As a new yelper, I have become obsessed with reviewing every new place that I encounter. Come back to this page to see which places I try out and how they fare in my book. For those of you who know me, I’ve been a vego for like the past 2 years…as of late, I’ve been giving myself cheat days to enjoy a good hearty meal with meat. I think it’s keeping me sane, lol. Most places are reviewed based on the vego dishes, but the lucky few are based on meat.
[Update: Yelp has JUST launched in Australia so expect me to be on there busy updating, eating, and typing away!]
Rumi – $$ (Brunswick East)
Middle Eastern food is always my bf’s food of choice. I’m no expert on the matter, but I know I like the smell of all those spices. We went to Rumi in Brunswick East and were pleasantly surprised of how yummy all the foods were. They’re all sharing plates and we ordered the pickles, curly haloumi salad (totally recommend), quail skewers (my obsession continues) and baked baby snapper (yum!). The waiters were all super nice and the food was ridiculous fast. We recommend getting around 3-4 plates for 2 people and the staff are nice enough to suggest ones if you really can’t decide. I would definitely recommend this place for good Middle Eastern. Brunswick is the metropolis of all things in that region, but you’d be hard pressed to find a place that had nice ambience as well. Definitely a winner in all respects.
Albert St Food and Wine Bar – $$$ (Brunswick)
One of the swankiest places in Brunswick, Albert St Food and Wine Bar did not disappoint. Strategically located in my hood, I’ve been wanting to try this place forever and finally had the right opportunity to do so. We didn’t book reservations because I was lazy and called ahead to see what the standard waiting time was on a Saturday night. The lady informed us they had both reserved and non-reserved areas so we could risk the non-reserved section since they were fully booked for the next few weeks. I don’t believe in booking more than a few days in advance, for the sheer reason that you’re only building up your expectations, often to be let down. So we risked and tried our luck to get a non-reserved seat (oh the unthinkable). We arrived around 8pm, sort of prime dinner time, and the host explained it’d be a 30-45 min wait. We waited, against the whinging of my boyfriend, and grabbed a drink menu and stood on the edge of the restaurant (not really a waiting spot as all bar space was given to dinner guests). Before I could decide on a drink, within 15 mins we were seated! Huzzah! I felt like doing a happy dance all over those silly people who book weeks in advance and yelling at my boyfriend ‘patience is a virtue!’ Onwards to dinner, we ordered quail with mushroom panzanella and artichokes in truffle oil, which was divine. My boyfriend got the albondigas because he loves goat (bleh) and also the smoked mackeral (because he’s a fatty). We got a carafe of wine, which I’ll never do again as I was sloppily drunk by the end of dinner and already slipping into a wine coma. To finish, we had the snow white and rose red dessert, which included strawberry sorbet, fresh strawberries and meringue sticks. YUM. So good, I nearly licked the plate, but my boyfriend beat me to it. I’ll definitely be returning here once I roll into a treasure chest of gold, but for not, it’s just a bit out of my price range as a poor grad student so this was a one-off splurge!
Izakaya Chuji – $$ (CBD)
Mmm, Japanese tapas! Went here for my birthday and I was thoroughly satisfied! The menu was large enough that I wasn’t stuck just with the regular old gyoza. We got an array of sushi, tuna and salmon sashimi and oysters. The portions were fair and I love the variety of items that we got. They have sushi/sashimi platters, which in hindsight, are actually a pretty good deal. Our bill was not too expensive, but definitely fitting for a birthday dinner. The wait staff were great and very attentive as it was pretty busy on a Saturday night. I’ll definitely need to go again.
Dinknesh Restaurant – $ (Footscray)
Oh you so fancy, eating that Ethiopian food! Yup, I am fancy. After first trying Eritrean/Ethiopian food in SF, I had a massive craving for something different. Footscray is like lil’ everything (lil Saigon, lil Ethiopia, etc.) so we went to Dinknesh on Monday. It was pretty quite, except for a large group and we got served ridiculously fast. We got the meat combination, vegetable combination, and lamb tibes. Everyone enjoyed the meaty stuff and I really liked the potatoes. The injera bread was good, but I’ve definitely had better. The portions were pretty good for the 4 of us and the prices were ridiculous. It ended up being $12/person (unheard of in Melbourne)! Overall, I think it was a good first outing in Footscray, but I’m eager to try a few other places too before coming back here.
