THEY head the kitchens of some of Melbourne’s most famous restaurants.

But when they are off the clock, our best chefs seek out the little local gems serving big-flavoured food with a little price tag.

From fab pho in Footscray to late-night sub sandwiches in Windsor, there are heaps of super spots around Melbourne where the eats are cheap, tasty and never fail to delight.

Here is their guide to Melbourne’s 50 best cheap eats.


Frank Camorra, MoVida

1. Pho Hung Vuong Saigon. 128 Hopkins St, Footscray

“I have been Iiving in the west for the last eight years. Pho has been a staple on the weekend for most of those years. Pho hung vuong, is one of my favourites. They serve rejuvenating bowls of pho, while my kids enjoy the great spring rolls and rice paper rolls.”

2. Fancy Hanks BBQ. 456 Queen St, CBD

“Fancy Hanks near the Victoria Market serves delicious American BBQ. We held our MoVida Christmas party there last year and it’s been a favourite ever since. They have the usual range of slow cooked BBQ meats, brisket, pork and ribs with great sides, sandwiches and sauces.”

3. Borek Stall. Deli Hall, Queen Victoria Market

“It’s become a bit of a ritual to grab one of the spicy lamb boureks from the super-efficient ladies at this stall before I do my shopping in the market,” Frank says.

Nicky Riemer, Union Dining

1. Jinda Thai. Ferguson St, Abbotsford

“I can’t get enough of the delicious Thai food at Jinda Thai — the lunch soup and noodles are a must,” Nicky says. “I live not far from Jinda, so it tends to be the go-to on a Sunday night after a long week. I’m very partial to their sweet tea drinks with a fiery hot Thai curry, too.”

2. Fair Foodstore. 135 Church St, Richmond

This is Nicky’s local coffee/breakfast haunt. “I walk the dogs to it on a nice day and sit outside – kerbside! Great coffee, great service, and great food – the soft poached egg with broad beans smash, ricotta and quick pickled shallots is my favourite. The Bon Bon coffee is awesome on a warm day!”

3. Massive Wieners. 226 Chapel St, Prahran

“Yes, I love a good hot dog! My Dad is Austrian so frankfurts are in the blood. I find it very hard to not go here for a cheeky hot dog … or two!”

Virginia Redmond, Cicciolina

1. En Izakaya. 277 Carlisle St, Balaclava

“This is a great local,” Virginia says. “Fantastic fresh Japanese food, and there’s always a good wine on the pour.”

2. The Post. 306 St Kilda Rd, St Kilda

Virginia rates The Post hotel highly. “Fantastic lunches, courtyard, great staff, yummy food.”


Karen Martini, Mr Wolf

1. Tiba’s. 504 Sydney Road, Brunswick

Karen’s advice for eating at this classic Middle Eastern low-frills spot? “Go the large spread and fill up on delicious homemade bread and dips.”

2. Thanh Phong. 240 Victoria St, Richmond

Karen loves the soups at Thanh Phong. “The soups are made with the most incredibly fresh broth. Great to even take-away and eat in a park or cosy spot.”

3. Melissa’s Cakes. 118 Smith Street, Collingwood

“Spanakopita so good I drive across town for it!”

Guy Grossi, Grossi Florentino

1. Movida Next Door. 164 Flinders St, CBD

Guy says he loves going to MoVida for a few snacks with a glass of wine. “Or you can stay and eat your way through the list of food. It’s a bustling place and the food is always high quality. Anchovies are a must when I dine here.”

2. HuTong Dumpling Bar. 14 Market Lane, City

“Yes, I’m a fan of the dumplings. I’ve burnt my tongue on the xiao long bao a few times but it’s worth it. Little parcels filled with soup, genius!”

3. 400 Gradi. 99 Lygon St, Brunswick

“The pizza here is authentic and delicious. I like the simple ones, like the margherita, or topped with some prosciutto crudo.”

