The best doughnuts in Melbourne
Oh, the innocent thrill of elbowing your way to the front of the crowds to get a fresh, steaming hot doughnut. Those plain, cinnamon doughies have evolved exponentially since the early days, with Melburnians able to pick up subspecies that are pimped, infused and even cross-bred with croissants. So whether you spell it doughnut or donut, hitch a ride with us as we trawl a dozen decadent dens that will smash your doughnut cravings out of the park. RECOMMENDED: For more sweet treats in Melbourne, check out our guides to the best ice cream and gelato and hot chocolates.
The best pies in Melbourne
Who ate all the pies? We did, in a fearless and fattening quest to find Melbourne’s least humble pies. Whether classic crusts are a must or you crave innovative takes on traditional treats, this list of Melbourne’s finest will have you champing at the bit. Melbourne's not just limited to pies for the best cheap eats, we have burgers and toasties as well. Why not finish off with a doughnut for dessert?
The best cheese shops in Melbourne
Even if you're lactose intolerant, it's hard not to love cheese – think about how much better it makes just about every meal (nachos without cheese? No thanks). Check out our favourite places to pick up a wedge or a wheel or two. Then, head to one of Melbourne's best cafés and see of you can't pick yourself up a cheese toastie, or check out these pizza joints for some stringy-mozzarella delight en route to your home-cheese enjoyment.
Mastercard presents People's Choice: Best Bakery
Winner: Candied Bakery Sugar might be a dietary villain, but we’re not the only ones barracking for the bad guy in Spotswood’s sleepy neighbourhood shopping strip. Candied Bakery pulls serious crowds. Marshmallow choc chip cookies, hot dogs and shakes are a salute to the red, white and blue; lamingtons and sausage rolls may as well be wearing a Southern Cross tattoo they’re so flamin’ Australian; and the croissants, and fresh pancetta and provolone stuffed panini, are a gap year in Europe for your lunch hour. Candied’s version of the Philly cheesesteak roll consists of a pillow-soft long white roll (baked in-house), buttered and loaded with glistening caramelised onions, thin strips of hot, grilled beef and a handsome cap of molten cheese. Considerably daintier, a slice of savoury tart sports fluffy pumpkin cubes, slices of tomato and dabs of goats cheese suspended in a creamy egg centre. Candied Bakery whip up their own soft serve from St David Dairy products and we clocked many a triumphant customer trotting out with a $5 matcha or vanilla cone in hand. A slice of apple pie with a properly short pastry is as big as a New York pizza, bulging with cinnamon-spiked stewed apples. For five glorious, carb-laden years, Candied Bakery has been juggling the desires of purists stopping in for a classic beef pie with those chasing their next big sugar rush from vanilla slice doughnuts and apple pie shakes (the apple pie is blended straight in). Little wonder that you, the people of
The best Halal Snack Packs in Melbourne
Halal Snack Packs (HSPs) have gained some serious profile of late, not least through Pauline Hanson’s rejection of Labor's Sam Dastyari invitation to partake of one with a curt, "not happening. Not interested in Halal, thank you.". But the HSP was a gastronomic phenomenon long before Hanson’s snub, as is proven by the existence of the 145,000-member-strong Halal Snack Pack Appreciation Society Facebook group whose mission statement is about "sharing great snack pack stories and discussing possible best snack pack in world [sic]”.This meal box, in all its raunchy, meaty, saucy glory, has never been more in vogue. Available mainly at kebab shops, and beloved by ravenous school boys and the inebriated, an HSP consists of a styrofoam box filled with hot chips topped with melted grated cheese, kebab meat (take your pick of one or a combination) and the ‘holy trinity’ of sauces: garlic, chilli and barbecue. As one savant observed, it’s like a kebab without the healthy stuff. Using the Appreciation Society’s Facebook page as our key reference, we identified five popular purveyors of the HSP around Melbourne, sampled a snack pack from each and ranked them in descending order. (To ensure integrity of data, we chose the same combination from each: mixed meats, cheese and the holy trinity.)
