As soon as Mrs. Selfish and I hit the ground in Australia, we immediately started a search for Australia’s unique cheap eats. Surprisingly, this turned out to be southeastern Asian food. Apparently, Australia doesn’t have much in the way of a native food culture, there were some exceptions, however – pies and burgers.
The real kicker, however, is that food in Sydney is expensive. $3 for a donut expensive, or $5 for a chicken sandwich from McDonald’s expensive, or $20 for a sandwich from your local hipster joint expensive. The plus side is that pretty much anywhere you eat in Sydney is good. I’m half convinced you could walk down the street blindfolded and find a good meal – just be prepared to bring a load of cash.
With that in mind, Mrs. Selfish and I decided to find some of Sydney’s best “cheap eats,” starting with burgers.
Burgerlicious – the chain restaurant
Our first stop on the burger tour was Burgerlicious, located near Sydney’s Chinatown. We were expecting a cute sit down place, but the vibe was definitely more of a late-night post-drinking fast food joint. We later found out it was a local chain.
We ordered the “Jalapeso” as a meal for $14.90, which was filled with grilled onions, bacon, lettuce, avocado, jalapeno relish, and salsa. Since it was a meal it also came with chips, and a beverage.
The flavor combination was interesting, but it was an otherwise standard burger. The bun was a little soggy, and the lettuce was slightly wilted. The fries were more “chip” style, which usually means they are bigger and blander than the french fry style of fry.
We also ordered the “Parezian,” for $10 which had onions, mushrooms, camembert cheese, mustard, salad mix, sour cream, and tomato relish.
Where the “Jalapeso” was different, the “Parezian” was just disappointing, and slightly dry.
VERDICT: While on the cheaper side of burgers in Sydney, Burgerlicious was definitely not worth the money. While some of the concepts were interesting, the execution was a little lackluster.
Grill’d – The Hipster Burger Joint
After the disappointing venture at Burgerlicious, Mrs. Selfish and I made a stop to Grill’d, in the oh-so-sketchy King’s Cross area. Grill’d is healthy-ish burger restaurant, specializing in all sorts of burgers from traditional, to lamb, to chicken, to vegetarian.
Unlike Bugerlicious, Grill’d had a decidedly hip vibe, and an eclectic playlist. They also had one of our favorite ciders, Rekorderlig.
Mrs. Selfish ordered the “Almighty” burger, which contained grass-fed beef (the clear cue for a hipster burger joint), tasty cheese (i.e. sharp cheddar), bacon, free range eggs, beetroot slices, salad, relish, and herbed mayo. The burger was slightly on the pricier side at $13.50, keeping in mind that price was just for the burger.
It was, however, magical.
The bun was freshly made and toasted, allowing it to stay dry and crunchy. The grass-fed beef was perfectly cooked and incredibly juicy. The lettuce was crisp, and had crunch, while the egg had a nice char to give it a subtle smoky flavor.
The real piece de resistance, however, was the addition of the beetroot. We had heard beets were an Aussie-only addition to burgers, and might I say that they bring a very welcome element to Aussie burgers. The sweet-tangy flavor the beet brings to the table, is a welcome counterpoint to the savory flavors of beef, bacon, and sharp cheddar.
I opted to try one of the lamb burgers, the “Goats Cheese and Hummus Burger.” At $13.50 the burger came with a lamb patty, hummus, creamy goat cheese, and salad.
Like the “Almighty” burger before it, the bun was perfectly toasted, and the salad was fresh and crisp. I was immediately blown-away, however, by the combination of goat cheese and hummus, which made for an impressive flavor combination. Smooth, tangy, and packed with a savory aftertaste, the cheese/hummus combo was a natural compliment to the gamey lamb flavor. When we get back home, this is definitely one I’ll try reproducing.
VERDICT: The burgers were impressive, and inventive. Though slightly expensive, they were well worth the price.
Hurricane’s Grill – the Traditional
Our last stop was Hurricane’s Grill, located in the Bondi Beach area. While Hurricane’s is mostly known for their BBQ, Mrs. Selfish and I had heard about their massive 300g burgers.
We ordered the “Hurricane’s Beef Burger,” which cost $20.90 and came with chips. Unlike the other restaurants, they asked us how we wanted the burger cooked, which was a bit of a surprise since no other Australian restaurant to date had done so.
Where the bun at Grill’d was tasty in its own right, Hurricane’s was rather plain, though still toasted enough to prevent any serious sogginess. The salad was crispy, but the lettuce was iceberg, a decidedly underwhelming choice. The meat, on the other hand, was excellent. Moist, perfectly cooked, and topped with Hurricane’s signature BBQ sauce which was sweet and slightly tangy.
VERDICT: Tasty, but a bit expensive. While the meat itself was good, the rest of the burger was a bit uninspired.
FINAL TALLY: With its inventive burgers and lower prices, Grill’d is the clear winner, and definitely worth a trip to Sydney’s seedier side.