Naiise Travels: Sydney and Melbourne, Australia
'Strailia! There's no place quite like it, where coast and bush reside side by side, and empty outback goes for miles. Yet Australian cities are consistently voted as Most Liveable Cities, blending cultural history, cosmopolitan luxuries, natural experiences and coastal living to make for fantastic holiday spots.
For this week's guide, we couldn't choose between the two big cities, Melbourne and Sydney, so you'll have to settle for both! By no means an exhaustive list, we listed some of our favourites places with a topic close to home - FOOD. We pick some of our favourite Aussie spots - meaning they're down to earth, with affordable prices, serve killer food and guarantee a good time.
Way before the whole farm-to-table food trend became a key word for restaurants everywhere, Australians were already using the freshest produce for their food, because, well they could! You may also have heard that Melbourne is one of the world's top coffee capitols, and Aussies are spreading the good coffee word around the globe. Inconceivable? Then you need to have a perfect smooth latte from one of the many coffee joints scattered around the city. With global cultural influences making their mark on food, and chefs becoming increasingly innovative, Australians have never been so spoilt for choice.
Housed in an industrial-chic two-storey brick warehouse, Brewtown is a cafe located in trendy Newtown and serving a decent brunch, it has also built quite a reputation for their pastries! The sweeter the better, and their creations are irresistible to those with a sweet tooth, including variations of the cronut — croissant and doughnut hybrid — and cruffin – croissant and muffin hybrid (available in flavours such as nutella crunch, popcorn caramel, passionfruit curd, coconut cream and more).
Homestyle food and specialty coffee in a former pie factory with brick walls and an organic garden, The Grounds of Alexandria has quickly become a Sydney institute. Highly popular for brunch with several celeb sightings, The Cafe is always packed in the morning with snaking queues outside. Come early!
An unpretentious restaurant that feels like it has come straight out of Madrid or Barcelona, specialising in Spanish paellas and tapas. Be prepared to wait at least 30mins for the paella 'cos it's made-to-order, like how all good things should be. While waiting, order tapas like the famed Chorizo a la Plancha and lamb skewers to curb the hunger pangs. We recommend ordering the sangria (order the weekend version, the alcohol content is higher!) to wash down all that flavour.
Offering a decidedly different breakfast/lunch option, Kepos Street Kitchen in pretty Redfern creates dishes that will transport you to another land, somewhere exotic and Middle Eastern. We had the falafel and hummus on bread, and the southern fried chicken sandwich, and they were both fantastic.
Fratelli Paradiso isn't trying to reinvent Italian food, but that's ok, because their classic staples are perfection. The waiters converse in Italian, and the restaurant is always packed with locals in the know. The Ragu dishes are a safe bet, although we recommend splurging just a little bit more for the grilled Scampi pasta, and then top it all off with even more grilled Scampi. Bellissimo.
Three Williams is the new type of Sydney cafe to anticipate, with dishes that are sophisticated, creative and very yummy. Located in a transformed concrete bunker in Redfern, you must not miss their signature flat bread sandwiches - hey, are those naans? Yes they are, but not as you imagine traditional naans; these are filled with succulent beef brisket and grilled prawns. Try their banana/date/walnut smoothie!
Part patisserie part deli, Chez Dre serves french-influenced dishes, cakes and pastries, and experiences long queues on the weekends. Be sure to grab a Lemon Hazelnut Tart or one of their delicious cakes the moment they restock the dessert display counter, and buy a recipe book to try making their delectable creations at home.
Offers some of the best macarons in town and they've got some really unique flavours — we got the pain d'epices (gingerbread, Christmas special), the almond honey and orange, the Christmas nougat (also a Christmas special), the pear and walnut (with a hint of alcohol), the scone & jam (pretty one-of-a-kind!), and the earl grey with chocolate. The Christmas nougat flavour was the best, with soft chewy sticky bits in the filling.
An old favourite for satisfying brunch and killer coffee that never disappoints. Remember to also buy their award-winning house roasted coffee beans to take home!
We stumbled upon this cafe called Fifty Acres in Richmond and were drawn by the ambiance. The coffee (by local roasters, Dukes Coffee Roasters) was great too, and our scotch egg with avocado dish was superb.
There are many many good burger joints in Melbourne; make your way through them slowly and start with this greasy bit of joy from Huxtaburger in Fitzroy, which arguably started the hip burger movement a few years back.
Mamasita is synonymous with classy Mexican food in Melbourne. The fresh crab tostados or fish ceviche are refreshing bites, and their grilled fish and pork tacos are to die for. Go in a group and order the bigger dishes, like a braised pork belly or slow-roasted pork hock. They don't take reservations here, so go early or really late, and enjoy a margarita while you're at it!
A favourite of yummy mummies in the area (East Richmond/South Yarra), Top Paddock is housed in a beautiful glass building and has a massive range of brunch dishes. You'll want to linger here a while. Be sure to try their signature Pancakes that are fluffy and truly the stuff of dreams.
The relatively new Town Mouse in Carlton is a great example of inventive dishes that are now increasingly the standard in Melbourne. Helmed by New Zealanders who know the value of fresh food, they blew our minds away with their roasted red cabbage dish. Yes, cabbage. Do yourself a favour, book ahead and order the cabbage. Oh and their other dishes are also superb.
Gelato Messina probably makes the best gelato in the world, and sure doesn't disappoint!
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