Listings and reviews (40)
A light year measures approximately 9.5 trillion kilometres, which is no small trot. Happily, you only have to set the GPS to Hawthorn to enjoy the delights of Light Years café. The owners of Windsor’s Journeyman café opened Light Years in August 2017, and head chef Simon Ward (formerly of the now-closed Hammer & Tong) is kicking serious goals. The breakfast and lunch menu – eggs scrambled or benedict, bircher muesli, burgers or fish and chips – may sound standard; its execution is anything but. Ward’s love of Asian food is evident, and ingredients such as edamame, sriracha, miso and nori are put to tasteful use. His version of scrambled eggs and toast is a treat. Creamy eggs are topped with a mop of wakame (seaweed), tiny clusters of sweet corn and torn nori sheets. Roasted mushrooms encircle the plate and a trio of ‘milk bread sticks’ are placed atop. These rectangular sticks of fried bread are wonderfully buttery – the only downside is that there are just three. It’s a dangerous time to be a soft-shell crab in Melbourne, and Light Years’ excellent soft-shell crab burger isn’t doing anything to increase these creatures’ life expectancy. A warm and springy brioche bun is spread with peppy sriracha mayonnaise. There’s thinly shredded cabbage ’slaw, plenty of fresh coriander and a whole fried crab (pincers poking out of the bun in surrender). It’s all at once crunchy, creamy and light. Sago chips accompany the burger. Slim, crisp and dusted with green nori salt, they’re like
Good Times Milk Bar
This Bentleigh café pays homage to the corner stores of yore and sits, appropriately enough, on a street corner. Good Times Milk Bar owners Brett Louis and Brent Scales have given the site a serious refurb, transforming a moribund shop into a perky café. A school holidays weekday sees a good mix of clientele: little kids tuck into burgers and golden potato gems while pensioners swap gossip at gloriously high volume. The interior has personality in spades, with its powder-pink-and-blue colour scheme and art prints of ice creams and sausage dogs. Out back there’s a courtyard equipped with big cushions where persons with pooches can brunch in companionable comfort. The menu has café standards with unusual flourishes – bircher muesli comes with strawberry granita, while those spectacular hotcakes with berry compôte, meringue crumb, ice cream and a spiced maple syrup are waggishly topped with popping candy. Roasted cauliflower salad is a generous bundle of nutty roasted florets dusted with caraway seed, with brown lentils and quinoa for oomph. Coriander leaves pep it up, and there’s a thick, creamy yoghurt sauce you can swirl your florets through. Lunch on this and you’ll feel both satisfied and virtuous. If scrambled eggs have ever struck you as pedestrian, try GTMB’s: chopped green and red chillies bring Eastern zing and a tingly powder of Szechuan pepper cuts through the eggy creaminess. And would you like crab with that? For $8, you can upgrade your meal with sweet flaked cr
At first, you might think you’ve accidentally wandered into someone’s front room, what with the blue floorboards, mismatched wooden chairs, plant life and scattered Japanese knick-knacks. Rest assured: you won’t be charged for breaking and entering, for this is Papirica, eatery and temple to Japan’s much-loved savoury pancake, the okonomiyaki. Although there is a modest supporting cast of other meals – including toast with sweet red beans, soba salad and, as an occasional special, tonkatsu (panko-crumbed fried pork) – the menu is dominated by okonomiyaki, a word that translates to ‘grilled stuff you like’ (really). And we really do like – nay, love – Papirica’s version: chunky, sticky and comforting. For that, we must thank owner Yutaka Matsuda, who migrated here ten years ago, first selling his authentic okonomiyaki at various pop-up stalls before finding a home on Smith Street. As big as frisbees and loaded with cabbage and leek, these are pancakes for the positively peckish. Our seafood version has tiny prawns and crunchy calamari folded into the batter, while the porcine option comes with crisp slices of pork belly draped on top. Whatever’s aloft, every okonomiyaki sports a golden-brown bottom, crunchy edges and a fluffy, light interior. It’s all slathered in the typical hatched pattern in sweet and tangy Japanese barbecue-style sauces and mayonnaise that Matsuda makes on site, with plenty of umami goodness. You can supersize your pancake with extras, and we loved the fl
