In Melbourne, Australia, the problem with food is that the choices are simply too many. Every corner may hold a new gem, every other street a new find.
Save the guilt for when you are home, because this 1 day guide will teach you how to squeeze the most out of a good eating day, especially useful for tourists on a tight schedule.
We bring 5 food stops you can visit all within one day, and instructions on how to get there so you can plan your route. We recommend following the order as presented but you can refer to the map at the end to decide which you want to visit first too!
1. Hardware Societe
Any food guide worth its salt will inform you of Melbourne city’s status as a cafe mecca. For breakfast, we dove straight into one cafe at the top of the game: the renowned Hardware Societe.
Named after the street upon which it sits, this popular Melbourne cafe often has a waiting list. Don’t be put off by the queue though. The rustic interior of the cafe is enlivened by the staff decked in workmen attire, dancing to the music as they take your orders.
Our first course was an artisanally plated Salmon Confit (AUD $22), which proved that quality need not be compromised by popularity. The confit seals in the inherent fattiness of the salmon, keeping it moist. Lightly seasoned, the crust gives the fish a delectable flavour even without the other garnishes.
For the second main, we opted for the Herb Roasted Mushrooms (AUD $20). A generous serving of mushrooms sits gaily on the brioche toast, effusing an earthy scent from the blend of herb seasoning. Unfortunately, the fried eggs topping the dish tasted slightly discordant with the other elements on the plate.
Do not, and I repeat this with a firm wag of the finger, do not leave Hardware Societe without having the Hot Chocolate (AUD $4.50). To achieve the impeccable balance of bitter and sweet, hot cocoa milk is tipped carefully into a cup of gooey dark chocolate. A rich dollop of cream finishes off this decadent concoction.
Hardware Societe Address: 120 Hardware St, Melbourne VIC 3000
How to get there: Take the free City Circle Tram to Queen St/ La Trobe St. From there it is a 3 mins walk to Hardware.
2. Queen Victoria Market
After the satisfying breakfast, you might presume the next meal will not be for another couple of hours. Wrong. We are working on a tourist’s appetite here.
Open every Tuesday and Thursday to Sunday, Queen Victoria Market (QVM) is well known for its cheap (and at times not so cheap) tourist paraphernalia. The market also has a whole section dedicated to food items, where Melbournites hustle for the freshest produce. It is here that you can get a snack to power you through the first half of the day.
At the market, our sights were inevitably drawn to the spectacular display of colours put up by the fruits. From the autumn hues of the apples to the vibrant gloss of the citruses, it took plenty of self discipline to resist buying a hamper worth of these locally produced goodies. Do note though as a tourist market, the prices at Queen Victoria Market tend to be marked up slightly.
A better investment would be in the freshly baked breads that you can find in the halls of QVM. Pair a toasty slice of banana bread with a frothy cup of latte for the perfect second breakfast to go.
If, like me, you are adamant about having a bite of the local catch, I strongly recommend giving the Cream Cheese Rolls (AUD $3) a go. Wrapped in your choice of smoked salmon or prosciutto ham, the cream cheese is a subtle accompaniment in terms of taste to the savoury meats. At the same, the former’s lusciousness forms an interesting contrasting to the chewy texture of the latter.
Regardless, there is sure to be something for every palate at Queen Victoria’s Market.
Queen Victoria Market Address: Rear of 513 Elizabeth Street Melbourne VIC 3000 | Website
How to get there: Take the free City Circle Tram to the Queen St/ La Trobe St stop. From there it is a 6 mins walk to the market. Alternatively, take a 10 min stroll from Hardware Societe.
3. Simpsons Chips and Burgers
Sometime between the tours of the magnificent shopping arcades, and the ethereal graffitied alleyways, the hunger pangs will inevitably strike again.
As seasoned tourists who knew how scant daylight hours were in winter months, we definitely did not want to waste precious sightseeing time on a fancy lunch. It was thus a happy sight when we chanced upon Simpsons Chips and Burgers
Simpsons is a no frills burger joint that relies on fresh ingredients, skillful assembly, and perhaps a touch of magic at the grill to satisfy its customers. The menu ranges from the Classic Cheeseburger (AUD $7.90) for the old school burger lovers, to the Organic Grill (AUD $6.90) for the vegan crowd.
We of course had to give the Classic a go. The burger comes with a flame grilled beef patty, melted double cheddar slices, crunchy lettuce and tomato, and a slather of tomato sauce and mayonnaise to top it all off. While it is not the most picture worthy burger, I assure you that this is one burger that will have you hankering for more.
Don’t make the mistake of ordering it to go though. Watching the succulent patty juices drip down your hand is both a messy and a gut wrenching affair.
Simpsons Chips and Burgers Address: 143 Russell St., Melbourne Vic 3000 | Website
How to get there: Take the free City Circle Tram to Parliament Railway Station. From there it is a 7 mins walk to Simpsons.
4. Tank Fish and Chippery
After a long day of walking, what you need is some good ol’ fish and chips to replenish the soul. Our dinner stop, Tank Fish and Chippery, was an oddity amongst the rows of dimly lit Italian restaurants along Lygon street.
While the diner’s beautiful blue tiled table tops sing tastefulness, the scents wafting from the sizzling grill croon another tune: comfort.
To get a good measure of the place, we had the classic Catch of the Day: Fish and Chips (AUD $15.50). The battered NZ Hake was wonderfully flaky, and paired well with the homemade tartare sauce. The fries too achieved the crispy-on-the-outside and fluffy-on-the-inside standard expected of a good chippery.
However, the real show stopper is the grilled Atlantic Salmon (AUD $13.50). You know the place knows its seafood when your salmon is done to a medium rare. Beautifully seared, the slightly pink fish retains its succulence for a silky sensation on the tongue.
At AUD $7, the cost of adding two sides may be slightly pricey, but the portions more than warrant the price. We paired the salmon with rich, buttery brown rice, reminiscent of a well seasoned paella. The salad, tossed with vinaigrette, provided the refreshing zestiness that the plate needed.
For those craving a little something else, Tank also offers a variety of burgers and tacos. The best part? All the seafood served at the diner is sustainably produced.
How to get there: Take the free City Circle Tram to Russell St/La Trobe St. From there it is a 10 min walk to Tank.
The night cannot end on a sweeter note than with a gelato indulgence at Pidapipo, just further down Lygon street. My friend’s boast of it being the ‘Best Gelato in Melbourne’ was clearly concurred by the snaking line of students from the nearby Melbourne University.
A fruity scent suffuses the air in the gelateria. Behind the polished marble tops, a cheery crew scoops liberal servings of smooth and creamy gelato for the eager crowd (AUD $4 per scoop).
My go-to flavour, Fiot di latte, was delightfully fragrant without the cloying sweetness of other milk based treats.
For those inclined towards an icier texture, the gelateria’s sorbets are a hit as well. The strawberry sorbet that we had was satisfyingly smooth, with the right amount of tartness and sugariness.
Pidapipo churns out fresh batches of ice cream daily. Other interesting flavours include Nutella, Sea Salt Caramel, and the home favourite, Kiwi. As a willing convert of the place, I urge you to make space for the gelato, even if you are filled to the brim.
Pidapipo Address: 299 Lygon St, Carlton VIC 3053 | Website
How to get there: From Tank’s Fish and Chippery, it is an 8 min walk to Pidapipo.