While Sydney crawls its way up the ‘most expensive places to live’ list, it’s easy to forget the possibility of a Uni lifestyle, because lo and behold, student-friendly pockets exist and eating on a budget is on the cards! Hard to deny her natural beauty, Sydney’s food scene has taken advantage of the endless coastline, harbour inlets and the modest bustle of the CBD. With industrial foundations spread throughout, it’s no doubt fertile ground for gentrification- and when old meets new here Down Under- something tasty happens. From the Northern Beaches, to New-York-style drinking holes, and up the coastline to the infamous Bondi Beach, Sydney is tempting you with tastes one meal at a time.
Fika Swedish Kitchen
5B Market Lane, Manly NSW 2095
‘Fika, Fika, Fika’, a typical Swedish coffee break- and almost too conveniently does Fika Swedish Kitchen offer just that. Wedged into Market lane behind Manly’s infamous Corso, Fika is bursting at the brickwork with anything Scandinavia. Painted in their iconic yellow, with a constant influx of backpackers, (the Swedish included), Fika naturally draws a young crowd both locally and abroad. From Diam chocolates, cinnamon scrolls and every fruity cider under our Australian sun, you’ll be transported to the heart of Stockholm in your first bite.
Earth to Table
85 Bronte Rd, Bondi Junction NSW 2022
Chia Seed pudding, avocado mouse or some cacao anyone? If you haven’t already joined the bandwagon, Earth to Table is the perfect introduction to everything raw and vegan. Students, while I’m not suggesting you swap your burger and fries entirely, please tempt those taste buds with a guilt free dessert from this Bondi Junction health haven. If you’re en route to Bondi Beach, take a quick stop at the Junction Station for the best zuchinni-turned-pasta in town.
Kitchen by Mike
1/85 Dunning Ave, Roseberry NSW 2018
This warehouse-turned-kitchen takes you back to basics, with a daily smorgasbord boasting that day’s freshest produce from out the back. While you could go purely for the freshly baked bread (and butter) slices, Mike himself keeps his customers tempted with the ease of cafeteria style dining. It’s this candid cooking in the heart of Rosebury’s industrial landscape which provides that student abroad with a sense of home cooking- and not to mention one among the gum trees.
The Penny Royale
2/563 Military Rd, Mosman NSW 2088
A local thoroughfare is home to The Penny Royale café- where coffee runs thick and $10 breakfast boards give you that home-cooked breakfast (without the home). Break up your study on a Saturday and join the line for @nutorious_’s muffins. Like his name suggests, it’s like watching little kids at a candy store as the freshly baked treats make their morning debut. Only to be snapped, eaten and uploaded onto Instagram- because trust me, after your first hit, it’s worth the boast.
Barenjoey Beach, Palm Beach | The Esplanade, Balmoral Beach | Shelley Beach, Manly
Perhaps more famous than the cafe itself, the Boathouse collection has its own Instagram identity. Making a mark with their iconic anchor dusted coffees, daily delivery of fresh flowers from the markets, and the art-like plates of food. While it isn’t entirely aligned with the student budget- the atmosphere is. So make a day trip to Palm Beach for one of the most memorable (and photogenic) breakfast plates Sydney has to offer. If time is of the essence, opt for the newly renovated Shelley Beach hub, where coconuts are on tap and locals sprawl onto the sand for their mid-morning coffee hit.
9A/B/9 The Corso, Manly NSW 2095
Yes, it’s worlds away from the Mexican border, but trust me, Australia’s Mexican food scene is something to boast about. A tiny hole in the wall dressed for the Day of the Dead, Chica brings that famous Mexico City street food to your palette- and not forgetting the watermelon margaritas. With a featured dessert depending on the night and bespoke $5 tacos depending on the chef, it’s no wonder students are lining up from when the doors (and bar) open at 6pm- because like Manly Beach itself, anything goes really.
The Star Casino Café Court, Level G, Pyrmont 2009 | Shop 1/241 Victoria St Sydney 2010 | 243 Victoria St, Darlinghurst 2010 NSW | 389 Crown Surry Hills Sydney 2010
If you are yet to visit- brace yourself, leave double the time and make room for seconds, because Messina is putting gelato on Sydney’s food map. With counters in Bondi Beach, Surry Hills and Darlinghurst, these gelato scoops are the best late-night snack in town. With forty freshly churned flavours each day and a cakes made-to-order, it’s the 5 weekly specials, which draw the crowds- from ‘Pavlova’ to the ‘Steve Jobs’ it’s a real life Willy Wonka factory so leave nothing at the door.
The Soda Factory
16 Wentworth Ave, Surry Hills NSW 2010
Like the name suggest, the hotdogs will have you swingin’ and gin sodas have you tappin. With edge written all over it, the mission starts at the door- a phoney fifties coke machine which plays as a secret entrance to this late night sweet spot. Down in the depths of Surry Hills and right up from Central Station, make this your post-exam focus, where food and drinks run wild. For those College kids, (yes you America!) let us take you home with some Mac & Cheese, Chili Cheese Fries or the classic Cheeseburger.
Frankie’s Pizza Bar and Club
50 Hunter Street, Sydney NSW 2000
The neon sign out the front introduces you to Frankie’s with an arrow emphasizing that yes, there’s ‘Pizza this Way’. As you crawl down the stairs underneath mantelpieces of garlic, past the pin-ball machines, witnessing the rock ‘n’ roll karaoke taking place- you’ve got the picture. In the heart of Sydney’s CBD is Frankie’s Pizza Bar and Club, the busiest pizza place on a Saturday and Sunday night after 11pm. Serving pizza by the slice every night until the early hours of the morning, creep through the hidden doorways and loose yourself as you pay tribute to Frankie’s rock ‘n’ roll hall of fame.
48 Albion St, Surry hills NSW 2010
$10 anythings in Sydney are hard to come back- and yes, that’s what you’ll be coughing up for that midweek Chur Burger hit. With a gourmet twist on the classic juicy burger, Chur is serving up anything from pork, vegetarian to their infamous sweet potato chips. It’s the simple things we love, and these classic crispy burger buns, complimented with Chur’s stuffing of the day (and a beer or two) will leave you full and on budget when it comes to a student’s night out.
4-14 Foster St, Surry Hills NSW 2010
It’s always time for tequila at Tio’s, and mixed with freshly squeezed green apples it goes down like cordial. Just a few steps from Central Station, this watering hole is the best pick-me-up after a late-night lecture. With chili popcorn on the house and $6 cocktails every night, you’re stepping out of Surry Hills into Cabo nightlife- and girls, don’t wear your favourite bra because if you’re a favourite with the barmen, it will be up on the wall of fame before you know it. With sleeve tattoos and piercings a prerequisite for the barmen, and an abundance of hipster-esque beards, this backstreet bar has you set for the night.
Sophia Athas is a blogger for The CollegeTourist, an online community for study abroad and student travelers, written by college students around the globe.