Industry Beans Lt Collins
The ability to nip out of the office for a cheeky coffee is one of the key skills of the modern professional. Those who partake in the unofficial mini-break within the 3000 postcode get extra points now that a trip up Little Collins Street means you can dive into Industry Beans. Actually, it’s Industry Beans version 2: Steve and Trevor Simmons’ original café roastery is still brewing up an aromatic storm in Fitzroy, and while this new CBD café shares the name, it’s a different experience altogether. Where the Fitzroy flagship is spacious, this one’s on the snug side of petite, with space for just a dozen. When you walk in you’ll get a smile from the young staff, who could be hip and aloof but are in fact very personable as they glide smoothly about the timber floors of this all-white, zen-like space. Then you’ll spot the La Marzocco Modbar – a sleek, modular espresso machine that will have coffee connoisseurs and bean boffins nerding out.For those who don’t nab a pew, a takeaway tipple is the go – there’s the house espresso blend (the smooth Rose Street), batch brews, cold brew and even a bubble cup iced coffee with tapioca balls. The Fitzroy Ice is our summer coffee of choice; a straight-up, 12-hour-brew mixed with milk, a little panela (sugar) and ice. It gives a cooling caffeine nudge that’s all the better for being free of ice cream and cream. If coffee is not your thing, there’s also fresh juices, kombucha and tea.The innovative, health-focused menu is – like the fitout
Award-winning pizza chef Johnny Di Francesco took several trips to Naples to learn more about the sweet arts of gelato, and then Zero Gradi was born. Conveniently located next door to his original 400 Gradi pizza shop in Brunswick, this little café is just the place for your post-pizza affair. Accommodating staff can guide you through their flavours – from classic pistachio and espresso to the quirkier Margherita (made with red sponge and zabaglione gelato), green apple and red velvet. The peanut butter and Nutella is somehow nutty, flavoursome and lighter than you could have ever expected these two much-loved toast spreads to turn out. Their strawberry shortcake gelato, with strawberry chunks and swirls of strawberry coulis churned through vanilla ice cream, has a concentrated berry flavour thats tastes like childhood summers. You can augment your gelati with a squirt from the Nutella tap. And there’s gelato cannoli, shakes and ice cream cakes, should you need to further boost your sugar intake.
Hellenic Republic Brunswick East
Hellenic Republic in Brunswick East will be 11 years old in 2019. Simply surviving in the choppy waters of the restaurant business is achievement enough; but thriving to the point of spreading your DNA to outposts in Kew, Williamstown and Brighton suggests serious hospo know-how, and a visit to the Brunswick mothership provides the evidence to back it up. The ability to conjure the right atmosphere is key, and Hellenic Republic feels warm and festive, hitting that smart/casual sweet spot. Families and friends break pita against a backdrop of lobster-basket lampshades and a stunning blue-and-white mosaic-tiled communal table. The energy of the open kitchen is palpable and the smell of the lamb and chicken rotating on the spit is a siren song. No one is reinventing the wheel here: the menu is full of simple, fresh flavours; portions are Olympian; and they arrive quickly. You’ll barely get your order in for a glass of the Yianni Ramnista Xinomavro before BAM! Your spit-roasted chicken has arrived. The glistening meat is sweet and succulent, fragrant with oregano and garlic, and a squeeze of lemon adds a bright citrus spark. While traditionalists may tut at the addition of the kaffir lime leaf to the wondrous strips of battered calamari, it’s a subtle addition that works. Aleppo pepper flakes add chilli pep and colour, and a nifty swipe of boozy ouzo mayonnaise seals the delectable deal. And while we’re on the subject, you should drink some ouzo and something off the all-Greek
