Melbourne is world renowned for a wildly diverse culture of all things food, drink, arts and life in general. Not everyone will get the opportunity to experience all the inner joys of living in Melbourne (recently voted the World’s Most Liveable City for the record 7th year in a row!), so I am here to share my Top 5 eateries in this incredible city.
From delicious Asian cuisines, to your classic pub grub, Melbourne is a culinary dream for travellers and residence alike. You don’t have to break the bank to be able to afford to put food on your plate in this city (although in some cases a spare couple of thousand dollars would probably be a help!), and if you know where to go you can get insanely good food for really budget friendly prices…
- Good Days, Brunswick
The western world likes to glam up the Asian cuisine and then offer it back to the public in a strange misshapen form… well thankfully Good Days does not bother with all this trickery. From the outside this unassuming place could be anything, and you could (more fool you) walk straight by. There is not signage to inform you of the type of food you could expect, and just the small name, “Good Days” on the door – for a long time I didn’t even realise this place had a name. The only thing that tells you anything about it is the queue of people vying for the next available table. Good Days specialises in simple and brilliantly effective Vietnamese food. With a menu so small you could doodle it onto your hand as you wait for your Pho, Noodle Salad or Chicken Rice, it sometimes pays to just master the few and keep people wanting more and more of it! This is probably my favourite place in Melbourne – don’t be put off by the queue (as I was initially), turnover is fast and the food is 100% worth it!
- Hu Tong , Chinatown, CBD
Found lurking in the backstreets of Chinatown, visiting Hu Tong Dumpling House is hands down (in my opinion) the best dumpling related decision you will ever make! This place is absolutely packed to the rafters day and night, with it even being a struggle to get a table for two on a weekday afternoon for some late lunch. Evening bookings need some serious consideration and preparation, with bookings essential weeks in advance – especially if you have a large group and you want that sought after inclusion of a “Lazy Susan” (that dirty girl…) on your table! Shao Long Bao is a must try at Hu Tong – be prepared for a little wait for this dish though as it is the most popular and everything is made fresh.
- Laksa King, Flemington
Quite simply put, and the name says it all, Laksa King is the king of laksa in Melbourne. For anyone who doesn’t know, Laksa (or Curry Laksa) is a Malaysian noodle soup laden with fish, chicken, vegetables, all in an outrageously delicious curry sauce. I first tried this in Penang where the lady hit me with a “Malaysian spicy” version that nearly blew my head off, and since then we have been trying Laksa at any given opportunity. Laksa King offers a slightly more western friendly version, but just add the spice yourself for the real deal! With huge bowls that dwarf the cosy tables, you won’t go hungry, and you won’t leave poor – two important factors that determine a good budget meal!
- The Great Northern Hotel, Carlton
Melbourne knows what it’s doing when it comes to pub grub, with each and every pub offering a gastro style menu of high quality meals and affordable prices. Being a bit of a beeraholic, I took my time to explore lots of different pub grub options whilst living in Melbourne, but always found myself hankering for The Great Northern Hotel. Tucked away from the main drag between Lygon St and Nicholson St in Carlton, this is budget friendly pub grub at it’s finest. Not only is the food extremely tasty, but they also have an awe inspiring international beer selection. Worth a trip to the Northern suburbs for this one!
- Lentil As Anything, Multiple Locations around Melbourne
So, you are seriously poor, right? You have literally no money, right? If you ever speak to backpackers, this is normally what you hear, even though in many cases it is bullshit and they have some relative bankrolling them somehow, somewhere. Anyway, if this is the case and you haven’t a dime to your name, there is salvation waiting for you at Lentil As Anything. This unique establishment is a “pay as you feel” concept restaurant. The staff are all volunteers, the food is sourced from local businesses in the form of food waste, and then cooked up into excellent culinary delights buy an awesome team of chefs. The type of food and menu changes daily; you place you order, chow down on your sumptuous meal, then drop your payment in the “pay as you feel” box as you exit. No strings, just good food, and perfect if you are scraping the bottom of the bank account and need a hearty meal inside you.
And there you have it, My Top 5 Budget Friendly Eats in the marvellous city of Melbourne. Expect more eating related waffle from my direction as I explore everything food and drink in my new home, Auckland.