Melbourne is the hallmark of great coffee and home to some of the most inspirational cafes. Many have benchmarked the cafes in Melbourne to their own country’s; some were even inspired by them to set up their own. Without doubt, cafe-hopping has got to be one of the reasons why you are/ will be in Melbourne for. Even if you have no intention to cafe-hop, you will leave Melbourne a full convert.
Being such a bustling city, there is a plethora of eateries – from little local hideouts to upscale restaurants and franchise stores. Plethora is an understatement. In retrospect, I wish I had done the food research before stepping foot into Melbourne, but coming directly from our New Zealand trip, there simply was no time to. There is such an infinite number of food choices in Melbourne, that I feel faint every time it came to picking a place for lunch or dinner. So much so that I always had to turn to my trusty food guru, Jeannie.
Seeing that there’s no better person than Jeannie to recommend some of the tried and tested foods in Melbourne, we’ve come together to pick out 11 of Melbourne’s best food finds for any first-timer.
BRUNCH in Melbourne
1. The Hardware Societe
This French-inspired cafe is one of the bigger hits in Melbourne right now. Even with alfresco and indoor dining options, seats quickly fill up once doors are open.
Upon stepping in, our moods were instantly lifted by the vibrant interior decoration. Wall plasters of butterflies and low-hanging fairy lights further enhance the atmosphere, making The Hardware Societe the perfect get-together cafe. What struck me most was how colourful the tea cups were, that I couldn’t help but order one cup for myself!
Their Baked Eggs dish (above) has been much raved, and you are given a choice of vegetable or chorizo sausage together with your eggs. Pictured above is the baked eggs-chorizo sausage combo.
Ever seen a black burger? We haven’t, and since this queer squid ink Lobster Benedict dish stood out from the menu, we had to order it! It turned out to be interesting all right, at least aesthetically-wise.
The portions were debatable. While the Baked Eggs dish filled two hungry and cold stomaches heartily, the Lobster Benedict dish didn’t seem to do as well as the former.
120 Hardware St Mon - Fri: 7.30am - 3pm Sat - Sun: 8.30am - 2pm
2. Top Paddock
Who can resist an explosion of colours on their Blueberry & Ricotta Hotcake with berries, maple syrup, cream and seeds? While this cafe is further out of town in Richmond, this is why everyone would go through the complicated subway-bus route for.
If you haven’t tried such a hotcake before, be warned: it is very, VERY filling. Because it’s so dense, it fills you up quickly, as quickly as when you reach one-fifth of the cake. Even if you came on an empty stomach, I guarantee you can’t stomach more than half of it. As such, it’s best enjoyed with a group of friends. Many others have jumped on the hotcake bandwagon and replicated this dish (especially in Singapore!), but truth be told, here’s where it all began.
Top Paddock is a spacious compound, with plenty of natural light and greenery to cosy up in the cafe, whether you like it indoors or out. Apart from the hotcakes, they serve up decent cafe food too.
658 Church St, Richmond Mon-Fri: 7am - 4pm Weekends: 8am -4pm
3. Operator 25
Operator 25 surprises with us with an Asian Fusion twist to classic cafe food, blending familiar cafe staples with Asian ingredients in a cohesive harmony. Their all day breakfast menu ranges from light-hearted breakfast tortillas filled with scrambled eggs, bacon, aged cheddar, herb oil, sweet corn and salsa, to heavy ones like the pressed lamb shoulder and belly.
Our favourites were the Japanese Open Omelette with smoked cod, infused with soy sauce, mirin, shitake mushrooms and topped with bonito flakes and fried enoki (above, background) and the BBQ Pork Benedict with crispy wanton skin (above, foreground).
Click here for Operator 25’s menu.
25 Wills St Mon - Fri: 7am - 4pm Sat - Sun: 9am - 4pm
Located in the suburb of Fitzroy (where you can find lots of outlet shopping and hipster cafes, complete with artistic graffiti everywhere), it’s a great place to stop by for coffee and mid-day fuel.
They are known for their innovative brunch dishes, like their Soft Shell Crab Burger (above) and their Breakfast Ramen. The Soft Shell Crab Burger got us wishing the crab was more meaty, while the Breakfast Ramen was refreshing and fulfilling with its large bowl portion.
412 Brunswick St Mon - Sun: 7am-4pm
A favourite amongst the locals for its affordable brunch prices, both their food and coffee are on par to be the cafe’s highlights.
