Per usual, click on through for the full Google map. And a big thanks to Paul and Pat for squiring us around their fabulous city.
1. Belle’s Hot Chicken: We were served Memphis hot chicken by a Japanese waitress in Melbourne, so we’re basically living in that Coke commercial. At the moment, Australians are hot on the foods of the American South, so naturally, enter this slick but casual hot chicken joint on Gertrude in Fitzroy, the geographical center of cool in Melbourne.
2. Le Bon Ton: This massive American-owned indoor-outdoor bar-restaurant is inspired by New Orleans, with classic cocktails and oysters until late. See above re: Southern food in Melbourne. But the “pitchers” of beer are actually milk jugs, which makes them hella expensive, and the “American” servers are actually Canadian, not that there’s anything wrong with that. Otherwise good.
3. Bluebird Espresso: Best flat white we had in all of Australia and New Zealand, and that is saying something. If the coffee is a ten, the food, service, and room are sevens, which averages out to a great neighborhood place we’ll visit once weekly when we move to Melbourne.
4. Smith & Daughters: S&D is a very good restaurant—and we hate to put the caveat, but we must—for a vegan place. Unlike so many terrible vegan and vegetarian spots that put up a menu of dishes only connected by the fact that they don’t contain meat/dairy/honey stolen from oppressed bee slaves/whatever, Smith & Daughters cooks with perspective—namely, Mexican and Spanish. This is a huge plus. On the minus side, they call things that aren’t chicken and fish chicken and fish, sans quotation marks. While some non-vegans might find this approachable, we’re not fans. Don’t piss in my face and call it rain, and don’t try to convince me that your glutinous soy protein is chicken. That said, the vibe is great, and while some plates are clunkers (seasonal summer salad—you’d really think they’d have this one down), others are quite good (corn fritters). And the cocktails are winners. Your vegan cousin will dig it.
5. Fatto: A huge and stylish Italian restaurant on the river and the site of our first meal not in Asia since the beginning of the trip. We ordered all the cheese. It was also our first meal containing all the typical go-to summer produce we find on the East coast: zucchini, peas, strawberries. It was…not franny’s. But good. But not franny’s. Really, what is?
6. Dr. Morse: WHY IS EVERYTHING IN MELBOURNE SO CHARMING? We had a Sunday brunch here in their back garden with all the cool kids who were hair-of-the-dogging before midday. If you’re still into brunch (and Melbournians are very into brunch), this is the spot. You’ll show up at 11 and end up at “holy shit, it’s getting dark.”
7. Melbourne Recital Center: The BAM of Melbourne and where we saw Chris Jarrett (Keith’s brother, who is also a jazz pianist—bet there are some complexes in that family) play. Turns out we both like jazz piano!
8. Yellowbird: For the most part, we stuck to the north side of the river, but when we wandered southward, this is where we landed for beer, burgers, and Chapel Street people-watching.
9. Shizuku: Very solid noodles and a top-notch craft beer list.
10. Shadow Electric: This outdoor cinema and bar is set up in the courtyard of a former convent, and it is so lovely and well-run. We watched The Big Lebowski (Blake’s first time. Not a fan.) and played an hour of friendly ping-pong after. An essentially flawless Saturday night in Melbourne.
11. The European: We hit this place around 1:00 after a full evening of beers at Yellowbird, soooooo…details aren’t super clear in the memory bank, but there were oysters and amari and foie gras popcorn that tasted more like the latter than the former.
12. Prahan Market: The Chelsea Market of the south side, basically. Gorgeous produce, butcher, cheese, prepared foods, coffee. We ducked in here during a freak afternoon downpour on a 100 degree day (“That’s Melbourne for you,” said everyone) and were very happy to wait out the rain, wishing we had a Smeg somewhere in Windsor to fill with all the produce.
13: Market Lane Coffee: Inside Prahan Market and serving beautiful, smooth but potent coffee, like so many in this town. Iced coffee = “100 emoji.”
14. State Library of Victoria: If it isn’t quite clear from this list, our time in Melbourne was like this: coffee, beer, beer, food, beer, beer, beer, beer, food, coffee, coffee, beer, food, beer, beer, ice cream, beer. But we did make time to pop into the library, which is beautiful and free and easy and worth a visit.
15. Pressed Juice: The name says it. They’re pros though; they do it right.
16. Little Creatures: This brewery/restaurant/bar in Carlton is enormous, and their beer is great.
17. De Clieu: You can’t swing a dead cat in Melbourne without spilling a flawless flat white, and this is just another place to get one. But the stuff in the pastry case is also good (avoid the over-sweet Lamingtons), and an adorable Irish server made Blake feel better after she got a bad dye job down the street.