With its mix of hipsters, uni students and arty types, Newtown is easily one of the most vibrant suburbs in Sydney. When it comes to food, it’s also a melting pot of flavours. Catering to the commonly short-changed student set means there’s no shortage of cheap eats in the area, but that doesn’t guarantee that they’re good. In fact, it would be easy to spend your weekly allowance on King Street and not get the best results. But from fresh Vietnamese to artisan bread and some pretty great burgers, we’ve navigated the mixed waters of Newtown dining to bring you 10 of the best dishes for under $10 – and we didn’t even have to leave the main strip.

1. Breakfast Roll at Luxe Bakery Café – $7.50
Luxe specialises in house-baked artisan bread, so you may well have stopped in for a loaf or a coffee before. But if you’re on the lookout for something more substantial, then the breakfast roll is what you should order. Filled with ham, egg and tomato relish, it’s served in a perfect brioche bun and is available until 3pm. Or check out the sandwich display where you might find roast pumpkin, feta and rocket with sage and walnut pesto, all on house bread for $10.

2. Plate of Polenta Chips at Bloodwood – $9
These guys are open from Friday to Sunday for lunch and a serve of their famous polenta chips makes for a nice way to cap off the week. Crispy, crunchy, golden wedges of fried polenta, perfect for dipping into the addictive and pungent gorgonzola sauce. In fact, some would say that the chips themselves are merely a vehicle for the dressing, but you be the judge.

3. Tuscan Minestrone at MilkBar – $9
Now that the weather is cooling down, there’s nothing like a big bowl of steaming soup to see you through your lunch hour. At MilkBar (the new-look cafe attached to Newtown’s Dendy Cinema), they’ve got you covered with hearty serves of bean-filled Tuscan minestrone. It’s a great way to finish off a rainy day movie session, or just watch the passing traffic on King Street.
261a King Street, Newtown

4. Chicken Laksa at Simply Noodles – $9.50
The space is not much to look at, but you’ll find flocks of laksa lovers happily slurping up big bowls of the chicken variety at the canteen-style tables that fill Simply Noodles. There’s plenty of chilli to be had and, of course, a bottomless tangle of noodles in each bowl.
273 King Street, Newtown

5. Young Henry’s Beer & Brisket Pie at Black Star Pastry – $7.80
Black Star Pastry has been made famous off the back of Chris Thé’s exceptional cakes and intricate confectionary (including vegan options), but the pastry and bread that comes out of the oven here also has a passionate following. The pies are a perfect cool weather warmer, with the beer and brisket a hot favourite (and made with locally brewed Young Henry’s beer). But all the sandwiches, on house bread, also come in at a neat $10. We recommend the mushroom and fontina.

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6. Pho Ga at Pho88 – $9.50
Passionate pho lovers regularly stream through the door for deep bowls of piquant and fresh Pho at Pho88. Given the name, it’s a little redundant to say that pho is the house specialty, but it’s worth pointing out that the pho ga (the chicken variety) is a popular choice. Swimming with generous servings of chicken and rice noodles, it comes with the requisite side plate of fresh chilli, bean sprouts and herbs to plunge into the aromatic broth.
343 King Street, Newtown

7. Jackson Five Burger at Dean’s Diner – $10
If you’ve spotted the distinctive guitars above the door outside this burger joint, then you’re in the right place. There’s a hefty list of burgers here, ranging from $6 to $13 (add a couple of extra dollars for a serving of chips), but it’s the Jackson Five burger that has people voting Dean’s Diner one of the best burger places in Sydney. Packed with beef, bacon, egg, cheese, beetroot and pineapple, it comes in at a neat $10 and requires two hands.
385 King Street, Newtown

8. Cheese Please Crepe at Claire's Crepes – $10
This cute little cafe with white and yellow box seats out front turns out thin and delicate crepes made fresh to order. Sweet options ($8–$12) include the sour Frank Lemon and Sugar, or the Monkey with Italian Nutella and banana. But the Cheese Please from the savoury list is oozing with mozzarella, feta and sprinkled with oregano for a comforting lunchtime option.
457a King Street, Newtown

9. Pastizzi at Pastizzi Cafe – $2
Famous for its take-home freezer bags of pastizzi, which come out of the oven flaky, golden and crunchy, this old-school cafe has been a go-to for party food since we grew out of party pies. Turning out the diamond shaped, filled pastries – known as Maltese fast food – this little shop is a much-loved local staple. It’s not atmosphere that you come here for, but the piping hot array of pastizzi lining baking trays behind the counter. Look for salmon and dill, chicken, ricotta, apple or chilli con carne. At $2 a pop, you can choose five of your favourites before you break the $10 limit and if you like them enough, you can get a bag to take home.

10. Lunch Special Dumplings at Dumpling King – $6.90
Despite the name, the list of dumplings here (sneakily disguised as entrees) is not overly large, but they are good and at lunchtime you can get a special of $6.90 for a serve of 10–12 dumplings. That’s a full steamer basket for less than most sandwiches. All you have to do is pick between steamed or fried and we recommend the pork and chive, topped off with a Tsingtao beer.
194 King Street, Newtown