When your bank account is looking miserable, it’s usually the fun stuff – eating out, drinks with friends – that gets cut from the budget. But just because your accounts are more Angela’s Ashes than Jeff Bezos doesn’t mean you have to can your social life or habit of eating out. Here’s where you can get a high-quality feed or bev without missing a rent payment.
Weekdays – Mary’s
If you’ve got a pesky Mary’s habit, we’ve got good news: the burger group recently introduced what it’s calling the Happiest F$ckin Hour across all of its venues. Like many happy hours, it actually goes for two – so from 4pm to 6pm every weekday, you can snap up a $5 Margarita and a $5 snack. The bites change weekly – one week it was fried chicken with a side of mash, another week it was pizza crusts.
Monday and Tuesday – The Morrison
Add a little French flair to the start of your week with The Morrison’s Amour Frites deal. For $25 a head, guests will get steak or moules mariniere (mussels with wine and garlic) and bottomless frites. Time your visit between 5pm and 6pm for its boozy happy hour, when you’ll get house wine, beer and spirits for $6. Plus, from 8pm each night it does $12 Espresso Martinis. A booking for the Amour Frites deal is highly recommended.
Tuesday – The George
Toby Wilson, who’s behind the tacos at Waterloo’s George hotel, knows his stuff. So it’s excellent news that from 6pm each Tuesday you can get his al pastor tacos for just $3 a pop (they’re normally $6). He marinates pork neck in a house-made adobo sauce then slowly cooks it on a spit and shaves hunks off to order. It’s then heaped on top of a freshly made corn tortilla.
Wednesday – Toppi
At Toppi Martin Place expect food prepared by a family that’s been serving Italian staples to Sydneysiders for decades (the mother of chef and owner Paola Toppi, Giovanna Toppi, founded legendary city restaurant Machiavelli Ristorante in 1988). Happy hour happens from 4pm to 6pm each day, when you can get fries for $8 a serve, fried king prawns for $7 each and calamari fritti for $15. Match it with a $12 Venetian Spritz. It’s probably at the top end of the “cheap” scale, but we’re talking the top end of town here.
Thursday – El Loco Surry Hills and Slip Inn, CBD
While El Loco’s Taco Tuesday deal is pretty excellent – $5 tacos, all day – it’s the Thursday wings special that’s got our attention. You’ll pay just $1 per wing all day. Visit from 5pm to 7pm to enjoy $6 pints, house wines and house spirits while you devour juicy wings.
Friday – Don Pedro's
At new Paddington taco joint Don Pedro’s, the earlier you buy your tacos, the less you'll pay. At 4pm beer and tacos will cost you $4, at 4.30pm they're $4.50 and at 5pm they're $5. The tacos – which usually cost $8 – come with an array of filling options: crispy prawn, mushroom, fish, soft-shell crab and pork belly among them.
Friday – Kitchen by Mike
CBD diner Kitchen by Mike runs happy hours from Tuesday to Friday – and we reckon it’s the perfect spot to kick back and relax for an end-of-the-week snacking session. Graze on superb house-made woodfired bread with olives ($5), a gruyere cheese toastie ($5), Wagyu biltong ($10) or chicken liver pate and bread ($10). To go with the snacks, there are also $5 house wines and beer, and $10 sparkling wine, spritzes, Negronis and G&Ts.
Saturday – Show Neua
This little-known but very fine George Street restaurant is inspired by a bustling diner in Thailand’s Chiang Mai. From 11pm to 4am, it operates like a tapas bar, feeding punters looking for substance after hitting the nearby clubs. Do as they do in northern Thailand and order this on Saturday night before an evening of dancing or live music. There’s lots of great value to find here generally, but we reckon the punchy pork salad, or larb kua, is one of the best bargains in town. For $8.90 you get a dish pilled high with mince pork mixed with chillies, fresh herbs and cabbage. You can BYO too, for added feast savings.
Sunday – Baccomatto Osteria
When slick Surry Hills Italian eatery Baccomatto Osteria reopened in its new home in Randwick, it introduced pizza al taglio (a Roman tradition where pizza is sold by weight, in rectangular or square slices) to match its more casual vibe. The team was inspired by the godfather of al taglio, Rome-based Angelo Iezzi, who revolutionised the process with his light and airy dough . “We only use type-one flour, stone milled and mixed with a wholemeal flour, and raised for 72 hours. The pizza has air in it, which makes it lighter – it doesn’t sit in your stomach.” It's available every day but we think you should request an outside table for Sunday lunch – the perfect pizza eating time. Get Marinara (tomato sauce, confit garlic and oregano) for $7.50, the Bufala (tomato sauce, buffalo mozzarella and basil) for $8 or Carbonara (Guanciale, or cured pork, plus free-range egg yolk and pecorino) for $9.
This article first appeared on Broadsheet on February 17, 2020. Menu items and some details may have changed since publication.