Graffiti, alleyways, suddenly stopping trams, unpredictable weather, bicycles, great eats and even bats – Melbourne’s food scene is hard to resist (and there are one or two not so edible things in there too).
Breakfast and brunch done right! Using quality local ingredients the dishes are as beautifully tasting as they are looking. The Richmond room has an airy and homely feel to it, with touches of greenery. I recommend the ‘Top Paddock’ – chorizo, poached eggs, freshly baked toasted bread, tomatoes and shallots. Don’t be put off by the wait list; it’s worth it.
658 Church Street, Richmond
T: (03) 9429 4332
Queen Victoria Market
As you walk through the doors of Queen Vic Market your senses are heightened. Bursting with fresh local produce (meat, seafood, poultry, live animals, fruit, vegetables, food stalls, flowers) in every direction, watch the market swing into action with the chorus of what’s on offer. It’s also the largest open-air market in the Southern Hemisphere.
513 Elizabeth St, Melbourne
The dimly lit, vintage-looking room, has a cocktail focus, so it’s no surprise that nearly all the bar team have been called up for the World Class cocktail competition. The bar/cocktail menu has lots of choice, just ask the bar team for recommendations, or you could just work your way through the menu.
304 Brunswick Street, Fitzroy
T: (03) 9417 0455
Indian-food reimagined and all made for sharing. I voluntarily worked in the kitchen for 2 days, so I am biased. Tonka offers an interesting take on modern Indian food using house-ground spices, elevated family recipes and the freshest locally sourced ingredients. Offering Butter Chicken on just their bar menu, that move alone has my vote! Keep an open mind about what you think Indian food is, because it is not just diced meat in a bowl.
20 Duckboard Place, CBD
T: (03) 9650 3155
Belle’s Hot Chicken
Oh man – Louisiana-style fried chicken, 12-hour brine and a dry crunchy batter that doesn’t go soggy. You pick your spice levels and cut of chicken (breast, leg and thigh, or wings). Plus, if you like your chicken “really f**kin’ hot”, you’re in luck. This retro looking diner has music on vinyl, and definitely satisfied my two-day craving. Get ready for some pink lips.
150 Gertrude St, Fitzroy
T: (03) 9077 0788
If you walk past Chin Chin you’ll see one common feature – a line-up. There’s good reason for that. A quirky, modern take on Asian street-food, with a semi-open kitchen, all Australian wine list and non-pretentious feel with an all-day menu and friendly service. From the Barbecue section try the Ora King Salmon in banana leaf and coconut red curry, lime and thai basil – sweet, spicy, tangy, salty, delicious goodness. They also write ‘Happy Happy Joy Joy’ on the bottom of their checks!
125 Flinders Lane, CBD
T: (03) 8663 2000
Tucked away on Meyers Place, Lily Blacks is home to bar manager, and my Canadian ‘bartender brother from another mother’, Abraham (he used to work with us). Muddling, stirring and shaking up craft cocktails using unique ingredients, house-infusions, and a huge collection of bitters, it’s also home to the ‘Iron Bartender’ competitions, where local bartenders battle it out using a mystery box of random goodness.
12 Meyers Place, CBD
T: (03) 9654 4887
Located in the fancy area of South Yarra, you can buy everything at this market. A large organic section, premium butchers, freshly caught seafood, stunning flowers, street food vendors, and all indoors. It’s easy to spend all day here (and all your money).
163 Commercial Rd, South Yarra
Tivoli Road Bakery
The Melbourne-based bakery has recently hosted San Francisco’s Tartine Bakery, so you know it’s good! This is a must, especially if you’re visiting Prahran Market. This independently owned husband/wife power team are a supporter of local, bake fresh and even though bread is their main focus, try the brownie that’s also a cookie with a pinch of sea salt!
3 Tivoli Road, South Yarra
T: (03) 9041 4345
Always busy with around 40-something flavours on offer, all made in-house using local milk. My lactose-intolerant self loves ice cream, and I even had Messina ice cream for dinner (that happened once).
237 Smith Street, Fitzroy
T: (02) 8354 1223
The Cycle Tour Co. Melbourne
Helmets, hook turns, graffiti, history and even stop for coffee and beer. Ride like a local on your own cruiser bike with Melbourne resident (and all-round top guy) Steven. His bikes even have Wi-Fi! Each bike has a different name and story behind it – I rode the cross-dresser Dame Edna Everage donning her light blue ensemble, and I liked it!
A food-rescue business that’s whizzing through Melbourne in search of ‘waste’ or ‘unwanted’ produce to give to those that need it. Help the planet and nourish the community by volunteering with these guys.
5 & Dime Cafe
New York born and Melbourne bred bagels, made in front of you. Hand-rolled, boiled and baked in-house using ‘traditional(ish)’ recipes. Choose from plain, poppy seed, sesame, rye, onion, cinnamon and raisin, dill or salt, or if you really can’t decide there’s even a bagel with ‘everything’ on it.
16 Katherine Place, CBD
T: (04) 3333 9367
Pop Up Patch (by The Little Veggie Patch Co)
Once an unused car park magically transformed into a community gardeners dream, located in the heart of the city. Renting over 140 vegetable crates to Melbourne residents, restaurants and business, just behind Fed Square, Melbourne restaurants are taking seasonal and local to a different level. Membership is $25 a week ($108 a month), plus there’s a communal area outside the gates, which anyone can carefully pick from. Grow your own and live city life, perfect.
Rooftop of Car Park Russell Court, Federation Square, Melbourne