It’s surprising how hard it can be to get change from a $10 note when you’re on the beachfront. Apparently those ocean views have a price tag to match. But even in some of the best locations, you can still find a bargain. Here’s our pick of the secret cheap and cheerful eats down by the ocean in Manly. And for most of them, you won’t even have to bother brushing the sand from your feet.
1. Bacon and Egg Rolls at Hemingway's – $10
Okay, so it’s not quite lunchtime, but they serve breakfast until midday here and this duo of soft rolls filled with egg, bacon and homemade barbecue relish is just the ticket when you’re not quite up for waiting until a more respectable lunch hour.
2. Wraps at Rope & Anchor Café – $8.50
75 The Corso, Manly
It’s attached to the Hotel Steyne, but the cafe has a distinct vibe of its own. With a view straight across to the beach, it’s hard to beat the display of wraps in the cabinet, wrapped pinwheel style with fillings like bacon, egg and cheese or turkey.
3. Tapas Sardines at The Pantry – $9
Ocean Promenade, North Steyne
Literally as close to the Manly sands as you can get without being on them, The Pantry has possibly the best, uninterrupted view in Manly. The tapas dishes are great for a light lunch and are all priced between $8 and $12, but the best-kept secret is the Portuguese tinned sardines in tomato with toasted sourdough.
4. Salads at The Four Olives Deli – $9.90 (Medium)
4 Darley Road, Manly
Off the main drag of The Corso, you’ll find The Four Olives deli packing a long counter of cold cuts, ready-made dishes, antipasti and sweets. But it’s the lush display of salads that has a reputation. Feta, walnut and beetroot is a colourful choice, while the old-school coleslaw is creamy and inviting. You’ll also find baked ricotta tarts with pesto and sundried tomatoes for $8.50 to go.
5. Chicken and Chips at Firebird – $10.90
2 Darley Road, Manly
Sure, you could order any medium salad with water for $9.90 – and the Vietnamese chicken or quinoa with honey vinaigrette look good – but that would be missing the point at this Manly barbecue chicken joint. So how about a ¼ chicken and chips instead. The extra 90 cents is worth it.
6. Takoyaki Balls at Sushi in Manly – $2.50
38-40 The Corso, Manly
All the obligatory train-toting dishes are $3.70 a plate here and every kind of sushi is available to both eat-in and takeaway. But we suggest keeping an eye out for the takoyaki fish balls (three to a skewer), which make a great lunch on the run. A favourite Japanese dish that isn’t always on the menu at the numerous other sushi outlets in Manly. Don’t forget the mayonnaise.
7. Battered Flathead Tails and Chips at Manly Ocean Foods – $9.90
108 The Corso, Manly
Surprisingly, it can be hard to get good fish and chips for under 10 bucks in Manly, but the #4 on the menu here is a sneaky treat at this tiny takeaway only shop. At the beach end of The Corso, grab your box of battered flathead tails, load-up with sauce for the chips and then head off to the sand to feast.
8. Fresh Pies at Infinity Sourdough – $6.50
If the smell of freshly baked sourdough doesn’t lure you in to this tiny bakery, then the hot pies will. Buttery, golden pastry, with fillings from rosemary lamb to vegetables in white sauce, they’re all piping hot. Eat-in and pair one with a Little Marionette coffee, or take it away to enjoy after a surf.
9. Lunch Specials At Manly Thai Gourmet – $7.50–$9.50
Shop 6, Pacific Point Arcade, 4-10 Sydney Road, Manly
It’s not much to look at and it’s tucked away at the back of a less-than-salubrious arcade, but the lunch deals here are unbeatable and the place is always busy, spilling out into the arcade walkway. Red, green, or Massaman curries are fresh, generous and cost $8 for tofu, beef or chicken, rising to $9.50 for prawn. But our favourite is the fusion dish of Crispy Noodle Coconut Chicken Salad ($9) with green mango, roasted coconut and their secret sweet sauce.
10. Chips and Guacamole at Chica Bonita - $6
Not that hungry but still looking for a snack? Then hit up Chica Bonita at the back of their little arcade for a vibrant and hefty serve of corn chips with guacamole before you head back down to the water.