Tuesday, 30 May 2017

Cheap Eats in Melbourne

There's no doubt about it, Australia is an expensive place to visit. It's not the most expensive country I've ever explored (I think Finland might take that crown) but it's far away from almost everywhere so getting here is going to cost you a fair chunk of change and neither accommodation nor food are cheap. Whilst Nick and I were in Melbourne we rented an Air B&B in Collingwood. Collingwood is situated right next to Fitzroy, the alternative area in Melbourne, where the majority of the cities vegan food spots are located. There are a lot of benefits to Air B&Bing but my favourite is that you have access to a kitchen. Being able to grab some crumpets, cereal, and soy milk from the local supermarket cuts down your breakfast expenditure to a few dollars a day and the Air B&B we chose was within walking distance of a Cole's and a Woolworths. Brunswick Street is like a vegan playground with multiple options on almost every menu; fully vegan spots are located just a few store fronts apart, there are many different cuisines to choose from, and the dessert options are ridiculous. You can even get a vegan friendly tattoo from a vegan artist!

Vietnamese food abounds in both Fitzroy and Collingwood but Trang Bakery and their signature Bahn Mi's stand out from the crowd.


Trang Bakery aren't 100% vegan but they have four exceptional vegan options; vegan chicken, vegan duck, vegan pork, and lemongrass marinated tofu.

The jury's out on which one of these is the best (every bloggers opinion differs!) but I'd say that my fave' was the duck. They sometimes have an aubergine option too but I didn't get to try that. This bahn mi is, as they should always be, huge and jam packed with deliciousness. I had to leave off their sauce as well as the handful of chilli that usually gets thrown on top but I was left with lettuce, carrots, cucumber, coriander, red onion, and crunchy peanuts to go with my faux meat so I was more than happy.


If you're that way inclined they have brown rolls as well as white and they actually reached for brown when making my sandwich so make sure you're paying attention! This filling sandwich comes in at $6 (cheaper than their meaty option) which is a total bargain.

My second recommendation for cheap eats in the Fitzroy area is Trippy Taco and excitingly they even have a second location in St Kilda just in case you're reading this after having booked a place to stay down south. This place is seriously good value. Most of the menu can be made vegan and you can get tacos, burritos, tamales, nachos, quesadillas, and taquitos. I'll be honest it isn't ideal if you can't eat chilli as even the vegan cheese is spice packed but Nick enjoyed a huge bean and cheese burrito with vegan cheese for just $11.

Next up is Bimbo Deluxe which wasn't even on my radar until my lovely tattoo artist Shell and I got onto the subject of pizza about 10 minutes in to my tattoo appointment. Bimbo's, as it's known locally, is an enormous bar located smack bang in the middle of Brunswick Street with a pizza menu that includes many veganisable options. Anything in the vegetarian section can be veganised with a simple and, more importantly, free, cheese switch as can a few pizzas from the breakfast section and the 4 Stagoni (remove the meat, switch the cheese) from the meat section. Nick and I tried two pizzas at Bimbo's, the Margherita and the Organico.


The Margherita was kept simple with a decent amount of tomato sauce, a healthy amount of cheese and a sprinkling of basil, whilst the organico had a roasted butternut squash layer topped with cheese, pine nuts, and, the reason that I had to order this one, rosemary oil. I love everything about rosemary, it tastes amazing, it smells great, it goes with almost everything. You can put it with choc chips or potatoes and it just works. Love! I don't get the chance to cook anything elaborate these days (Air B&B, hostel, and volunteer house kitchens are great but not the place for a masterpiece) so when restaurants make these fancy additions to their menu's I'm always happy. Never more than when the pizza's cost $4 which is exactly what they cost between 12 and 4 on weekdays, from 7 - 11 Monday - Thursday, from 7 - 9 Friday and Saturday, and all day on a Sunday. The other awesome thing about Bimbo's is that they do tots! Known in Australia as potato gems these little bites of deep fried deliciousness always make me happy and with $4 pizzas you can probably afford to splurge on a side.

