Melbourne’s food scene is pretty enviable, even we can admit that, but without the G&G around to guide you when you visit, where do you even start? Don’t worry, because while Brisbane will always be our hood, we’re no stranger to ‘researching’ (read: eating our way through) the southern states as well, and we’ve manage to collate quite a list of must eat Melbourne fare in our travels. All you need to do is make sure you’ve left plenty of time for wining and dining (and packed your stretchy pants) on your next trip!
#1. Tacos | Mamasita | CBD
Which tacos, you ask? Honestly, just try them all. This is Mexican food like you’ve never tried it before, and it’s all good, hombre. Make sure you try the tequila of the month too – you might just change your mind about steering clear of it for the rest of your life. Unless you pass it over in favour of a Mocha Martini, in which case, you’re excused.
#2. Charcoal roasted jumbo Tiger prawns | Spice Temple | Southbank
We’re pretty much a fan of any menu item that’s described as ‘jumbo’ but these prawns are on a level of their own. Using traditional Chinese cooking methods, the chefs perfectly prepare the prawns before drizzling them with a green chilli and spring onion dressing that will make you never want to come home.
#3. Xiao Long Bao | Din Tai Fung | CBD
It might seem strange that something no bigger than a mouthful would require mathematical precision, but that’s just what goes on in the Din Tai Fung kitchen. Weighed out to a precise measurement, steamed in exactly three minutes and on your table in seconds, these parcels of minced pork dumplings encased in melt in your mouth pastry are on point every time.
#4. Braised duck, porcini mushroom & pecorino gnocchi | Tipo 00. | CBD
Tipo or not Tipo? Definitely Tipo, especially with this tender braised duck, porcini mushroom and pecorino on the cards. Yes it is as good as it sounds, and yes, a big glass of red is a must.
#5. Tuna tartare with crushed pea salad and goats curd | Cumulus Inc | Flinders Lane
If the whole uncooked fish thing freaks you out, don’t worry because these fresh chunks of tuna on a bed of creamy goats curd and a fresh crushed pea salad are so tasty that you’ll forget they’re raw. And since you’re here, you may as well eat your way through their impressive charcuterie list too. After all – you’re on holidays!
Authentic Greek food speaks to us on a deep, almost spiritual level as it is, but when the restaurant is run by Masterchef host George Calombaris and the menu is based on his own family recipes, we’re practically ready to move the other Brunswick Street. You can almost taste the love in the mousakka – made using George’s own grandma’s recipe topped with a soft and silky Greek cheese béchamel sauce.
#7. Banana bread French toast | Sardi | Hawthorn
Two of our favourite breakfast meals got together and had a baby on Sardi’s menu and let us tell you, the result is even better than you’re imagining. And as if banana bread French toast doesn’t sound delicious enough, Sardi top it with mascarpone, maple roasted pears, apple crumble and salted caramel to make the breakfast of our dreams.
#8. B East Burger | The B.East | Brunswick East
Brisbane might be burger central, but Melbourne has got some burgers to give even our faves a run for their money, one of them being the B East special. Triple beef, triple bacon, pickled red onion, lettuce and tomato loaded with chilli cheese sauce – but really, they had us at triple bacon.
#9. Massaman curry of coconut braised beef | Chin Chin | Flinders Lane
Better wipe the drool off your chin chin when this arrives in front of you – you don’t want to look like a tourist in front of the uber hipster waitstaff at this infamous spot. Be warned, the queues on the weekend are quite a sight – but their Massaman curry is totally worth all the hype. Get in early – or just hang out with some cocktails in the GoGo bar while you wait.
#10. One of the specials | Gelato Messina | Fitzroy
Key lime pie, baklava, passionfruit cheesecake, Wagon Wheel, pavlova – there isn’t a gelato flavour Gelato Messina hasn’t come up with. At least you’d think so, but then they go and crank out five crazy new flavours the next week. NOT EVEN JOKING.
#11. Drunken chicken | Lucy Liu | CBD
If you like chicken and you like wine (and let’s face it, who doesn’t?), you need to get your lips around the drunken chicken at Lucy Liu. Free range chicken poached to a tender state of perfection with the flavours of Shaoxing wine, spring onion and ginger will leave you feeling cheerier than one of Charlie’s angels.
We know what you’re thinking, fancy doughnuts are all the rage right now and you don’t need to trek it all the way to Melbourne to get your hands on one, but trust us when we say that these freshly made American gourmet doughnuts are a cut above the rest. Perfectly doughy and oozing with unique flavours like watermelon, chilli and lime zest with coconut sap sugar, you doughnut want to go past this place!
#13. BBQ ribs | Kong | Richmond
You should never judge a book by it’s cover – and neither should you judge a Korean BBQ joint by it’s unimpressive exterior. One look at the menu here and you’ll be engrossed, but before you get caught up ordering all the bao buns, wings and dumplings you can handle, remember to leave room for a plate of baby back pork ribs with soy and sesame.
#14. Spiced lamb jaffle | Chez Dre | South Melbourne
Don’t even think about ordering avo on toast for breakfast while you’re in Melbourne – you’re on an adventure and you’re going to eat like it damn it! Chez Dre’s roast duck crepe with spiced roast duck, panko crumbed egg, cucumber, aioli, hoisin and side salad, is out of this world– and you can always get avocado on the side.
#15. Slow Cooked Pork Belly with Chickpeas & Morcilla | MoVida | CBD
Even if you stop by in the middle of summer you can probably time your visit to MoVida well enough to get a cool change in the air (it is Melbourne after all) – just enough to get you hankering after the hearty pork belly to share. Even if not, don’t skip over the slow cooked perfection for something lighter – this dish is always a good idea.
Just don’t blame us if you come back a few kilos heavier.
Words by Kate Streader