Base Backpackers Crew Member Simon Bond fills you in on a few of Melbourne's secrets.
Have you ever been chatting to a fellow traveler and heard them reel off the plethora of cities/countries that they’ve ‘done.’ E.g. “Oh yeah, I’ve done New York, I’ve done France, done Rome, done done done done….I’ve never been a fan of this term as it just seems so finite. To me, it sounds like they feel they have somehow completed an entire city, that they’ve exhausted all possible sights, activities and experiences. Which is an almighty feat for even a humble city like Melbourne, let alone somewhere as a vast as New York.
Despite living in Melbourne my entire life I would never say nor think that I’ve ‘done’ Melbourne. But I do feel that I have a fair bit of knowledge on some of the cheap and delicious places to grab a bite to eat in Melbourne - it is after all, the multicultural capital of Australia.
Melbourne is a city where you can eat really well, for really cheap providing you know the right places. If your willing to put your carnivorous needs aside for a meal, I highly recommend Lentil As Anything it’s a great vegetarian restaurant that is just around the corner from Base and located in St Kilda. It has a unique ‘pay what you feel it’s worth’ philosophy, serving up a variety of delicious curries and many vegetarian delights.
If you keen on the veg, then I beg you to take trip to the bohemian north side of Melbourne and check out Moroccan Soup Bar. It is genuinely some of the nicest vegetarian food you’ll ever eat.
Don’t worry meat lovers, I’m one of you, and I know you need your fix. For most people that live in Melbourne, The Queen Victoria Market is not a place we go to for fake/cheap clothes and goods... Ebay overtook that long ago. It’s a food market. Head into the meat and fish area and you will find thick, organic, locally produced, grain fed, wagyu steaks that will have any true steak lover drooling at the mouth. Instead of eating out, why not buy a really nice steak and a bottle of wine, and cook it yourself. It’s a great way to get a taste of Australia’s premium quality fresh produce at a fraction of the price you’d pay at a nice restaurant. I guarantee you, the meat you find at the market is cheaper and far better quality than what you’d buy at our local supermarkets.
If looking at all that meat make’s you hungry, there a two awesome cheap market stalls you should try out for hot food. Look for the crowds of people surrounding the ‘borek’ stall. A ‘borek is a delicious, long bready, pastry thingy with various meat, veg and cheeses inside. It hails from Turkey and at only $2.50 is a true bargain. Have your order ready before you get to the front of the line as these ladies are known for their ‘soup Nazi’ styled vending.
Near the Borek stall, is the home of Melbourne’s best bratwurst sausage. You might have to queue for a couple of minutes but its well worth your wait, I recommend the spicy sausage with cheese, onion, tommy k, and hot mustard.
China Town is full of cheap restaurants, so of which are fantastic some of which are terrible. Here are a couple of my favourites. For a mouth-watering Shanghai style dumpling house head to Shanghai Village, large plates of around 12 dumplings are a measly $7-$8 and its BYO any alcohol, I’ve actually been there before with a bottle of a Jager and a six pack of Red Bulls, pounding Jager Bombs in plain sight. Truly a great and cheap way to start out a night in the city.
If Japanese is your thing you must go to the authentic, yet still cheap Izakaya Chuji. The lunch Bento Boxes are about $12 and you get a wide variety tasty treats.
Lygon Street – The home of Melbourne’s best and worst Italian food. Just north of the city is Lygon Street, Melbourne’s Italian district. Unfortunately it’s become so well known for it’s Italian food that many not so cheap, and very average restaurants have popped up. There are still a few really ones though. ‘Tiamo’ serve up fresh simple traditional pasta that rivals the best. If you’re into pasta, you won’t be disappointed. A little bit more expensive than the other places I’ve mentioned but I’m pretty sure most of the dishes are under $20.
Victoria St, Richmond aka Little Vietnam. This is an area known for it’s delectable yet super cheap Vietnamese food, particularly the Pho. (famous Vietnamese rice noodle soup) Victoria Street is an area where restaurant competition is so fierce that you can pretty much walk into any restaurant and be sure to have a decent cheap meal. My number one spot on Victoria St for Pho is Co Do it’s about $8 for a soup that I feel is just as good if not better than something you’d actually get in Saigon.
That’s my two cents on eating in Melbourne. If nothing appeals to you, then tell me what does and I’m sure I’ll be able to recommend a place for you. For those too lazy to google, I’ve listed the names of the restaurants and their address below, our friendly reception staff can show you the way.
Lentil As Anything 41 Blessington St, St Kilda Shanghai Village 112 Little Burke St, Melbourne Izakaya Chuji 1989 Lonsdale St, Melbourne Tiamo Coffee Restaurant 303 Lygon St, Carlton Co Do 196 Victoria St, Richmond