Sydney has pumped up its culinary muscles in the last 10 years to become a fierce rival to the well known Melbourne foodie scene. There are some pretty fancy schmancy venues out there now but there are some great lower budget options too. And then edgy, well yes, my word we have those. They are bordering on expensive but too cool to care. Which is great for them but not so awesome for the hip pocket if you want to eat out on a regular basis. So how can you live that ‘I’m too cool to drink martinis lifestyle’ on a tap water budget? HotelClub spoke to the food experts and helped us do some of the groundwork. Here we round up some of the best tips from Australia’s best food bloggers.

Skip the main course

I know, I know, this seems extreme but hear me out. If you want to go to a really fancy restaurant, you know the type you normally need to mortgage your house to visit, then this is a way to make it achievable. If you order an amazing entree instead of a massive main you will have room for dessert which means two meals so a decent amount of fancy restaurant time to really soak up the experience. The total will probably be around the $50 mark. You can splash out on a glass of wine too if you can afford the extra $10-$15 otherwise drink water.

Eat early or at lunch

Many of the best dining establishments have really reasonable lunchtime menus. They may also do a special for diners willing to take the early dinner session, usually around 530pm. It’s really not a bad choice when you think about it. By the time you order and the food comes out it will probably be pushing 6pm which is a perfectly respectable time to be eating dinner. Early dining menus will often include a main meal and dessert with a glass of wine for around $30. That’s nothing short of a bargain.
Ask a local

Ask a local friend for a recommendation if you have one or pop into a shop or two for advice. The people that work there also eat you know. Scared to approach someone you don’t know? Then go online to do it. Locals are logging restaurant reviews on Urbanspoon as we speak. TimeOut also has detailed reviews for a lot of Sydney venues. Definitely worth checking out.

Use an app

FourSquare will show you what is close by and often has specials in the venue tips like “discount dessert when you buy entree and main” or “free glass of wine with meals Mon – Thurs”. Who doesn’t love that? Then there is also the Urbanspoon app. It gives you great review info on pretty much any restaurant you can think of by people who have recently eaten there. Virtually from the mouth of the horse himself. Seek out ethnic hubs

Every town has a Chinatown but there is more out there than that. Chinatown in Haymarket is awesome but if you are looking for something else or maybe just somewhere out of the city then try these locations:

  • Strathfield or Campsie for Korean
  • Fairfield for Laos/Thai
  • Cabramatta for Vietnamese