Every city deserves a high point, a look out, a place to be amazed by the city. Melbourne has Mount Dandenong, the perfect place for a restaurant, viewing platforms and television signal towers. The view gets better at night with all the lights. Parking (which used to be free) now costs.
Observatory Rd, Mount Dandenong;
tel: 9751 0443;
From its humble beginnings as Australia's first shopping centre, Chadstone (Chaddy to the locals) has grown to be one of the largest (in size) and is the largest in sales turnover in Australia. It is now known as Australia's 'fashion capital' centre. It has masses of off-street parking and a huge variety of stores.
1341 Dandenong Rd, Chadstone;
Buses from all suburbs head there. Nearest railway station, Hughesdale, is a 10 min walk away;
tel: 9563 3355;
The Dogs Bar in St Kilda is an institution and a great place to get a glass or 10 of red wine and a plate of cheap pasta on a Sunday afternoon. It's great in winter with a roaring open fire and people gathering to have a natter or play a game of chess. Uber cool, the crowd tends to be over 30.
Another superb restaurant in Melbourne with one of the best views available across the bay towards Melbourne and Williamstown. The large dining room upstairs follows Fitzroy St around the corner and overlooks the yachts at St Kilda Marina. Having a meal here while watching the sun go down is not to be missed. Also, the wine list should be classed as extraordinary, because it is.
For a cheaper meal, the street level bistro is great value too.
1 Fitzroy St, St Kilda
(corner of Fitzroy St and the Upper Esplanade);
tel: 9593 8800
Circa is simply one of the best restaurants in Melbourne ... the atmosphere, the setting and the food is simply stunning. Situated upstairs at the back of the Prince Hotel, Circa has made a name for itself by providing a classy dining experience.
Evening dining is an event in itself but I recommend the Sunday lunch. Not cheap, but worth it.
2 Ackland St, St Kilda (a block from the St Kilda light rail
Melbourne does great coffee. We sit around in cafes all day reading the Guardian Weekly and dreaming of the day when the rest of Australia wants to become a republic. All the places below do a decent soy flat white and a mean espresso.
Degraves Espresso - 23 Degraves Street, Melbourne
Ray - 332 Victoria Street, Brunswick
A Minor Place - 103 Albion Street, Brunswick
Wall 280 - Rear 280 Carlisle Street, Balaclava (near St Kilda)
St. Ali - 12-18 Yarra Place, South Melbourne
Atomica - 268 Brunswick Street, Fitzroy
A bright and lively family run restaurant situated at the beach end of Hampton St, Pelagos offers traditional greek food and a great atmosphere (with lively greek music playing in the background). Great for families and others wanting a proper greek feed, Pelagos is a must visit. Note: take-away is also available!
265 Hampton St (beach end)
Hampton, VIC 3188
Tel: (03) 9598-3332
A great local spot for that quick meal or snack before or after shopping or visiting the cinema.
One thing to note is that the Dendy Deli which is located at the Dendy Plaza in Brighton is not in Dendy St Brighton, it is in Church St.
Dendy Deli located at Dendy Plaza
Church St Brighton
(west of the railway line) tel: 9592 6233
Great street to explore for cafes, restaurants and shopping. There’s Greek, Italian, Turkish and Lebanese food. Highlights are : Mediterranean Wholesalers - an Italian supermarket - A1, Tabett's Lebanese bakeries and Istanbul Meats. Just wander up and down the street and find lots of hidden gems.
North Coburg tram goes there from Elizabeth St in the City
Don’t miss the selection of cake shops on Acland Street in the beach resort of St Kilda, only a short tram ride from the city centre but well worth a stroll - so many chocolate and cream delicious items in consecutive windows, you’ll want to try (and fail to finish) more than one.
Melbourne folk have a sweet tooth, and The Pancake Parlour on Bourke Street in the city centre is a must for all fans of tasty, stacked, ice-cream-laden pancakes. Perfect for a Sunday morning hangover.
Bourke Street Mall, Centrepoint; tel: 03 3654 1893; www.pancakeparlour.com
Pizza is all you really get on the menu, but they range from a classic quattro staggioni to lamb with sultanas and fresh rocket, topped of with a Belgian chocolate pizza for dessert. Throw in the fact that this perfect pizza is just four bucks between seven and 10, Monday to Thursday and you're on to a winner.
Get there early to bag a table, enjoy the atmosphere and be treated to a different DJ every night, spinning anything from rare groove to funky house. The staff are friendly and if you're looking for that perfect holiday gift for granny, you can bag yourself a souvenir t-shirt sporting toy dolls enjoying a good spanking session. A very good, very Brunswick St kind of night out.
Brunswick St. The 112 tram from Collins St in the CBD will drop you right on the doorstep. Look for the ten-foot-high doll above the doorway, it's kind of hard to miss
Eclectic, brash, irritatingly bright and tasteless. That's just the pool table. Even better, if they are still running the bingo nights, you have to go. That's right, bingo. Just go, you will have an experience to savour. No guidebook mentions this place and I feel a little guilty about this hidden gem but surely nothing could ruin it.
605 Victoria Street, Abbotsford
The heart and soul of St Kilda's Fitzroy Street. Known for many things: its cool Art Deco exterior, posh wine store, internationally renowned live acts, eclectic mix of drinkers and take-no-sass barstaff. Best on a balmy week night - sit outside on the benches, order a pot of beer, chat to the locals and watch as the sun goes down over Port Phillip Bay.
29 Fitzroy Street, St Kilda; www.theprince.com.au; tel: (613) 9536 1111; nearest tram: No 96 Light rail tram from the city centre. Hop off and head down the road towards the beach
There's plenty of reasons for eating something as greasy as a souvlaki, but for the life of me I couldn't think of one that didn't include alcohol. For that end of the night food-binge, there's few that can hold a candle to the souvlakis from the King - fresh ingredients, great flavour and just the right amount of garlic sauce. And great service too! Local newspaper The Age rated it as one of the best in Melbourne.
Brunswick St, Fitzroy (not far from the corner of Johnston St)
OK, so the guide book will tell you that this strip isn't the same since the yuppies/students/wannabe cool people moved in, but it still offers a rainbow concoction of fine eateries, dusty booksellers, gelaterias and wacky florists. Add to that an unmanageable range of places to drink: you can't do it in a day, never mind a night.
Sesame seed and honeycomb ice-cream anyone? Head to the 'clinical' Trampoline for cheap, light and supersmooth gelato, or late lunch at Bimbo’s, where you can get pizza (I went for the vegan pumpkin and pine nut with soy cheese) and a beer for $5 - that's £2 - until 5pm. For dinner, Vegie Bar is a real find - even for the strictest carnivore, or try the Morrocan Soup Kitchen for some of the most amazing food you'll ever taste. There's no menu - not even a specials board, you're just told what's cooking. I ate like a queen for $15. It's on the far end of Brunswick Street, furthest from the city. It's busy, so you'll have time to check out some of the great bars nearby while you wait for a table.
Really, do spend a day here, there's more than enough to do and see. Explore the side-streets (especially Gertrude Street) and you really feel like you're seeing the city. Somehow you know that if you lived here you'd end up spending a lot of time on this strip. Just make sure you arrive hungry!
Brunswick Street is in Fitzroy, northeast of the CBD. Head towards the Melbourne Museum and you aren't far, otherwise take the tram: 112 runs the length of the street, or the 86 which crosses it at Gertrude Street
Probably the best breakfast in Melbourne, with wonderful bread and pastries baked on the premises. The tables are packed in tight, so it can get a little crowded but it's the perfect place on a winter's morning.
Brunswick St, Fitzroy
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