Sydney's best cheap eats
eftpos Best Restaurant ... Al Aseel, Greenacre. Photo: Edwina Pickles
The award winners
EFTPOS BEST RESTAURANT: AL ASEEL GREENACRE
A swish renovation in 2013 gave a new lease on life to the original Al Aseel. The food – generous serves of Lebanese classic hits – is back to its best and still easy on the wallet.
The Sydney Morning Herald Good Food U$30 guide.
VILLA MARIA NEW ZEALAND BEST NEW RESTAURANT: CIPRO PIZZA AL TAGLIO ALEXANDRIA
Pizza by the slice isn't the only thing we love about Cipro. The brainchild of Rockpool alumni, it's won us over with its simple, produce-driven food, bright interior and casual vibe. And really great flourless chocolate cake!
BEST VALUE: SUN'S BURMESE KITCHEN BLACKTOWN
This sleepy suburban restaurant sees our under $30 budget and laughs at it. Serves are generous and the priciest dish is $10. The best bit? The authentic food packs a punch. The authentic Burmese food packs a serious flavour punch.
DAILY LIFE HALL OF FAME: PAUL'S FAMOUS HAMBURGERS SYLVANIA
As Sydney gets increasingly burger crazy, it seems timely to tip our hats to Paul's. It's hardly changed since opening in 1957 and is powering on, serving up simple, satisfying burgers to a crowd that's as eager as ever.
SUSTAINABLE PRACTICE CHAMP: CORNERSMITH MARRICKVILLE
Sustainability remains the driving force at this cafe and its spin-off 'picklery'. The menu is focused on house-made seasonal fare and local produce, including customer-supplied citrus and honey from rooftop hives.
BEST BREAKFAST: MEZEBAR AT EFENDY BALMAIN
Efendy got a little more 'everyman' last year, adding a more affordable, casual mezze bar area. The highlight is the Sunday morning Van-style breakfast – a $29-a-head Turkish brekkie bounty.
BEST SWEET SPOT: SWEETNESS THE PATISSERIE EPPING
Gena Karpf and the team at SWEETNESS The Patisserie have won our hearts and our tastebuds with their sensational confections, including never-had-better marshmallows. Stock up from their little shop or one of their market stalls, asap.
BEST VEGETARIAN: VEGGIE PATCH VAN ON THE MOVE
Have veg, will travel. One of Sydney's original food trucks, the Veggie Patch Van is still attracting followers (literally and on social media) with its vibrant burgers and sides – all veg, all good.
BEST BAR FOOD: MARY'S NEWTOWN
The combination of craft beers, organic wines and champagne aplenty, a rowdy, buzzing atmosphere and seriously good burgers makes Mary's tough to turn down. Just ask the keen queue of punters.
BEST FAMILY FRIENDLY: UMI SUSHI & UDON SYDNEY
The playground at Darling Quarter is nothing short of epic. Among the strip of restaurants overlooking it all is this popular Japanese joint with kids' bento boxes and a well-stocked sushi train.
The three star recipients
This year's Good Food Under $30 guide contains more than 550 reviews across more than 140 Sydney suburbs. The best of these receive three stars in the book. Here are this year's three star recipients.
Din Tai Fung
Lotus Dumpling Bar
Mexico Food & Liquor
Single Origin Roasters
Spice I Am
Buffalo Dining Club
Fish & Chips by Fish Face
Four in Hand Hotel
Kepos Street Kitchen
Kitchen by Mike
Lox Stock & Barrel
Black Star Pastry
Cipro Pizza al Taglio
The Grounds of Alexandria
In the Annex
Mezebar at Efendy
Prato Cafe & Diner
NORTH & NORTH WEST
Fourth Village Providore
SOUTH & SOUTH WEST
Jack of Harts & Jude
The Left Bower
Chi & Co
Hai Au Lang Nuong
Tan Viet Noodle House
The SMH Good Food Under $30 guide will be available for $5 with The Sydney Morning Herald on Saturday from participating newsagents, while stocks last. It is also available in selected bookshops and online at smhshop.com.au for $9.99.