All tucked into a small radius, there’s plenty of variety when it comes to cheap eating in Sydney’s inner suburbs, but it’s not always in the places you’d expect. We went poking around Darlinghurst, Kings Cross and Potts Point to find out where you can get a satisfying meal and change from a $10 note.

1. Jambon de Paris at La Croix (Potts Point) – $7.50
You might not be shopping for homewares, but part of the fun at this bar/gift shop/cafe is the fact that you can peruse some beautiful objet d’art while you sip a glass of wine and have a bite to eat. Tartines are the stock in trade here, but while some are beyond our $10 limit, the Jambon de Paris Gruyere miche melt fits the bill when you order from the cafe chalkboard.

2. Mango Chicken Filo Parcel at Bottega del Vino – $7.50
Wander into this well stocked deli and bottle shop with plans to get something for later and you’ll be tempted to stay for lunch. There are quiches and salads, but it’s the filo wraps that catch the eye on a cool day. Spinach and cheese is popular, while the mango chicken parcel is something that’s just a bit different and can be enjoyed out the front at one of the little wooden tables in the fleeting sunshine.
Shop 1/77 Macleay Street, Potts Point
bottegadelvino.com.au

3. Salt Fish Croquettes at The Fish Shop (Potts Point) – $8.50
Led by Jeremy Strode, with a focus on sustainable and ethically procured fish, this is one trendy little fish and chip shop. The salt fish croquettes are a crisp lunchtime bite when you’re on the peckish side. They come complete with a pot of dipping sauce and leave you with plenty of left over cash for a beer while you peruse the fisherman’s paraphernalia hanging on the walls.

4. Bagel and coffee combo at Coffee Tea & Me (Kings Cross) – from $6.90
Sister to the tiny Redfern cafe of the same name, this little lady knows her bagels and has a whole range of them on offer, from salami with cheese and tomato to bacon and egg. Flattened and toasted if you like, it’s a bonus that it only costs and extra $1 to add a coffee to your order. The Persian egg and fresh herb and roast beef with avocado and cheese get our vote. The quaint little cafe has an almost tea-house vibe about it if you’re eating in.
87c Macleay Street, Potts Point
coffeeteaandme.com.au

5. Traditional pork rice paper rolls at Misschu (Darlinghurst) – $10
This is the original tuckshop in the now booming Misschu empire, so stopping here for some of the famous rice paper rolls is a rite of passage for fans of contemporary Vietnamese food. Set up on a corner that was once notorious for ladies of the night, it’s now a bustling lunch spot for dumplings, salads and soups – all served under the distinctive bamboo awning. The traditional pork rice paper rolls are a winner, and there’s no garlic or anything whiffy if you’re heading back to the office.

6. Anything on the take away lunch menu at Boca (Darlinghurst) – $5
Lunchtime is the winner at Boca Argentinean grill, with the $5 takeaway only lunch menu. Steak rolls and chicken rolls, all from the flaming grill, are a great lunchtime snack. But the real secret is the meaty Choripan spicy chorizo roll filled with spiced sausage. That said, we also reckon two empanadas for $8 is pretty good work.

7. Lunch special A at Bibim to Mix (Darlinghurst) – $10
Specialising in the Korean soul food dish Bibimbap (rice with vegetables and meat) the $10 lunch special has a choice of pork, chicken, beef or tofu. Coming with prepared vegetables called namul (including radish, spinach, bean sprout, shitake, zucchini and carrot when in season), the secret weapon here is the side of chilli sauce, which adds a bit of a kick without overpowering the lot. The set comes with a side soup and tea to round out the deal.
169 William Street, Darlinghurst
facebook.com/bibim.to.mix

8. Small Nachos at Beach Burrito (Darlinghurst) – $9.50
Bringing the beachside burrito feel from Bondi to the inner city, Beach Burrito opened on Victoria Street earlier this year with DJs and plenty of fresh sangria. Of course you can get the cheese and bean burrito for under $10, or an assortment of taquitos and tacos, but our money is on the nachos. Think fresh corn chips, black beans, blended cheese, beef chilli con carne, guacamole and sour cream.

9. Tacos at Cantina Mobil HQ (Darlinghurst) – $5
If you don’t have time to hunt down the food trucks roaming the streets then Cantina Mobil has a fixed HQ in Darlinghurst, so you can kill two trends (food trucks and Mexican food) with one stone. The menu is short, sharp and to the point, with the hard and soft-shell tacos earning quite a following. Take your pick of fillings with chilli corn and tomato salsa topped with your choice of chipotle beef, achiote chicken, pinto beans and guacamole. And let’s face it at $5 per serve ($6 with guacamole), you could splash out and get two.

10. Crisp Lamb Short Ribs at Sweethearts Rooftop BBQ – $11
This one is a Friday lunch treat, stepping just outside the $10 budget. As the name suggests, it’s all about the barbecue here, not to mention the homemade condiments and various salts. Crisp lamb short ribs come in a few different sizes, but the 180g serving is a perfect treat that’s only just over the $10 budget. Treat yourself.