The best of Sydney's bargain dining

Best breakfast ... The Grounds of Alexandria.
Best breakfast ... The Grounds of Alexandria. Photo: Jon Reid

Best restaurant

Cafe Sopra, Waterloo

Fratelli Fresh's Cafe Sopra manages to be both a beloved old-faithful and a fun, vibrant venue. Its enormous blackboard menu of fresh and feisty Italian dishes never fails to excite.

Best new restaurant

Green Peppercorn, Fairfield

Fairfield has hit the jackpot with this schmick Thai-Lao restaurant and bar. The decor - complete with a shiny tuk-tuk - packs almost as much punch as the food, which ranges from fiery papaya salad to sweet pandan brulee.

Biggest bargain

Marrickville Pork Roll, Marrickville

The 2013 Sydney Morning Herald Good Food Under $30 guide, available from Saturday.
The 2013 Sydney Morning Herald Good Food Under $30 guide, available from Saturday. Photo: Peter Schofield

Vietnamese pork rolls are well known for their big flavour and small price, and we reckon this banh mi bolt-hole serves up Sydney's best. A crusty roll, packed full, for $4? It's hole-in-the-wall heaven.

Under $30 hall of fame

El Jannah, Granville

Granville's legendary Lebanese chicken shop joins fellow stalwart Faheem Fast Food, Enmore, in our hall of fame. Its roast chooks and fluffy garlic dip attract queues for a reason.


Best breakfast

The Grounds of Alexandria, Alexandria

This ambitious cafe has a reputation for insanely long queues, but starting the day with coffee, roasted on site, and brekkie offers such as soft-boiled eggs rolled in crispy quinoa is worth the wait.

Best sweet spot

Black Star Pastry, Newtown

Black Star Pastry gets a Big Gold Star for their phenomenal strawberry, watermelon and rose cream cake. And their eclairs. And their bread-and-butter pudding. Oh, ok, we confess - we love it all.

Best vegetarian feed

Bread & Circus, Alexandria

The name fits at this lovable wholefoods canteen (give the people food and fun and they'll be content). On the menu: brilliant brekkies, sensational salads, DIY sandwich boxes and more.

Best pizza

Via Napoli, Lane Cove

The prospect of pizza by the metre wouldn't be nearly as exciting if we weren't talking Via Napoli pizza. The puffy-crusted, thin-based beauties here are so good, you can never have too much.

Best dumplings

Din Tai Fung, Sydney

Ok, so 'xiao long bao' are buns by name, not dumplings, but Din Tai Fung's lovely loose parcels filled with pork and hot broth, are addictively delicious, and guaranteed to hit the spot when a 'dumpling' craving strikes.

Sustainable practice champ

Cornersmith, Marrickville

This super-popular, community-minded cafe is commendably devoted to local and sustainable produce - including honey from beehives on the roof, and fruit and vegies from their besotted customers.

The Sydney Morning Herald Good Food Under $30 will be sold for $5 with the paper this Saturday. It's also available in bookshops and at The Sydney Morning Herald online shop ( for $10.