A broke girl with a bucket list

Top Melbourne Eats

Top Melbourne Eats

Melbourne: the home of vintage clothes, alleys you actually want to visit and most importantly some of the best food I’ve had all year. When we weren’t exploring the city and taking way too many photos, (see here) we were indulging in some of the best restaurants and cafes that Melbourne could offer. As three students on a pretty ‘budget’ trip, we weren’t going to hit up anything too expensive, so here are my top 4 places for impressing your mates, getting good food and most importantly, not breaking the bank. Enjoy!

1. Hochi Mama

Hochi Mama, aka the place I will be recommending to anyone going near Melbourne for years to come, was the first place we ended up eating at on our trip. Not only was it insanely cheap (they offer a group menu whereby you pay a set amount and can pick any selection of small plates, large dishes and sides) but it was also the best Asian fusion restaurant I have been to. Set up similarly to Chin Chin. which has locations in both Sydney and Melbourne, Hochi Mama’s boasts a cheaper menu and a more relaxed atmosphere which is perfect for the hungry student. However, the quality of the food we ate, including ‘pho’plings’ (dumplings served in a pho-style broth) and an amazing massaman lamb curry, exceeded its price tag. If you only have the time or money to visit one place, it has to be Hochi Mama – affordable, delicious and extremely addictive.

Beth’s pick: The amazing chicken bao (pictured above). Too good for words.

Hochi Mama | 11 Liverpool St, Melbourne CBD

 

2. 5 Lire

If I had to pick a favourite brunch spot, this would take the cake. 5 Lire (which is pronounced ‘cinque lire’ in keeping with its Italian-fusion flavours) can be found through a narrow, unassuming doorway on Errol Street, but their awesome menu is definitely worth a try. The best thing about this place is the range: entirely vegetarian with plenty of vegan and gluten free options, 5 Lire doesn’t skimp on flavour either. With a menu that has indulgent ricotta hotcakes drowned in nutella right next to a healthy cherry ripe chia bowl, this place is the perfect spot to invite anyone (and everyone) out to brunch. Their meals are delicious and inventive: from the anything-but-simple avocado smash served with black tahini paste and pomegranate to a gluten and dairy free ‘espresso martini’ cacao and avocado mousse with coyo and coconut granola. Honestly, if I lived in North Melbourne, I would make it a mission to try everything on their menu – it took the three of us about 20 minutes to even decide on a shortlist!

Beth’s pick: Located on the specials board, the crumpets topped with whipped ricotta and poached apricots were decadent without being overpowering. If you’re a sweet tooth though, the nutella pancakes that are served with ice cream and fairy floss should be right up your street.

5 Lire | 116 Errol St, North Melbourne

3. Auction Rooms

Though 5 Lire takes the cake for me in terms of variety, if you’re looking to step up your brunch game you can’t go wrong with Auction Rooms. Also located in North Melbourne, Auction Rooms is a beautiful, well lit space with high ceilings and an outdoor area. My only issue is the portion sizes – which weren’t a problem for the indulgent brioche french toast (pictured) but for food like the breakfast board, it is well worth checking out some pictures of the meals on their Instagram before you decide. Getting the super smoothie that was added onto the breakfast board in a piccolo glass was a little bit of a surprise considering the price. While other brunch spots tend to stick to variations on familiar meals (like avo on toast) the Auction Rooms menu provided a breath of fresh air. Corned beef hash, teriyaki eggplant and an awesome arepa e’huevo (or Colombian corn pancakes) make deciding on breakfast difficult. Though the price is a little higher than surrounding cafes, Auction Rooms really delivers on flavour – anything you end up choosing is bound to be delicious.

Beth’s pick: The French Toast. Don’t know why you would order literally anything else on the menu it is to die for.

Auction Rooms | 103-107 Errol St, North Melbourne

 

4. Fandango

Fandango was the first breakfast spot we hit in Melbourne and it did not disappoint. If you’re not about experimenting with your breakfast flavours, Fandango does all of your brunch cravings extremely well. Hit up Fandango if you want more than your moneys worth of portion sizes and flavour: our meals were so big they were difficult to finish and affordable. Also, this spot was clearly a favourite with the locals: the lovely people who served us knew everyone who walked through the door. Though the menu is deceptively simple, (we ordered french toast, pancakes and avocado on toast pictured above) the flavours were well balanced and delicious. The poached apples and bacon on the french toast added flavour, while the strawberries on the pancakes cut through the heavy ricotta base. This is definitely the place to go for a big, no fuss brekkie on a budget. 10/10.

Beth’s pick: this one’s a hard choice but its gotta go to the strawberry cheesecake pancakes (closely followed by the french toast with poached apple and bacon…but it doesn’t seem fair to recommend two different french toasts you’ve got to keep some variety)

Fandango | 97 Errol St, North Melbourne

 

Honorable Mentions

Though not technically restaurants or cafes, there are three other places that any foodie should add to their Melbourne Bucket List. Firstly, the Queen Victoria Markets are well worth checking out if you’re staying somewhere with a kitchen. Not only is produce super fresh, but the fruit and veg section is amazingly cheap. (We’re talking 99cent avocados and if that isn’t worth paying for return flights to Melbourne I don’t know what is.) We ended up cooking a meal for 9 people by buying the biggest loaf of sourdough we could find, a couple of bottles of wine and 3kg of fresh mussels that I can take absolutely no credit for making.
Next on the honourable mentions list is Mörk, the chocolate cafe that also has vegan options! Mörk specialises in dark chocolate and I highly recommend their dairy-free shake (though the weather in Melbourne might call for one of their hot chocolates instead!) The one mistake we made with Mörk was going straight after breakfast when we’d already had quite a bit of sweet food. Instead, I would recommend dropping in when you need a mid-afternoon pick-me-up, or a warm escape from the cold.
Finally, Naked for Satan is the place to go after hours. Specialising in flavoured vodka and Pintxos (small, tapas style dishes), it boasts a downstairs area and rooftop bar. My tip? Go for the Naked infused Chilli and Cinnamon vodka with a ginger ale it will blow your mind.