THEY head the kitchens of some of Melbournes most famous restaurants.
But when they are off the clock, our best chefs seek out the little local gems serving big-flavoured food with a little price tag.
From fab pho in Footscray to late-night sub sandwiches in Windsor, there are heaps of super spots around Melbourne where the eats are cheap, tasty and never fail to delight.
- Chef Frank Camorra at his restaurant Movida has shared his top picks of Vietnamese, Amerc
- Massive Wieners in Chapel St, Prahran, is good for a cheeky hot dog.
- Nicky Riemer’s Sunday night go-to, Jinda Thai.
- Karen Martini, of Mr Wolf in St Kilda, nominates spanakopita worth crossing town for.
- Hutong Dumpling Bar’s soupy dumplings.
- Le Bon Ton’s cocktails are a favourite for Manu Fiedel.
- The Mr Papadopolus lamb souva from Jimmy Grants.
- A1 Bakery in Sydney Rd, Brunswick.
- Kemal Barut of Lezzet Turkish Restaurant.
- Gelobar in Lygon St and its Italian style ice-cream is a favourite of Joseph Vargetto.
- A delicious dilemma — which gelato to choose at Gelobar?
- Hanoi Hannah in High St, Prahran.
- Ms Collins’ spiced tuna tartare, yuzu curd, sesame rice cracker.
- St Kilda's Woodfrog Bakery specialises in olive sourdough bread.
Here is their guide to Melbourne’s 50 best cheap eats.
Frank Camorra, MoVida
1. Pho Hung Vuong Saigon. 128 Hopkins St, Footscray
“I have been Iiving in the west for the last eight years. Pho has been a staple on the weekend for most of those years. Pho hung vuong, is one of my favourites. They serve rejuvenating bowls of pho, while my kids enjoy the great spring rolls and rice paper rolls.”
2. Fancy Hanks BBQ. 456 Queen St, CBD
“Fancy Hanks near the Victoria Market serves delicious American BBQ. We held our MoVida Christmas party there last year and it’s been a favourite ever since. They have the usual range of slow cooked BBQ meats, brisket, pork and ribs with great sides, sandwiches and sauces.”
3. Borek Stall. Deli Hall, Queen Victoria Market
“It’s become a bit of a ritual to grab one of the spicy lamb boureks from the super-efficient ladies at this stall before I do my shopping in the market, ” Frank says.
Nicky Riemer, Union Dining
1. Jinda Thai. Ferguson St, Abbotsford
“I can’t get enough of the delicious Thai food at Jinda Thai — the lunch soup and noodles are a must, ” Nicky says. “I live not far from Jinda, so it tends to be the go-to on a Sunday night after a long week. I’m very partial to their sweet tea drinks with a fiery hot Thai curry, too.”
2. Fair Foodstore. 135 Church St, Richmond
This is Nicky’s local coffee/breakfast haunt. “I walk the dogs to it on a nice day and sit outside - kerbside! Great coffee, great service, and great food - the soft poached egg with broad beans smash, ricotta and quick pickled shallots is my favourite. The Bon Bon coffee is awesome on a warm day!”
3. Massive Wieners. 226 Chapel St, Prahran
“Yes, I love a good hot dog! My Dad is Austrian so frankfurts are in the blood. I find it very hard to not go here for a cheeky hot dog ... or two!”
Virginia Redmond, Cicciolina
1. En Izakaya. 277 Carlisle St, Balaclava
“This is a great local, ” Virginia says. “Fantastic fresh Japanese food, and there’s always a good wine on the pour.”
2. The Post. 306 St Kilda Rd, St Kilda
Virginia rates The Post hotel highly. “Fantastic lunches, courtyard, great staff, yummy food.”
Karen Martini, Mr Wolf
1. Tiba’s. 504 Sydney Road, Brunswick
Karen’s advice for eating at this classic Middle Eastern low-frills spot? “Go the large spread and fill up on delicious homemade bread and dips.”
2. Thanh Phong. 240 Victoria St, Richmond
Karen loves the soups at Thanh Phong. “The soups are made with the most incredibly fresh broth. Great to even take-away and eat in a park or cosy spot.”
3. Melissa’s Cakes. 118 Smith Street, Collingwood
“Spanakopita so good I drive across town for it!”
Guy Grossi, Grossi Florentino
1. Movida Next Door. 164 Flinders St, CBD
Guy says he loves going to MoVida for a few snacks with a glass of wine. “Or you can stay and eat your way through the list of food. It’s a bustling place and the food is always high quality. Anchovies are a must when I dine here.”
2. HuTong Dumpling Bar. 14 Market Lane, City
“Yes, I’m a fan of the dumplings. I’ve burnt my tongue on the xiao long bao a few times but it’s worth it. Little parcels filled with soup, genius!”
3. 400 Gradi. 99 Lygon St, Brunswick
“The pizza here is authentic and delicious. I like the simple ones, like the margherita, or topped with some prosciutto crudo.”
Manu Fieldel, Le Grand Cirque
1. Bar Lourinha. 37 Lt Collins St, CBD
Manu heads to Bar Lourinha for “delicious Portuguese and Spanish-style tapas that’s finger-licking good!”
2. Jimmy Grants. 113 Saint David St, Fitzroy
“At Jimmy Grants they have a great a take on the traditional Greek souvlaki, just made better!”
3. Le Bon Ton. 51 Gipps St, Collingwood
“Texan barbecue steaks. great burgers and boy, the cocktails are amazing!”
4. Supper Inn. 15 Celestial Ave, CBD
“Great, cheap Chinese food served late at night.”
Shane Delia, Maha
1. Pho Kim Long. 60 Alfrieda St, St Albans
“I have been going to this joint for as long as I can remember, ” Shane says. “You can find me there at least once a week, sneaking in after work for a last minute dinner that always makes me feel alive, uplifted and cleansed. I know there are thousands of pho joints in town but this little gem is mine; it’s old school and it’s in the west. We all know west is best!”
2. Mamak. 366 Lonsdale St, CBD
“What’s better than crispy roti and a good curry? Not much in my book. Open late, fast, cheap and always on the ball! Malaysian food is one of the most intriguing cuisines around. A melting pot of so many cultures and cuisines, it always leaves me wanting more. It’s big, it’s tasty and always satisfying.”
3. A1 bakery. 643 Sydney Rd, Brunswick
“If you close your eyes and just listen, you could be in Beirut eating the same meal, hearing the same sounds and nearly paying the same price! When I need a little time out with my little angel, Jayda, we jump in the car on a Sunday morning and head down to A1 to have a cheese pizza and a coffee. Authentic food and cooked to order to perfection.”