Breakfast Thieves – $$ (Collingwood)
Tucked away on Gore St in Collingwood, I stumbled onto this place by chance. I persuaded a few of my girlfriends to try it out with me and it was definitely a winner! I was pretty happy with my vegetarian spanish baked eggs (usually served with chorizo but you can opt to go vego with any meal). It was spicy and hit the spot. It’s rare for me to ever stray away from anything that doesn’t involve poached eggs for breakfast so I was happy that this satisfied me. My friends has an array for things from big breakfasts to corn fritters (delish btw). The coffees were yum, very typical of most places in C’wood. Prices were standard and service was good. The wait time was pretty ok, about 5-10mins but the restaurant is pretty tight so our seats were definitely close to other parties. I’ll definitely come here again, especially to have those corn fritters.
The B.east – $ (Brunswick East)
Finally burgers! And chicken wings! For those who know me, I am a vego but I have momentarily lapses of will power (especially when I am stressed and tired) so I ordered some chicken wings and a pork belly burger. And I must say, I am so happy I did. I pretty much devoured the entire thing and had to beat off my boyfriend who tried (but failed) to eat some of the pork belly. It was tender and succulent and spiced with apple maple sauce. YUM! The chicken wings were tangy (not spicy unfortunately) but still tasty! We also got chilli cheese fries and I was expecting chilli and cheese on my fries but it was actually nacho cheese on the fries. Now I love nacho cheese so I wasn’t going to complain, but I was a little let down. It made me dream of real chilli cheese fries that night. However, that disappointment did not stop me from eating them…which I did quite happily and voraciously. The vibe here is alleyway chic (lol oh Brunswick East). Think eggs crates, graffiti, yarn bombing, and all things steel. The music was a bit loud, but I was too busy eating my burger to talk. So I’ll sum it up: Burgers, good. Beer, good. Vibe, good.
Thai Culinary – $ (CBD)
Always judge a thai place by it’s pad thai. Always. This one was definitely a favourite! The portions are huge (sharing is caring) and the prices are offensive. They even had thai tea, first place I’ve seen thus far! If you can book, I would definitely try because it is bumping here! The staff are bleh but what do you expect. We had made 1 attempt to come here on a Friday night but it was pretty packed and asked how long the wait was but the staff simply said they couldn’t accomodate rather than letting us wait. The 2nd time it was easy to get a seat. So it’s hit or miss I guess? Two thumbs up on the food but 2 thumbs down on the service.
Tiba’s Restaurant – $ (Brunswick)
Cheap Lebanese food? I’m there! Living so close, decided to check it out after my housemates continually raved about it. Definitely a winner! The portions are MASSIVE (about the size of a small baby if you will) and the flavours are yummy! I had the falafel plate which was offensively cheap. My friend had the lamb shawarma (though we questioned it’s lamb-ness). We were both fully satisfied and the fact that I got pickled turnips on my plate sealed the deal for me. Winner!
1806 - $$$ (CBD)
Cocktails a’plenty! Decided to change it up a bit and throw on some heels with my friends so we decided to head over to 1806. The list is massive and it’ll take you a good 10 minutes before deciding what you want. Make sure you bring lots of cash and book in advance otherwise the hostess/host can be total tools. Not entirely sure how I feel about the pretension in this place, a lil never hurt anyone but it was a bit out of control this night. We had plenty of seats but the hostess denied a few of our party from coming in, rude. Way to be debbie downer! Aside from the poor service and incredibly SLOW wait staff, I dig the drinks (and that’s all). Definitely save some money for this place because $20/cocktail ain’t cheap.
