March is undoubtedly one of the most delicious times of the year to visit Melbourne. In every corner of the city and beyond to regional Victoria, the fabulous Melbourne Food and Wine Festival tempts patrons with all manner of culinary wizardry. But of course, any time of the year is a great time to immerse yourself in this city’s extraordinary dining scene – and as the locals know, you don’t need to break the bank to enjoy it.
Here are eight ideas for sipping and snacking – where you’ll not only get to visit some interesting corners of town, but also leave nourished and with money in your pocket for your next delicious adventure…
1. Feast on dumplings in Chinatown
Melburnians love their dumplings, and it’s easy to understand why as you make your way around Chinatown. There’s nothing like these scrumptious steamed parcels of goodness to really hit the spot, and they’re super cost-effective! There are dozens of options but do try the Peking duck dumplings at HuTong Dumpling Bar (14-16 Market Lane), go for simple and succulent at Shanghai Village (12 Little Bourke Street), or chow down at the popular Shanghai Dumpling House in colourful Tattersalls Lane.
2. Visit Footscray for top Vietnamese cuisine
Alongside the Footscray Market (just opposite Footscray train station), diners have access to plenty of flavoursome and extremely well-priced Vietnamese cuisine. Dive into a delicious pho at Pho Hung Vuong Saigon (128 Hopkins Street), munch on spring rolls at Sapa Hills (112 Hopkins Street) or order a plate of mixed noodles at Phu Vinh (93 Hopkins Street). Digest your meal with a walk through the market, which sells lots of types of fresh produce that you won’t see at your own supermarket.
3. Try some tasty tapas at the Queen Victoria Market
Speaking of markets… If you’ve ever travelled through Spain, you’re likely to have spent time at each city’s vibrant covered market. It’s usually a hive of activity – and not just for shoppers. Diners flock to the many busy tapas bars to pull up a pew for a bite to eat. Melbourne’s Queen Victoria Market offers a taste of this tradition, with various places to enjoy an on-the-spot feed. Try Spanish tapas bar El Rincon for shared plates and amazing paella.
4. Pack a picnic and head for the Royal Botanic Gardens
While you’re at the Market, why not stock up on delicious cheeses and small goods from the historic Dairy Hall for a picnic in the park? You can spend as little or as much as you like. The Royal Botanic Gardens are an obvious choice of venue for your al fresco feast, and a bottle of crisp Yarra Valley rosé may be in order. Or grab some affordable, delicious sushi and a cold drink from the many options around Flinders Street Station. Kick back afterwards or stroll around the serene surroundings, breathing in that fresh air.
5. Do a food tour
Melbourne’s plethora of food walking tours are a great way to sample the fare from a number of the city’s top eateries without having to take out a second mortgage. This is Melbourne offers a foodie walking tour that takes in five award-winning restaurants and includes a generous tasting at each. You will also pick up plenty of tips for eateries, cafes and bars to return to later in your stay.
6. Enjoy fresh fish and chips by the bay
This is an oldie but a goodie, but let’s face it – who doesn’t love indulging in fish and chips at least once while on holiday. In Melbourne, St Kilda Beach is the place to do it. Head to Pink Flake on Acland Street, which gets great reviews. Order up, then find a spot on the sand to snack while gazing pensively over the tranquil waters of the bay. If the weather permits, a dip before dinner is a possibility. Walk off your meal with a sunset stroll along the picturesque promenade.
7. Make a date for coffee and cake
This is Melbourne – you’re going to drink lots of coffee, and it makes perfect sense to pair your lattes with the array of delectable and affordably priced pastries, cakes and other baked delights on offer across the city. St Kilda’s Acland Street has a historic cake-retailing reputation, but there are plenty of other options. Make an occasion of it at Noisette in Port Melbourne, where 5th generation French baker David Menard works his magic (84 Bay Street).
8. Enjoy happy hour with a view at a rooftop bar
Melbourne’s flourishing rooftop bar scene offers plenty of options for an affordable aperitivo – thanks to that time-honoured tradition known as the happy hour. Head to Campari House (23-25 Hardware Lane) from 4 to 7pm Sunday to Wednesday to enjoy a cheeky glass of wine for $5 or $10 for a pint. Whet your appetite for what’s to come later with the yummy bruschetta of the day.
The perfect accommodation for you in Melbourne
Conveniently located in the heart of the city, the Clarion Suites Gateway is the perfect option for travellers who want a spectacular view of the city. Another great accommodation option is Quality Hotel Batman’s Hill on Collins that is located minutes away from popular attractions like the Melbourne Zoo and Arts Centre performing arts venue. Take a look at more Choice Hotels accommodation options in Melbourne here.
About the author
Ruby Boukabou is a lifestyle, culture and travel writer, and author of 48 Paris (National Geographic) and The Art Lover’s Guide to Paris (White Owl Books) – due for publication in 2019. Ruby is usually based between Australia, Europe and North Africa depending on projects and the weather.