Journal Canteen, Flinders Lane, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
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Cheap eats

You don't need a stash of cash to eat well in Melbourne. Affordable eateries have long been a feature of the city's dining scene and there are plenty of places to treat your tastebuds without testing your credit limit.

Dining precincts

Every neighbourhood has its local low-budget favourite (usually a busy joint with fluoro lighting) keeping students, the overmortgaged and cheap dates alive. Richmond's Thy Thy, Flemington's Laksa King and the CBD's Camy Shanghai Dumpling are among Melbourne's many dining institutions frequented by the coin-challenged. But not all neighbourhoods are made equal: some truly favour the fiscal foodie.

For unbelievably cheap and tasty Asian food, try the restaurants and grocery shops along Victoria Street, Richmond. Go west for affordable pho in Footscray where you'll find fabulous, budget-friendly African restaurants as well as a great produce market.

Run the gauntlet of spruikers along Little Bourke Street to choose from dozens of economical eateries in Chinatown and scout surrounding Russell, Swanston and Bourke streets for students haunts of all culinary persuasions: Indian, Malaysian, Korean, Japanese and more.

Further afield, Box Hill boasts some of the city's most popular yum cha and other affordable Chinese feasts.

Markets

To feast for next to nothing, wander the aisles and deli halls of Melbourne's favourite produce markets. Embrace tradition and join the throngs of locals queuing for the famous kranskys at Queen Victoria Market and dim sims at South Melbourne Market. They're worth the wait.

Food trucks

Track down budget bites from upwardly mobile food trucks – Beatbox Kitchen, Taco Truck and Gumbo Kitchen – at a hipster hangout near you. Keep track of the coolest meals on wheels on social media.

Luxe lunches for less

Budget dining doesn't have to be all Laminex tables and laminate menus. Affordable lunch specials are a growing trend in Melbourne's high-profile fine dining restaurants where during the day you can eat like royalty on a commoner's budget. Popular choices among the lunching crowd are The Press Club, Café di Stasio and Esposito. So before you shell out on that special dinner, see if there isn't a 'special' lunch.

Pub grub

Pull up a bar stool and keep an eye out for daily specials, especially on Mondays and Tuesdays, which are popular two-for-one and parma-plus-pot type nights. Any night of the week, try local stalwarts like the Espy Kitchen in St Kilda, or the Napier Hotel in Fitzroy, whose famous Bogan Burger is big enough to feed a small village. Look too for the cheaper bar menus in gastropubs, where you'll often get the same grub for a lower price if you forego the table-cloth and service.

Find some of Melbourne's favourite budget-friendly restaurants below:

City

Journal, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

Journal

Enjoy an 'intellectual' date of highbrow chat and down-home cooking amid the bookish atmosphere at Journal, where it's ok to eat, drink, and talk.

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Pacos Tacos, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

Paco's Tacos

Pay just a few pesos and take your pick from a razzle dazzle line up of soft shell tacos or delish bar snacks from the hombres who brought you MoVida.

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Pellegrini's, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

Pellegrini's

Do your bit to ensure Pellegrini's gets to its centenary as it's a known fact Melbourne would be poorer without its charm and comforting Italian food.

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Trunk Diner, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

Trunk Diner

The first bite of Trunk Diner's cheeseburger-and-apple-pie goodness brings back memories of diners from across the USA, right here in Melbourne.

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Miss Chu, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

Miss Chu

Dial-a-dumpling or appear in person before the 'queen of rice paper rolls' for fast Vietnamese favourites like fine pho and of course, ripper rolls.

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Hu Tong Dumpling House, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

HuTong Dumpling House

Linger long enough at HuTong to give your scalding xiao long bao meat and soup dumplings time to cool, scoffing the rest of the menu while you wait.

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Northside

Naked for Satan, Fitzroy, Victoria, Australia

Naked for Satan

Fill a plate with pintxos (tapas-style morsels), order a house-infused vodka cocktail and tally your toothpicks at the end of the night for the bill.

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L'uccellino, Yarraville, Victoria, Australia

L'uccellino

Stay true to the traditions of pizza making of artisan toppings on thin crust bases, but branch out a bit for the strawberry dark choc combination.

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I Love Pho 264, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

I Love Pho 264

You're not really supposed to eat pho beyond breakfast o'clock, but the aromatic broth fits the bill just as well at lunch and dinner, too.

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Trippy Taco, Collingwood, Victoria, Australia

Trippy Taco

Take a Mel Mex pilgrimage to the brightly coloured Trippy Taco for vegetarian Fresh Mex street food. Sit outside and enjoy a cocktail in the sun.

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Fonda Mexican, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

Fonda Mexican

Sip a funky martini or horchata from a jar and nibble healthy soft tacos and charred corn while you watch Richmond go by from your curb-side stool.

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Sonido, Fitzroy, Victoria, Australia

Sonido

Give your weekend mornings a South American glow and groove along to foot-tapping musica as you munch crispy arepas and sip Columbian hot chocolate.

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Pizza Meine Leibe, Northcote, Victoria, Australia

Pizza Meine Liebe

Declare your love for pizza along with Northcote locals in the know and pizza aficionados from far and wide who know that fresh and simple are best.

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Moroccan Soup Bar, Fitzroy North, Victoria, Australia

Moroccan Soup Bar

Relax in the well-cushioned interior, let the staff bring you the right amount of food, and embark on a gastronomical trip to the Middle East.

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Southside

Monk Bodhi Dharma, Balaclava, Victoria, Australia

Monk Bodhi Dharma

Pull up a pew and put away a pourover at Monk Bodhi Dharma, or try tea with the changing menu of vegetarian delights for breakfast, lunch or dinner.

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Dainty Sichuan, South Yarra, Victoria, Australia

Dainty Sichuan

Search high and low for a hotspot (or hotpot) fierier than Dainty Sichuan, a two-level, sweetly decorated space serving a menu of 60-plus specialties.

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Misty's Diner, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

Misty's Diner

Slide into Misty's 1950s-style vinyl booths for straight-up down-home US-style diner goodness, like chilli fries, philly steaks, brekkies and burgers.

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Gas Eatery and Supplies, South Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

GAS Eatery and Supplies

Make GAS your local favourite, whether it's the vegie breakfast options, the Med-menu, great coffee or take-home catering that tickles your fancy.

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On the move

Look out for food trucks across Melbourne.

Cafes

Pub grub

Pull up a bar stool for a bite.

Melbourne

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