Eating Australia: Melbourne and Sydney
January 12, 2018 9:46 AM   Subscribe

Food writer and spouse visiting Melbourne and Sydney over the next three weeks. What, where, and how should we eat?

After talking about it for a very long time, I'm heading to Australia (tomorrow, actually) and will be spending five days in Melbourne, followed by about two weeks in Sydney. I mentioned I'm a food writer, and while I won't be reviewing any restaurants I visit, I would like to see some of the exciting things happening in the food scenes in both cities, perhaps with an eye towards using what I discover for an upcoming piece.

I like pretty much any kind of food, and I don't care about collecting Michelin stars. Cheap and pricey meals are both on the cards for this trip, so recommendations at any price range are welcome. I'm also not afraid of spice, heat, or weird food.

On my list so far are:
Melbourne- Lune (for croissants), Ides, Osteria Ilaria, Smäk Food House
Sydney- Gumshara, Alice's Makan, Saint Peter

We've got breakfasts, lunch, and dinner to cover, so where else should we go? Oh, and don't forget snacks!
posted by yellowcandy to Travel & Transportation around Australia (16 answers total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
Black Star Pastry in Sydney does this marvelous strawberry watermelon cake that's worth a trip.

In Melbourne, I'd recommend the food at Industry Beans. I had the compressed watermelon. (I guess I really like the way Australians do watermelon.) Cumulus Inc serves a very tasty brekkie.

btw, Lune runs out of croissants, especially on weekends. My friend got an Airbnb right next door to ensure we'd be first in line every morning, and then we'd hide the pastries from our travel companions so they wouldn't all be eaten at once. What I'm saying is, you may want to buy an extra croissant or two to prevent matrimonial discord.
posted by roger ackroyd at 10:37 AM on January 12, 2018 [1 favorite]

It's been a few years since I worked in a job that sent me to Melbourne on a few projects, but my most memorable meals were:

Cutler & Co
(note: both of these restaurants are owned by Andrew McConnell, so you might want to try one or the other on limited time, but not necessarily both)

Chin Chin

cheap / fast
any place where you can get a dim sim
any place where you can get a pie floater

the stalls of South Melbourne Market are always fun to trawl through and Claypots is a great place just to pull up a stool and have some fish.

Coffee (Melbourne's Third Wave coffee game is very strong)
St. Ali, Brother Baba Budan and pretty much any other Seven Seeds place

The Everleigh
posted by bl1nk at 10:39 AM on January 12, 2018

Never been to Australia, but a friend who has won't stop raving about burgers with the lot.

Maybe someone actually from Down Under has Sydney/Melbourne-specific recs as to where to get one?
posted by Tamanna at 12:01 PM on January 12, 2018

You should try to get to Tetsuya's; and Abdul's on Elizabeth St for Lebanese, and I'll ask my chef kid for groovier suggestions. If you're going to Chinatown for Gumshara (so great), you should go to the Chinese Gardens for a walk around and some tea.
posted by glitter at 12:22 PM on January 12, 2018

Thy Thy, upstairs at 142 Victoria St Richmond, has been serving cheap delicious Vietnamese food for decades. Try their #6 pho. Or anything, really.
posted by flabdablet at 12:23 PM on January 12, 2018

Also virtually impossible to go wrong in Brunswick St and Smith St, both in Fitzroy. Everybody who sells food there is good at it.
posted by flabdablet at 12:25 PM on January 12, 2018

Gopal's at 139 Swanston Street, CBD has been doing wonderful huge cheap vegetarian meals since 1980 and shows no sign of stopping.
posted by flabdablet at 12:27 PM on January 12, 2018

The Moroccan Soup Bar is also excellent. For a brewery/food combo in the outer suburbs, The Public Brewery is a good choice.
posted by antipodes at 2:01 PM on January 12, 2018 [1 favorite]

Seconding Morrocan Soup Bar. There's good reason it's a Melbourne institution. If you can convince 6 people to go - usually not difficult! - you can book a table. The owner's new cafe Morrocan Deli-cacy works along the same lines; 'What can't you eat? Okay, we'll bring you a plate of everything else (all delicious)'.

