Duration: More than 3 hours
Price Guide: depends on how much you eat
This is not so much a tour as it is a collection of places in Melbourne that are good to eat at and slightly off the beaten track.
Most of these places are a bit more expensive than your average Cheap Eat on here, but sometimes you need to treat yourself. Also, nearly all of them function as bars as well so you could use this as a bar tour (and perhaps have a bar snack or two along the way). Finally, they’re mostly evening-only venues. I’ll make a note at each venue as to whether it’s primarily lunch, dinner or both.
Begin at the main entrance to Flinders Street Station.
Cross the road to the corner where Young Jackson’s Hotel is, turn left and walk along Flinders Street until you reach the corner of Degraves Street (about halfway along the block). Turn right up Degraves, continue to Flinders Lane and cross over to enter Centre Place. Hell’s Kitchen is at number 20, on your right.
Go past Jungle Juice, you can visit that another time (and you should) and head up the stairs to Hell’s (primarily a lunch venue).
This place is beloved of Melbourne’s art, independent publishing and general hipster crowd. During the day they offer great coffee, a good selection behind the bar (including two local beers on tap) and a good range of bar snack things (olives, wasabi peas etc) and tasty lunch things. Their pides have interesting fillings and are good and cheap at around $10 or less. They come with a little side salad too. There’s also usually a soup on offer and a couple of more substantial hot dishes for a bit more dosh.
From Hell’s, continue north through Centre Place and turn right on to Collins Street. At the corner of Collins and Swanston Streets, turn left and head up two blocks to Curtin House at 252 Swanston Street.
If you’re feeling tired or lazy, jump on any of the trams that go up Swanston Street and get off at Lonsdale Street, cross the road and backtrack a short distance to Curtin House.
, but we’re here to eat so head on up to the first floor to Cookie, which is primarily an evening venue.
Cookie is a huge space with one of the longest bars I’ve ever seen and an equally long list of beers on offer from all around the world, the menu is built around drinkers and so can fit in with however hungry you are. The primarily Thai-inspired food comes in bar snacks (starting at $6.50), small dishes (from $8.00), medium dishes (from $16.50) and large dishes (from $19.50). A couple of non-Asian things creep in there, like a pasta or two, but it’s primarily South East Asian: curries, stir frys, soups, salads, grills and seafood with lots of fresh, zesty flavours. There are heaps of vegetarian options too.
Done with Cookie? Head back downstairs, across the road and a few doors further north on Swanston Street to Sahara, which is upstairs at number 301 Swanston Street.
Sahara is a beloved hang out of uni students from RMIT’s nearby campus. It’s got cheap drinks, a comfy space, friendly staff and the front windows provide an excellent vantage point for looking out over Swanston Street and all its goings on.
The food here’s more your Mod Oz sort of deal, with a fairly strong Mediterranean bias. Grills, pizza, steaks, burgers, pasta and a really good antipasto platter if you just want something to pick at over a few drinks. Entrees are $6-8, Mains are $12-25 and Desserts $7. It’s open for lunch on Fridays, but is mainly a dinner venue, doing evening meals from Monday-Saturday.
Back on to Swanston Street, head down the hill to Bourke Street and there go east up the hill almost to Spring Street (catch the 86 or 96 tram if you like, it’s a fair walk).
At the top of the hill, look out for Meyers Place, on the southern side of the street. Head down Meyers Place and look for the chalkboard with a menu on it on the wall on your left, through that doorway and up the stairs is the Waiter’s Club.
The Waiter’s is only open in the evenings.
We’re almost done. Head back to Bourke Street, turn left and go west to Exhibition Street. There turn right and go north to Lonsdale Street. There, take a left and go to number 113.
Open for lunches on weekdays and also evening meals during the week and on Saturday nights.