There are real bargains to be found at lunch, with set-course deals at places such as Café Di Stasio, Yu-u and Maha, while Shannon Bennett's diffusion brand Café Vue (430 Little Collins St, Melbourne, 03 9691 3899) does a great line in quality pies, salads and burgers.
There's good Malaysian fare at Mamak (366 Lonsdale St, Melbourne, 03 9670 3137) including impressive house-made roti.
At The Moor's Head (2/774 High St, Thornbury, 03 9484 0173) the team from Rumi make "inauthentic" pizza with a Middle-Eastern bent. Hell of the North (135 Greeves St, Fitzroy, 03 9417 6660) is a beautifully designed side-street bar and restaurant serving a European bistro-leaning menu that's one of the gentrified suburb's true bargains.
And the precision focus of Gami Chicken and Beer (535 Little Lonsdale St, Melbourne, 03 9670 3232) - Korean fried chicken and cold beer - would be just as wonderful even without the super-low prices.