Manu Fieldel, Le Grand Cirque

1. Bar Lourinha. 37 Lt Collins St, CBD

Manu heads to Bar Lourinha for “delicious Portuguese and Spanish-style tapas that’s finger-licking good!”

2. Jimmy Grants. 113 Saint David St, Fitzroy

“At Jimmy Grants they have a great a take on the traditional Greek souvlaki, just made better!”

3. Le Bon Ton. 51 Gipps St, Collingwood

“Texan barbecue steaks. great burgers and boy, the cocktails are amazing!”

4. Supper Inn. 15 Celestial Ave, CBD

“Great, cheap Chinese food served late at night.”

Shane Delia, Maha

1. Pho Kim Long. 60 Alfrieda St, St Albans

“I have been going to this joint for as long as I can remember,” Shane says. “You can find me there at least once a week, sneaking in after work for a last minute dinner that always makes me feel alive, uplifted and cleansed. I know there are thousands of pho joints in town but this little gem is mine; it’s old school and it’s in the west. We all know west is best!”

2. Mamak. 366 Lonsdale St, CBD

“What’s better than crispy roti and a good curry? Not much in my book. Open late, fast, cheap and always on the ball! Malaysian food is one of the most intriguing cuisines around. A melting pot of so many cultures and cuisines, it always leaves me wanting more. It’s big, it’s tasty and always satisfying.”

3. A1 bakery. 643 Sydney Rd, Brunswick

“If you close your eyes and just listen, you could be in Beirut eating the same meal, hearing the same sounds and nearly paying the same price! When I need a little time out with my little angel, Jayda, we jump in the car on a Sunday morning and head down to A1 to have a cheese pizza and a coffee. Authentic food and cooked to order to perfection.”

Thomas Woods, Woodland House

1. Hammer and Tong. 412 Brunswick St, Fitzroy

Thomas heads here on a Monday afternoon to get a hit of their famous soft shell crab burger. “Plus they’re dog-friendly so I can take my sausage dog,” he says.

2. Boston Sub/Jungle Boy. 96 Chapel St, Windsor

“We often go to Boston Sub and the secret bar Jungle Boy after work on a Sunday night for a negroni on tap and a tasty sub and poutine.”

3. I Love Pho. 264 Victoria St, Richmond

“Tough to beat for a cheap eat, best on a Saturday morning for breakfast.”

Kemal Barut, Lezzet Turkish Restaurant

1. Oasis Bakery. 993 North Rd, Murrumbeena

“The name is a bit confusing because this place is more about the Middle Eastern foods and premade items for home, than a bakery, but we also go there to eat an inexpensive meal,” Kemal says. “There’s a great cafe that has the best Turkish ‘pide’ pizzas, smothered in sucuk sausage (Turkish style beef salami) and dripping with haloumi, and they are only about $5. They also do a delicious braised lamb ribs served with raisin and almond rice for $12.50. And we usually take home their tennis ball-sized giant Turkish delights for supper. 10 for $5!”

2. Basfoods. 419 Victoria St, Brunswick

“Even though I go to Basfoods for my Turkish smallgoods and groceries, I also always eat there. They do the best Simit around — it’s like a huge pretzel on steroids covered in sesame seeds, and I wash it down with its traditional accompaniment — Ayran (a Turkish yoghurt based drink) the two are $4.”

3. Goz City. 502 Lt Collins St, CBD

“This place is Gozleme heaven. It’s the real deal, with the women making and stretching the dough right in front of you,” Kemal says. Fillings include minced lamb and parsley, and mushroom with vegetables. “Tuesday’s are their ‘specials’ day, but it’s so reasonable anyway you could go every day. They cost about $8.”

4. Roxburgh Kebab House (Roxy Kebabs). 10 Reservoir Drive, Roxburgh Park

“Roxburgh Kebab house is the ultimate for kebabs! We love the lamb or even the chicken ones, and especially the Iskender which is served on cubed bread, topped with paprika butter and yoghurt. But dine early or they run out, because they sell about 250kg of meat per day from the four spits. It’s all about the food. You can get a mixed grill meal, including dips, bread etc for $17.”

