The backpacker guide to Sydney’s best budget food and happy hour specials
There’s no doubt that Sydney is a foodie paradise, attracting food-lovers from around the globe with some of the world’s top-rated chefs, unique restaurants and authentic multicultural dining options. Got a particular cuisine in mind? You’ll find it in Sydney.
But away from the fancy-schmancy Sydney foodie scene, we’re letting you in on some of our favourite cheap eats in Sydney for delicious meals on a budget, takeaway snacks and happy hour specials.
From sushi to pub grub, dumplings to tacos and everything in between, some of Sydney’s best culinary delights are those you can get on the cheap!
Sydney’s best budget food guide
Let’s start with a little trip to China Town, located in the city centre near Haymarket (and a 3-min walk to Wake Up! Hostels), behind Darling Harbour. This area is packed full of Asian delights including noodle and dumpling bars, street-food style eateries and hidden food courts. We asked our fellow Wake Up! colleagues for their favourites:
Tuck into a delicious Bahn Mi (a Vietnamese pork roll served on a crunchy baguette) at cult favourite Marrickville Pork Roll in Darling Harbour which will set you back around $9. Veggie options available.
Head to Chinese Noodle House in Haymarket for no-nonsense, cheap and cheerful service and some of the best-rated dumplings in Sydney.
You’ll find some of the best Thai food in the city here at Satang Thai (lunch specials from $12) and Mrs Chans Kitchen – we recommend the tofu pad thai.
Ask any backpacker who has been to Sydney and they’ll tell you the sushi here is next-level and cheap as chips! Enjoy fresh sushi rolls, sashimi, fried tempura rolls and more at any number of sushi restaurants dotted around the city. Some of our favourites include:
Sushi Makoto – Haymarket’s OG with dishes ranging from $3 – $8.
Sushi Train, Haymarket – Dine in or takeaway for fresh, yummy sushi.
Gou Sushi – A hidden gem in Surry Hills, just behind Central Station with lunch specials from $3.
Tucked away near Central Park’s Kensington Street (2-min walk from Wake Up!) you’ll find one of Sydney’s best-kept secrets: Spice Alley. This lantern-lined outdoor street-food style market is home to four permanent Spice Alley stalls complete with South-East Asian style murals and Singapore hawker-market vibes. Choose from a range of delicious Asian food options including Malaysian, Thai and Singaporean, pull up a pew under the lanterns and settle in for a dreamy outdoor food experience on a budget.
Top tip: Spice Alley is BYO (bring your own alcohol) so if you fancy a tipple be sure to pop to the bottle shop before you go.
Bringing Southern Californian style to Bondi Beach and generous happy hour specials, Salty’s Bondi is a must-visit. Hang out with the locals at this bar and eatery; feast on delicious burgers, salads and pizzas and sip on the best margaritas in Bondi. Heading there on a Tuesday? Start the fiesta with $5 taco Tuesdays – all day and all night. Salty’s happy hour runs from 4-6pm Monday to Friday offering 50% off share plates and $6 drinks.
Did we mention Salty’s is right on the beach so you can’t beat it for the views! Keen to explore more of Bondi’s cheap eats beachside? Take a look at our guide to Bondi on a budget, with cheap eats and happy hour specials galore.
Keen to stay beachside? Get ready for absolute Bondi bliss at Wake Up! Bondi Beach. With an exclusive open-air rooftop, views of Bondi Beach and a whole host of fun and free activities (including free pancake breakfast and cheese and wine night!) you’re in for boutique beach vibes on a budget.
Best budget food in the city
Back in the big smoke of Sydney, there are heaps of hidden bars and restaurants – with some offering uber affordable specials and happy hour treats. Here are some of our faves:
The Soda Factory, Surry Hills
The Soda Factory is an all-American diner and cocktail bar with $1 hot dogs from 5pm on Tuesdays, $1 wings on Wednesdays and $12 cocktails on Thursdays.
Winghaus, Circular Quay & Barangaroo
Got more room for wings? Winghaus Bar is the place to go. This sports bar and diner offers 0.50c chicken wings and drink specials from Monday to Friday 5-7pm.
El Camino Cantina, The Rocks
Arriba! Craving burritos, fajitas and nachos? Get yourself down to Tex-Mex at its finest at El Camino. Tuesdays are all about the $2 tacos, on Wednesdays you’ll find 0.10cent wings and on Thursdays, you can dine on ½ price Fajitas.
Bar Reggio, Darlinghurst
For some of the best Italian food in Sydney, look no further than this family-run institution, Bar Reggio. Loved by families, students, backpackers and well….anyone who enjoys delicious Italian food, Bar Reggio is up there as one of our favourite restaurants for dining on a budget. The menu is affordable and the portions are big so we recommend getting a few bits to share – make sure you save room for dessert! Bar Reggio is BYO, so you can wash your meal down with your favourite wine or beer.
Roys Cafe at Wake Up! Sydney, Pitt Street
In need of a health kick? Hangover stack? Roys Cafe is our go-to for breakfast and lunch on a budget. Roys is conveniently located right near Central Station sharing a home with our very own Wake Up! Sydney Central so you don’t have to go for your morning coffee and brekkie! Some of our favourite items on the menu include the Eggs Benny ($12), vege pizza ($10), fish & chips ($10) and once you’ve tried the shoestring fries ($5), you’ll be back for more, trust us!
Cook up a storm!
Keen to make your cashola stretch even further? Why not cook up a few of your own home-cooked meals at your hostel? Better yet? Pitch in with your new hostel buddies to cook up a batch to enjoy in one of our communal areas. One of the perks of a stay at Wake Up! Sydney Central is access to our clean and spacious kitchen so you can cook up a storm for you and your new travel mates.
So there you have it! As a traveller, eating out in Sydney doesn’t have to break the bank! And with so many local amazing and affordable food options spanning a whole range of cuisines, your only problem will be wanting to try them all! 😉