Melbourne's casual dining revolution has turned Greek cuisine on its head, with Jimmy Grants in Fitzroy. From the team behind the Press Club, the cosy restaurant features a refined menu of souvlaki. Expect fillings like traditionally braised lamb or rotisserie chicken, served against a backdrop of a DC-3 aircraft and the Greek-owned Patris, the ocean liner that transported "Jimmy Grants" – Australian's rhyming-slang nickname for first-wave "immi" "grants" by street artist Dan Wenn.
This Melbourne institution on the Bourke Street strip has been feeding the masses for decades now; people who flock to this classic Italian espresso bar for honest Italian home-style cooking. Set in a long narrow space, the prime positions are at the bar with extra stool seating flanked by gold-backed mirrors and a large communal table in the kitchen. There are no menus here, just a large hanging board that boasts traditional Italian offerings.
Chez Dre, in the rear of Coventry St, is a bustling café owned by renowned pastry chef Andrea Reiss, who has worked in Michelin starred restaurants across France. Breakfasts are plentiful and quirky, whilst lunch will send patrons ‘umming' and ‘agghing' over the large selection of lavish baguettes baked daily on the premise. Different fillings can be sampled throughout the week, but we hear the classic smoked salmon, cream cheese and cucumber combo is hard to beat.
A long-standing haunt in South Melbourne, diners regard Gas Eatery, Supplies & Catering as a favourite in the area for breakfast, lunch and anything in-between. Found on buzzing Coventry Street, Gas keeps the masses satisfied with its signature Middle Eastern eggs, empanadas filled with slow-cooked beef and Allpress coffee. Their daily rotating specials board offers Mediterranean thoroughfare at wallet-pleasing prices.
Tasty Basque-style pintxos and spiced vodka are perfectly sinful together at Naked for Satan; a unique Fitzroy restaurant whose name is a nod to its famous speakeasy origins. Individual desires rule the experience with self-serve baguette slices speared with colourful vegetable and meat toppings. An honour system prevails here – simply pay for the number of toothpicks you have at the end of the night.
A non-profit incorporated association, Lentil as Anything restaurant in Abbotsford embodies a philosophy that defies today's money driven society. A self-proclaimed social experiment, there are no set prices here and the customer is left to decide what they feel is an appropriate price to pay for the organic vegan/vegetarian food and service provided. Sit indoors or out under low hanging trees surrounded by the Yarra River.
Down in Melbourne's Market Lane HuTong Dumpling Bar is pumping out delicious morsels at all hours of the day. While the restaurant's younger sister in Windsor is all about Peking duck, the CBD HuTong keeps things simple with dumplings, and its soup-filled specialty ensures diners keep coming back for more. After the first round of dumplings you can think about going back for green beans sautéed with fried pork mince.
First it was Huxtable, then Huxtaburger and now it's Huxtaburger II. Located on Fulham Place between Elizabeth and Queen Streets, CBD workers will be able to enjoy the Huxta-magic too. Not sure what the whole hipster trend's about? Picture a menu of six different gourmet burgers (one a vegetarian option), crinkle-cut chips or chipotle fries, and variety of beer and wine. Join the queue and see what the fuss is about.
This tiny Japanese cafe in Melbourne is a powerhouse of energy, and a great city option for a quick, hearty lunch at low prices. Think bento boxes and curries by day and porky ramen soup by night. There are few places in the city that have the same fun ambience, efficient service and quality tucker for less than a tenner the way DonToo does. The wooden bench seating up front is a great option for people watching.
Journal Cafe in the heart of Flinders Lane is a chic, bookish space that's attracting more than your average student. Long communal tables, bounded by illuminated bookshelves overhead, create an air of intellectual sophistication, perfect for pensive coffee encounters. Here you will find simple fare on the menu including homemade soups, hearty salads and a late morning breakfast that's popular with partygoers.