Get your American fix in Melbourne!
Sometimes, especially in the Melbourne winters (read: possible hurricanes, snow, hail and then a weird hour of 24 degree sunshine), all you want is to be completely full of warm, calorie-loaded food. And who better than to provide that food than the world capital of excess, trans-fats and chilli fries?
But most of us can’t really pop over to the US of A to grab a quick bagel, so luckily for you, here are 10 must-visit American-influenced, Melbourne-based diners.
When you mention Easey’s, and you get a bunch of blank looks from your mates, make you sure take a minute to breathe in the satisfaction before you change their lives forever.
Easey’s is an old train carriage, on the roof of a Collingwood office block, and spilling out with incredible American fare. It almost sounds like some place in a 90s movie where the protagonists laugh and cry and live their lives over fried chicken that is coated in Frosted Flakes, except this is real.
Easey’s is spread out over the End to End building, with the bottom floor housing Rose Santos’ wholefoods café, which is a welcome health boost before you fill your grateful valves with the beauty of the top-floor, glorious calorie parade.
Apart from their full burgers ($14 all up), some menu gems up on the trains include the Pop Tarts ($6 for 2) and my personal favourite (nearly wept for joy) Donuts ($2.50). This is all available all day, and if you don’t list having the option of cinnamon-rolled, custard-filled donuts for breakfast, honey, what’chu talkin’ ‘bout?
Address: 48 Easey Street, Collingwood, Melbourne VIC 3066
2. Bowery to Williamsburg
“Start spreadin’ the news…I’m leavin’ today…” and I sure am heading straight to Bowery to Willimasburg, a New York-on-steriods in the CBD.
This place is uptown, traditional New York (Pastrami, anyone?) and makes you feel like you’re gonna catch a sighting of Jerry, George, Elaine and Kramer at any moment. It’s gorgeous, filling chow; for me, I love the Fried Challah, which is (no joke) whipped PB, a roasted pear and candied popcorn, for a fantastic brunch.
The Reuben ($12.50). Source.
For lunch, cop a glance at the Meatballs, or immerse yourself fully in a ridgy-didge Reuben, and take ‘em up on their offer of a sandwich + side + pretzels (they’re makin’ me thirsty!) & a pickle, all for $16.50. The Peanut Butter Hot Chocolate is also a must.
I do want to keep this lovely secret on the DL, but how can anyone deny the Melbournians a mindblowingly good bagel?!
Address: 16 Oliver Lane, Melbourne VIC 3000
So this Melbourne institution is the Instagram staple for any good hipster. The adoption of the US of A’s attitude to lunchin’ is working out so well for this place; you’d be hard-pressed to find anyone who is not satisfied after going here.
If you want traditional, American burger-bar taste with the 8bit stamp all over it, go the classic 8bit with cheese ($8.50), but if you’re a little more of a quirky individual, go the Golden Axe, because nothing says Land of the Free like perfectly done fried chicken.
But what steals the show here, (with Honourable Mentions to the hot dogs and also the AMAZE milkshakes; peanut butter? Strawberry cheesecake?) are the range of fries – ya got chilli fries, cheese and bacon fries, and just for that American good measure, perfectly cooked onion rings! Go hard or go home. But go home with an jealousy-inducing pic of your meal.
Address: 8 Droop Street, Footscray VIC 3011
4. Nieuw Amsterdam
This place is a real asset to your already overflowing knowledge of wonderful places to eat in Melbs and it’s tucked away in Hardware Lane, avoiding the rush and giving you some great food and a relaxed vibe. This food gets right down to the gritty, indulgent American South-style of eating; literally loads and you can legitimately taste the love.
All in the name of research (how good is my job) I have compiled three dishes that strike to the very bone of diner expectations: a) Mac ‘n’ Cheese Soufflé, b) Fried Apple Pie c) and Pumpkin Donuts (okay, 2/3 of that list was desserts, but trust me, you won’t be complaining).
And for God’s sake, hit the bar. You’ll thank me.
Address: 106-112 Hardware Street, Melbourne VIC 3000
5. Po’boy Quarter
Me: So, uh, what’s a po’boy?
Everyone in Australia: *crickets*
Well, silence no more. I now know, and am ready to share this genius invention. Originally from New Orleans, Louisiana, the po’boy (‘poe-boy’) is called a ‘submarine sandwich’, which is made of a long, thick roll and then kind of split into two pieces. In New Orleans, these rolls have been around forever, and can stuffed with the craziest and tastiest fillings.