Special mention goes to their corned beef brisket & potato hash with shredded cabbage & leek, poached eggs, grilled pita and Sriracha hollandaise (above). As strange as the dish sounds, their tastes were put together in the perfect blend.
Don’t miss their homemade beverages – an adventurous choice would be their Malted Hot Chocolate.
If you feel a tinge of longing for their coffee, don’t leave without snapping some of their coffee beans. Auction Rooms has an entire wall filled with a selection of these beans to buy off the rack, so pick your choice already!
Click here for Auction Rooms’ menu.
103-107 Errol St Mon - Fri: 7am - 5pm Sat - Sun: 7.30am - 5pm
SNACKS in Melbourne
Queen Victoria Market is the go-to market for all kinds of affordable shopping. It’s a huge outdoor market, with over 10 lanes of stalls selling anything and everything – from souvenirs, to apparels, leather products, toys, fruits, cheese, salami, wine and not to forget, real food. Be spoilt for choice by their wide selection of comfort food at extremely low prices.
Some food recommendations include the Borek, a Turkish version of a meat pie. Also, if you’re a sausage-lover, The Bratwurst Stall brings back the true goodness of German sausages.
Click here to download the map of Queen Victoria Market.
513 Elizabeth St Tue, Thu: 8am - 2pm Fri - Sat: 8am - 3pm Sun: 9am - 4pm Closed on Mondays and Wednesdays.
Famous bagels? You got it. The bagels from Manchester Press are the perfect fuel for your next road trip. They have a wide selection of bagels, including open and closed variations, and also offer sweet ones in the breakfast section.
Our favourite is the salami with brie cheese bagel, a delectable mix of the two flavours, with the cranberry jam provided at the side to give a sweet finish to the bite.
Expect queues especially on weekends and at lunchtimes, because this trendy cafe is well-placed between offices and the university.
8 Rankins Lane Mon - Fri: 7am - 5pm Sat: 9am - 5pm
DINNER in Melbourne
8. Ying Thai 2
Ying Thai 2 is well-known among the Asians, for it stirs up authentic Thai flavours. With native Thai waiters attending to you, it’s easy to momentarily forget you’re in Australia!
Their Thai coconut rice has got to be the most unforgettable dish I’ve ever tried in my life, and might I say, I’m not exaggerating. The rice was so fragrant and incredibly sweet that you could eat the rice simply on its own.
Green Curry dishes, Pad Thai and chicken wrapped in pandan leaves were other popular choices at this outlet.
110 Lygon St Tue - Sun: 12pm - 10pm Closed on Mondays.
DESSERT in Melbourne
Rumoured to serve the best gelatos in Melbourne, this gelato shop serves up an eclectic mix of flavours. Think avocado and lime, rose, coconut, ricotta and fig and Nutella swirl. Made from scratch daily, Pidapipo uses quality ingredients from around the world, such as pistachios from Sicily and hazelnuts from Piedmont.
Some queue for over 20 minutes just for a taste of it – surely that says something about their gelato?
299 Lygon St Mon - Sun: 12pm - 11pm
While they serve eat-in or take-away sandwiches and bagels at their sandwich bar as well as organic fruits and vegetables, we are here for their gelato! If you’re missing out on the gelatos from Italy, you can have a taste of them here.
Also, cheese-lovers, rejoice! They have their very own cheese cellar available for tasting, with a smorgasbord of different cheese selections available in Australia.
157 Spring St Operating hours differ for their cheese cellar, sandwich bar, gelateria and grocer. Check website for more details.
COFFEE in Melbourne
11. Little Rogue
Little Rogue is a small local coffee shop nestled unassumingly in a laneway on Drewery Lane. It hides so expertly at the back alley that you can only count on the locals to attest for their great coffee blends. If you manage to find it (it’s not easy, we admit), we promise it’ll be worth it!
Through the cute blue-framed door, local paintings are hung on this shop for sale. Because it’s such a tight space within the coffee shop, you’ll be leaving the shop having made a friend or two.
Their Matcha Green Tea Latte seems to be the hit, but don’t miss out on the classic coffee tastes too.
12 Drewery Lane Mon - Fri: 7.30am - 6pm Sat - Sun: 9am - 6pm
These 11 selections have got me all excited about food in Melbourne again! Are there any other fabulous food finds that I should be adding on to this list?
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