CBD dining deals: live large for $20 or less

When your wallet and tummy are a bit empty, two-minute noodles aren’t the only answer. If you’ve got 20 bucks, Melbourne has plenty of satisfying options for lunch or dinner.

Lunch

Common Man

Workers of Melbourne unite at Common Man for their $19 Workers Lunch deal Monday to Friday. Options include classic, veggie or Korean fried chicken burgers, pizzas, a power bowl or free-range chicken parma with chips and salad. Plus you get a beer, house wine or softie, and of course, free riverside city views at this South Wharf favourite.

Hophaus

Skip the restaurant and head straight for the bar at Hophaus to order the sehr gut $20 lunch deal Monday to Friday. Choose a glass of Strom lager or haus wine and a dish that will make your day. There is a salmon and avocado salad, fried chicken or beef cheeseburgers, steak frites (200 grams of porterhouse no less) and chicken schnitzel. Decisions, decisions!

Bomba Tapas Bar And Rooftop

Save big and pick up some Spanish lunch for $17.50 at Bomba Tapas Bar And Rooftop. Choose a tapa, like spiced lamb ribs with honey and yoghurt. Maybe fried calamari bocadillo with guindilla pepper for the racione option. And finally a verduras – you can’t go past patatas bravas. Tasty morsels like these will inspire dreams of a trip to Madrid and the money you’ll save eating the lunch special might just help make it a reality.

An outdoor area of a bar with views of the city

The rooftop at Bomba

Maha Restaurant

You may have seen chef Shane Delia on his own SBS cooking show, Spice Journey. No need to lick the screen, even if you’re not cashed up. His smart Middle Eastern restaurant Maha will be serving burgers with a matched beer for just $20 during September. And not just any ole burger – think smoked pepper crispy chicken with spiced mayo, pickles and white cabbage slaw.

Ludlow Bar & Dining Room

A riverside lunch doesn’t have to reduce you to eating toast at home for dinner later. Try the $20 lunch deal at Ludlow Bar & Dining Room. Choose fish ‘n’ chips, a burger (including the wagyu beef with bacon) or the soup or pasta of the day, plus a drink. We’re not just talking softies – though if you need to head back to work feeling fresh, that’s an option. Get a pint of craft beer, a glass of wine or house spirit if you’re feeling naughty.

The Wharf Hotel

A modern pub where riverside relaxation is always in style, The Wharf Hotel has got big lunches with little prices Monday to Friday. The $12 express lunch menu changes every week, but chances are there’ll be tempters like chicken schnitzel with chips or a Pakistani-style curry. Go large and add a pint of Furphy or glass of wine for $20 total. Cheers, bargain hunters!

Dinner

Fatto Bar & Cantina

Turn left into Fatto Bar & Cantina’s relaxo zone (rather than right into the restaurant section) and say ‘ciao!’ to yummy, crispy individual sized pizzas. They’re $10 or $12, which leaves plenty of change for a drink. During September an Aperol spritz is just $5, and Italian snacks like olives or prosciutto are $2, so you can really make a meal of it.

A selection of pizzas on white plates

Pizzas at Fatto

BearBrass

This popular Southbank gathering spot is always tempting for drinks and bites by the water, but time it right and BearBrass becomes downright irresistible. Get a laksa (Monday night) or steak (Sunday and Tuesday nights) plus a drink – perhaps a pot o’ beer or glass of wine – for $20. Wednesday’s dinner deal is even better: any pizza plus a pint of beer or other house drinks for $18.

Hella Good

The new-ish Greek in town is by the owners of one of Melbourne’s oldest: the CBD institution that is Stalactites. At Hella Good, the name says it all, especially when it comes to the $18 combo of a souva, small chips and drink. Don’t worry if you’re running a bit late for dinner, they’re open until 1am, or 5am on Friday and Saturday nights.

Greek food and chips on a table

Hella Good

Pho Nom

As you’d expect from an eatery in the well-heeled Emporium, this place does Vietnamese hawker food with contemporary style. For starters, Pho Nom uses local, natural, ethical ingredients, including Milawa free-range poultry and grass-fed Warialda beef. Check out their combos, like the $17.50 Pho-Nomenal, which includes a full-size pho, two spring rolls and iced tea.

Common Man and Hophaus

Circle back to Common Man after 5pm on Saturdays for $15 burgers. Hophaus treat you right at dinnertime too. Monday is burger night, there’s steak frites on Tuesdays and chicken schnitty on Wednesdays, all for $20 including a glass of Strom lager or haus wine. Prost!