Innocent Bystander – $$ (Healesville)
After a great day petting kangaroos, we decided to venture to Innocent Bystander for food. It’s a pretty swanky place with fresh bread, winery, bistro, cheese tasting room, you name it…they have it. Service was poor and I’m not sure why as there was less than 20 people in the place. I was so hungry that I started eating the sea salt! By the time we were handed menus, I was about to keel over and it took another 15 mins before our orders were taken. I had the pumpkin pizza, which was pretty standard. Nothing overly special or amazing about it. We did enjoy the moscato on tap. Yes they have moscato on tap, which is delish on a hot summer day. Don’t think I’ll go back as there are plenty of other great places in the area with much better food and service. How unfortunate.
Thai on Street – $ (Brunswick East)
Why do people always recommend Thaila Thai when Thai on Street is WAY better and it’s next door? They had a FULL vegetarian menu and the service was great. The green curry and pad thai were delish! The green curry had just enough spice to give it enough kick but not to be fully reliant on it. I wish there was more mushroom and less cabbage in it, but that’s just my preference. The pad thai was flavourful and not too fishy. It had just the right amount of sweetness to savoury flavours, one of the better pad thais I’ve had. I’m soo going back because it was definitely the best thai food I’ve had in a long time!
The Toff in Town – $$ (CBD)
I’m not a fan of the Toff, especially after midnight. The crowd is kind of skeezy and the music blows. The booths are cool, but anyone can do cool booths nowadays. Oh and the bouncers?! Really?! We showed up with about 6 of us, 4 girls and 2 guys and he was so rude! We were all dressed for going out but the guy looked at us like we were wearing nothing but rags…well sorry! This might have totally turned me off from the entire Curtin House establishment.
Il Nostro Posto – $$$ (CBD)
Tucked away on Hardware Ln, it was one of the better options that we had on a late night for vegetarian. It was a bit overpriced but we had the fried pecorino as a starter and the spinach ricotta as a main. We both thought it was delish so I’m surprised to see how low the ratings are…I guess there are better places on Hardware Ln, but I’m not totally opposed. Not sure if I’ll return, but who knows?!
Cafe de Beaumarchais $$ (Sassafras, Dandenong Ranges)
Cakes, coffees, and all things cute? Yummy! This cafe is utterly adorable and such a great place to stop for coffee and cake after you’ve just been day hiking in the Dandenong Ranges. The prices are typically, maybe a little more than normal, but super cute! I’ve had the raspberry and blueberry cakes, each of which were yumtastic. The coffees are good, nice and foamy. Definitely going back to this place when I’m up there again.
Dumpling King – $$ (Box Hill)
My housemates’s been raving about Dumpling King for as long as I’ve known him, so we decided to give it a go the other night. I was disappointed by the lack of vego options (only 2 and both were meh). The wrapping for the dumplings were a bit starchy, maybe not fully cooked but definitely not the best. Even my friends said it can be hit or miss here and tonight was definitely a miss. They even forgot our chinese brocolli, which we were all excited for. Doubtful I’ll go back, unless my friends take me, since it is out of the way and a bit pricey for what it is.
Taco Truck – $$ (Mobile-check their twitter for updates)
Anti-climatic at best. $6 for a taco is a rip-off. I’d been following their tweets for a few weeks before I managed the time to get out to Brunswick East to check them out. I had seen them around town and was super jazzed to finally get some street tacos, but like always…don’t set your expectations too high, you’ll just be disappointed. First of all, don’t say you’re going to be some place at 6 to show up only to take another 30 mins to prep. Making people wait ain’t hipster, it’s just rude. Second, don’t overcharge on tacos, they’re called street tacos for a reason…they’re meant to be cheap and on the go. Third, get a bigger sign for your menu. Ordering would go a lot easier if people could read the menu beforehand. So after waiting probably an hour for tacos, I got 2 (potato and fish) and were somewhat content. I doused mine with lots of chili sauce to make them flavourful..at least they’re pretty? How can people pay willingly for $6 too-small to eat tacos? Gah, Melbourne…wake up! Overcharging on mexican food ain’t cool. I’ve been waiting on some good Mexican food for 10 months now…and I guess I’ll keep waiting.