The fillings include deep fried catfish, breaded oyster, Buffalo fried chicken and pulled pork. There is genuinely something for everything, and it’s not every day you can say you have tried a cuisine that you didn’t know existed!
Thanks to our friends at Gumbo Kitchen who say that ‘food is like a religion in New Orleans,’ now we get to worship together.
Address: 295 Smith Street, Fitzroy VIC 3065
6. Trunk Bar & Restaurant
This little niche is made up of a bunch of different elements (fancy Rintel Room, Honey Garden and the biggest outdoor beer garden in the city which is a lovely, elegantly alcoholic feather in Melbs’ cap), but for the purpose of this article, I’m looking at the aptly named ‘Diner.’
Under an amazingly accommodating tree (that is super old and super historical) and with the benefits of an open-plan roof, so you can bask in sun whilst gorging on breakfast/lunch/dinner. Looking at the dinner menu, I particularly felt that I had hit upon a goldmine.
Some of my top picks were the Sticky BBQ Wings ($12), the Hillbilly Dog ($10) – literally a hot dog with bacon + cheese + BBQ sauce and Cherry Sundae ($12) for dessert and to make you feel like you’re in Cheers! There are also salads available for people who don’t know how to be in an American diner.
Address: 275 Exhibition Street, Melbourne VIC 3000
7. Ziggy’s Eatery
Ziggy’s is focused on achieving ultimate culinary efficiency, and does so in typical American style; loads of food, when you want it and easily accessible.
Primarily a burger/wrap place, if you want your US taste without sitting down, and instead want to charge around, burger in hand, going about your business, here is how you do it. Download the Ziggy’s app, then pre-order AND pay online, so you can ‘Beat the Q!’ You can pick it up, or (here’s where it gets incredible) they also deliver!
In terms of the food, its impossible to pick. From burgers with beef x2, cheese x2, bacon x2 and Ziggy’s BBQ sauce (the Recovery, $16.90), to a homely Chicken Schnitzel Wrap ($11.90), this food is quick, easy and pretty goddamn divine.
Address: 195 Carlisle Street, Balaclava VIC 3183
8. Soda Rock Diner
So, while we have these tiny, hidden diners promoting the taste of the US of A, what about the loud restaurants whose alliance with the 50 states is flashy and proud (think Hard Rock Café)? In that case, let me introduce the Soda Rock Diner, which is fulfills every American stereotype you have ever had.
There are those booths you see in movies, and a fake Elvis, and at times, some real Elvises, roaming about. It has those stools at the bench and every typical American meal ever in existence, and is very family-oriented, so a great place to take kids for a bit of culture (is that the right word…?).
They even have a little link on their site which tells you about the celebrities who have dropped past by their premises, so if you want to join the ranks of Nicky and Paris Hilton, Avril Lavigne, Good Charlotte and The Living End, you will be heartily welcomed.
Address: 257 Toorak Road, South Yarra VIC 3141
9. The Beaufort
Pop into Ike’s Rack Shack for some (rhyming) pub-like American fun. The atmosphere here is a curious mix of Australian bar culture and American food; so truly, the best of both worlds (thanks to another American icon, Hannah Montana).
So the speciality here is ribs, and get this, they even have VEGAN RIBS (polenta, quinoa, zucchini, tomato, confit garlic). The showstopper is Ike’s Triple Back Rack Stack (seriously, the rhyming) which may put you in hospital, but is back-to-back pork, beef and lamb ribs.
The snacks are fancy (smoked bone marrow, with pickled walnuts/caper berries/horseradish and sourdough) but the vibe is sound.
Address: 421 Rathdowne Street, Carlton VIC 3053
In terms of liquid America, Meatmaiden is where you need to go for craft beer and great cocktails. Brooklyn Lager (NY), Victory Prima Pils (PA) and some Californian bottles are for everyone’s palate, whilst if you want to feel like a true Southener y’all, have a bash at the Stooper Julep, from the wide-range of cocktails offered.
You can takeaway your lunch or eat in (try the Sloppy Joe for mad authenticity), and any place that offers a side of Mac ‘n’ Cheese is a friend of mine.
Address: 195 Little Collins Street, Melbourne VIC 3000
American style food at your doorstep
Well, there you have it. Next time you are craving a massive burger with stacks of fries, or even a huge bowl of mouthwatering NYC dessert, enter a world that is foreign and leave it feeling completely satisfied, all in the comfort of our own city of Melbourne.