11 great-value food and drink experiences under $30 on 50 Best Discovery

Giulia Sgarbi - 27/11/2019

With the launch of its new project 50 Best Discovery, the organisation behind The World’s 50 Best Restaurants and Bars has made available for the first time a wider range of the venues that have received endorsements by its Academy of experts, many of which are more accessible than you would think. We rounded up a selection of spots where you can enjoy a meal for less than $30, with cocktail bars to boot, all over the world

1. Bellemore, Chicago, US

The buzzword at this trendy Chicago spot is ‘artistic American’ – from the plush sofas and eye-catching paintings to the colourful dishes, chef Jimmy Papadopoulos lives and breathes the style. His cuisine features bright and bold flavours inspired by the familiar but reinterpreted in surprising ways. Bellemore is best-value at lunch, when you can enjoy sweet potato tots, beef cheek rigatoni and Concord grape sorbet for $24.

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2. Lula Bistro, Guadalajara, Mexico
Located in the capital of the Mexican state of Jalisco, the birthplace of tequila and mariachi music, Lula Bistro opened in 2011, pioneering the fine dining movement in the city. The style is French-Mexican and relies on seasonal local ingredients, while the setting is a pastel-hued dining room with soaring ceilings. Three à la carte dishes will only set you back the equivalent of $25, while the six-course tasting menu is available for $40.

After dinner: El Gallo Altanero
Guadalajara complements its availability of good-value restaurants with affordable bars. A perfect place to get acquainted with agave spirit is El Gallo Altanero, where a monthly-changing menu with drinks like the ‘Don Chinar’ (a blend of Don Fulano Fuerte Tequila, Cynar, triple sec, lime, angostura bitters and fermented pineapple peel) is accompanied by live music. The average price for a cocktail is $7.

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3. Sierra Brasserie, Nairobi, Kenya
Sierra was a brewery before it was a restaurant, and the menu at its brasserie is now inspired by the team’s alcoholic creations, though you don’t have to be a drinker to enjoy it. Szechuan pepper squid, pan roasted Nile perch, dry-aged Angus beef steaks and indulgent desserts are some of the globe-trotting dishes on offer, with the average price per person for a three-course meal around $20.

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4. Hoppers, London, UK
This ever-popular spot in the heart of London offers a selection of Sri Lankan classics that is sure to delight the taste buds. It gets its name from its speciality, fermented rice pancakes served with chutneys and curry known as ‘hoppers’, which you can taste for less than $6. Among the other wallet-friendly options are the mutton rolls for $6 and hot butter chilli paneer for less than $10.

After dinner: Happiness Forgets
Alastair Burgess opened this venue 10 years ago on a budget of just $32,000, and Happiness Forgets has stayed true to its mission of serving ‘high-end cocktails in a low-rent basement’. Worthy of the No.40 spot on The World’s 50 Best Bars list, the bar offers concoctions such as the ‘Perfect Storm’, a smooth blend of rum, honey, ginger and plum brandy, for around $10, putting this bar firmly on the cheaper end of the scale in a metropolis like London.

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5. A Casa do Porco, São Paulo, Brazil
Chefs Jefferson and Janaina Rueda are true to their word when they say that 'democratic fine dining is the future'. At this São Paulo hotspot, whose name translates as ‘house of the hog’, the most expensive offering (a 10-course tasting menu) costs 125 reals, or $33. It is widely considered one of the best restaurants in Latin America, ranking No.6 in the region, and in 2019 it also debuted on The World’s 50 Best Restaurants list at No.39, proving that excellent food doesn’t have to break the bank.

After dinner: SubAstor
This affordable speakeasy hidden below Bar Astor features moody red walls, a long bar and cocktails that aspire to ‘amuse and inebriate’. Some of the country’s best mixologists are behind the bar here, mixing cocktails like the ‘Tereré’ (light Cuban rum, cachaça, Saint-Germain, lemon, chimarrão and cambuci jam) that will only call for $5 of your hard-earned cash.