Aspro Ble – $$ (CDB)
Oooh, yummy Greek food? I’m there! What a find! This place tucked away on Hardware Ln, super cute! The food was amazing…I had these prawns that were to die for. The service was probably the shittiest I’ve ever encountered. I reserved in advance but they were overbooked and made me wait at a table that wasn’t mine for about 30 mins before moving us to another table on the side of the kitchen. It took around 45-50 mins before they even gave us menus or water (they served other tables that sat down way after us…big mistake). Hopefully the crappy service is not typical and we just got them on a busy night, but what a shame if it is. I definitely want to go back, but not if I’m made to wait an hour just to be acknowledged. Epic fail.
Section 8 – $$ (Chinatown)
Grungy. Barb-wire fence. Industrial. Drinks. Hmm, sounds like the start to a good night. Hidden right in the middle of Chinatown, grab a drink here if the lines are too long for dumplings. The place is grungy so don’t expect too much. Drinks are okay priced and the seating arrangement is cool (don’t stay longer than a couple hours lest you want your entire butt to go numb from the wooden crates). It’s great for a couple of after work drinks or a starter place before you decide on another place.
Banff – $ (St. Kilda)
Happy hour pizzas? Deal! From 12-5, they do happy hour where pizzas are $5.50, what a steal! But if you miss out on the specials, doesn’t matter because they are all under $10 anyways. I’d suggest getting 2 for yourself…lol, for those who don’t know me…I eat a lot despite being a tiny asian girl. What can I say, I like carbs…lots of it. The pumpkin and the potato were pretty good, not great, but it’ll do. Don’t think I’ll go back because it is a bit out of the way…St. Kilda is just too far and nothing really tempts me to wander over there, except for the penguins.
Mr. Natural Vegetarian Pizza – $ (N. Fitzroy)
Vegetarian pizza, made with green energy? (Well I’m questionable on what they consider green energy…I wish they explained how it’s green..but that’s another post.) Anyways, I ordered 10 pizzas for a small function I was having at the Fitzroy Lawn Bowls and Jack gave me a great deal..10 pizzas for $150 + 2 free ones to boot! Huzzah, what a chillax dude! Legend. The pizzas were a BIG hit with everyone, even the carnivorous people so I’m really happy with my choice to cater with them. The pumpkin, eggplant, and spinach were delicious. They were healthy pizzas, not too much grease and plenty of veggies! And they deliver! What a sweet place! I would definitely recommend to anyone who wants veggie pizzas for cheap! Nom nom nom…pizza!
Bar Idda – $$ (Brunswick East)
The Age Cheap Eats Guide has yet to fail me…until I went to Bar Idda. Gah. What a disappointment! Went there for what I was hoping would be a cute date with my bf, but turned out to be grossly overpriced for what we got. Next to nothing vegetarian…so I got the eggplant, which was mediocre at best. My bf got some sardine wrap special, which I was totally grossed out by because it didn’t smell fresh..bleh. Ok, I’ll admit…the ambiance was nice and the service was good…but defs not going back.
Atomica Caffe – $ (Fitzroy)
They always have such interesting sandwiches and delish muffins! The capps are consistently good and strong. The service is meh…I’m sure one of them was either high or did not sleep the night prior…talk about loopy. Regardless, pretty standard cafe but definitely one of the better ones on Brunswick street.
Small Block – $ (Brunswick East)
Coffees are cheap and yummy and so is the food. The crowd can get quite busy but never too much to stop you from waiting a few minutes. If you’re in the hood, definitely stop by because they do all the basics and you can never pass up on a good capp.
Brother Baba Budan (CBD) – $
Bababa duba ba is awesome. Typical Melburnian cafe if you can pronounce the name. Very cool decor, tiny but intimate. Probs one of my fave coffee places so far (capps are nice, foamy and strong) so winning!
Auction Rooms – $$ (N. Melbourne)
Coconut french toast? Um, hell yea. Tantalizingly sweet and overall delish, this place is a gold mine of good brunch. Coffees are nice and the food is awesome but the lines are cray cray. Don’t go here on a Sunday if you expect to sit down in less than 45 mins. The host is a tool and doesn’t know how to read a clock (telling me it’s a 10 min wait when it’s acutally 45mins is not cool), but maybe you have more tolerance than me.
