Melbourne’s food culture is as vibrant and unique as its markets, fresh produce and those who sell, cook and serve it. South Melbourne Market is one of Melbourne’s most popular markets and people from everywhere pace the walkways to buy their food here. There are the life-long locals who gather in search of groceries, coffee and conversation, while those from afar make the journey to South Melbourne for something a little special like a Sunday lunch.
Melburnians may flock to eateries around town to sit and stuff themselves, though there are others who are lured by South Melbourne Market instead. And while it’s easy to stop and eat from only one of the market’s thriving restaurants or takeaways, there’s more fun in taking a meander through the market and stagger the lunch at myriad touch-points.
A light entrée starts with Yo Yo Sushi, Stall 88. Avocado and vegetarian hand rolls are tasty and fresh, all served with big smiles and fond farewells. The squishy avocado within each roll blends through the sushi rice to create a smooth texture that’s ready for soaking up soy sauce squirted from plastic fish dispensers. Enami and tofu rice paper rolls are big, plump and bursting with sweet fried tofu, vermicelli and seaweed. There’s a citrusy zing to Yo Yo’s sweet chilli sauce, and it pairs well with the rice paper rolls. For $8.50, Yo Yo Sushi is a proven entrée winner.
Modern, honest Mexican food can be discovered at Paco y Lola (Stall 99) once a chair is pulled up into one of the many tables hugging Cecil Street. A fulfilling main, such as the red bean burrito ($11), is the unassuming hero here. The burrito is toasty and thick on the outside, and jam-packed full of shredded red cabbage, lettuce, beans and guacamole. There’s a twist to this burrito, and it lies within the pickled fruit that gives the meal its colourful flair. A bowl of the raw power Mexican salad – shredded spinach, cherry tomatoes, chickpeas and a lightly spiced dressing for $18 – is a light and flavoursome accompaniment to the burrito. Service is quick, thorough and friendly; Paco y Lola’s carnival atmosphere is cheered along by upbeat Latin tunes.
Melburnians have an unabashed love affair with gelato that’s steeped in the city’s culinary roots. The simple pleasure of licking a spoon coated in this silky sorbet is one that resonates with many market goers queuing up at Fritz Gelato, Stall 2. Fritz Gelato’s first store opened at South Melbourne Market in 2002 and it hasn’t looked back since. Fritz’s tempting range of organic flavours leaves many wanting more; an overflowing cup of zesty lemon and raspberry rumble ($5.50) is a savoured treat after the main meal. Bellissimo!
Padre Coffee, Stall 33, are purveyors of all things coffee. The coffee brewed here is roasted by The Brunswick East Project, a coffee roaster that’s based in Brunswick East, and served from a modest shopfront that’s more espresso bar than café. A pulled-up stool at an intimate table caps off the staggered lunch along with a full-bodied latte prepared with one of Padre’s daily signature coffee blends ($4) as South Melbourne Market life wanders by.
Find your three courses for a Sunday lunch at South Melbourne Market. Open Wednesday 8am to 4pm, Friday 8am to 5pm, Saturday and Sunday 8am to 4pm. Extended hours apply for Paco y Lola. 322-326 Coventry Street, South Melbourne Victoria 3205.