An eclectic and vibrant suburb in Melbourne’s inner north, Brunswick bustles with a diverse cross section of interesting street cafes and restaurants flaunting a spectrum of global flavours. Thanks to the variety of affordable meal options in the area, eating out on your thriftier days doesn’t mean going hungry. From grab-to-go pastries for a few bones to generous noodle meals, we scouted around Brunswick and found a host of wallet-friendly deals.
1. Soft shell tacos at Curious Goose – $5 each
307 Sydney Road, Brunswick
Right next to Hava Gander is one of the few places on Sydney Road that does Mexican. Curious Goose offers tacos topped with shredded cabbage, pico de gallo (salsa fresca), manchego and guacamole for only $5 per serve. The salt and pepper calamari tacos are good, but the pulled beef is the one you shouldn’t leave without.
2. Bun bo xiao (vermicelli noodles salad with lemongrass beef, salad and mint) at Green Field – $7.50
378 Sydney Road, Brunswick
We all know pho, but bun is another dish you should be acquainted with if you fancy a Vietnamese feed. Nothing to do with bread, Vietnamese bun is a dish of vermicelli noodles served with salad, mint and nuoc cham (a sour and spicy dipping sauce). It’s flavoursome like pho but won’t put you into a midday food coma. It’s a win-win.
3. Wonton soup with noodles at Kao Thai – $8.90
347 Sydney Road, Brunswick
The soupy, delicious cousin to everyone’s favourite dumplings, you can’t beat wontons for a comforting and filling lunch. On a bone-chilling day, treat yourself to a bowl of scrumptious, steaming chicken soup surrounding a mop of egg noodles, shrimp and pork dumplings. Your stomach will thank you.
4. Spinach and cheese pasty at A1 Bakery – $4
643–645 Sydney Road, Brunswick
A1 brings a delicious Eastern Mediterranean and Middle Eastern flair to the neighbourhood with Lebanese bread and pastries freshly baked onsite each day. Four bucks apiece, the pillowy Turkish bread stuffed with spinach and ricotta and baked to perfection makes an easy grab-and-go lunch. Food is very affordable here and you will even have some change to get a second pasty or even a baklava.
5. Ham, gruyere and béchamel croissant at By Josephine – $9
365 Sydney Road, Bruswick
Between piping flower-infused macarons and brewing herbal teas, this dessert factory also makes savoury noshes for you to enjoy before sweets. The croissant at By Josephine comes decked out with three ingredients (ham, cheese and creamy béchamel sauce) that are so simple yet give a rich flavour to the fluffy pastry.
6. Salad at The Green Refectory – $7.95 dine-in, $6.95 takeaway
115 Sydney Road, Brunswick
Stepping into Green is like walking into a food haven with the bewildering array of sweet and savoury snacks overflowing from the display cabinet. The salad bar here offers at least six options daily, from hearty choices like ricotta pasta and sweet potato couscous to lighter roasted vegetables, lentils and caprese. A good mix ‘n’ match of three salads will give you a plate of colourful and healthy goodness that keeps you full for the whole afternoon.
7. Soup of the week at Acústico – $7.5
32 Union Street, Brunswick
Nothing beats a bowl of piping hot soup for a nourishing, yet very cheap meal. The soup menu at this down-to-earth, eco-friendly, Central American joint varies weekly, depending on the weather and the chef’s mood. On a sunny day, the outdoor curb-side seating under the big tree is a perfect spot to unwind with a cup of Espresso Syndicate after lunch.
8. Black bean and egg ciabatta at Hungry Birds – $9.5
242 Victoria Street, Brunswick
Tucked away at a quiet corner on Victoria Street is a Mexican and Mediterranean cafecito where hungry local crowds flock during lunch hour. The ciabatta roll at Hungry Birds with black beans, egg, smoky barbecue or ranchero sauce makes an easy protein-fuelled meal to take you through the rest of the day.
9. Paloma roll at La Paloma – $7.5
259 Albert Street, Brunswick
Head over to La Paloma during lunch hour and you will find this Latin-themed space filled with sandwich-hungry habitués. Laden with pastrami, avocado, cheese and salad, the signature Paloma roll is full of flavour but doesn’t require you to fork out too much. Grab a caramel churro next to the counter on your way out with the leftover cash.
10. San Choi Bao at Tom Phat – $9
184 Sydney Road, Brunswick
San choi bao translates to ‘lettuce wrap’ and is a light and refreshing dish that’s fun (and challenging) to eat gracefully. At hipster Thai joint Tom Phat, you can assemble your own ‘bao’ with free-range chicken mince, lemongrass and lime. The mixture of crunchy leaves, tasty chicken and zesty spice is perfect for days when you feel like something lighter than a regular stir-fry that will still keep your taste buds satisfied.