For the last 20 years, Ginza in Chinatown has been doing teppanyaki, that theatrical style of dining involving Japanese barbecue, nifty knife skills, utensil juggling, food hurling and pyrotechnics. It was big in the ’90s, and Ginza has maintained the decor from those heady days with its maroon-and-charcoal colour scheme and well-worn carpet. But the restaurant itself is spacious and comfortable, with floor-to-ceiling windows looking out onto Little Bourke Street. On a Sunday it’s quiet – it might just be you and another table here for lunch – but Friday evening would, no doubt, tell a different story. Teppanyaki set menus start at $16 for lunch and $49 for dinner (you get more for dinner) where your choice of protein – beef, fish, chicken or squid – comes with miso soup, fried rice and vegetables. The drinks selection includes sake, Japanese beer, Australian wine, cocktails and some shots with X-rated names that give things a retro nightclub vibe, though with millennium prices. But we have to say, the grub’s pretty good. Ginza’s teppanyaki chef of the day was all business during preparation and saves the pizzazz for serving. He certainly knows his stuff: hunks of beef tenderloin were slapped onto the grill, seared and then cut into cubes that are peppery, juicy and tender. Salmon and rockling fillets come lacquered in a shiny, sweet mirin sauce. Handled with care, their delicate flesh remains soft and flaky. There’s a vegetable side of beanshoots and onions that are satisfy
On the website for Melbourne’s fairytale-themed bar there’s a cardiac health warning – “Beware… this fairytale is not for the faint of heart” – this review will do likewise: the number of rickety stairs you have to climb to get to level two of new fairy tale-inspired bar StoryVille is ticker-testing.The moment you wheeze jelly-legged into the bar that was once Wah Wah Lounge, you realise we’re not talking clean-cut Disney fairytales but the darker, Grimmer, witch-infested-forest variety. The unrestrained and slightly confused decorative style mixes classic children’s novels and grown-up staples to create a kind of ‘Little Red Willy Wonka On the Road To Wonderland’ mash-up. It’s certainly memorable, which it should be given that founders Keti Kezunovic and Steve Thomas (of Pawn & Co in Prahran and 29th Apartment in St Kilda renown) enlisted set designers to create it.Across two levels you can perch in a big golden birdcage, by a Narnian fireplace, under a huge tree or in a library of giant books. We loved the ‘mushroom palace’ cocktail bar on level one where luminous fungi sprout from the wall and one massive mothership of a toadstool looms over the bar. Positively hallucinogenic, and that’s before we’d had a drink.Mr Wonka would surely approve of ‘Charlie’s Winning Ticket’, a sweet but not sickly concoction of butter vodka, dark chocolate, vanilla and lavender. Although the lavender was omitted from ours, the rich creaminess makes this a boozy liquid dessert. The ‘New York P
Sugar might be the latest dietary villain, but we’re not the only ones barracking for the bad guy in Spotswood’s sleepy neighbourhood shopping strip. Candied Bakery’s siren song pulls serious crowds to this Aussie bakery with an American twist. Marshmallow choc chip cookies, hot dogs and shakes are a salute to the red, white and blue; lamingtons and sausage rolls may as well be wearing a Southern Cross tattoo they’re so flamin’ Australian; and the croissants, and fresh pancetta and provolone-stuffed panini, are a gap year in Europe for your lunch hour. Candied’s tasty version of the Philly cheesesteak roll consists of a pillow-soft long white roll (baked in-house), buttered and loaded with glistening caramelised onions, thin strips of hot, grilled beef and a handsome cap of molten cheese – it’s a worthy homage to Philadelphia's beloved street food. Considerably daintier, a slice of savoury tart that flirts with the salty-sweet divide sports fluffy pumpkin cubes, slices of tomato and dabs of goats cheese suspended in a creamy egg centre. Save valuable belly space for the sugar course. Candied Bakery whip up their own soft serve from St David’s dairy products (a micro dairy in Fitzroy), and we clocked many a triumphant customer trotting out with a $5 matcha or vanilla cone in hand. Next time you visit it might be buttermilk caramel and banana or peaches and cream. A slice of apple pie with a properly short pastry is as big as a New York pizza, bulging with cinnamon-spiked stew
Pickett's Deli and Rotisserie
