The office lunch is back and more affordable than ever thanks to Melbourne’s Must Eats, a month of exclusive lunch deals jointly curated by Broadsheet and City of Melbourne. More than 50 cafes, restaurants and bars are participating in the program, which runs until Friday May 7 across the CBD, Chinatown, Docklands, Southbank, Carlton and North Melbourne. (Some restaurants are also offering specials on Saturday May 8 and Sunday May 9, just call ahead to check.)

With limited-time specials priced at no more than $30, these lunch deals are the perfect chance to hit the city with friends and colleagues – or even better, finally try that certain spot you keep hearing about.

See all the Must Eat specials happening throughout the campaign. Here’s some of our top picks by cuisine to get you started.

Japanese

Akaiito in Flinders Lane is offering its Hiru Express Sets: choose from either a nine-piece nigiri platter with edamame; robata toothfish with sashimi salad and rice; or fresh sashimi chirashi don with edamame. Each set also comes with clam miso soup and a house beer or wine. Also on the sushi tip, Southbank’s Miyako has assembled a bento box featuring sashimi, tempura veggies and choice of meat main, or stir-fried veggies, green salad, miso soup and steamed rice, plus a glass of house wine and the dessert of the day.

Supernormal is pairing its signature lighter-style ramen – an organic bone-broth with grilled chicken, house-made dumplings, wakame seaweed, soy egg and togarashi – with an Asahi Super Dry Black, while over at Unabara Lobster & Oyster Bar in Emporium Melbourne, you can enjoy a zero-alcohol pink grapefruit and lime punch a with deluxe lobster ramen.

Italian

Gradi Crown in Southbank is serving an Italian-style long lunch in its al fresco Riverwalk setting with award-winning pizza or pasta accompanied by a house wine, beer or soft drink. And just down the river, La Camera is serving crisp pizza Romana, followed by classic tiramisu and Lavazza coffee.

Cumulus Inc is putting its own spin on Italian cuisine with a ricotta gnocchi topped with pine mushrooms and Ramarro Farm rocket, and served with a glass of Tombacco pecorino or Silent Way pinot noir. And over on Little Bourke, the Argentine-influenced Palermo is pairing an entree and main from its regular menu, followed by a dulce-de-leche alfajor (a South American biscuit) to finish.

Chinese

North Melbourne’s Gai Wong is offering its signature Hainanese chicken rice with either chilli garlic sauce or spring onion and ginger sauce, plus a canned soft drink. Lonsdale Street’s Hawker Chan is catering more to pairs with two regular-sized serves of roast duck with rice, plus any two house-made drinks.

Over at the Emporium, Din Tai Fung is pairing an eight-piece serving of xiao long bao with spicy shrimp and pork wonton noodles and a soft drink.

American

Transport yourself to the American South with a BLT-style fried green tomato sandwich at Rooftop Bar, complete with bacon, lettuce and green goddess dressing on grilled sourdough. The deal also includes a Garden Paloma, a fresh twist on the spritzy Mexican cocktail that marries Vida mezcal with grapefruit, rhubarb, lemon, celery bitters and soda.

Over on Bourke Street, Fancy Hank’s has assembled an express lunch made up of your choice of sandwich (brisket, Cubano or pulled mushroom) with slaw, plus beer, wine or cider – served to your table in 15 minutes or it’s free of charge. Meanwhile, Butchers Diner will pair its much-loved cheeseburger with small chips and your choice of either a canned soft drink or Bad Shepherd lager.

Thai

Southbank’s Ging Thai at Crown is dipping well under the $30 threshold with a lunch package priced at $19.90 that includes a house wine, local beer or soft drink on arrival. Meanwhile, Chinatown’s Jiyu Thai will serve up a roti pancake with satay sauce and vegetable curry with rice, along with a Thai milk tea and Jiyu’s signature pudding.

Over on South Wharf, Bangpop will pair its popular pad thai – either straight up or with your choice of chicken or pork – with a pot of house beer (Fat Boy Lager), a glass of house wine or soft drink for $30.

See all of the Must Eat specials here.

This article is produced by Broadsheet in partnership with City of Melbourne.