Melbourne is the home of cool, so it’s no surprise that a lot of the best spots to eat are hidden away, tucked in alley ways or underground basements. To make sure you’re not missing out on some of the best dining this fine city has to offer, our design team has shared their favourite secret food gems. So check out this list of sneaky pop-ups, sidewalk stands, food trucks and lane way dining all of which help to make up our guide to Melbourne’s best restaurants.
The secret guide to Melbourne’s best restaurants
La Petite Creperie
Where: Swanston St between Collins St and Bourke St
What to look for: A line at a little metal stand
La Petite Creperie is, as the name would suggest, a very little crepe stand. It’s so little that it hides in plain sight on the busy Swanston Street sidewalk. It operate out of an old metal news stand that has been re-designed to serve up beautiful, fresh, delicious and delicate French crepes with a variety of toppings. Try the home made salted caramel sauce.
What we love – Fresh and delicious crepes on the go
White Guy Cooks Thai Food Truck
Where: Various locations
What to look for: The green and white truck or Facebook updates
White Guy Cooks Thai is a new and welcome addition to the food truck craze. The self proclaimed ‘white guy‘ offers a nice mixture of traditional food(such as green curry) and fusion food (such as Korean pulled beef sliders) . White guy cooks thai offers artisan eastern fusion with the low key appeal that food trucks offer. It’s food worthy of one of the best restaurants in Melbourne delivered conveniently and without fuss. If you are keen to track this or any other food truck wherethetruck.at offer live maps to help you scope it out.
What we love – Asian food, in a slider, from a truck
Where : Mercat Cross Hotel opposite Queen Victoria Market
What to look for: Facebook upates from the team
Doughboys Doughnuts have been operating from various pop-up locations for over a year now. Recently they’ve been dishing out doughnuts from a table top at the Mercat Hotel opposite the Queen Victoria Market. Anyone who has been lucky enough to stumble across Doughboys would know that as far as desserts go, these guys offer up something to rival any of the best restaurants in Melbourne. Doughboys create artisan doughnuts with weird and wonderful toppings that are dipped onto freshly made doughnuts on demand. Toppings vary daily and vary from decadent double chocolate to watermelon chilli and lime The result is a unique doughnut that is always fresh.
What we love – Chilli lime watermelon dipped doughnuts, I mean come on
Where: Never the same place twice
What to look for : You don’t
When it comes to being secretive, there is no doubt this is one of Melbourne’s best restaurants. In fact, Zingara Cucina is the Kanye West of restaurants. Their website proudly states “the fact you haven’t heard of us, is by design”. They operate only during the summer and the menu and location changes weekly. There is a emphasis on the meal being a shared experience for guests. Strap yourself in for a true underground dining experience.
What we love – Food with attitude
Where: Degraves St
What to look for: Waffles served from the kerbside
Waffle on serves fresh French baguettes which are crunchy on the outside and soft on the inside. The baguettes come with a variety of fillings that are fantastic in their own right, but it’s the waffles that make this place such a fulfilling find. Made with sugar beet that has been imported from Belgium and cooked fresh in front of you, these waffles are tasty enough to eat with nothing but a little bit of icing sugar or fantastic with ice-cream, chocolate and strawberries.
What we love – Fresh French and Belgian waffles.
Where: Various locations
What to look for: The net and a red x
It sounds like a joke but Jafflechute is Australia’s and possibly the world’s first float down diner. After placing an order online you are directed to a red x on the sidewalk. From there you wait for your steaming hot jaffle to be parachuted down, wrapped in foil and a paper bag. It’s a nice novelty and a delicious sandwich. In a city full of food innovations this one is the most fun.
What we love – $5 airborn cheese and tomato jaffle.
Where: Literature Lane
What to look for: The line in a little laneway between two other lane ways
Wonderbao are dedicated to the humble steamed bun. There are a huge variety of bao including bbq pork, chicken, seafood, tofu and egg custard. Each bun is reasonably priced and stuffed to the brim with filling. Served hot, soft and sweet it’s impossible to stop at just one, but luckily they are reasonably priced so you won’t have too.
What we love – Delicious cheap bao
Where: Swanston Street
What to look for: Someone handing out flyers
OM offers $6.50 all you can eat vegetarian meals. It’s a set menu, so don’t expect too much in the way of variety. What you do get is a hearty lentil curry, a vegetable curry and some of the most delicious hot and fluffy naan bread we’ve ever had. It’s cheap and tasty and all you can eat.
What we love – Fresh, fluffy naan bread.
Brooks of Melbourne
Where: George Parade (or the basement of 115 Collins St)
What to look for: The aged wooden door
If you are looking for a hidden gem that offers full scale fine dining then Brooks is the place for you. In the basement of the heritage listed Austral house, Brooks looks to combine old fashioned hospitality with modern cuisine. It is warm, welcoming and luxurious and a lot of effort has gone into making every part of the dining experience enjoyable.
What we like – Old fashion charm meets modern fine dining.
Jam and Cream
Where: 1 Orr St Heidelberg
What to look for: White washing hanging up in the window.
It’s a short 20 minute drive from the city, but it feels like a journey back to a simpler time. Everything about Jam and Cream is warm, calming and welcoming. There is a huge variety of savoury and sweet scones, which are all made fresh to order and served hot with a pot of tea. There is also an array of other old fashioned favourites including pinwheel sandwhiches, pasties and sausage rolls. The staff are unbelievably friendly and clearly take pride in making Jam and Cream feel a lot like a visit to Nan’s.
What we love – A scone served with a smile
Charles Elena – Melbourne Branding Agency