WHAT DOES $10 BUY? NOT even a side dish at many Sydney restaurants. But if you know where to look, there are entire meals to be had for less than the price of a movie ticket. Good Food asked its crack team of Terry Durack, Joanna Savill, Jill Dupleix, Angie Schiavone and Scott Bolles (who review for the Good Food Guide and Good Food Under $30) to come up with a list of their favourite dishes for $10 and under.
Roast pork banh mi at Great Aunty Three, $6.80
Vietnamese street food is the order of the day at this sweet corner spot near Enmore Theatre. The roast pork roll with Granny Smith apple slices is our favourite but, honestly, there's no banh mi here we'd turn back, and the other options are all just $6, or $10 with a freshly made fruit shake. AS
115 Enmore Road, Enmore, 9519 2886
Bacon, egg and ricotta burek at Balkan Bake, $9.80
Originating in the Balkan region, via Turkey, these irresistibly golden, flaky pastry scrolls are a treat. There are a few versions around Sydney, but the made-from-scratch on-site burek at this recent addition to Darling Street is the best we've found, and starts at $9.80 for the bacon, egg and ricotta filling. (Only the bacon-egg-ricotta burek is less than $10; the rest are more.) AS
297 Darling Street, Balmain, 9555 7565
Mac and cheese at Bayswater Diner, $9
Let's see … macaroni. And lots of bubbling, melting, scorchy cheese. Yep, that'll do. It's only on the sides menu at the Bayswater Diner, but once the mac and cheese arrives in its own cute little cast-iron pan, it takes centre stage, pushing everything else - hickory-smoked pork ribs, buffalo wings, corn dogs - into the shade. And for an extra $2, you can get it with bacon. TD
33-35 Bayswater Road, Kings Cross, 8021 3040
Paitan ramen with slow-cooked pork at Blancharu, $9.50
Chef Haru Inukai has opened a lunchtime pop-up ramen noodle bar Monday to Saturday in his own Elizabeth Bay restaurant. The stock is deep, rich, thick and chicken-based, in the Kyoto style; the noodles are firm, the pork tender. No credit cards, order at the counter and take your own bowl to the kitchen. And when he's sold out, he shuts up shop. TD
The made-from-scratch on-site burek is the best we've found.
21 Elizabeth Bay Road, Elizabeth Bay, 9360 3555
A Mex medley at El Topo, $10
Despite the shopping mall locale, it's very un-franchisey food at this Day of the Dead-inspired rooftop. For $10 you get a pair of terrific tacos - chilli pork and roast pineapple or cactus, cabbage and tamarind mayo ($5 each). Or add a charred corn cob with pumpkin seeds, smokey chipotle chilli and a snowy, messy blanket of white cheese ($4). Otherwise there are chips and dips ($9) for both black bean and guacamole. JS
Level 3, The Eastern Hotel, 500 Oxford Street, Bondi Junction, 8383 5959
Focaccia con porchetta at Baccomatto Osteria, $6.50
Beautiful, fragrant, freshly baked focaccia is studded with rosemary and flecked with sea salt, split and filled with house-made spiced and sliced porchetta - lunchtime bar food, Italian style. At this price, you can afford to shout yourself a Molinari espresso as well. JD
212 Riley Street, Surry Hills, 9215 5140
New York steak and fries at The Norfolk, $10
Lunchtime is bargain time at The Norfolk on Cleveland Street, where the New York steak comes with red wine jus, coleslaw and chimichurri from noon to 3pm, Monday to Friday. It's food for the people, people. (And $2 kids' meals all day, every day). JD
305 Cleveland Street, Surry Hills, 9699 3177
Strawberry, watermelon and rose cream cake at Black Star Pastry, $7
Everything at Christopher The's tiny pastry shop is an out-of-the-(cake)-box experience but this layering of juicy, fruity, creamy and rosey - all in such juicy, fruity colours - is a sweet stack of summer. Strawberry slices, a whiff of floral perfume, soaked cakey layers and the tingle of watermelon … And, oh, so pretty. JS
277 Australia Street, Newtown, 9557 8656
Chicken or beef rendang with vegetables at Pondok Buyung, $9.50
Ten dollars won't get you much at some Sydney restaurants but, at Pondok Buyung in Kensington, it'll virtually buy you a whole meal. OK, there are a few drawbacks. Table service? You'd be lucky to find a table. And there's the B-word - bain-marie. Most of its contents don't rock my food world, but both the beef and chicken rendang are earthy in flavour and authentically West Sumatran, not the sloppy version of the dish popular across Sydney. Get in early, before the rush, when the food is freshly stocked. SB
140 Anzac Parade, Kensington, 9663 2296
Tacos at El Loco, $5
Merivale chief Justin Hemmes and chef Dan Hong scoured the food trucks of Los Angeles in search of great tacos. The fruits of that research are on show at El Loco, where you can tuck in to pork, chicken, tofu or lemongrass beef varieties. The cantina's prawn version is served with salsa verde and pico de gallo. Word is offal might be the mystery ingredient in the ''secret taco''. Whatever it is, the regulars love it. SB
The Excelsior, 64 Foveaux Street, Surry Hills, 9211 4945
$10 also buys one or more …
● Charcoal chicken roll from El Jannah, Granville.
● Bowl of congee from 375 Congee & Noodle House, Chatswood.
● Half-kilo of crispy chicken wings, Fridays only at the Toxteth Hotel, Glebe.
● Sushi hand rolls from Don Don, Darlinghurst.