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6. Tawlet Souk el Tayeb, Beirut, Lebanon
Founded with the purpose of promoting small-scale Lebanese producers and preserving rural culinary heritage, this unique lunch-only spot offers an all-you-can-eat, self-service lunch buffet in a convivial atmosphere. The cooks behind it change daily, but you can be sure to get a taste of Lebanon’s authentic flavours here, put together by those who know it best – the local village women. You can order the dish of the day for only $15, or go all-out with the buffet for $33.

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7. Cantinho do Avillez, Lisbon, Portugal
Award-winning chef José Avillez’s personal interpretation of Portuguese cuisine is simplified and pared-back at the more casual Cantinho do Avillez, but the essence of Belcanto, his restaurant that sits at No.43 in The World’s 50 Best Restaurants, is still all there. A combination of small plates such as ‘21st Century Professor style eggs’ with chorizo and fried bread crumbs, partridge pies and marinated scallops still falls within the $30 budget. The atmosphere at this urban bistro is buzzing, perfect for a vibrant weekend lunch on a city break.

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8. Harvest, St. Petersburg, Russia
This sustainable, zero-waste and market-focused restaurant was voted into the extended list of The World’s 50 Best Restaurants 2019 at No.92. Founded by the dynamic Duoband group and led by chef Dmitry Blinov, it plays on an ‘only vegetables/not only vegetables’ concept with creative dishes that make the most of the regional produce. For less than $30, enjoy duck confit with buckwheat, followed by carrot with yogurt and passion fruit and a potato cheesecake with black currant sauce.

After dinner: El Copitas
Whether you’re a local or a visitor, make the most of St. Petersburg’s buzzing food and drink scene by paying a visit to El Copitas, voted No.27 in The World’s 50 Best Bars 2019. Book ahead, as the place is popular – but it will be worth it when you’re sipping on mezcal classics at this unique underground Mexican bar for only $5 a throw.

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9. Toyo Eatery, Makati (Manila), Philippines
Toyo Eatery is the brainchild of chef Jordy Navarra and a restaurant voted in the Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants 2019 list. Its dishes aim to capture the terroir of the Philippines through locally sourced ingredients, with gourmet takes on classic street food such as pork barbecue skewers. The three-course tasting menu is the most affordable at $20, but for under $60 you can enjoy the full 11-course experience.

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10. Embla, Melbourne, Australia
A sophisticated wine bar in Melbourne’s CBD, Embla serves a selection of small plates that justify a visit in their own right. Chef Dave Verheul’s recipes focus on flame grilling and fermenting, providing a perfect pairing to the eclectic Aussie-heavy wine selection. Oysters, creamed corn with dried citrus, oregano and crème fraiche, and caramelised peach with peach pit ice cream are just an example of the great-value plates you can have here.

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11. The Bombay Canteen, Mumbai, India
This festive spot combines a casual restaurant, a bakery and a bar; it's an ideal place to enjoy all kinds of Indian-inspired food and drinks. The restaurant is led by Floyd Cardoz and Thomas Zacharias, who celebrate and reinterpret Indian classics. The ‘Canteen Experience’ and ‘Wild Canteen Experience’ menus – designed to showcase the best of the chefs’ culinary inspiration with a selection of small sharing plates – are both available for less than $30.

After dinner: Arth
At this swanky cocktail bar, you can indulge in high-quality drinks without shattering the piggy bank. The average price per cocktail is $8, which will allow you to enjoy creations such as the Royal Indian Julep, with Dewar’s 12, spiced grenadine, lime, darjeeling tea and aromatic bitters in a stylish setting in west Mumbai.

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To discover all the 1,600+ restaurants and bars featured on 50 Best Discovery, start browsing the site now, and follow us on Instagram and Facebook to discover new expert-approved venues all over the world.