Greenfield Asia Restaurant- $ (Brunswick)
The fact that this place is less than 500m away doesn’t make me bias at all…but no joke, for some basic thai, this place is good. Portions are massive and the owners are pretty nice. They’ll give you a call if you’re ordering takeaway (which you totes should be it’s like $1-$2 cheaper) and the wait is usually only around 20-30mins. The service is unbearably slow eating in but if you have nothing better to do or you’re with a big group and that doesn’t bother you then cool. Pad see ew, pad thai, and warwick butterflies (vego) are YUM!
Donwoori – $ (N. Melbourne)
Nom nom nom…korean bbq?? Now you’re probably thinking, ‘KBBQ? Kristine’s a vego, why is she going to a bbq??” Well as a matter of fact, I love me some kimchi so much that I’d painstakingly sit in bbq place to be able to enjoy it…which I did! I haven’t had kbbq since Jan so I’ve been dying to try this place and SOOO WORTH IT! The place is TINY, so I went with a couple gfs and they shared one of the combo platters and I got the soon tofu stew. Delish! Now, I wouldn’t recommend this for a strict vego because they use beef as part of their stew stock and I think there were tidbits of meat…which I tried to just pick out. It was spicy and yummy regardless! The kimchi was fabulous, omg, so fresh! And the service? Dayuuuum…I’ve never been to a korean place and gotten good service! This place was legit! I dropped my chopsticks and before I could bend over to pick it up, the waiter was already handing me another pair (so fast!). The staff were all attentive and super nice! One of my friends speaks a bit of Korean, having lived there for a year, and ordered a few of the items in Korean which they thought was hilarious (imagine a white girl with the blondest hair ordering korean food in korean, you’d laugh too!). YUMMO, I want to go back!!!
Mountain Goat Brewery – $$ (Richmond)
Beer and pizza? So there! We did the brewery tour, which was definitely informative! The dude was chill and answered most of our questions pretty well, surprising since some of them were technical. If you’ve never tried Mountain Goat, I’d definitely suggest it…a nice local beer! The warehouse is awesome, nice and open with huge tables for big parties. Grab a couple of jugs and pizzas and you’ve found your watering hole for the night.
Al Albero – $ (N. Fitzroy)
YUMMO! I’ve been waiting for a place that serves good hearty pizza and I’m very satisfied to say that I’ve found it. Came here for a friend’s bday, tiny place but rustic feel. The staff is super nice and the wait isn’t too long. The food was delish to say the least. All the pizzas are massive and cheap. We shared 3 pizzas between 6 of us and pretty much had the equivalent of 1 pizza left (Can you imagine? We had 4 guys with us, all of which can hoover up anything in sight). The pumpkin pizza was awesome, wouldn’t have picked it myself but after trying it, definitely need to get more! Mmm, now I want pizza.
Little Peninsula – $ (CBD)
$8 cocktails on a Friday night? Huzzah! I’ve found my new watering hole on a Friday night :-) Tucked in Lt. Lonsdale Street in the city, this place is packed on a Friday night. The drink special is on from 5pm – 1am, unheard of so it’s definitely a must-do, at least once. Perfect for the start of the weekend partying! Two thumbs up from me!
The Croft Institute – $$ (CDB/Chinatown)
Now this place is the quintessential skeezy, grungy, hidden laneway bar that you’ll never stumble onto unless you know a person who has been here. Once you get past the dirty dumpters and the bad Chinatown alleyway smell, you stumble onto a pretty sweet hangout. Supposedly an old doctor’s/chemist warehouse, it’s been converted into a bar. You can get beers/wines or cocktails with plastic syringes as decoration…strange concept for a bar but fun if you’re looking for something new.
Cherry Bar – $$ (CBD)
Grungy, sticky floor, okay drinks…this place reminds me of a dirty uni bar lol. The one time I was here, I was unsure if it was a regular night or if it was a gay night…either way, it was fun. If you’re in the city til the wee hours, you can dance your little heart out here.
