You won't starve in Melbourne, a cosmopolitan city which offers many types of cuisines, but you may end up spending quite a bit… food is not cheap here! If you are able to cater for yourself try to visit the Victoria Market and stock up with fresh produce and seasonal fruit: we found excellent (and cheap) mangos and figs, things that you don't often find in markets in New Zealand. While in the city centre we also oped for smaller cafes, a lot of them have specials like vegetarian wraps and bottled water or coffee for around $8. No need to mention any place in particular as there are many in the small side streets between Burke and Collins Streets, and the food is pretty much the same, nice and filling, and the coffee generally good. And if you need a real Vegan treat go to Supercharger!
The smoothies and desserts are excellent!
The menu is extensive and with pictures (but don't look at these too closely, they may differ quite a bit in presentation from the real thing), and full of tofu and fake meat and fish, vegan omelette and, in true Vietnamese style, lots of fresh greens and herbs. Portions are generous and prices quite low, we ate well and had a good night with our cousins sharing all sort of dishes.
Another popular cuisine in the city is Italian, so off we went to Lygon St (where there is also a vegetarian cafe, but we wanted pizza and gnocchi). Personally I found the place a bit too touristic, and after walking up and down the street with staff trying to convince to enter their establishments we settled in for place that looked more or less like all the others. Nothing special but not expensive either, cheerful and lively, like the whole street.
For dessert we went to the famous Pidapipo, the queue was long so we were hopeful, and the ice cream was ok (lots of vegan sorbets too), but not what I had hoped for: there was an aftertaste… this was not an artisan ice-cream, and was definitely make with powders… not as good as our Auckland's Giapo!
But one place you have to try in Lygon St is the big Italian cafe Brunetti (and they also have ice cream, a bakery and some savoury food). Our pastries were so filling that we didn't need lunch later!
And talking about Italians in Australia, and sweet things, if you like patisserie and colours you must check out Adriano Zumbo. Well, we were there for Australia Day so some of the cakes were very 'patriotic', but they were fun to photograph, and if you want to take some of Zumbo's delicacies over the ditch but are worried about customs (fresh food is not allowed into New Zealand), you can always go to the supermarket and get some Zumbo's Tim Tam biscuits. There are 4 flavours, we tried the coconut and they are very rich, like a mini cake!
I have more pictures of Melbourne (and food) here, we did eat plenty (but I have to say that there was hardly any vegetarian food at the Australian Open) and also managed to snack happily with good Australian beer and Tasmanian cheese. We didn't go to any really expensive restaurant this time, so sorry if these are missing from this post, but Melbourne is only 3 and a half hours away, and I am sure that we will be back!
Photos by Alessandra Zecchini ©