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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
  • 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

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