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Horn Please
Photograph: Peter Tarasiuk

Where to source a free meal during Melbourne lockdown

Some of Melbourne's best venues have banded together to support the community during this tough time

Written by
Rushani Epa
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The hospitality industry is one of the hardest-hit industries during any lockdown, and yet, they're also one of the strongest. In Melbourne, we're blessed to have an industry like ours – one that's diverse, abundant and mega supportive. 

Some of Melbourne's favourite venues and restaurateurs have teamed up to offer free meals to those in need, whether that be people affected negatively by the current lockdown or those who have lost work either in hospitality or in general. It's their way of continuing to support the community in the best way they know – with excellent food.

Find out which venues are dishing out take-home meals below and reach out to us via email if you know of any others that should be included. 

Free meals during lockdown

  • Restaurants
  • Brunswick East

Owner of Brunswick East wine shop The Local Drop, Jagdev Singh, has restarted his free produce box offer for those impacted financially by Covid or the lockdown in any way. Together with local businesses, Singh compiles these boxes who are sent to anyone who arrives at the venue or texts 0431 611 474 if delivery might be required within the area.

Looking to pay it forward? Donate $50 towards a community produce box that will go towards someone in need. Any excess boxes are sent to a food bank in Richmond which ensures zero waste. Stay posted via the venue's Instagram page.

30 Victoria St, Brunswick East.

Shop Bao Ngoc
Photograph: Supplied

Shop Bao Ngoc

Shop Bao Ngoc in Brunswick is not only a Vietnamese eatery but a community-minded venue, too. The venue not only offers free meals to those in need when it has the capacity to, but also raises money for various social justice-related campaigns too. It currently has a community fridge outside the front which offers meals and essentials for anyone to take. Find out if it's offering meals to those in need and stay up-to-date with its campaigns via Instagram.

387 Victoria St, Brunswick.

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  • Restaurants
  • Italian
  • Thornbury

Many Sundays throughout lockdown, 1800 Lasagne hosted a 1800 Lasagne Community Giveaway that saw it give out free lasagne to the community along with wine from bottle shop Blackhearts & Sparrows and olive oil from Mount Zero. No questions asked.

Keep up-to-date with the venue here.

653 High St, Thornbury.

Zsa’s Bar Bistro Deli
Photograph: Instagram/zsas_bar_bistro_deli

Zsa’s Bar Bistro Deli

The legends at Zsa's have offered hospitality workers that have been affected by the lockdown free dinner along with goodies from local businesses. The team still offer free goods from time-to-time that includes wine, coffee and more. Stay posted via Instagram.

202 High St, Northcote.

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  • Bars
  • Wine bars
  • Collingwood

Wine bar and digital radio Hope St Radio sometimes puts on makeshift soup kitchens for those in need of a free feed. Soup is usually on on offer alongside focaccia by resident chef Ellie Bouhadana. No pre-orders, just arrive and queue up. The venue also offers a range of wine available for purchase too. Stay up-to-date here.

35 Johnston St, Collingwood.

Maria's Pasta
Photograph: Supplied

Maria's Pasta

Look out for family-owned pasta connoisseurs Maria's Pasta's community dinners. The venue often offers fresh durum pasta with Bolognese or Napoli sauce for anyone within its radius. All you need to do is bring your own pasta bowl or container, check in using the QR code and grab dinner to take home and enjoy.

706 Nicholson St, North Fitzroy.

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  • Restaurants
  • Malvern

The legends at Stan's Deli are offering a pay-it-forward system that enables those in need to claim a sandwich on the house, or if you've got spare cash, the ability to pay for someone else's meal.

248b Glenferrie Rd, Malvern.

  • Restaurants
  • Carlton North

Good Gnocchi is frequently offering free meals to the public throughout lockdown. Often times this is in collaboration with other Melbourne-based venues who donate food and drink. Historically these have included Theodores, Slow Eddy’s Barbecue, Carmelo's Wood Fired Pizza, Mile End Bagels, Rudimentary, Picnic, Hector's Deli, Holy Crumpets, La Porchetta Carlton, Hardware Club, Ice Cream Social, Ultra Culture Community, 1800 Lasagne, Dirty Black Denim, Konpira Maru and of course, Good Gnocchi. 

No pre-orders if there's an initiative on, simply arrive at the venue to pick up. Stay posted via Instagram.

797 Nicholson Street, Carlton North.

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Carmelo's Wood Fired Pizza
Photograph: Supplied

Carmelo's Wood Fired Pizza

While this isn't free, the legends at Carmelo's Wood Fired Pizza in Brunswick are caring for the community by dishing out $10 pizzas and $10 pastas for as long as lockdown number six lasts. All you need to do is pre-order by phoning the team on 9387 2121 and stay up-to-date with any news here.

