The creative pulse of Melbourne stirs giddy dreams of urban adventures. With every visit, I find myself enchanted by vibrant street art and tipsy with the rush of cultural possibilities.
Melbourne inspires laneway fever, strolls down wide streets, tours of history-rich buildings and skipping through crisp autumn leaves. The city calls for late night explorations of roof-top and hole-in-the-wall bars. It beckons the inner artisan-lovers, hipster-befrienders and part-time fashionistas in all of us. But arguably, most of all, Melbourne entices with the happy potential for belly-led wanderings through a kaleidoscope of city flavours.
I tend to schedule Melbourne adventures around food. The consequences is experiencing Melbourne as a dreamy dalliance betwixt cafes, bars, restaurants and street food vendors.
Here are a few random foody highlights from my recent wanderings to help fill your belly and your time during your Melbourne weekender. (Note – all are GF friendly).
Nurture your warm and fuzzy side in this cosy space across from Southern Cross Station. Kinfolk is a cafe with a conscience; a self-dubbed social enterprise designed to give back to the community . The cafe is staffed with volunteers, stocked with deliciously healthy eats and is reasonably priced. Find it at 673 Bourke Street in the city and online.
New Day Rising
Iddy-biddy in size but generous in charm, this is the cafe you call on for a casual catch-up for two. Brick and wood and shelves of jars give New Day Rising a home-kitchen feel to match its simple but comforting menu. Find it at 221d Blyth Street, Brunswick East.
Penny Farthing Espresso
Nestled along the joy-filled High Street in Northcote, Penny Farthing serves reliable espresso and a mean smashed avocado and fetta on toast, among other yummy eats. While you’re in the area, be sure to have a shop. Find it at 206 High Street, Northcote and online.
Known for its specialty coffee, funky edge and all-day breaky and lunch, Proud Mary is a buzzing joint with well-earned hype. You may need to wait a while for a seat but I found it worth my while. Find it at 172 Oxford Street, Collingwood and online.
Market Lane Coffee at the Prahran Markets
The meeting of espresso, fresh-cut flowers and produce stalls at the Prahran Markets, just off Chapel Street, makes for a smiley day. Be sure to wander through and stop for a break if you’re in the area. Find it at 163 Commercial Road, South Yarra every day except Mondays and Wednesdays, as well as online.
Sit yourself down in the lovely old WB Ellis auction house to enjoy the specialty coffee and smiley service in one of North Melbourne’s favourites. This place has that happy buzz that’s necessary in any much-loved Melbourne eatery. Find it at 103-107 Errol Street, North Melbourne and online.
For a fresh, healthy and memorable lunch with a street-food style and price tag, visit the well-loved Miss Chu. No exaggeration, this is was the best Vietnamese food I’ve had outside of Vietnam, and I was won over by the quirky tuckshop space and no-fuss ordering system. You will find a Miss Chu in a number of spots across Melbourne and Sydney. I enjoyed Miss Chu eating (twice) at 276 Toorak Road, South Yarra. More info online.
Revel under scarlet lanterns and cherry-blossom branches at Rice Queen, where oriental meals are served with a splash of sultry fun. After dinner and drinks, sing a little song in the karaoke booth out the back. This is a great spot for a fun and flirty date. You’ll need a booking most nights of the week. Find it at 389 Brunswick Street, Fitzroy and online.
Down a dark alley and around the corner you’ll find a single neon sign for Rosa’s Kitchen. Inside is elegant, impressively polite and simply seasoned dining on an authentic Italian menu. Find it at 22 Punch Lane, Melbourne and call (03) 9662 2883 to make a booking.
Modern Mexicana has earned quite a following at the ever-popular Mama Sita in the CBD. Known as much for its long lines as it is for fantastically fresh food and a long list of tequilas, Mama Sita is an atmospheric and satisfying restaurant choice, if you can survive the wait. Bookings are accepted for groups of 10+ only and your best bet of dining is to go at nanna’s dinner time. Find it at Level 1 / 11 Collins Street, Melbourne and online.
Queen Victoria Market
A classic feature of any Melbourne weekend itinerary, it’s hard to pass up the chance to smell, taste and shop your way to fulfillment at the Queen Victoria Market. For a bit of extra fun and convenience, hire yourself a cute named trolley from the coffee house outside. Find it in Elizabeth Street, Melbourne on every day except Monday.