The Melbourne World Food Map
Culture, coffee and changeable weather – yes, that’s Melbourne. But did you know Victoria’s state capital is also home to cuisine from around the world? And we’re not just talking pizza and noodles. From South American to Asian, the past few months have seen a plethora of culinary options springing up across the city that promise to transport your taste buds far, far away. Here are a few of our favourites.
Korean-style in Richmond: Kong
From the man who brought you runaway success Chin Chin, this Korean barbecue joint on Church Street packs a flavourful punch. Chris Lucas and the team have come up with a meat-filled menu that manages to be sweet, smoky and spicy all at the same time, with a can’t-get-enough tanginess coming from the obligatory addition of kimchi (fermented cabbage – trust us, it tastes better than it sounds). Try the wood-roasted salmon with crispy skin and seaweed salad, and prepare to get your fingers (and face) sticky with half a rack of BBQ baby back pork ribs slathered in the house-made ‘Crazy Horse Chilli’.
Soul food in the CBD: Mr Big Stuff
Although only opening a few weeks ago, this CBD laneway haunt has already gained a loyal following thanks to its retro styling and Southern-inspired dishes. The fried chicken and waffles and ultra-gooey three cheese mac ‘n’ cheese topped with crunchy brioche crumbs are must-order items. Decide what else to order while the resident DJ spins his uplifting mix of soul, funk and hip-hop on the turntable. We don’t think you can go wrong with the pork ribs, corn bread and blackened snapper with clams, with good old apple pie for dessert. Accommodation in Melbourne CBD’s are some of the most popular for Expedia’s Aussie travellers, with the Pegasus Apart’Hotel and the Best Western Atlantis on the edge of the city being two of the most popular spots to stay.
Middle Eastern (inauthentic) pizza: The Moor’s Head
Melburnians seem to be locked in a constant conflict as to which side of the Yarra River is best for eating out – luckily this Lebanese pizza outfit has venues situated both north and south of the Yarra, so you don’t have to decide. From the CBD, catch the number 86 tram up to Thornbury or hop on a train down to Elsternwick and you will be rewarded with a range of manoushe and pide, from the Saladin (red za’atar, red pepper, pomegranate, labne, mint, walnuts, cumin and roquette) to the Sultan Mehmet (tomato, lamb ma’anek, red pepper, feta and black olives). The bases are fluffy and crispy; the fragrant beer’s sourced straight from Lebanon, the mint tea is sweet and refreshing; and the fairy floss is a must if you can’t manage one of the extravagant Nutella, ricotta, honey or banana stuffed fatayers.
Spicing up St Kilda: Babu Ji
Owners Jessi and Jennifer Singh would be the first to admit that Babu Ji, situated in Fitzroy Street’s iconic George Building, is not your typical Indian joint. Forget any ideas you might have about simmering buffet trays and tikka masala, this is the real deal. Expect street food staples and inventive twists on classic curries, as well as their deliciously smooth homemade kulfi ice cream, served straight from long metal containers with flourish at the table. Get the ball rolling with crunchy papdi chaat (think India’s answer to nachos) and then feast on beef malai – sourced locally from the Macedon Ranges – the tender meat is cooked in a crushed cashew nut, shallot and whole spices sauce. Expect to see locals who can’t finish their food departing with tiffin boxes.
To get your Indian fix at brunch or lunch, head to Tadka Boom! On Goldsbrough Lane in the CBD. Open Monday to Friday, the kitchen serves casual street eats from 7:30am-4:30pm.
Italian at the Arts Centre: Fatto Bar & Cantina
Close your eyes and you could be at a smart restaurant next to Milan’s La Scala as opposed to Melbourne’s South Bank. This all-day bar and cantina serves exceptionally tasty pastas and pizzas as well as a handful of secondi (main courses) in its sleek white dining room and balcony seating area, which offers great views of the city’s skyline. Start off with a selection of cured meats and cheeses, and save room for the light-as-a-feather pannacotta and addictive cannoli. Our tip is to arrive for aperitivo hour from 5-7pm everyday, where every tipple – be it a negroni, prosecco or glass of Italian pinot grigio – is served with a small selection of tasty bar snacks.
Take a trip to Argentina: Piqueos
Heady pisco sour cocktails, ice-cold Quilmes beer, meat-filled empanadas, beef short ribs with chimichurri, zesty ceviche, cheesy croquettas and mint-studded quinoa salads – walk into the throbbing heart of Argentina and Peru’s food scene at this Carlton restaurant. The noise levels are high, but that all adds to the fiesta atmosphere. With the malbec flowing and smell of meat grilling, it’s hard not to join the party. Pull up a high stool at the bar, sit at a table against the exposed brick walls or head outside to the courtyard.
For empanadas at lunchtime every day of the week, try Prahran’s newest pop-up El Alamo. Choose from beef, cheese and onion, spinach and chicken fillings, all tucked into deliciously light pastry pockets.