Rich, creamy, meat-y meals are practically a necessity for survival through Melbourne's winter. Luckily, some of Melbourne’s best restaurants have got your shivery butt covered, dishing out some of the best southern soul food outside of America! Rug up, these dishes are worth the trip outside.
From Texas fries with kick-ass chopped jalapenos, melted cheese, spring onion and chipotle aioli to bourbon glazed smoked buffalo wings – the menu at The Gem was created with buckets of love. Curl up with a plate of their classic Southern fried chicken for buttery, juicy and tender meat that will have you flapping happy through the rest of the week.
Le Bon Ton
With a section of the menu specifically dedicated to “Southern Pride”, Le Bon Ton is practically a Southern soul food institution. Boasting two menus designed to share (most likely to prevent restaurant-wide meat sweats), smoky sets include a showcase of the proudly Southern pit-smoked meats, ultra buttery potato salad and cowboy beans - beans loaded with smoked brisket ends and jack cheese. Past homemade pie flavours include whiskey, chocolate and peanut butter, and banana cream pie. Luckily, all pies are served in individual portions so no friendships are in jeopardy.
Think sticky, not-at-all-icky pork spare ribs topped with crunchy peanuts or plump spit-roasted free-range chook exploding with herby stuffing. For date-friendly southern soul food (just suck it up and use a fork okay), head into Meatmother for impeccable Insta-friendly dishes and cosy cocktails. Because it’s winter and everyone knows you need to double your carb intake (it’s a thing we promise), make sure to order some serves of oozing mac and cheese or fat fries topped with creamy chipotle mayo.
House of Crabs
Distinctly not first-date friendly, unless you’re confident enough to rock a knee-length plastic bib (props to you if so), House of Crabs’ recently remodelled menu features some seriously finger-licking Southern soul food. Expect crispy, creamy jalapeno hushpuppies served with pack-punching creole mayo, addictive buttermilk fried chicken and a diabetes-inducing chocolate sundae ladled with salted caramel, hot chocolate fudge sauce, brownie, fresh cream and cherries. And we haven’t even gotten to the Cajun or creole butter crab yet.
FAT Fried and Tasty
Winter is the season for crispy, fluffy buttermilk waffles and spice-covered chicken. Luckily, for every hangry red-nosed foodie, FAT Fried and Tasty offers both. We still can’t go past their signature Chicken Waffles featuring fat fried chicken and waffles with ice cream and sticky Canadian maple syrup. It’s a food marriage on a plate. There’s heaps of time before summer comes around, right guys?
5 & Dime Bagel
For chubby, buttery American bagels – 5 & Dime Bagels has the goods. All bagels are boiled and baked using some of the finest local ingredients, so it totally counts as a healthy breakfast. Try a salty garlic bagel lathered in cream cheese, or for a proper ‘Murican bagel served with a pickle spear and potato crisps, order your favourite flavour with smoked pastrami beef, house made mustard and (yes) more pickles.
An emporium of rich Southern soul food, you can’t really misstep at Longhorn Saloon. Expect everything from Brisket Reuben bagels with corned brisket, sauerkraut, Swiss and Russian dressing on dark rye to corn waffles with bacon jam and bourbon (BOURBON) maple butter. If you’re going to feast, feast right with Longhorn Saloon’s sharing menu which includes the fatty, creamy, crispy best.
The waffled mac and cheese at Nieuw Amsterdam is practically the Kimmy K of mac and cheese in Melbourne – for good reason. The genius creators of bacon jam and cheese whiz (don’t try to define it), pair their creamy creation with steaming bowls of clam chowder, pork trotter and ham hock nuggets, and decadently thick New York Cheesecake topped with vanilla ice cream, crunchy honeycomb and Laphroaig marmalade.
Middle Park Hotel
Rich, homely food is the script at Middle Park Hotel. Their signature crispy, buttery pie of the day with mash and gravy will make you feel like you’re back in your favourite Granny’s kitchen. Other no-frills favourites include the generous Parmesan crumbed chicken schnitzel and slaw, beer battered fish and chips and tender Sher Wagyu burger.
Skinny Dog Hotel
You should be panting to get to the Skinny Dog Hotel with dangerously addictive winter warming sides like loaded potato gems with three cheese béchamel, crispy bacon pieces, chipotle BBQ sauce and spring onion. Watch us smash through three. Other actual adult-y meals include one of Melbourne’s best parmas boasting a whopping 350gm schnitzel, thick Napoli, Virginia ham and three-cheese blend with chunky beer battered fries and salad.
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Image credit: The Gem Bar and Dining, Gareth Sobey for The Urban List.