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Looking for things to do in Melbourne? Or just feeling hungry? Visit one of its wonderful food precincts.
One of the many things that I love about Melbourne is the delicious and varied cuisine. I used to have alphabet dinners each week with friends where we would eat a different cuisine starting with the next letter of the alphabet. There were always many choices to choose between for each letter, and we actually went through the alphabet several times.
This is thanks to the many different ethnic groups in Melbourne which are represented in its eating scene. Part of what makes eating here so fun is that many of these different cuisines have their own area where you will find many restaurants clustered together as well as other shops and offices for that community. In addition to getting a full stomach of often very reasonably priced food, it can feel like a cultural experience as well. All these places are worth visiting even if you are not much of a foodie.
Here are my favourite inner city ones, all of which have a different cuisine or two that they specialise in. It is easy to just show up at any of them and find whatever takes your fancy. They all have many restaurants that are suitable for children, and are great places to eat on a family trip. They are also all readily accessible from the CBD.
It can be easy to feel like you have been transported to Vietnam here at Melbourne’s “Little Saigon” – except for the fact that there are footpaths and the only thing crazy about the traffic is how slow it moves!!
Victoria Street has a massive array of restaurants and cafes. You will see many Vietnamese people (although many other cultures are represented) and the Vietnamese and Chinese language everywhere. Picking just one place can be difficult. I have never gone wrong with any of the restaurants here, but our favourite is Thy Thy, the upstairs one (weirdly they have a ground level one too with seemingly the same food for more money). Here you sit on long communal tables in pretty plain surroundings, but for me that adds to the ambiance. The food is quick and delicious as are the prices. The rice paper rolls are always the worth the effort of coming here. There are high chairs and kids are more than welcome.
It is easy to get here. Trams travel along Victoria Street from the city and North Richmond train station is located here as well.
This is the place to go for Italian food in Melbourne. Lygon Street is lined with Italian restaurants trying to convince you to eat at their restaurants. The food quality can vary a bit, but the atmosphere is great, especially in the warmer months and you can sit outside. All the competition means that you can bargain a bit with the people who are trying to convince you to eat at their restaurants.
You can catch a tram here from the CBD.
This is one of my favourite places to eat in Melbourne, mainly because I love dumplings, and I love not spending much to eat good food!!
Chinatown has a great atmosphere and is often packed with people towards its Swanston St end. All price ranges are catered for, and you can choose between posh, top notch restaurants or their cheap vinyl equivalents. Either way, it is unlikely you will be disappointed. My favourite place for a cheap meal and lots of dumplings is Camy Shanghai Dumpling and Noodle Restaurant. You can’t beat the prices here.
Melbourne has the world’s largest Greek population outside of Greece and this, of course, equals fabulous Greek food. Clustered around the corner of Russell Street, you will find a variety of Greek restaurants. My favourite is the very popular, Stalactites. Wonderful souvlakis and yummy saganaki make this my favourite Greek restaurant.
Footscray seems to have exploded with African restaurants in recent times as more African migrants make their way to Melbourne, and all the better for us. The food here is generally Ethiopian and very delicious. Enjoy the spongy, pancake like inerja bread topped with curry like dishes, washed down with some Ethiopian beer. Our favourite is Cafe Lalibela, but you can find many more in the surrounding area, especially around the corner in Nicholson Street. I recommend trying the vegetarian combo options.
You can catch a train to a Footscray station to visit this area.
This is my local food precinct, and thankfully, it is my favourite one! Flemington is a melting pot of different cultures, and this is displayed in the restaurant choices. There are so many good food choices here. My favourite Chinese is I Love Dumplings for Chinese and the best dumplings I have had anywhere (and I have eaten dumplings in a lot of places!). The best Afican is at the Abyssinian. This is the best African I have had, but it is not much better than its Footscray counterparts and is pricier. It does have a nicer interior though.
The best Malaysian, and my top pick for family dining, is Laksa King. It is reputed to have the best laksa in Melbourne, but I also think it has the best mee goreng and ais kacang. In my opinion, it is the best value restaurant in Melbourne. They look after the kids well, and it is more like eating in Malaysia itself, where kids are welcome and everyone is smiling. This place is just awesome.
You can catch a tram or trains to Newmarket or Flemington Bridge station to enjoy the delights on Racecourse Road or catch a tram along Racecourse Road.
This is just a subset of many great areas to go eat. Melbourne truly is a wonderful place to eat, and you can find just about anything! Do an internet search for whatever cuisine you feel like, and you will find it somewhere in Melbourne 🙂
So, have I made you hungry yet? Which food precinct would be/is your favourite?