The availability of so many different cuisines poses a dilemma come lunchtime in Surry Hills. Ramen or sushi? Indian dosa or a smoked-trout bagel? Our hot tip is to embrace the flavours of the world and make a plan to eat somewhere new every day. Here are the best cheap eats in Surry Hills right now.
Masala dosa at Maya Vegetarian ($10.50)
This expansive restaurant covers Indian food from north to south, and its crisp dosa selection is one of the best things on the menu. A giant, paper-thin pancake made from a batter of fermented rice and lentils is stuffed with spiced potato and served on a silver platter with three dipping sauces. Break off a shard of pancake and dip it in coconut chutney or fragrant lentils for a tasty lunchtime snack. Finish it off with one of their incredible home-made Indian sweets.
470 Cleveland Street, Surry Hills
(02) 9699 8663
Chicken, baba ghanoush and salad pita wrap at Cafe Mint ($9.50)
Even with a Middle Eastern menu filled with items such as roasted chicken with dried limes and harissa, or Merguez sausages with eggplant and minted yoghurt, it’s Mint’s huge pita wraps that seal the deal at lunchtime. Filled with spiced chicken, smoky-eggplant baba ghanoush and crisp salad, these are big enough to work through over two days, or to share with a mate.
Pork and kimchi steamed dumplings at Billy’s Dumplings ($7.80 for six)
Though the traffic of Cleveland Street is consistently banked up out the window, Billy’s Dumplings is a quiet little spot where it’s never too busy to find a seat. Dumplings come poached, fried or steamed and are wrapped to order, so they’re always fresh. Eat in and you can snack on complimentary prawn crackers and pickles while you wait for your steamer basket to arrive.
432 Cleveland Street, Surry Hills
(02) 9319 7283
Chicken katsu baguette at Lucky Pickle ($10)
Get in quick because this is one spot that sells out of baguettes as fast as the team can make them. Lucky Pickle’s chicken katsu baguette is filled with crunchy fried chicken, freshly shredded cabbage slaw, sesame and tonkatsu sauce. Another good one for sharing if you’re looking to save even more cash. Other options include mortadella with smoked mozzarella, pistachio pesto and olives, and other fillings that change all the time.
Minestrone soup at Kawa ($10)
Fresh, well seasoned and piping hot, the minestrone at Kawa is a local secret that is as great in winter as it is in summer. Packed with veggies and beans, order it with the addition of pasta if you like, or dip your side of sourdough toast in and search for strings of melted parmesan.
Soba noodle and salmon soup at Zushi ($15)
With a tangle of green-tinged soba noodles submerged in a savoury dashi broth, Zushi’s salmon soup option is filling enough, yet feels light. A fillet of grilled pink salmon is poached in the broth next to wilted greens. Slurp it down like you would a light, fragrant version of ramen.
Smoked fish and cream cheese bagel at Fish Place ($8.50)
Also prone to selling out due to overwhelming demand, the guys at Fish Place know a thing (or three) about smoking fish the traditional way. A soft, chewy, New York-style bagel is spread with dill-spiked cream cheese, layered with freshly smoked trout or salmon and is topped with salty capers and thin slivers of sweet red onion. Take a seat in its back courtyard if the sun’s out and enjoy every bite.
Three cheese and mushroom turnover at Bourke Street Bakery ($4.50)
A new addition to the Bourke Street pastry menu, the fillings in the bakery’s turnovers change seasonally. You might find cheese and olive, or a mix of different mushrooms paired with three different cheeses – ricotta, cottage and mozzarella, all wrapped up in the flaky pastry Bourke Street Bakery is famous for. Best part is, they’re only $4.50 each.