Melbourne is a metropolis of beloved small businesses. Sure, the “famous laneways” thing is a cliché, but the city really is a winding map of hidden (and adored) local bars, boutiques and hole-in-the-wall cafes.
Here are a few of our favourite businesses that could use your support.
In Lisbon, Portugal’s capital, those in the know queue around the block for traditional custard tarts, a delicacy known as pastéis de nata, a specialty of the suburb of Belém. Fortunately – with international travel off the cards for now – you don’t have to fly to Portugal to find authentic Portuguese tarts, as we call them in Australia. Melbourne’s own Casa Nata, a bakery-cafe located on Thornbury’s High Street, serves up traditional egg-custard tarts that pay homage to the original pastéis de nata. There’s an element of theatre, too – you can watch Casa Nata’s bakers make the gooey, flaky tarts through the large street-facing window while you wait for your coffee. Stop by for a takeaway pastry while walking around the neighbourhood.
Hope St Radio
A roving community radio station that put down roots at Collingwood Yards – a thriving arts precinct occupying the former Collingwood Technical College campus – Hope St Radio is peak Melbourne: a place where you can find minimal-intervention wine, seasonal food and up-and-coming music from diverse local artists. The wine bar’s ever-changing menu from head chef Ellie Bouhadana features dishes such as golden beets with hazelnut cream ($12), pappardelle, rabbit and pork ragu ($28), and fernet-and-cola sorbet ($7). The space boasts a custom-made sound system by Hot Wax Sound Systems, befitting an underground broadcaster, and mural art from local artist Alice McIntosh. Check out their Instagram for lockdown takeaway options.
XX Flos is a floral design studio run by Kayla Moon, a Melbourne-based artist who has worked in floristry for nearly a decade. Moon uses flowers as an artistic medium, creating bouquets and installations for weddings, events, product shoots and home delivery from her base in Collingwood Yards.
Not just a floristry studio, XX Flos is a business with a mission to promote inclusivity, serving as a platform for female makers in the Naarm community to sell their handcrafted wares. Find sculptural ceramics by Hilary Green and handpainted coasters by queer and non-binary performance artist Kathleen Campone of Capitalism Is Disappearing at XX Flos’s online store. If you order yourself a bouquet online by Thursday 5pm, your blooms will be delivered the following week.
Wolf & Mishka
Sustainability is a guiding principle at Wolf & Mishka, a Melbourne-based slow-fashion label founded by Natalie Pye in 2014. Small production runs, dead-stock fabrics, a preference for natural textiles over synthetic, and packaging that is compostable, recyclable and reusable are some of the methods Pye uses to minimise Wolf & Mishka’s impact on the planet. Wolf & Mishka is also a label known for its statement hand-illustrated prints, which Pye transforms into flattering yet comfortable pieces and fun accessories like bum bags, masks and scarves. Hot tip: if you sign up for their newsletter, you’ll get free shipping on your next order.
Hunted & Gathered
Hunted & Gathered is a premium organic chocolate maker run by brothers Harry and Charlie Nissen in Melbourne. Handmade in a factory in Cremorne, most Hunted & Gathered chocolate bars feature just three ingredients: organic cacao nibs sourced from ethical producers in Africa and Central and South America, organic cacao butter and organic cocoa sugar. It also makes to-die-for chocolate spreads with almond, hazelnut, peanut and drinking chocolates of varying cacao content. It’s indulgence you can feel good about, which is exactly the guilt-free salve for the soul we all need right now.
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