Zoe Foster Blake’s Melbourne Foodie Guide
I moved to Melbourne in 2013, and despite having already lived between Sydney and Melbourne for four years, was very much a rookie. It takes time to get to know Melbourne, like new jeans, or a dense novel you don’t get at first but everyone raves about so you persist and then finally it clicks, and your socks are blown into another solar system.
Sydney friends would visit and demand to be shown a ‘local’s version’ of the city and I’d fumble and falter, throwing up recommendations I’d nicked from websites but had never tried, or giving them tired classics they could find in any Best of Melbourne book.
But cut to 2015 and I am the goddamn king of this city.
Sorry. That’s completely untrue. What I meant to say was: “I have now found some terrific places to eat foods that in general people seem to enjoy.”
Melbourne is the world champion of breakfast. This is handy since I deem myself a Breakfast Olympian. The quality really is exceptional, though, the breakfast game here is innovative, exciting and extremely delicious, so much so that it’s not uncommon my husband and I will order a savoury dish, and then share some pancakes or crumpets or French toast or pastries for ‘breakfast dessert’ because the offerings are too good. It sounds gluttonous, but only because it is.
I might be exposing some geographical bias here, since I live Northside, but I strenuously maintain that’s where the bulk of new and exciting food pops up. I recommend Archie’s All Day, (order the Godmother or don’t and live a sad and empty life), Breakfast Thieves, Stagger Lee’s and Addict in Fitzroy, Touchwood and Denis The Menace in Richmond, St Ali in South Melbourne, Cumulus Inc and Hardware Societe in the CBD, Drugstore and Two Birds in South Yarra, and Green Park, Pope Joan, Mitte and Barry heading north.
How annoying is it when people say they know where to get the ‘best’ burger! It’s like, shut up! There are a zillion excellent burgers out there! But I’m arrogant enough to insist that I actually do know the best burgs.
At the top of the list sits one that was recommended to me by a cool cat foodie hero who eats 2-3 burgers a week, and knows a good godamn burger when he bites into it. It’s at Lazerpig, in Collingwood, which is predominantly a rad kids pizza restaurant, but you’d be a real goose to skip their dainty, In-n-Out style little circle of heaven, tucked away on the menu like a pathetic, ignorable salad or side.
Close second is Le Bon Ton, a pub in Abbotsford that is largely regarded to offer the best burger in town. It’s outstanding, particularly when teamed with their seasoned fries and a bucket of Pinot Noir. My third pick would be Archie’s All Day, which is controversial since I already mentioned it above, but I stand by my choice. Other notables include the illustrious Rockpool version at Crown, Fat Bob’s in Moorabbin, Rockwell and Sons in Collingwood, Andrew’s in Albert Park and Easey’s in Collingwood, not so much for the burger, but the novelty factor of eating said burger in a rooftop train carriage four floors up.
Melbourne takes pizza rather seriously, and thank gorgonzola for that. Here are the guys smashing it.
Join the queue for Johnny Di Francesco’s margherita at 400 Gradi in Brunswick (which won him first place in the Pizza World Championships, which are a real thing and obviously like all good pizza pigs sits high on my bucket list), or his other outlets, 90 Secondi (CBD) and Gradi (Crown Casino), and definitely arrive hungry at Supermaxi in Brunswick, DOC in Carlton/Albert Park, Ladro in Fitzroy (and Prahan) and if you’re in the CBD, +39 pizzeria. (For my money the best accompanying salad on offer is Ladro’s rocket and rooftop honey.
*The bulk of them are kneading and sprinkling around Carlton, Brunswick and Fitzroy: this is the Italian hub, which means you’re also likely to find great gelato, delicious cannoli and a variety of exciting checked tablecloths.
Nutellageddon (when Melbourne ran dry of the commercial sized jars because all of a sudden Nutella donuts/croissants/pancakes/milkshakes/spring rolls/everything were the only sweet treat worth making/eating/Instagramming) should give you some indication of how seriously desserts are taken down here. Not only is Melbourne home to the exquisite Lune, (created by artisanal croissant genius Kate Reid and home of the 5am queue), it will satisfy all of your bakery requirements with a spate of super-busy-social-media-famous-joints-doing-wild-flavours like All Day Donuts, (Brunswick) Doughboy, Shortstop (CBD), the outstanding Vue de Monde-owned Burnam Beeches Bakery (Ferntree gully), Cobb Lane Bakery (Yarraville), Mick’s Place (Thomastown), Jimmy’s Place (Fawkner), Gavin’s Place (just kidding) and Tivoli Road Bakery (South Yarra), although personally it’s Tivoli’s famous hot cross buns I froth over.
Of course if you prefer your sugar hit, um, without sugar, try Raw Trader in the CBD, or if you’re being really healthy, just nibble on any small twigs you happen to find.
There is no such thing as a good, let alone ‘best’ tuna casserole. My apologies.
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