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Good everyday restaurant picks in Melbourne for a newcomer

overhear Nov 5, 2013 07:10 PM

Hi All,

I just moved from New York to Carlton in August and though I've been out and about, I still haven't found restaurants that I love within my usual price range ($10-15 for lunch; $20-30 for dinner). Maybe I need to adjust my budget upward or shift my sights to student fare, but I've found that the lower cost Asian places I've tried so far were pretty lackluster.

Would you help me put together a list of go-to restaurants? If I need to nudge the budget up a little bit, so be it, but I'm hoping to avoid having to take a second job to support my appetite. ;-)

Thanks in advance!

  1. m
    mr_gimlet Nov 5, 2013 07:42 PM

    Well, you've already discovered you're in one of the most expensive cities on the planet for eating. You're also in a very affluent suburb, which means you might have to dust off that myki and go somewhere cheaper.

    Carlton's got a few gems. Colourful Yunnan is a recent opening on Swanston Street. Tiamo 1&2 are decent, if old school, Italians and DOC is still pumping for real pizza. Small Victories on Rathdowne is great for brunch/ lunch.

    But it's more kersizm's stomping ground than mine....

    12 Replies
    1. re: mr_gimlet
      overhear Nov 5, 2013 07:55 PM

      Thanks for the quick reply. Already hit DOC and loved it. I will happily jump on a tram or walk a few kilometers for good food, but it's always good to have something local for weeknights when I'm too lazy to cook.

      1. re: overhear
        kersizm Nov 5, 2013 09:42 PM

        Don't forget:

        Carlton Espresso and the DOC Deli. Espresso does great pasta well below your price point and for mine better than Tiamo. The deli has well priced italian and local meat and cheese.

        I do love Nasi Lemak House on Grattan Street for Malaysian.

        I haven't been there in 5 years but the bar at Hotel Lincoln used to be a great sub-$20 meal.

        Saigon Pho is apparently pretty good.

        I'll also recommend The Town Mouse and the Carlton Wine room.


        1. re: kersizm
          overhear Nov 5, 2013 10:26 PM

          Thanks for your thoughts. I will definitely give those a try.

          Can you recommend a particular dish at Nasi Lemak? I live next door to Norsiah's Kitchen, (a Malaysian place) which blankets the neighborhood with a pungent -- and to me, repellent -- smell from sunrise till way past sunset. In trying to come to terms with this, I've considered going in to sample the food, but haven't yet been able to take the leap. I know, I'm a terrible coward, but I am willing to try.

          1. re: overhear
            mr_gimlet Nov 6, 2013 01:58 AM

            What about the nasi lemak? Just ask them! The stinky smell you live with with be salted fermented shrimp paste used for the base of sambals. You can try it with kang kong if you want.

            I'd be cheeky and tell them you live next door and try for a freebie. Or at least making friends.

            1. re: overhear
              kersizm Nov 6, 2013 09:57 PM

              Oh and while they are more expensive in Carlton I like Epocha and La Luna.

              1. re: kersizm
                mr_gimlet Nov 7, 2013 03:36 AM

                La Luna is our 'life event' destination - weddings, deaths, selling house etc. It isn't the best restaurant in Melbourne, but it's hospitable and warm.

                Speaking of which, and going slightly OT, I had a stunning meal at The Commoner in Fitzroy last week.

                1. re: mr_gimlet
                  overhear Nov 10, 2013 06:40 PM

                  Sorry for the delay in replying. I've been very busy with all the eating, of course. :-)

                  I made it to NL over the weekend and on Mr. Gimlet's suggestion tried the nasi lemak. Very nice, light and delicious, and nothing like the saturated smell over at Norsiah's. The chicken leg was perfectly done, but I'm starting to think that I'm just not a meat-eater, so I will definitely try the kangkong sambal next.

                  The Commoner in Fitzroy looks great, and I've also heard good things about Hellenic Republic out that way. Has anyone tried Moroccan Soup Bar?

                  1. re: overhear
                    mr_gimlet Nov 10, 2013 07:48 PM

                    Yeah, Moroccan Soup Bar is an institution in both a good and a bad way. Cheap and filling, but not exactly cutting edge.

                    Avoiding meat will keep your costs down! Try the Vegie Bar on Brunswick Street, or Abla's in Carlton if you can splurge a bit.

                    Kangkong is probably more a side dish, it would be a pretty intense meal on its own. You might enjoy trying rojak, which is a slightly bizarre sweet, salty, fruity salad.

                    Didn't mean to recommend the Commoner to you (exxy), was having a side conversation with kersizm.

                    1. re: overhear
                      kersizm Nov 11, 2013 11:52 AM

                      If you are avoiding meat don't forget Yong Green Food on Brunswick Street. It's on the cheaper end of things too.

                      1. re: kersizm
                        mr_gimlet Nov 12, 2013 12:35 AM

                        And I forgot the outstanding Horn Please on St George's Road. Sunday night is locals night (you don't have to be a local) where you can stuff your face with as much as you can eat for $20

                        1. re: mr_gimlet
                          kersizm Nov 12, 2013 11:32 AM

                          Oh yeah, I've heard very good things about Horn Please.

                          For lunch you could always go to Babka (Brunswick St) for perogis and then a slice of cake or a danish. Just avoid their horrible coffee.


                          1. re: kersizm
                            overhear Feb 16, 2014 02:47 PM

                            In case anyone else is searching for good affordable eats, thought I'd mention that I just discovered Darac between Swanston and Elizabeth Sts on A'Beckett St. (how do you pronounce A'Beckett anyway?). Wonderful, fresh food, great atmosphere, and lovely service. We *loved* the prawn bibimbob and the spicy osam bulgoki

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