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Best places to eat in Melbourne without breaking the bank

Eating my way through Melbourne!

Melbourne boasts of a widely popular food scene. It’s home to a multitude of Michelin Star restaurants, and I’m pretty sure everyone has heard of Masterchef Australia, so there’s that. No kidding, there are SO MANY places to choose from that I had a hard time finally deciding where to go, but after a LOT of research and asking around, I could finally zero in on some of the best places to eat in Melbourne!

I spoke to travellers and locals alike, and I received a TON of suggestions, but I knew the amount of time I had here wouldn’t allow me to go to all of those places. Some names stood out though, unrelated sources having mentioned the same ones, so I made a beeline for those.

Read on!

Higher Ground

Little Bourke St., CBD, Melbourne
Meal: Breakfast

There was a waiting list of 45 minutes to get in. For breakfast. I’d almost lost hope, but hey, there are so many perks to being a solo traveler! I got in in 10 minutes because a single chair had opened up and I was thrilled.

So I normally get confused when I’m given a menu (ask my friends), and I hit a new extreme here. I was torn between the Avocado Sea Cracker (with macadamia feta, mojo verde, poached eggs and seaweed), the Slow Cooked Beans (with pea and spinach sauce, poached eggs, feta, sourdough and hazelnut crumb), and the Warm Polenta and Cornflakes (with stracciatella ice cream, banana, marzipan and honey).

Well, you can’t have it ALL, right, so after much deliberation, I went with the Slow Cooked Beans and a hot chocolate, and I was transported to heaven and back with every bite. The flavours went together beautifully, the eggs burst open magnificently (oozy eggs FTW!), the feta and hazelnut crumb added a contrast in flavour and texture, and somehow, it all just fit. As for the hot chocolate, ah well. I DREAM ABOUT IT TILL TODAY!

best places to eat in Melbourne

Best places to eat in Melbourne
Couldn’t help myself, I took a sip the second it arrived, because HOT CHOCOLATE. And then I realised I should’ve taken a picture first *facepalm*

Grain Store

517 Flinders Lane, Melbourne
Meal: Breakfast

I love the ambience of Grain Store. Wooden interiors drenched in soft yellow light are so welcoming, I felt I could sit there all day.

I LOVE green tea, I’m mildly obsessed, and having been deprived of it for close to two weeks, I was thrilled to see it on the menu.

There were some lovely, lovely options on the menu, and had I not been so averse to consuming more sugar by then, I would have definitely given the White Chocolate and Raspberry Pancakes a shot. I went with the Portobello Mushroom and Gruyere Potato Rosti, which was served with poached eggs, spinach leaves and a hazelnut hollandaise sauce. I’m a BIG fan of mushrooms, and a BIG fan of poached eggs served with hollandaise, so this was basically paradise on a plate for me. And it did NOT disappoint.

Best places to eat in Melbourne

Grain Store had a collection of breads and pastries that looked divine, but I didn’t have the space left to try!

Ratee Thai

228-236, Flinders Street, Melbourne
Meal: Lunch

You might end up missing this little joint because it’s inside a mall kind of building, but DON’T! Its run by a friendly Thai family, is extremely affordable, and the food is divine. I loved that they have a giant vessel serving green tea to whoever dines with them. The prawn crackers and satay dip are excellent, and a great snack while you wait for the food as well. I was CRAVING for some spice in my life by then (hey, I’m Indian, and I’d been around in Aus for 2 weeks already), so I zeroed in on the Pad Thai and it was DELICIOUS. Them noodles tossed in a gravy rich with flavour, topped with crushed peanuts and sprouts was Thailand on a plate for me.

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Movida Next Door

164 Flinders Street, Melbourne
Meal: Tapas and Wine

Great music, friendly staff and a warm vibe define this place that’s right next to Hosier St. Drop in on a casual evening for some great wine and delicious tapas. I had the ‘Gamba’ – chargrilled prawn with capsicum and chilli salmorejo, and followed it up with churros served with hot chocolate (had to, just had to, I’ma an ADDICT help me). I’ve never eaten prawns that still had their eyes on them (I didn’t know that’s how they would turn up, tbh), but hey, there’s always a first, and this was a pleasant one! The prawns were mild and delightfully crispy, and coupled with the salmorejo, created this divine combination of flavours on my palate. Highly recommend.

The churros were golden brown, the chocolate dark and silky, and of COURSE they exploded in a burst of flavour in my mouth!

 

Best places to eat in Melbourne

Mamasita

1/11, Collins St, Melbourne
Meal: Dinner

This Mexican place is extremely popular amongst the younger crowds. Foot-tapping music and the super-friendly staff make it a fun environment and you like being there and soaking it in! The Streetstyle Corn is a classic, a signature dish and widely recommended by anyone who knows the place. I had the Hutilacoche Quesadilla and was pleasantly surprised with the tickle in my tastebuds! Topped it off with the sweetcorn ice cream (i know, more sweetcorn, but it’s ICE CREAM!), and THIS was pretty unique!

Best places to eat in Melbourne

Best places to eat in Melbourne

Chin Chin

125, Flinders Lane, Melbourne
Meal: Dinner

EVERYONE told me to come here. EVERYONE. And when I got there, I could see why. The line to get in was unbelievable, but I soon found out that this was just the line to get your name down, because Chin Chin does NOT take reservations. Folks gave their names and left, only to return after an hour or so, when their turn may have rolled around.

Solo travellers get a seat at the bar though, so we WALTZ RIGHT IN! 😀

The bartended poured me a glass of Totara South Island Pinot Noir 2013, which is one of the most delicious wines I have EVER had. The pineapple and egg fried rice I ordered surprised and delighted me; I never imagined pineapple, egg, chicken and cashew could create something so splendid! I could see what the hype was about. The food is great, the wine is great, the staff is super-friendly, and I liked the completely-unexpected-at-a-place-like-this 90s music they were playing!

Best places to eat in Melbourne

Other places recommended by locals and travellers –

  1. Top Paddock
  2. Attica
  3. Nobu
  4. Flower Drum Kitchen
  5. Mr. Miyagi

So these are just SOME of the best places to eat in Melbourne, and ones that will not break your bank. I ate so much in this city that I could practically see a food baby by the time I left. I think food is an important part of the culture of a place, and goes a long way in defining a country and an experience, and a full belly is a happy one. And I was REALLY HAPPY throughout.

For once, forget about those diets, folks. Melbourne is too good to miss, when it comes to food, and you know you want it!

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