Last but by no means least vegetarian bakery La Panella is another strong budget friendly dining option. They're located in Preston which is in the north of the city but it's easily accessible by bus. La Panella specialise in Aussie treats like custard and caramel slices, jam doughnuts, pies, sausage rolls, and more.


We visited with Shelley one of the owners of Red Sparrow Pizza (blog post on their amazing eats coming soon!) so she was able to give us some ordering tips. Not everything is vegan but they have a huge range, oddly the coconut croissants were vegan but the chocolate and regular croissants were not. I'm not sure why but I'm not the biggest coconut fan so I gave those a miss. Jam doughnuts are a long time favourite of mine, I loved trying to eat them without licking any of the sugar off of my lips as a kid and whilst I don't play that game any more I'm still partial to some deep fried jam filled dough.


Jam doughnuts are actually something that I take for granted in the UK (big up the co-op!) but since I've been travelling they've moved to the top of my OMG GIMME THAT list! La Panella's version definitely wasn't a disappointment and I left wishing that I'd had space for a second. Next up were these mini doughnuts, these were 50 or 60 cents each and you could get 4 for about $1.60! Madness. I obviously bought 8. The bite sized chocolate covered and (not pictured) pink icing covered doughnuts were my favourites and Nick loved the mini cinnamon sugar rings.


We were heading out of Melbourne to visit the penguins on Phillip Island the next day so we grabbed some extra treats for the journey. This caramel slice was very reminiscent of a millionaire's shortbread  but just with an extra creamy caramel layer above the smooth caramel beneath. It was freaking delightful and again I wished that I'd ordered more than one.


Finally I also picked up a lemon tart which I ate for breakfast the morning after our penguin adventure. I popped it inside one of those zip seal food bags and it lasted really well. I always travel with those! I'm kind of a food hoarder so I always over buy and then need somewhere to stash my leftovers to keep 'em fresh.


I picked this because I love lemon desserts and was assured that it was super lemony. In my opinion a citrus dessert that doesn't have that sour kick to it is always a disappointment. Thankfully this tart lived up to expectations and it made a most excellent breakfast treat. La Panella is pretty great for cheap eats, I think a huge carrier bag of desserts and sausage rolls for both me and Nick cost around $20 but some of it lasted two or three days so it still worked out to be pretty cheap.

Writing this has definitely made me miss Melbourne and their fantastic vegan food scene. Do you have any other tips on cheap places to eat vegan food in Australia? Or is there an amazingly cheap vegan spot near where you live? I'm always on the look out for a bargain so let me know. I might just have to visit!

10 comments:

  1. This is making me hungry! I haven't ever been to Trangs (there used to be a city one but it closed the week before I visited last year), and hadn't even heard of Bimbos!
    La Panella is awesome and so very, very cheap.
    Alas, I got a bad case of food poisoning from Trippy Taco a few years ago. On my birthday. On the day we then had to go to Smith & Daughters for dinner. So they are dead to me.

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    1. Oh gawd, that sucks. I had to send my food back twice because of chilli which wasn't great but Nick loved his burrito so it got a mention!

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  2. You found some delicious food! The banh mi looks so delicious! I haven't had one since going gluten free and I miss them! What a great deal on those beautiful looking pizzas!
    I agree with you 100% about citrus-y desserts!
    I'm loving reading about all of your adventures while traveling!

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    1. Thanks vegan peace! And yeah those pizzas are a total bargain.

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  3. Oooh what amazing looking meals! The pizzas look great but the baked treats are definitely calling my name, especially that caramel slice! Yum! That looks incredible.

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    1. I wish I was eating another caramel slice right now! It was so good!

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  4. It's been so long since I was in Melbourne, and I remember loving the place a load. Now I know there's an abundance of great vegan eats, I think I love it even more.

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    1. Melbourne is ridiculously vegan friendly, I made it to almost everywhere on my to-eat list but it took 10 days!

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  5. The banh mi looks so good! I hope you got to try all four varieties.

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    1. I wish! There was so much great food in Melbourne that I didn't get to go there again. Next time!

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