian places, look no further than its $20 tacos and tinnies special, available at lunchtime on Fridays and Saturdays. Indian-inspired flavours such as pork masala, spiced vindaloo mayo chicken and the aptly titled vegetarian ‘Amazeballs’ are served in a buttery roti wrap, taco-style, alongside your choice of sides, including tandoori chicken spring rolls and chilli fries. Wash it down with a wine, house craft beer or soft drink — all for just 20 bucks. If your hunger is a little larger, there’s also a $55 per person feast option complete with bottomless house beer or wine.

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    Taqiza

    Taqiza offers traditional Mexican food in a comfortable, relaxed setting. While we are totally stoked on the tuna ceviche bowl, it’s the tacos that make this place truly shine. Twelve different tacos are on offer, with a range of meat, plant and seafood options keeping both carnivores and herbivores satisfied. Standouts include the pork crackling with green tomato sauce and watercress, and the vegan chorizo with confit potatoes, guacamole and pico di gallo. Tuesday is the best day to stop by if you’re pinching your pennies — there are $5 tacos, $5 Tecates and $12 margaritas available from 5pm till close.

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    The Hive Bar

    The main strip of Erskineville is packed with options for an affordable feed. Encompassing the spirit of the inner west, The Hive Bar is a great locals hub that’s part-pub, part-small bar and part-performance venue (check out the comedy upstairs on Thursdays). The food is simple and straightforward, but some of the best value for money you’ll find — see, $8 cheeseburgers. The Hive also has $10 daily lunch specials and happy hour from 4–6pm, offering $5 schooners of locally brewed Shenanigans Pale Ale, making this one a no-brainer.

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

Top image: Brick Lane.

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