Napier Hotel- $$ (Fitzroy)
Pub with a fireplace? Can you say hello new winter home? There’s a couple cosy rooms with tons of seating, so perfect for friends. Come early if you want dinner as it gets pretty busy. The kangaroo steak is AMAZING (that’s coming from a vego) so definitely try it here. They also have a nice selection of beers on tap so definitely a good place to hibernate for awhile.
New Gold Mountain – $$ (CBD/Chinatown)
Located right above Double Happiness, this place is even better if the bartenders decide to be nice and not total tools. They used to serve this amazing peanut butter bourbon (tastes like pb smoothie). This goes down even smoother than…yea go here. Delicious. Last time I was there, they wouldn’t make the PB bourbon, but there’s no harm in asking twice.
Double Happiness – $$ (CBD/Chinatown)
Stroll down Liverpool Laneway just off of Bourke Street and you’ll come across Double Happiness! Such a sweet spot…intimate and warm. Delicious asian-inspired cocktails are yummy and totally worth the $18. Definitely always a winner if you have the money and want to be a little classy before you go trashy the rest of the night.
Pho Dzung Tan Dinh- $ (Richmond and CBD)
Tastes like home! I’ve been dying for a good bowl of pho, especially now that it is FA-REEZING down under! Located in the CBD (Russell/Lonsdale) and in Richmond (Victoria Street), you can get a bowl of pho for under $10…hells to the yes! Add an iced white coffee (viet coffee) and I’m in heaven…it’s like I was home asking my dad to make me coffee and my mom to make me pho. Fills you up and keeps you warm! I think I’ve been here like 5/6 times in the last month lol. Yea, I like pho that much :-) The place is a bit dingy but what do you expect for dirt cheap food? The utensils and plates are clean, the people are quick and the food is consistent! Great for lunch! You can get a small, medium, or large. I’ve never even dared to see what the large looks like…I imagine bigger than a baby but that’s just speculation. A medium should do you good. And to boot, they even have vegetarian :-) Huzzah!
The Buffalo Club – $ (CBD)
No you’re not just walking aimlessly down that creepy alleyway…you’re just walking to The Buffalo Club. Quite a classy establishment during the day…it turns into a seedy, overly hipster and 8th grade dance type place at night. Pretty much what you look for in an unknown club :-) Tucked right in between Elizabeth and Sutherland Ln, the place is near impossible to find if you don’t know where you’re going. Drinks are cheap as and the music is pretty retro. We danced like fools on the dance floor and no one judger…or we didn’t notice if they did, ha! It had the vibe of an 8th grade dance with wallflowers attached to the walls, scoping out the dance floor…and the floors were just the right amount of sticky to call home. Two thumbs up in my book. Thank you Genevieve Smith for making the call on this one!
Polly – $$$ (Fitzroy)
Hello lover, this place has AMAZING cocktails. But be careful, otherwise you’ll end of throwing down $100 before you can count the number of drinks you’ve had. If you’re feeling a bit classy and want to throw down serious cash for good drinks, go here…the bartenders and staff are fairly nice. It’s got an old victorian…sensual decor going on, so if you’re looking for a casual classy night with the ladies then you’ve found your place.
The Carlton Hotel – $$ (CBD)
Pretty weird victorian/hunter/safari decor…have you ever seen an ostrich wear pearls? Yea, didn’t think so! Fairly decently priced drinks, I like the vibe of this place though the bartenders are a bit rude and arrogant. Had to shout at the guy a few times before I plainly stated, ‘white wine.’ Guess I’m speaking a different language…but regardless, defs a bumping afterwork drink place.
