America, that land of contradictions, cultural mash-ups and heady excess, has long been a point of fascination and allure for Australians. But never before have Australian chefs and restaurateurs been so captivated by its complex cuisine. American-influenced eateries are popping up across Melbourne at a rate matched only by the number of addictive television series being beamed and streamed from the US.

Sure there’s an element of kitsch and, yes, it’s not the paragon of healthy eating (most of the time), but those mouth-watering, sweet-sour, tangy flavours – smacking of good times and a touch of hedonism – are pulling crowds across the city. In true Melbourne style, the quirky and offbeat are being celebrated and classics are being recreated to perfection. There’s nothing tired or clichéd about these delicious and memorable offerings.

What: Chilli Fries at New York Cats, Speakeasy
Where: 359 Chapel Street, Prahran (enter via the alleyway on Commercial Road)
When: Sun from 3pm
How much: $10
Once a week, Prahran’s Speakeasy puts on its all-American best and becomes New York Cats, serving up diner-style burgers, hot dogs and the like to the masses. Our pick? The chilli fries – French fries piled with tasty beef chilli and Swiss cheese. For something less meaty, try the Mexican fries with guacamole, salsa, sour cream, Swiss cheese and jalapeños.

What: Huxtaburger at Huxtaburger
Where: 106 Smith Street, Collingwood
When: Tue to Sun 11.30am–late
How much: $8
The Huxtaburger celebrates the hallmarks of fast food: it’s delicious, cheap and the perfect Friday night indulgence. Waygu beef patties are sandwiched between a glossy brioche bun, which is smeared with mustard and mayo. The Huxta is finished with slices of ripe tomatoes, lettuce and a salty pickle.

What: Crumbed Shrimp Po’ Boy at Gumbo Kitchen
Where/When: Follow the truck on Facebook and Twitter to find out about its next location and opening hours.
How much: $10/$13
The Gumbo Kitchen is currently trundling around inner city Melbourne, serving up New Orleans fare to the tune of the classic Creole stew, gumbo and a sandwich unique to the deep south – the po’boy. Try the crumbed shrimp, a battered prawn served in a soft white roll, flanked by tomato, lettuce and a sweet, spicy pickle to top it off.

What: Buffalo Wings at Kodiak Club
Where: 272 Brunswick Street, Fitzroy
When: Wed to Sat 5pm–late, Sun 6pm–late
How much: Half-dozen $9, dozen $17
The tangy, spicy and utterly more-ish buffalo wings at Kodiak Club are the perfect foil for a belly-full of beer (Brooklyn Lager, in case you’re wondering), or one too many bourbons. These morsels of chicken come by the dozen or half-dozen and are served with a heady blue-cheese sauce and a side of celery sticks that is surprisingly refreshing.

What: Fish Taco at the Taco Truck
Where/When: Follow the truck on Facebook and Twitter to find out about its next location and opening hours.
How much: $6 per taco
The travelling Taco Truck takes Mexican to the masses, setting up shop in Melbourne’s parks and side streets come rain or shine. A summer favourite is the fish taco: crispy, battered fish served with coleslaw, mayo, a hint of lime, wrapped in a soft-shell taco.

What: The New Yorker Sandwich at Big Boy BBQ
Where: 764 Glenhuntly Road, Caulfield South
When: Sun to Wed 12pm–8pm, Thu to Sat 12pm–9pm
How much: $14.90
Big Boy BBQ serves ribs by the rack, ice cream by the litre, bottomless sodas and…sandwiches. But these sandwiches are nothing to sneeze at. Try the New Yorker; it’s a fistful of tender pastrami on rye, with Swiss cheese and sour pickles.