South Melbourne is the little suburb that could. It’s quietly been squirrelling away, building its empire and acquiring a stack load of the coolest places to eat, drink, shop and things to do. We’ve put together our pick of the South Melbourne precinct for you to go adventuring and enjoy.
Proper & Son
Tucked down one side of the South Melbourne Market, Proper & Son is well worth a visit on market days (Wednesday, Friday-Sunday) for exceptional coffee, baked treats and refreshing iced teas. It’s the Market Rolls that are really the star of the show though. Changing weekly, they are made from the freshest, market-sourced produce and are guaranteed to hit the lunchtime spot.
A long, narrow café situated on Coventry Street, Giddiup is the perfect spot to sit in the sun and grab a bite to eat. Tables can be hard to come by, but it’s still worth popping in and getting food-to-go if it’s busy. The lamb kofta wrap is to die for, but there’s also always a fantastic selection of salads that switch up daily. You can get a trio of salads for a very reasonable price.
Oh Chez Dré, how we love thee. There’s so much to like about this alley café. The outdoor seating is both beautiful and plentiful. The menu is exceptional and the service is friendly. The Avo Luxe is an Urban List favourite – don’t be fooled, it’s more than just your standard smashed avo. Think whipped goat’s cheese and spiced nuts on the most delicious sourdough. The Spiced Lamb Jaffle and the Duck Sandwich are also winners.
If you’re in the market for a super luxe dessert experience, you’d be hard pressed to find anything better than Bibelot. Full of decadent desserts and sweet treats, there’s also a fun side to Bibelot – check out the ice-cream bar where you can line your cone with liquid chocolate that pours from taps. Now that’s the ultimate choc-top!
Unassuming from the outside, it’s a whole other story on the inside at Lûmé, one of South Melbourne’s newest additions. Brilliantly designed with soft wood, copper and ample greenery, there’s a sense of calm at Lume that should accompany every great dining experience. We recommend that you take the time to have a drink at the bar at the beginning of the evening. The wine list is impressive and better yet, they have a cocktail on tap at all times. Delicious! The degustation at Lûmé is something to behold; it’s surprising, inspiring and truly delicious all at once. Though the food is obviously the focus at Lûmé, it’s the service that really sets it apart; it’s theatrical, yet unobtrusive all at the same time.
The Kettle Black
No South Melbourne wrap-up would be complete without mention of The Kettle Black. Housed in a stunningly transformed terrace home, it’s worth heading along just to check out the fit-out, design fiends. When it comes to food, it can be tricky to whittle down the options. The crayfish in an ash roll with lime, mayonnaise and leaves is a personal favourite, as is the tataki ocean trout. If you’re a sucker for a more traditional brunch option, the eggs benedict is one of the more impressive we’ve come across.
This South Melbourne favourite lives in an old warehouse and has capitalised on this as an asset—think high ceilings and communal tables. The coffee is up there with the best in our caffeine-loving city and is sourced from all around the world; helpfully the menu includes tasting notes for each one. There’s a good chance you’ve heard of My Mexican Cousin, St Ali’s renowned, secret-recipe corn fritter dish—it’d be remiss of us to not recommend it.
Wat Da Pho
Sitting on Clarendon Street, Wat Da Pho has earned itself a loyal following, with lunchtime being particularly busy. The rice paper roll special of 3 for $10 is a popular go-to. They’re a hearty size and come in four different filling choices – pork and prawn, chicken and avocado, lemongrass beef and lemongrass tofu. There are also various pho options and Vietnamese salads available for both takeaway and dine-in at this licensed venue.
Tucked down Yarra Place and adjoining St Ali, Smalls Bar is a welcome edition to South Melbourne’s drinking scene. It’s super cozy, seating only a few dozen people, and it’s very no-nonsense when it comes to the drinks menu. Think fantastic wines but no espresso martinis. The bar eats are also worth checking out, boasting concise quality. Smalls Bar is the ideal date spot if you’re looking for somewhere intimate; it’s somewhere you go to not be seen.
Your local pub / hotel reimagined, Coppersmith Hotel has been fitted out with a sleek and stylish interior. It’s the perfect spot to grab a quick, after-work drink or to settle in for something more substantial.
One of our favourite wine bars, Bellota can be found on Bank Street. Sitting in an old terrace house, it adjoins The Prince Wine Store and dishes up exceptional charcuterie and wine. The tables and chairs out the front are pick of the house and we recommend anything from the antipasti section of the menu.
South Melbourne Market
Explore the South Melbourne Market. It’s full of hidden treasures and there are plenty of things to see, do and discover. It’s more than just a shopping experience – there are interesting people, beautiful sights and even a top-notch place to stop and get yo’ nails did.
Cooking Classes at the NEFF Kitchen
The NEFF Market Kitchen is a brand-spanker, newly renovated this year. The interior is beautiful, functional and absolutely perfect for cooking demonstrations and master classes. You can book in to do a class – it’s a perfect weekend activity to do with your buddies. Tidy up your kitchen skills and enjoy the fruits of your labour at the end. What’s not to love?!
Table Tennis in Emerald Place
If you head along Emerald Place you’ll stumble across the most delightful little park you ever did find. It’s got fantastic seating, the most beautiful trees, and best of all, a permanent, sturdy, outdoor ping pong table. You need to come armed with your own bats and balls, but it’s the perfect spot to enjoy this warmer weather and have some fun.
Mr Darcy is one of my favourite knick-knack, clothing and gift stores in the whole of Melbourne. Stocking some easy-to-wear brands such as Bella Dahl and accessories favourite Elms + King, it’s chock-a-block full of jewellery, bags, furniture, candles, and loads of other bits and pieces that you never knew you needed but will absolutely buy.
It’s a treasure-trove of gorgeous homewares. There’s room after room of beautiful furniture, rugs, wall hangings and odds and ends that you won’t find anywhere else. Head outside and you’ll be inspired to re-do your garden, no matter how tiny. There are pots and plants of all shapes and sizes, and hammocks, outdoor cushions and other outdoor furnishings that you’ll want to make your own.
It’s not the biggest bookstore kicking around, but it certainly packs a punch. It’s the service at Coventry Bookstore that really sets it apart. Speak to owner Stephen Hepburn for the warmest welcome and most considered recommendations. There’s no firm focus on one genre, but there’s a beaut selection of cooking and design books – the beautiful sort that you’ll want to fill your home with.
Image credit: Simon Shiff and Michelle Jarni for The Urban List, South Melbourne Makret