2 Brunswick Rd, Brunswick East.

Yeah Boy
Photograph: Supplied

Yeah Boy

This Windsor-based, newly opened eatery has agreed to provide out of work health and fitness industry workers one meal for free each day. It plans to give out a total of 1,500 meals between the hours of 4pm and 6pm each day during the course of Melbourne’s sixth lockdown via its Gym Keeper campaign. Vegan and meat options will be available, all you need to do is arrive and queue up. No pre-ordering necessary.

2 Duke St, Windsor.

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Daughter in Law, Horn Please, Mr Brownie Rooftop Hotel
Photograph: Supplied

Daughter in Law, Horn Please, Mr Brownie Rooftop Hotel

Chef and restaurateur Jessi Singh is constantly paying it forward and is known to not only have raised funds for medical supplies in India during its Covid crisis, but also offering countless free meals to those in need in Melbourne. Keep up-to-date with his venues social media accounts to see if they're offering free curry and rice for those who have lost employment during the lockdown.

Venues include: Horn PleaseDaughter in Law and Mr Brownie Rooftop Hotel.

  • Restaurants
  • West Melbourne

This family-run Balinese venue offers flavour-packed meals and is offering those in need the chance to claim free food. Shoot them a message via Instagram to see if they have capacity to help you out on the day.

305 Victoria St, West Melbourne.

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Covid-19 Employee Assistance Directive
Photograph: Covid-19 Employee Assistance Directive

Covid-19 Employee Assistance Directive

The Covid-19 Employee Assistance Directive was created in the wake of the pandemic-fuelled collapse of the hospitality industry. This initiative produced a range of chef-cooked, pre-packaged meals which were then distributed via contactless delivery (within a 20km radius of the Melbourne CBD), free of charge to unemployed hospo workers.

Support your local by ordering in takeout

  • Restaurants
  • Fitzroy
  • price 3 of 4

Melbourne, meet your new favourite snacking spot, where a seafood-centric bar menu offers breaded abalone with tonkatsu sauce sandwiched in the kind of high-GI white bread your doctor warned you about. Cutler and Co is open on Good Friday, Saturday and Easter Sunday. 

Harlow
  • Bars
  • Pubs
  • Richmond

What was once Richmond's old and crumbling Great Britain Hotel is now Harlow: an old-school pub with new-school sensibilities. It'll be open as normal all long weekend, and you can swing by for Easter Sunday brunch from 11.30am to 1.30pm to enjoy a package including an Easter egg shot, two hours of bottomless drinks, a lunch item of choice and a special dessert. To book, head to the website

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  • Bars
  • Cocktail bars
  • Cremorne

Fargo and Co is offering two-hour bottomless brunch packages all Easter long weekend. On Good Friday and Easter Monday, the package is $79 per person, and on Saturday and Sunday, the package is $69 per person. To book, head to the website

Hawthorn Hotel
  • Bars
  • Hawthorn

Across the long weekend, visitors can enjoy Easter-themed cocktails and desserts and kids can enjoy a free kids ice cream with the purchase of any kids' meal. On Good Friday and Easter Saturday, you can enjoy live entertainment from local bands. To book, head to the website

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  • Bars
  • Wine bars
  • Fitzroy
  • price 2 of 4

One of the things the A-Mc does very well is create venues (Cumulus Inc and Cumulus Up spring immediately to mind) that are what you make them, and while Marion could be used as a pre-dinner pit-stop, it deserves more loving. Revert to the hip term bistronomy, if you must, which is another way of saying it has excellent food and wine values while trying really hard not to show how hard it’s trying. It's open on Good Friday, Saturday and Easter Sunday.

  • Bars
  • Hawthorn

If you're keen to kick fesitivites off a bit early, you can head to the Auburn Hotel for a pre-Easter Thursday to partake in discounts across house specials and classic cocktails. Bring your kids along on Easter Sunday to enjoy a petting zoo, face painting, kids entertainers and an Easter egg hunt. For more information, head to the website

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  • Things to do
  • Kew

Over the entire long weekend, you can book in at the garden pods for a two-hour session with a tasty grazing platter. The platter includes delicious savoury and sweet bites like deviled eggs, crumbed halloumi bites, mini pork and fennel sausage rolls, lamingtons and glazed hot cross buns with whipped cream and house jam. Bookings are essential and can be made through the website

Builders Arms Hotel
  • Bars
  • Fitzroy

As a rule your local pub probably shouldn’t be your first port of call when you crave dumplings, but if you’re in Fitzroy it’s a whole different story. Head to Builders Arms Hotel all Easter long weekend to satisfy your cravings.

