Tips from a student intern; Good (and cheap) eats in Melbourne's CBD
I am currently studying a bachelor of Professional Communications at RMIT University, which is just near Melbourne Central Station, and I also work at a digital agency called Loud & Clear on the corner of William and Collins Street. So it’s fair to say that I spend a lot of my time right in the heart of Melbourne. And look, I’m not one to toot my own horn but I’m pretty darn thrifty and I manage to live the kind of lavish life that my student bank balance wouldn’t appear to allow. It’s all about word of mouth and being curious. I have managed to find a few absolute gems in the city, cheap enough for a student to afford, these places are a good eat and very worth becoming familiar with.
This cafe/restaurant is behind the court district in the city. Usually it’s just a very smug me and about a dozen suits sitting and enjoying some of the city’s best coffee in the morning. Why would I be smug I hear you ask. Good question. Henry and the Fox have early bird prices on all coffees. Although they don’t offer take away coffee, you are welcome to sit and enjoy a $2 cup of expertly crafted coffee before 8am. In the city that apparently has the world’s best (and probably most expensive, lets be honest) coffee, it is a rarity to find such an offer, and it is one I recommend you take advantage of!
Hare Krishna is the religion (is it even a religion?) that everyone has heard of but no one knows what it is exactly. If you have ever walked down Swanston Street you have probably seen linen clad men standing around in bare feet holding a sign that says something like ‘$5 all you cat eat’, but I doubt you’ve ever thought anything of it. Well, time for that to change. There is a 3 story food hall on Swanston Street run by the Hare Krishna of Melbourne that also doubles as an ‘urban’ yoga studio on Wednesdays. If you are a concession you can pay $5 ($7.50 regularly) for all you can eat wholesome, vegetarian curries, rice, pappadums, drinks and a traditional (and delicious) desserts. It is the kind of food that some hipster cafe could serve and ask $25 for from other hipsters. It’s good, healthy and wholesome food that you and your wallet can feel good about eating.
3. Edo Washoku
I thought about not sharing this one because it is such a favourite well kept secret, but I know the struggles of a hungry uni student and alas, here we are. Edo Washoku is cheap but amazing Japanese food. Everyone raves about Don Dons but this place is like Don Don’s bigger, better and more humble older sister. I’m talking $6 massive bowls of teriyaki chicken and rice or katsu don. Hidden away in China Town, this tiny restaurant is a delicious slice of poor uni student paradise.
4. N.Lee Bakery
N.Lee bakeries are a franchise of the Vietnamese variety. If you were not lucky enough to grow up in a town with a Vietnamese bakery I really feel sorry for you because you missed out. N.Lee’s is your standard Viet bakery and some. Salad bar complete with pulled pork, fresh chilli and coriander. Homemade pies and sausage rolls. Fresh donuts made daily. Vanilla, custard, mint, lemon, caramel and coconut slice that all will make you cry tears of pure appreciation. And all for cheap! This one is one Little Collins Street and gets super busy so I would visit outside peak times.
Two rice paper rolls, one sushi roll and miso soup for all under $10 (w fresh ginger and wasabi)? Need I say more? This family run business has some how created a hybrid coffee (which is also cheap) and sushi cafe that works. The sushi is made on the premises and is delicious and there is a large variety of other Japanese dishes offered such as teriyaki salmon don and ramen noodles.
Melbourne is an expensive city to live in which only makes the cheap and delicious gems that much better. So go forth fellow value lover and enjoy a little extra food in your belly and a little more change in your pocket.
Written by April Lipson