Joseph Vargetto, Mister Bianco

1. Viet Star. 750 Glenferrie Rd, Hawthorn

“I love it because it’s just a very basic looking place but it’s always buzzing and full of life,” Joseph says. “The meals are ridiculously inexpensive and I just love the sizzling Mongolian beef, for $15.”

2. Friends of Mine. 506 Swan St, Richmond

“This is a really attractive place without being too cool. I always have the same thing here — a toasted piadini with prosciutto, truss tomato and emmental cheese (it’s about $13).”

3. Gelobar. 74 Lygon Street East Brunswick

“It’s the best Italian style ice-cream around. I always have the pistachio, hazelnut and coffee flavours. I love the way the old Italian men are always gathered here too, they use the authentic and age old greeting, and it just feels right being here.”

Scott Pickett, Saint Crispin

1. Pasta Classica, 352 Smith St, Collingwood

Scott likes the old-school Italian takeaway shop which is across the road from Saint Crispin. “They do a great quick lunch that changes every day … everything from meatballs to schnitzel to different pastas.”

2. A1 Bakery. 122 Station St, Fairfield

“A1 bakery has recently opened just around the corner from home. I love their hummus and also the haloumi and spinach pie for a quick spot of lunch,” Scott says.

3. Loui and Franko’s. 839 High St, Thornbury

“My secret snack love is pizza, and no one makes then better than Loui and Franko’s. Good old-school style grand pescatori is my favourite.”

Jacques Reymond, Hotel Gitan

1. Hanoi Hannah. 180 High St, Prahran

Jacques heads to Hanoi Hannah for the tuna rice paper rolls with wasabi mayonnaise and also the pork vermicelli salad. “They are great traditional dishes. I used to go to Victoria St, but since moving house to Prahran, Hanoi Hannah is nice and close.”

2. Bistro Gitan. 52 Toorak Rd West, South Yarra

“The croque monsieur here is a great snack and reminiscent of my childhood in France.”

3. Ms Collins. 425 Collins St, CBD

“There’s a creative menu and Daniel Wilson’s dish of spiced tuna tartare, yuzu curd, sesame rice cracker, is fresh and very good to eat,” Jacques says.

Philippa Sibley, Prix Fixe

1. Red China. 206 Bourke St, CBD

“I like to eat at Red China with my son,” Philippa says. “They have great dumplings and he gets to do all of the ordering on the touch screens mounted on the wall at your table. You scroll through all of the pictures and can add dishes if you want more & then push the service button to call for a waiter.”

2. Top Paddock. 658 Church St, Richmond

“This is a place I go to on my own when I need a second to myself! I had a lovely Spanish mackerel & prawn salad with a glass of wine last time.”

3. Hollywood Palace. 179 Bridge Rd, Richmond

“If it has been a long day finishing at 12am I do occasionally stop at Hollywood Palace for one of their renowned souvlaki!”

Ollie Gould, Stokehouse City

1. Woodfrog Bakery. 108 Barkly St, St Kilda

“These guys nail all the simple things: bread, Danishes, coffee and of course the humble Aussie beef (and red wine) pie – the best cheap eats!”

2. Dr Jekyll. 107 Grey St, St Kilda

“Close to home, I can’t go past the ‘brekkie trout at Dr Jekyll. I order it every time, I’m so predictable.”

3. Foxes Den. 107 Ormond Rd, Elwood

“They do a mean chicken and gravy roll, and have cracker salad bar selection to get your fix of daily veggies.”

4. Bosque. 114 Ormond Road, Elwood

“This is a newish cafe, with a kitchen in great hands with an ex-Stokehouse employee manning the stoves. Stylish menu suitable for quick Breakie or boozie dinner,” Ollie says.