Melbourne has always been fiercely proud of its food and cafe scene, and for good reason. In my opinion it has some of the best cuisine in the country – and I can say this unbiasedly because I’m not a Melbournian. Being paleo in Melbourne is a foodie delight and there are no shortage of great options.
Melbourne is a city that has welcomed cultures and cuisines from around the world, bringing with them distinct flavours and dining traditions from all over Europe, Asia, South America and the Middle East.
Some of the world’s top chefs have graced our Victorian capital with their expertise and refined culinary skills. The creativity of Melbourne’s culture only seems to be an incubator for innovation in kitchens all over the city.
The food scene is diverse. Alluring laneway cafes akin to dining in European cities such as Paris, Rome and Barcelona. Sophisticated restaurants with sharply dressed maître d’s and front of house staff with an impressive flair for memorising large orders. The frenzied city streets of Chinatown with noodlebars that cram more diners into tiny spaces than seemingly possible, whilst still managing to deliver steaming bowls at a ferocious pace. Eclectic street food delivered to hungry patrons via food truck windows and hole-in-the-wall take-aways in industrial inner city suburbs.
As well as it’s vibrant dining scene, Melbourne is surrounded by a thriving farming and agriculture industry and has the Yarra Valley wine region at its doorstep (where there is good wine there is always good food and vice versa!) So it’s easy to see why I have a soft spot for Melbourne.
On my most recent visit, I discovered an emerging real food scene, with primally-inspired menus one of the latest trends. The hotspots for Paleo seem to be Prahan and Richmond, with plenty more great options popping up in and around the city and local cafes inspired by a real food culture. I enjoyed five days of amazing food created by people who really care about our health and our future as a species. I met cafe owners who changed their career in order to live a healthier lifestyle and inspire others to do the same. Many previously worked in corporate jobs, and after years of high pressure environments decided to make a change and share their zest for healthier living with their own communities.
Melbournians are passionate people in whatever endeavour they choose, and food is no exception. Here’s my roundup of some of the top places to enjoy unrefined, unprocessed food in a welcoming, healthy and inspiring environment.
The Deck, Brighton (and Palate Restaurant, Prahran)
I was fortunate to get to know the team behind this beautiful cafe and restaurant as I hosted my first Melbourne paleo event here. The service is immaculate and they really understand real food, having forged relationships with some of the best local producers of real food in and around Melbourne. The menu allows patrons to create their own breakfast or lunch plate – a concept shared by their sister restaurant Palate in Prahran. Palate was the first Melbourne restaurant to offer a paleo-specific section of their menu and has set a trend now followed by many of its neighbouring health-inspired eateries.
Paleo Den, Prahran
A brand new cafe just off Prahran’s buzzing Chapel Street, this is the perfect place to stop for a paleo meal when you’re out and about (whether shopping the high fashion or nearby fresh food markets). Owner Triv Naidoo is well versed in paleo nutrition, being a health and fitness professional, and the menu is a reflection of his need for flexibility to suit his individual dietary preferences. The new ‘construct’ menu means you can mix and match to create the perfect paleo protein plate. If you’re not feeling so creative, you can choose one of the meals designed by the chef. They don’t distinguish between breakfast and lunch – all meals are available any time of day so you can enjoy steak for breakfast and grain-free pancakes for lunch if you so choose.
For something a bit different, I visited this raw food bar with my friend Andi Lew, who is in-the-know when it comes to the healthiest and best food spots around Melbourne. With kombucha on tap, raw ‘super bowls’ and raw organic superfood smoothies with dreamy flavour fusions, I was in love! On my visit I sampled the ‘Shine On’ superfood smoothie (with coconut flesh, banana, mango, chia seeds, passionfruit, spinach, mesquite, raw fermented vanilla protein powder, probiotic powder, house made nut mylk). It will have you smiling on the inside and out!
Patch Cafe, Richmond
Housed in the old Channel 9 premises, Patch is a trendy and modern cafe on a beautiful leafy suburban street. It’s owned and operated by Tom Davidson, a former footballer passionate about primal living. The menu has an air of sophistication and offers some unique dishes you wouldn’t eat every day, which distinguishes it from other paleo menus. Choices include the Spanner Crab Omelette with Asian Herbs, and the signature Patch Porridge with white chia seeds with honey, cinnamon, vanilla bean and organic almond milk, topped with candied crushed nuts, orange rind and a strawberry compote. As well its enticing menu, the cafe enjoys a pristine view of the city from the back courtyard. It’s the perfect vantage for a primal plate and refreshment.
Brothl, Melbourne CBD
I recently featured this very unconventional and forward-thinking cafe concept and you can read more here. This has to be one of my favourite foodie spots in Melbourne and is a must visit for anyone passionate about paleo living. To sum up, Brothl has found an innovative way to ‘up-cycle’ nutrient rich ingredients not used by top restaurants, and creates warming bone broths as a base for their signature bowls.
Third Wave Cafe, Prahan
This is another restaurant offering paleo faire in the paleo hotspot of Melbourne, and a place I featured earlier in the year after a memorable dining experience. Third Wave takes a little bit of inspiration from places as far as Southern America, Russia and the Middle East to bring a delicate ‘north meets south’ blend of meats, salads and sides. For more about Third Wave you can read my feature here.
Thr1ve Emporium Building, CBD
One of my favourite places for a balanced bite on the run is Thr1ve. To the delight of the Melbourne paleo / primal community, it opened a Melbourne store earlier in the year so Melbournians can now enjoy paleo-to-go. It’s one of the only places you can get pure paleo meals on the run. If you’re in the CBD this is a great option. You can read more about Thr1ve here.
Paleo Cafe, Mornington
If you fancy a drive away from the hustle and bustle and are looking for a good brunch or lunch spot, Paleo Cafe has opened in Mornington which is about an hours drive from the city. It’s consistently good and offers everything from smoothies, small and large meals, nutritious snacks (perfect for your journey home) and a few sweet treats to tempt your tastebuds.
There are plenty of delicious dining options that are well aligned with the paleo way of living in Melbourne. I can see this as the start of an even bigger real food movement, and I hope that Melbourne sets the precedent for the rest of Australia.
Do you have a cafe or restaurant suggestion? Email firstname.lastname@example.org to share your recommendations so that we can share with our community.