Eating meals prepared by celebrity chefs or dining out at the hippest places usually comes at a price, but not when Dan Hong is serving up dinner for under $10. Thanks to these restaurants, being on a budget doesn’t mean you’re stuck with baked beans and two minute noodles.
Ryo’s (North Sydney)
Often when a meal is cheap, one expects small portions –not at Ryo’s. The ramen here is served in a huge bowl filled salty, rich ramen soup, a generous helping of noodles, delicious pickled veggies, crunchy seaweed and strips of plumb. The restaurant embraces a no-frills décor with black boards and butcher’s paper adorning the walls. But not that you’ll notice as you queue to snag a seat.
When to go: Any night of the week. Kids enjoy $6 ramen.
The Forrester’s (Surry Hills)
Nestled amongst the leafy streets of Surry Hills sits The Forrester’s, a classic street corner pub with an Italian twist. This is the best place to enjoy bang for your buck at lunch. Classic “pub grub” is mixed with Italian dishes such as the spaghetti meatball sandwich ($10), chicken romaine salad ($10), ‘hot wang’ pepperoni pizza ($12) and beef and onion pie floater ($12).
El Loco (Surry Hills)
Dan Hong’s cheap and cheerful El Loco has a menu full to the sombrero with south-of-the-board fare like tortilla chips served with fresh salsa and creamy guacamole, ‘torta’ sandwiches and Mexican salads all under $20. The $5 are definitely the highlight and are stuffed with your choice of fillings: pulled pork, tofu, lemon grass beef and the ‘secret’taco which changes daily.
Mr Crackles (Darlinghurst)
What is the best part about eating roast pork? The crisp, fatty crackling. And no one does crispy skinned, succulent meats with quality crackling better than Mr Crackles. This modern day version of a classic carvery has chefs Carlos Justo and Sam Horowitz determined to provide Sydney with quality dude food at bargain prices. Rolls stuffed with juicy roasted meats and shards of salty crackling average at about $12 dollars and the ‘Big Dog’ hot dog that comes with a cup full of cracking is well under $10.
When to go: The only place to eat when hung over – cheese fries, crackling and crispy pork nachos? Yes please!
Pocket Bar (Darlinghurst)
A prime example that eating on a budget isn’t limited to drab or untrendy places. Pocket bar is one of Sydney’s original small bars and offers a menu full of cheap and cheerful bar food like the generously portioned beef and ox tail pho, dip platter served with sourdough and crunchy chicken karage with rich Japanese mayonnaise all only $14 each.
When to go: At their ‘Sticky fingers’ night on Wednesdays you can enjoy discounted BBQ ribs – only $15 for a half rack and $25 for a full rack, both served with sauce and chips.