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  • Things to do
  • Games and hobbies
  • Tullamarine

This all-day venue located at Urbnsurf will be serving up a range of special dishes over the Easter long weekend. Think whole prawns served with XO butter and lime and mains like slow-roasted lamb shoulder with smoked honey, salsa verde and almonds. To book in, head to the website

  • Bars
  • Cocktail bars
  • Fitzroy
  • price 2 of 4

Enjoy the start of your Easter weekend at this intimate cocktail bar that is inspired by the golden era of fine drinking. The bar wlil be open from 5pm until 1am on April 15 and 16, and the expert team will be at the ready to deliver world-class drinks.   

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  • Bars
  • Melbourne
  • price 1 of 4

This massive outdoor eatery and beer garden sandwiched between two Melbourne icons (the Yarra River and Flinders Street Station) stretches for 120 metres along the river bank and is officially Melbourne’s longest bar. This Easter long weekend, it will be open as per usual with no surcharge. 

  • Restaurants
  • Melbourne
  • price 2 of 4

'Eating house' doesn't quite cut it. ‘All-day diner’ falls worryingly short. In fact, when trying to sum up the place Cumulus Inc plays in Melbourne’s hungry heart, ‘favourite clubhouse’ comes as close as any description. Over the Easter long weekend, Cumuls Inc will be open on Good Friday and Saturday. 

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  • Restaurants
  • Melbourne

There’s a lot going on at Her, Lonsdale Street’s new four-concept mega-venue. At street level is Her Bar, a French-inspired all-day cocktail spot, and on level one you’ll find the Music Room, an ode to whisky and vinyl. BKK is on level three, it’s a “turbocharged Thai BBQ canteen” that also caters for Her Rooftop, a relaxed garden terrace for drinks, lunches, dinners and nightcaps. The quadruple threat is open as per usual with no surcharge this Easter long weekend. 

  • Bars
  • Carlton

If you love Naked for Satan, the rooftop at the Imperial, or hanging out at the Australian Open, this bar is right up your cobblestoned Carlton alley. It’s another venue proving that this neighbourhood can do a lot more than cheap pasta for tourists. It will be open from noon on Good Friday and will open at its normal hours on Saturday through Monday.

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  • Restaurants
  • Italian
  • Carlton

Have you ever tried to style your hair into a ‘messy bob’, or attempted to cook paella at home? As it turns out, looking effortless requires a lot of work. With Agostino, about four years’ worth has resulted in a restaurant that’s breezily confident from the outset, ready to elbow its way into Melbourne’s Italian canon. This Easter, you can pop by from Saturday to Monday during normal hours. 

  • Restaurants
  • Asian
  • Melbourne
  • price 2 of 4

Dining on Flinders Lane requires a game plan because more often than not, you’ll be lining up for a table. This is especially true for Supernormal, which is one of those restaurants people are willing to wait hours to eat at. The same goes for Easter long weekend when the venue is open on Good Friday, Saturday and Easter Sunday.

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  • Restaurants
  • Modern Australian
  • St Kilda
  • price 3 of 4

The fit-out here runs with the beach shack theme, with wide, rough-sawn boards and tubular glass chandeliers that undulate just slightly in the breeze. The tables are well-spaced and linen-clad, which is like the Stokehouse of yore, as are the waiters, a full battalion of them, who are uniformly good. All is as it should be, and punters can dine in during normal hours over the entire long weekend. On Friday and Monday, guests can also enjoy a three-course lunch and two hours of bottomless Bollinger for $185 per person. 

  • Restaurants
  • Bars
  • Melbourne
  • price 3 of 4

The 1920s architecture of the Cavendish House building carries through to the interiors, delivered by Sydney design house ACME. Art deco flourishes, marble countertops, chandeliers and leather booths combine to create a nostalgic bistro look – a conscious nod towards the clubby dining rooms of Chicago. Gimlet is open through the entirety of Easter long weekend.

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  • Restaurants
  • Mediterranean
  • St Kilda
  • price 2 of 4

Pontoon is a glamour model masquerading as a breezy beach shack. And this Easter long weekend, it will be open for its normal hours and there will be a special Easter set menu available. 