Ray’s Cafe – $$ (Brunswick)
The local cafe in my new hood. When you first walk by you think to yourself…can I really stand being in this place with so many hipsters? But then you smell the coffee and realise you are home :-) Coffees are pretty average, but better than any starbucks that’s for sure. Brunch is also pretty good, though they overcooked the poached eggs a bit. Always get the specials…I’ve come back numerous times after my 1st and gotten the specials, they’re so yummy that it makes you mad that they are only specials. They should consider replacing some of their standards with those specials (esp the smoked salmon!). Prices are great for brunch, under $20 and you gotta love all the snide remarks you get to make as you watch the hipsters drink their coffee and talk about life and stuff…I actually don’t know what hipsters do with their time, other than drink coffee.
Thaila Thai – $$ (Brunswick)
Take-away or dine in, good quality cheap thai food. This totally hits the spot and it’s reasonably cheap as well…gotta love the Aussies and their obsession with Thai food. It’s been doing me wonders in the last 4 mo. I always judge a place by their pad thai and this is a pretty good one. Come on, if you mess up pad thai…can you make anything else right? No. Give it a go, see how you feel.
Proud Mary (Collingwood) – $$
Brunch all day, hells to the yes! How exciting is this place? If you’re in Collingwood, then head over here for some delish brunch…but mind you there is a wait! Like all good brunch places, the wait here is a bit ridic…I think we waited like 45-50 mins before getting our food, but totally worth it. The menu is pretty standard, ranging from smoked salmon to scrambled eggs, etc…though no eggs benedict which was quite disappointing. The capps were delish but overall the drink menu is massively overwhelming so if you’re indecisive…look at that menu first. The atmosphere is sleek and cool, a bit sterile and minimalistic…so in other words, hipster. Come before 12 or after 1:30 otherwise it’s busy and the service kinda blows. Or just get a takeaway coffee and sandwich, still pretty yummo!
Westlake Chinese Restaurant (Chinatown) – $$
Craving yum cha? This place is decent, I’ve definitely been spoiled by San Francisco, LA and NY so this somewhat pales in comparison :-( Why is it that the first thing to come around is always chinese broccoli? We had most of the staple items: chinese broccoli, shu mai, fried prawn balls with sugarcane, veggie dumplings, shrimp chive dumplings, shrimp rice noodles plus a few different items, like jellyfish. It took forever for us to get any real dumplings and the variety wasn’t great. All of the food was decent, typical, but not phenomenal. Not sure if I’ll try this place again because I’m sure there are better yum cha places around. But if you are willing to try this place, then go there early to beat the lunch crowd which arrives around 12:15.
Stalactites (CBD) – $$
Souvlakis at 4am? Hells to the yes! An institution if you will…this place is conveniently 24/7 so you can either sit-in or take-away (cheaper option). The kebabs are delish…lamb, chicken, mix, vego…you’re good with any of them. Get the pita and mixed dips as an appetizer..I have no idea what the tarama dip is but it is heaven. The other plates are quite large and $$$ so it’s a good idea to share a few dishes and split the bill. A staple in any clubber’s night.
Il Dolce Freddo (Carlton) – $
Best gelati place I’ve found so far! Their pistachio is creamy and absolutely delish! They even have black sesame which I have been searching for for years! Totally my new place to go, esp on a beautiful sunny day…you can just grab your cone and head over to park and just enjoy your ice cream and watch time pass you by.
Brunetti (Carlton) – $
With a big group? Need a quick bite? Brunetti is a massive warehouse-like restaurant where you can pick your panini, salad, pastry, etc and order your coffee before choosing your seat. There are some nice places outside if inside is too noisy. The coffees are okay and the salads were decent, good portion though. I hear the desserts are amazing, especially tiramisu…so go here after a date and grab dessert, who can say no to cake?
Saigon Pho (Carlton) – $
Conveniently located near uni, this is a fairly good place to get pho. They even have a vegetarian one! Prices are fairly good and portions are decent. They cover pretty much the classics: pho, vermicelli dry noodles, a few beef stew noodles, spring rolls, egg rolls and a TON of drinks. The jackfruit shake was fairly good…reminded me of my childhood! Good place for lunch since service is quick and portions won’t make you get a food coma. Definitely going back here!
