You think you know your city well, but chances are, there are still little pockets of brilliance that have completely escaped you - and they’re calling for you to explore them, pronto. Moonee Valley (the area north-west of the city that includes Ascot Vale, Moonee Ponds, Essendon, and a few other gorgeous suburbs) is one of these, and maaaaan is it jam-packed with some gems.
We’ve rounded up ten of the best spots to get you started on your tour of the area. Or perhaps, if you’re a local, they’ll help you discover some new regular haunts.
Either way, here are our ten top-notch Moonee Valley hideouts.
Wild Jam is a shop full of wonderment. Stocking a huge range of gorgeous fashion and accessories, the vast majority of everything you’ll find in store is either Australian or New Zealand designed and has been ethically made. You find lots of natural materials – leather, cotton, wool, and silk. If shoes or bags are your weakness, beware - the selection is to die for.
Lisa Melina Brow & Beauty Boutique
Anyone that has ever endured the search for a great beauty expert will know that they are worth their weight in gold. Enter Lisa Melina Brow & Beauty Boutique. You’ll find this stellar salon in Ascot Vale, where Lisa Melina works her magic with everything from manis and pedis to tans, makeup and eyebrows.
If you’ve been looking for a fun, fresh fitness studio for 2016, Studio 3 is just the ticket. Offering a huge range of classes that include barre, yoga and pilates, the studio is light and bright - and the instructors really know their stuff. If you’re in the mood for challenging yourself with something a bit different, take a look at Studio 3’s aerial yoga – it’s one of only three in Melbourne, and is fun with a capital F!
Harper & Blohm
Cheeeeese! All the cheese! It’s no secret that we’re absolute cheese fiends here at TUL for any type of cheese, so we were tickled pink when we discovered Harper & Blohm over in Essendon. Finding a home in the Prince Wine Store (which is worth taking a look at while you’re there), Harper & Blohm stock every kind of cheese imaginable. Better yet, they offer regular wine and cheese masterclasses, where you’ll be able to learn about some of the finer points of matching two of life’s greatest pleasures.
The Essendon Cyclery
A bit of a two-wheel fan? The Essendon Cyclery is well worth a visit. The staff are all knowledgeable and will be able to fix you up with the right chariot to meet your needs. They stock a wide range of bicycles, and will have you exploring the bike trails of the north west in a jiffy.
Bao & Pot Café
Bao & Pot Café is a hidden gem that’s a strong favourite with the locals. Dishing up traditional Vietnamese dishes such as bao and pho, you’ll be treated to excellent service, a peaceful setting and of course the most important part – delicious food that’s been made with great produce and care.
Mister Hoffman Café
A newly opened café on Hoffman Street in Niddrie, Mister Hoffman Café has been causing quite the buzz. Fitted out with natural materials and allowing for plenty of light, it’s the perfect spot to settle in and treat yourself to a coffee, or something more substantial. The menu is simple, though it draws inspiration from the European heritage of owners Oma and Opa, to create a flavoursome menu. There’s a really lovely outdoor area too!
Presence of Home
Presence of Home is a beautiful store full of knick-knacks, homewares, gifts and accessories in Niddrie. It’s chock-a-block with one-off pieces of art work, quirky gifts that you’d struggle to find elsewhere, and some really beautiful hand made items. If you’re redecorating, the cushion selection at Presence of Home is worth checking out!
The Corner Café on Woodland
The Corner Café on Woodland is a retro trip through Melbourne. With recycled tables and chairs, including a variety of comfy second hand couches and armchairs out on the pavement, you can settle in and take your time. The menu is presented on old Melbourne maps which show just how much our city has changed over the years. Grab a coffee and something to eat – we recommend the feta dukkha eggs.
The Story behind La Manna is what makes it so special. From humble beginnings as a fruit shop, started by Italian migrants with a dream to sell 100% Australian grown produce, La Manna has grown to be something much bigger – it’s now a complete produce experience, offering not only fresh fruit and veggies but also meats, deli products, and pastries. Situated at Essendon Fields, it’s a north- west gem well worth visiting for a bit of a market style experience.
What are you waiting for? Get out and about and experience Moonee Valley's hidden gems or discover even more via Moonee Valley City Council
Editor's Note: This article is proudly sponsored by Moonee Valley City Council and endorsed by The Urban List. Thank you for supporting the sponsors who make The Urban List possible. Click here for more information on our editorial policy.
Image credits: Harper & Blohm, Wild Jam, Mr Hoffman Cafe, La Manna Direct - all via instagram, Studio 3 by Jenna Fahey White for The Urban List, Essendon Cyclery and Lisa Melina Brow & Beauty Boutique - both via facebook.