Between its artisan bakers, homewares stores, fromageries and those famous staples (we’re talking about the dim sim and gozleme), the South Melbourne Market has all the makings of an ideal day out. Its bustling energy, particularly on a weekend morning, is a testament to just how much south side locals love their market, but it’s worth a day trip regardless of where you’re coming from.

Whether you’re popping in for The Fromage Affair this month, are a regular looking to break your go-to market habits, or heading in for the first time, we’ve rounded up some favourite stalls to explore.

Delis, fromageries and bakeries

It doesn’t matter if we’re catering for a dinner party, picnic spread or holiday nibbles, it’s all about the cheese. South Melbourne Market has made it something of a speciality, led by traders like K-Sein fromagerie, which stocks everything from ewe’s milk manchego to tangy goat's milk blue cheese, and Emerald Deli, a 30-year-old market fixture with its own dedicated cheese room.

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The best way to explore the full selection might be A Fromage Affair, the market-wide self-guided cheese tours running this month. There’ll be raclette with roasted potatoes at Emerald Deli, tiramisu cookies with mascarpone cream icing from sweet treat specialists My Cookie Factory, and a brie and apple croissant at Agathé Patisserie. Plus, you’ll get the chance to explore the market’s sliced-to-order charcuterie, obscure imports and freshly baked loaves as you follow the cheese trail.

Homewares & Fashion

It’s the food at South Melbourne Market that gets the headlines, but there’s plenty to keep you busy between meals. Luna & Soul is an ethically minded yoga and activewear brand selling the likes of yoga pants and jumpsuits, as well as incense and candles, while In 2 Homewares is a one-stop generalist with stylish glassware, ceramics and decorative ornaments.

And, if your mind is still on your stomach (understandable, given the circumstances), head to WB Smith and Co Kitchenware. The market staple has been trading for more than 70 years and is a local go-to for quality pots, pans, knives and anything else you might need to shape that market produce into a fine meal.

Gourmet produce

There’s something so welcoming about the mixed aromas of market produce. Fresh veg still dusted with soil, sweet fruits, seafood and more – we love it all. For farm-fresh fruit and vegetables, it’s hard to go past Georgie’s Harvest for its dedication to the humble spud, including lesser-known varieties like Virginia rose and Viking. Elsewhere, grocer Frank's Quality Fruit and Veg specialises in new-season fruits, while Fruits on Coventry is your best bet for harder-to-find Asian produce like betel leaves and taro.

For dinner party mains, you can’t ignore a butcher like Flinders & Co, responsible for supplying restaurants like Vue de Monde and Estelle. The butcher started as a specialty lamb butcher but these days you’ll find everything from highly marbled cuts of Tassie beef to pasture-raised quail. For market-fresh seafood, we reckon Aptus Seafood is the pick, with a wide selection of daily catches like Tassie salmon and sashimi-grade tuna. Oh and, if it sets your appetite running, the team also runs Aptus Seafood Grill and Oyster Bar by Aptus where it serves up its produce then and there.

This article is produced by Broadsheet in partnership with South Melbourne Market. A Fromage Affair runs from October 18 to 28, 2023. See details and book tickets