I live for a bargain. Trawling Gumtree online on behalf of people who are normally willing to pay full price, pulling the scooter over at the slightest hint of a garage sale or scheduling in every single Fitzroy Market held this year – if I can save some money then you will find me sniffing around. This goes back to me struggling to find my legs in London and searching out the cheapest and best food that sometimes does not get the credit it deserves. So put away your credit card and eat out for almost nowt.
325 Lygon Street, East Brunswick
What’s not to love about this delicious Lebanese bakery at the cool end of Lygon Street? Surrounded by great bars with cute courtyards in which to while away an afternoon – our favourites are The Alderman, Mr Wilkinson and Atticus Finch - this is the perfect place to line the stomach or soak up that one-beer-too-many bloat. Prices start at a mere $2 and don’t exceed the $10 mark. Opt for haloumi-stuffed chargrilled bread (a piping hot artery-clooging cheese feast), bursting-at-the-seams spinach and ricotta pie, or one of the meat or veggie pizza-style offerings. Despite the low price tag, you’ll find generous toppings (from tangy feta and spicy mince to cooling labneh and sour pickles) sitting on intensely fluffy bread. Service is super-friendly and as speedy as it can be given how busy it gets. Always churning out a great soundtrack, this place gets pretty hot and hectic. Hell, forget the bars and settle in here for the night.
268 Victoria Street, North Melbourne
All hail KFC – that’s Korean Fried Chicken to you lot – not the gourmet chef’s selection currently being flogged by Darren Simpson and the Colonel. Moving on. I was put onto this place by a fellow blogger and have never looked back. If you happen to be passing there are nights when, if you look in the font window, you will see a lone man sitting at a table by himself with his face covered with beautiful barbecue sauce. Prior to finding it on my face it was coating the most crispy batter known to man, which in turn coats the most succulent chicken – not overcooked in the slightest. If you haven’t tried it then do something crazy and give it a go.
144 Bridport Street, Albert Park
I think this entry should be pretty self-explanatory for any self-respecting Melburnian. Andrew’s has been serving up gloriously tasty burgers for more than 70 years and is a testament to the old adage, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” Today the team continue to serve a selection of beef and chicken burgers – plain, cheese and ‘the lot’ with egg, bacon, tomato and cheese, and crunchy fries that could give Heston Blumenthal’s triple-cooked chips a run for their money. Served in paper bags sporting the team’s retro logo, the burgers seem hefty but are surprisingly light – they are filling, but not in a stodgy, I-just-ate-a-load-of-fat-soaked-meat way. As for cash – only some of the options advertised on the old-school blackboard break into double figures, making them an absolutely indulgent bargain.
390 Little Bourke Street
The team at Naked Espresso have had a tough journey getting to where they are. From being kicked out of their perfectly placed Elevenses in a wasteland of CBD nothingness to their current site at the heart of Melbourne coffeeland I salute the lads and ladies who have made the journey. And you should too, as they have a fantastic lunch special that I have been unable to surpass in the CBD for quality and quantity. Not knowing anything about the deal, I entered and ordered a coffee and one of the fantastic bagels (pulled pork, bbq sauce, cheese and pear chutney) I had heard so much about. I was then tapped on the shoulder and told it would cost about $13 but if I was willing to pay $14 then I would get a homemade cookie and piece of fruit. No brainer. If you don’t go down and pay these happy baristas a visit – then you have no soul. There, I said it.
So – did we get it right or are there some you would say were better?
Sharking for Chips & Drinks 2011 End of Year Awards
Melbourne’s Best Brunch 2011
Melbourne’s Best Bars 2011
Melbourne’s 2011 Hot Openings
Melbourne’s Best Cheap Eats
Melbourne’s Top 5 Dishes of the Year
Melbourne’s Most Anticlimactic 2011
Sharking for Chips & Drinks 2012 Most Anticipated List