Re: pie floaters; they're a South Australian thing, and I've never seen them for sale in Melbourne.
posted by brushtailedphascogale at 2:34 PM on January 12, 2018

Gumshara and St. Peter are good choices. I'm not familiar with Alice's, but hawker Malay food is very trendy right now. My suggestions are all for Sydney. A friend refers to Australian cuisine as "mediter-asian". There is a lot of wonderful, authentic asian cuisine, including thai, malay, indonesian, and chinese. Also strong middle-eastern presence, including lebanese and turkish, and a lot of influence from greek and italian immigrants. There is also "mod oz" cuisine, which is more fine-dining, with a fusion of the above. In no particular order:

Spice I Am, Surry Hills (outdoor/cafe seating only) for very authentic thai, one of the best in the city.

Billy Kwong, Potts Point/Kings Cross
Elegant and simple modern Chinese with Aussie influence; local/organic ethos

Red Lantern, Kings Cross/Darlinghurst
Modern vietnamese, fun vibe, if a bit loud and popular

Apollo in King’s Cross/Potts Point: beautiful Greek food in a hip setting.

Malay Chinese, 50-58 Hunter Street has amazing laksa. Only open during the day till 7pm. Also Jimmy's Recipe, 500 George (and other locations, Circular Quay, Queen Victoria Building, etc.) also a good version.

Automata, Chippendale, funky mod oz degustation

Ester, Chippendale, modern australian, really interesting menus

Spice Temple, CBD, mod chinese

Bar H Dining, Surry Hills, japanese-influenced tapas, beautiful food, intimate setting

If you're up for more of a splurge, Sixpenny in Sydney's inner west of Stanmore (easily reachable by train) is wonderful. Modern Australian, lots of attention to beautiful vegetables. Interesting wine pairings.

Broadsheet is a good place to check for reviews, as well as the usual Time Out. Really, there's so much to choose from. There's whole neighbourhoods featuring particular ethnicities, such as Cabramatta for Vietnamese, Petersham for Portuguese, Chatswood or Ashfield for Chinese, Auburn for middle eastern and Turkish, and Campsie for Korean. Enjoy!
posted by amusebuche at 10:01 PM on January 12, 2018

Seconding Sixpenny. I had a completely vegetarian degustation there once and it was amazing.
posted by lollusc at 3:44 AM on January 13, 2018

On a trip to Sydney a few months ago, we ate at Pink Salt in Double Bay, and Ananas in the city, and both meals were beyond delicious (and significantly less expensive than I expected).

Ananas had a Monday lunch special, so I stuffed myself with a bottomless bucket of wickedly fresh fat mussels in a beautiful buttery thyme sauce, while drinking French rose, overlooking Circular Quay. Best meal of my life.

I highly recommend you try both.
posted by malibustacey9999 at 4:48 PM on January 13, 2018 [1 favorite]

You may want to look at the Good Food Guide affiliated with The Age (a newspaper) which awards hats and rates restaurants. I've found it very reliable. I would say that you can definitely find bad food on Brunswick St, sorry, as it can be very touristy. Smith St or Gertrude St are more foodie locations in that area. Broadsheet is also more useful for ascertaining the buzz of a place than for actual reviews I would say. The same organisation (Fairfax media) also publishes a Cheap Eats guide which is pretty good.

I have two kids now so my actual recommendations are laughably out of date but those reviews tend to be solid.
posted by jojobobo at 12:01 AM on January 14, 2018

Seamstress in Melbourne was one of the best and most memorable meals I’ve ever had. The food and cocktails are creative and superb, and the restaurant is located in a 120-year old textile factory so the environment is very stimulating.
posted by lieber hair at 8:10 AM on January 14, 2018

All Sydney:

My kid says Mary's in Newtown for the best burgers; Ms G's for Asian fusion and Paperbird similar, but more Korean; Friggitoria in Kings Cross for Italian street food; Butter is "a really groovy place" with good fried chicken. He adds, "if they're into beers they need to go to Bitter Phew."

Seconding suggestions to check out the Good Food Guide, and ask around. There's a lot of surprising food in the most unassuming places.

After your trip, I'd love to hear about what you tried and what you liked.
posted by glitter at 6:40 AM on January 15, 2018

Brunetti Cafe, Melbourne, for their Italian hot chocolate. It's amazing.
posted by TravellingCari at 10:03 AM on January 18, 2018

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