Camy Shanghai Dumpling (CBD) – $
In the mood for dumplings? I always am and I’m glad this place is dirt cheap! We ordered about 60 dumplings, chinese broccoli and a few other side dishes and it was only about $10/person! Cheap as! The portions are good and the service is quick but sucky!! You gotta grab your own plates and water but who cares when you get plenty of dumplings to satisfy you? And as the icing on the cake…BYO! Yay for BYO! They do have a free beers, but you’re better off just hopping over to the nearest bottle-o for some wine/beer. Definitely a great place to go with some friends, with plenty of choices…so everyone is happy :-)
Trippy Taco (Collingwood) – $
Vego Mexican food cantina and cafe! So I finally found a relatively cheap Mexican place? Say what? Though it is not as cheap as back home, this will do. The portions are quite large…I was stuffed after eating my tofu asada burrito with all the fixings (salsa, lettuce, cheese, and guac)! I even got to drink it down with a mandarin Jarritos (YUM though not as good as tamarind) and with tapatio to boot! The tacos and quesadillas looked very yummy, so I’ll have to try that next time. I do have a couple of critiques: a bit too cheesy – overpowered the taste, too salty – all the sauce drained to the bottom of the burrito, and too much tofu – would have better with a mix of more lettuce and more guac. Other than those critiques, there’s nothing stopping me from frequenting this place again! Yay I’m not longer Mexican food deprived!
Lemongrass (Carlton) – $$$
Voted the best Thai in Melbourne, the menu is pretty typical in terms of thai food. However, they do have some very interesting appetizers like the sweet corn cakes (a must get – sooo yummy) and a few other things that are definitely worth trying. The pad thai and green curry are both staples and you can never go wrong. The green curry had a very nice kick to it, which is always fabulous. The decor of the place is nice…creates the atmosphere of being in a thai palace or what you’d expect in a thai palace and the service is quite good, better than most restaurants I’ve been to here. Prices are definitely $$$ so you’re probably better off eating at another thai place but if you’re on Lygon Street and don’t want Italian, go here!
Charlie’s Bar (CBD) – $$$
Sensual and sultry….two words you always want to hear when you go to a bar. Charlie’s Bar has a wide array of yummy tapa size food, try the prawns or the bread and dip, or just come along for drinks. The decor is rich in deep reds…very monastery like but with a sexy twist. Perfect for a night out with friends or a hot date. Drinks are yummy and very extensive…you could spend hours reading the list and never deciding! Things are a bit on the pricier side, but well worth it if you got the money. Crowd is generally a little older…what uni kid has $20 to blow on a cocktail? So save this place for a special occasion because it is definitely worth a try…at least once while you’re in Melbourne.
Naked for Satan (Fitzroy) – $
Delicious and fun. Pintxos, aka tapas, and vodka is their thing. Help yourself to any of the pintxos and then save the toothpicks to pay at the end of the meal. From 12-4, all the pintxos are 50 cents instead of the usual $2. We tried every one of them and the best was the butter almond stuffed mushroom. I’m pretty sure we each had 4/5 of those, very tasty. The salmon was also good…but nothing special. There are hot pintxos going around, but the waitress was really slow and skipped our table so we didn’t get to try it…I think it was a lamb meatball…so I would have skipped it anyways. Their drink list is very extensive and we tried the watermelon and mint…omg, delicious. Refreshing and light…perfect if you’re not trying to go hard. Good spot for lunch with co-workers or if you’re just having a lazy sort of day with friends. It would probably also be a cool spot for a date since the drink menu is so extensive.
Madame Brussels (CBD) – $$
Garden party meets preppy hipster. If you’re looking for something a bit pretentious but fun, go here. The environment is very relaxed and the set up is quite cool; all sorts of garden furniture lining up the room. There are three sitting areas: 1 indoors, 1 patio and 1 balcony. There is a great view in the outside rooms…perfect for enjoying the sunset with friends or with a significant other. We tried the summer splendor punch: strawberry infused alcohol with a hint of lemonade…quite refreshing and hit the spot. We also had the capsicum dip with olives…delicious. I’ll definitely be coming here to enjoy another happy hour…an oasis in the bustling CBD.