Until recently, us Melburnians spent significant chunks of our lives in our city’s world-renowned restaurants, bars and cafes. Drinking and dining out is part of our DNA.
Right now, we’re settling into a new reality – one where picking up or ordering in is the new dining out – and some of the best venues in town have adapted with creativity and innovation.
Got an excellent new takeaway suggestion we should check out? Let us know.
Màs Tamales chef-owner Etai Alves moved to Melbourne from Seattle seven years ago with the dream of one day opening a Mexican restaurant here. Three weeks ago, he started using his lockdown downtime to take a firm step in that direction and fine-tune his speciality: tamales.
Tamales are little parcels of banana leaf or corn husk wrapped around masa (ground corn) dough and other fillings. For his, Alves soaks and grinds corn – a 24-hour process – then wraps it with either carnitas, slow-cooked pork shoulder, or vegan champiñones, a mushroom filling. The tamales arrive vacuum-sealed and frozen, ready to pop in the steamer or microwave.
Everything is gluten and dairy-free, including the pico de gallo (a salsa of onion, tomato, coriander and lime) and salsa rojo (roasted tomato). Add sliced avocado, sour cream and hot sauce at will.
Tamales cost $17 for three and salsa is included. Order online for free delivery within five kilometres of Fitzroy on Fridays between 12pm and 5pm. Other suburbs can be included for a $60 minimum order. Pick-up is not available.
Pepe’s Italian & Liquor
Pepe’s opened last year at the old Trunk restaurant site in the CBD, serving casual Italian-American fare and punchy cocktails in a moody and inviting space.
The veal parmigiana for two is a menu mainstay. At home, you’ll take a pre-crumbed veal cutlet, slather some red sauce on top, add some mozzarella and chuck it in the oven until brown and bubbling. There’s also classic chicken cacciatore, and scalloped potatoes with two types of cheese (mozz and parm) providing stretch and bite in equal parts.
On the pasta front, there are jumbo tubes of fresh rigatoni in a creamy, spicy vodka and tomato sauce; veal and pork meatballs with spaghetti; and wild mushroom lasagne.
Round out the evening with a classic tiramisu, a gin martini, or both.
Available for delivery through Providoor within a 35 kilometre radius of the CBD.
Sakana at Kazuki’s
When Kazuki’s landed on Lygon Street almost two years ago, the hushed dining room and considered Euro-Japanese fare was a change of pace from the usual intensity of the traditionally casual-Italian strip.
For lockdown, husband and wife team Saori and Kazuki Tsuya have brought sister restaurant Sakana, located in Daylesford, to Carlton. Everything is executed by the same head chef, but this operation takes a more home-style approach to Japanese.
Start with soft-shell crab bao, prawn dumplings with xo, and chicken karaage with potato salad. More substantial is the mapo tofu, miso salmon and a range of Japanese curries and teriyaki dishes on rice.
Finish with a slice of baked Basque cheesecake with yuzu jelly – or, if you give the team at least two days’ notice, you can order an entire cake.
Pick up only from 121 Lygon Street, Carlton, Tuesday to Thursday 5pm to 7.30pm. Order online or call 03 9349 222. Orders close at 7pm.
Movida’s Menu del Dia
While Movida’s magnificent tapas – jamon croquettes, scallop and saffron empanadas, seafood paella and beyond – is available for delivery through Providoor, chef-owner Frank Camorra and his crew are also making Spanish meal boxes that’ll have you covered for a full day of meals: breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks.
Breakfast might be free-range eggs, tinned seafood, and smoked beef and pickled cabbage buns, followed by sticky pork hock pastries and quail stuffed with cheese and jamon for lunch, then cuttlefish and chorizo stew and sweet-sour chicken for dinner.
Sarai Castillo – one of the diner’s kitchen staff, who hails from Guadalajara, Mexico – also creates a weekly Mexican box as a nod to her home city. Guadalajara is known for mariachi music and tequila, so it’s no surprise she's included enough Tromba tequila, Capi grapefruit soda and fresh lime this week for four Palomas.
Expect mushroom empanadas, and chilaquiles – a Mexican hangover dish of tortilla chips with melted cheese, onion, coriander, topped with spicy sauce and a fried egg for lunch. Dinner might be a half roast chicken with mole; achiote-marinated pork shoulder tacos with refried beans and pickled onions; and grilled corn with feta, chilli, lime and butter.
That's all followed by tres leches, a cake made with evaporated milk, condensed milk, and cream.
Menu del Dia meal boxes cost $160–165 and serve two. New menus are released Mondays. Delivery of the Mexican box is by Movida’s own staff within 20 kilometres of Melbourne CBD, and can be ordered online here. Other meal boxes menu and the regular Movida menu is available through Providoor for delivery within 35 kilometres of the CBD.
Ellie Marin spent the last nine years running food trucks. Now she’s opened her first standstill diner, Fried Hustle in Preston, and it’s all about fried chicken (and fried tofu, for the chicken averse).
Get yours in nugget or strip form, or in a burger with coleslaw, pickles, mayo and spicy sauce. For the first time last weekend, Marin served a new creation called the Sweet and Salty. It’s a fried chicken burger with rock-salt caramel ice-cream and hot maple syrup. It’s not for everyone, but will delight fans of the hot-cold contrast. It arrives in three parts for constructing at home.
Available for pick up only from 346 High Street, Preston, daily from 11.30am to 9pm.