Many of Melbourne’s favourite foodie hotspots are also the hardest to find. If you’ve worked up a winter appetite, you’ll need to be intrepid to find these hidden hotspots. It will be worth the journey.
Along the red brick buildings on Guildford Lane, you could easily miss Rustica Canteen. Brandishing details from the previous tenant, the aging exterior falls away inside. A baked haven and café, stay for lazy brunch options or grab something to go.
Gelato may be the last thing you expect to find at Barbarella. A simple menu of basic brunch, no-frills sandwiches and gelato from Spring Street’s Gelateria Primavera will easily keep you busy.
Agathé Pâtisserie Petite
The city outpost of South Melbourne market’s Agathé Pâtisserie, Agathé Pâtisserie Petite sells the same deliciously fresh baked goods. Delivered daily from the South Melbourne bakery, the tiny venue is tucked under a stairwell in Royal Arcade.
Some may find Krimper a bit of a creeper. A cosy, lowly-lit café, he takes a little while to warm up. Ignore the sign about “no admittance” and give the hefty wooden door a pull. Find an all-day breakfast, lunch and small selection of wine.
Roller Door Café
There’s a surprising amount behind the roller door. A heated courtyard dining area, fully commercial kitchen and the Roller Door larder featuring specialty items is all tucked neatly away.
Climb the stairs up to Fancy Hanks – they’re worth it. An American-style diner boasting deep leather chairs and rustic fittings, the slow-cooked meat haven sits above pedestrian level on Bourke Street.
Vertue Coffee Roasters
Boasting a breathtakingly stunning interior, Vertue Coffee Roasters may take you a while to find. Behind a car park, the slim, narrow timber entrance opens to soaring ceilings and copper finishes. Treat yourself with a mac-and-cheese croquette brunch.
Chuckle Park Bar and Café
Wedged into Little Collins, Chuckle Park Bar and Café is a silver of a café and bar. A miniature outdoor laneway, hot sandwiches, cheese boards and beers are the script.
You can work off Belleville’s fried chicken with the small hike up to the restaurant. Splatters of black graphic art is layered against mustard walls. Devour rotisserie chicken, house cocktails and a section of the menu dedicated to ‘boss plates’ – and don’t miss their amazing fried chicken waffles.
Lee Ho Fook
Along Duckboard Place, Lee Ho Fook serves up new-age Chinese cuisine with a distinctively Melbourne style. Spicy wagyu-beef tartare and crispy eggplant with spiced red vinegar are two menu musts.
Lucy Liu’s neon red sign is practically a symbol of Melbourne food culture. Follow it through to modern Asian cuisine including drunken free-range chicken or tempura organic tofu.
You can’t get more Melbourne than the back of an alley. Tonka’s modern Indian cuisine includes the signature butter chicken and tuna tartare.
Simple Argentine cooking at San Telmo keeps the restaurant bustling. Follow the neon sign to find a vibrant menu filled with share-style dishes.
Il Solito Posto
Housed on the basement level along Collins Street, classic Italian dishes add to the cosy, intimate atmosphere of Il Solito Posto. Their squid ink linguini is a particular standout.
Head down ACDC Lane to find Pastuso. With a focus on ceviche, pisco and grill, it’s the ideal option for excellent food in an excellent venue.