Melbourne's reputation as a food-obsessed city is accurate and with good reason. We not only have amazing cafés and restaurants to dine at, but also lots of terrific markets to do our shopping. From farm-fresh fruit and vegetables to top-quality meat, cheese and smallgoods, Melbourne's markets give supermarkets a run for their money. And with so many spread across the city, there's always somewhere nearby to do the weekly shop, find that special ingredient, or go for lunch.
For more market madness check out the best art and design markets in Melbourne, or the best markets to get produce directly from our farmers.
Every motherloving spice, seed and grain from Afghanistan to India and Ethiopia is available for sale at Dandenong Market, which is without doubt Melbourne’s most culturally diverse food market. Load up on banana blossoms and traditional Turkish lokma (fried dough balls soaked in sugar syrup), chuck a few sacks of basmati in your boot and make out like a bandit with change to spare. You’ll feel like Marco Polo.
They’re the kings of specialisation at Prahran markets. Here you’ll find a goose merchant, exotic nut vendor and mushroom man, all of whom are experts on their wares. Coffee up at Market Lane (point of origin for Melbourne’s third wave coffee movement) and beware the ham lady, unless you want to swap all your money for sweet slices of pig (trust us, she’s a sorceress).
Cheap and loud. Rough and ready. That’s Preston Market. In operation for more than 40 years, it rambles through a massive hall past a much-used piano at its centre and out into the carpark. It’s a Mediterranean, Middle-Eastern and Asian affair, with plenty of discount meat and flowers for haggling; pho, doughnuts and Cornutopia tacos for eating; and street performers for watching. We condone putting your kid on a leash.
A sprawling carnival of musicians, doughnut vans, and eight-year-old fruit vendors belting out their best hawker cries, this is Melbourne’s closest relation to the London Borough Markets. As well as the permanent shops selling deli goods, hand-pulled candy canes, fish and fowl, temporary stands spruik organic wines, live ducklings and designer clothes of questionable authenticity.
Multiple butchers, bakers, grocers and fishmongers, fortune tellers and snack stands making good use of the produce at hand (hit Evening Star for some fresh-grilled scampi if you’re down for a snack) make this one of the best fresh markets in the city. It’s a little more David Jones than Delhi (less yelling, more truffle oil), but it's worth a visit, if only to get yourself a fresh gozleme. If you're an oyster fan, you can get them freshly shucked for less than $2, with vinegar, lemon and hot sauce available.