Breakfast gets cracking at 6am. Early birds can catch egg and bacon butties (the bacon is house-cured and smoked), slow-cooked lamb toastie and even a breakfast ramen with a 63 degree egg and house barbequed pork. The rotisserie threading Bannockburn chickens and pork onto the mechanical axels bring more substantial meals like hot rolls stuffed with rotisserie meats (chicken, gravy and mayo or pork, chutney and coleslaw), or fresh picnic sambos like ham and chutney or curried egg and cress. You’d be mad not to go for the signature rotisserie chicken. These heavenly hens can be ordered by the quarter ($12.50), half ($23) or whole ($29). A quarter serve of breast and drumstick is juicy and sweet, its golden skin crisp with Pickett’s herb and spice rub with notes of thyme, bay leaf and parsley. There are chips, salad or confit vegetables to accompany your chook, but our pick is the slick carrots and fennel slices roasted down to a caramelised sweetness and creamy Kipfler potatoes. It’ll take you back in time to your nan’s Sunday roast. Beef was the roast of the day on our visit. Two slices of Sher wagyu topside, a meaty field mushroom and pretty dutch carrots sitting atop a splash of sweet, creamy carrot puree surrounded by a sticky moat of jus. The beef is cooked medium, tender with a gnarly chariness round the edges. It’s not a big lunch, but it’s robust in flavour and quality and, happily, leaves room for dessert – an orange and almond cake that’s soft and fragrant, or a sh
The string of eateries that line Domain Road as it skirts the perimeter of the Tan, Melbourne’s premier walking and jogging arena, offer excellent options for the fit and the fabulous to refuel. A recent addition to the cluster is Gilson, courtesy of Jamie and Loren McBride, who brought us cafes Mammoth and Barry.Early Saturday morning sees the place abuzz. Runners high on endorphins rip into poached eggs while parents plead with toddlers. Older folk drain coffee cups and brush away croissant flakes while staff dodge busily about the room. This relaxed business takes place in an interior that’s South Yarra bistro chic, with marble tables, wicker chairs and a peppy, powder-pink-and-white colour scheme. There’s outside seating, too, for you and your four-pawed friend to drink in the leafy parkside views.Whether you’ve thrice looped the Tan or barely managed the 20-metre stagger from your car, brunch here reliably triggers its own kind of good eating endorphins. Gilson’s baked eggs – a green variation on the tomato-based shakshuka – is fresh and generous. Two eggs, runny yolked and with a good wobble to the white, are baked into a verdant kale and broccoli stew that’s pitted with pistachio and sesame dukkah for a spicy crunch and strewn with creamy feta.Kids might turn their noses up at fish for brekkie but more fool them – the garfish on toast is a winner. A wood oven-toasted hunk of sourdough wears a thick layer of silky eggplant puree whose light, vinegary tang is a pleasant
The Pie Shop
Good news for pastry lovers: Matt Wilkinson has opened a pie shop in Brunswick East, right next door to his (now closed) café Pope Joan. Two sweet and five (cheekily-named) savoury pies can be taken away or devoured in the narrow, open-air space that’s carpeted in artificial grass and has bench and stool seating for 12. On a frosty winter’s day, a bunch of mums and rugged-up toddlers chomp merrily beside a pair of bespectacled northsiders, undeterred by the elements.To line your ribs against the cold, order the Allen. It’s a fine rendition of the classic chunky beef with slow-cooked Warialda beef, sweet celery, carrots and onion. There’s no pulverised mystery meat here – this is beef stew at its comforting best, packed into buttery shortcrust pastry that is sturdy enough to eat one-handed.Our surprise favourite is the ingenious spaghetti bolognese pie. The Bruce has pork bolognese sauce and spaghetti strands baked inside a thin, crisp pastry ‘bowl’ and topped with a melted cheddar and mozzarella lid. Novel and nice, this pie packs a rich and saucy tomato punch – sit down to eat this one. Your mini-me can also get the petitely proportioned Bruce party pie. Vegetarian pies are no afterthought here. If you love the cauliflower-cheese liaison, then shortcrust Shazza’s your gal, with hunky cauliflower florets and sweet, caramelised onion all enveloped in a creamy white cheese sauce. The Clancy, a calzone-like number, is stuffed with wilted chard, pumpkin, haloumi and firm chickpea