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  • Restaurants
  • Bars
  • Fitzroy

On the ground level of dining and drinking wonderland 127 Brunswick, you’ll find Ichi Ni Nana, one of the few places in Melbourne where you can enjoy an authentic Izakaya dining experience. Ichi Ni Nana will be open throughout the entire Easter long weekend.

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Hawker Hall
  • Restaurants
  • Windsor
  • price 1 of 4

Hawker Hall is, in a word, dizzying, in that patented Lucas fashion: visually arresting, olfactorily pleasing thanks to the hard-working woks in the open kitchen, and packed to the rafters with a well-dressed sliver of humanity. It will be open all Easter weekend with normal hours. 

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  • Restaurants
  • Japanese
  • Melbourne

Tucked inside the swank-fest of the 80 Collins development, Yakimono is a love letter to the futuristic excess of Tokyo: dimly lit, suffused with the exotic glow of pink and purple neon and thrumming to a soundtrack that has every second person activating their Shazam app. It's open all Easter weekend with normal hours. 

  • Hotels
  • Luxury hotels
  • Melbourne
  • price 3 of 4

The hotel's Lobby Lounge & Bar will be transformed into an Easter oasis, with a decadent high tea buffet on offer. Think sweet and savoury delights like Champagne-cured salmon finger sandwiches and bubble gum panna cotta. Bookings can be made here

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  • Restaurants
  • Melbourne

Located inside the 80 Collins Street precinct, Society consists of four sections: the lounge, a private dining area, the main dining room and the Terrace. Society and the Terrace will both be closed on Easter Monday but will reopen for the rest of Easter long weekend. 

  • Restaurants
  • Japanese
  • Melbourne
  • price 2 of 4

This, in short, is a place determined to bring the bling. Architects Wood Marsh have created three levels of Flinders Lane dining power, including a bar dedicated to Chablis (albeit not exclusively) on the upper level, and the lower two floors enjoying the clang and clash of sushi bars mixing it with à la carte tables where hot dishes wrestle attention from the raw and cold in a two-menu act of bamboozling choice. Kisumé will be closed on Easter Monday but open as per usual throughout the rest of the Easter long weekend.

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  • Restaurants
  • Modern Australian
  • Northcote
  • price 2 of 4

This former bistro is now a slick bar where you can go slumming in serious style with things like the wagyu bolognese jaffle hiding under a snowdrift of salty-melty cheese, or puffed veal tendons, the bovine world’s answer to the prawn cracker, dusted with tang-tastic dashi and coffee dust. Over the long weekend, it will be open on Good Friday, Saturday and Easter Sunday. 

Longrain
  • Bars
  • Melbourne
  • price 2 of 4

The on-again off-again rooftop drinking spot Melbourne has been waiting for is currently in an 'off’' phase, alas, but fear not, punters: Longrain nonetheless harbours one of the town’s best bars. There it is, hidden in plain sight, butting into the broad room like an island of civility in a chilli-fuelled brouhaha. Over the long weekend, you can pop in on Good Friday and Saturday.

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  • Restaurants
  • South Yarra
  • price 2 of 4

The fit-out is so luxe you can almost smell the expense. There’s a fire and charcoal-driven kitchen, a botanical-filled glass cabinets and a dining room of rough-edged wooden-topped tables and the fattest, softest leather banquettes that elicit a gasp of surprise from more than one diner (it’s the endlessly entertaining Matilda spectator sport). It'll be open on Good Friday, Saturday and Easter Sunday.

  • Restaurants
  • Vietnamese
  • Richmond

This diner may be as jam-packed and bustling as a cheap-eats restaurant in Vietnam, but that's where the similarities in appearance end. Hannah's kitsch design steers clear of the mini plastic tables and chairs that line the streets of Hanoi. Instead, it opts for exposed bricks, retro Vietnamese watercolours, empty beer cans, party lights,  – bringing to mind an artfully designed warehouse, set to the beat of low-volume hip-hop. It will be open on Good Friday, Saturday and Easter Sunday. 

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Hanoi Hannah Express Lane
  • Restaurants
  • Windsor
  • price 1 of 4

If you've got a hankering for Hanoi Hannah's hawker-style fare but don't have the time to spare for a sit down meal, head two doors down to Hanoi Hannah Express Lane. It'll be open all Easter long weekend to satisfy your cravings. 

  • Hotels
  • Sorrento

The Conti is back, baby. At the end of March, Sorrento’s favourite watering hole will begin reopening after a massive refurb to turn the 145-year-old hotel into a six-level, five-building precinct. It comes with a new restaurant from Scott Pickett, a flashy public bar, a beer garden and a pool. It's open through Easter long weekend, so hop in the car and head down to the peninsula. 

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