It would be a sin not to include Fitzroy's Naked for Satan on this delicious list for a truly unique dining experience. To enjoy Naked for Satan, you really just need to like food. This restaurant and bar can satisfy every tastebud on every tongue with their wide variety of pintxos, hot food, desserts and selection of alcoholic drinks, but without the regret. However being fundamentally a vodka bar, a little (good-humoured) regret might be unavoidable.
For those curious to know what pintxos – pronounced 'pinchos' – actually are, they are bites of bread decorated with a colourful variety of toppings. There's nothing naked about these pintxos, but they are certainly devilish. While pintxos are the main attraction, the staff also visit each table with hotter appetisers, such as meatballs and croquets. But what really makes Naked for Satan so popular is its laid back affordability and its atmosphere. Each pintxos is skewed with a toothpick and when you've polished your plate of plentiful pintxos, they are collected and you pay for each toothpick at one or two dollars each, depending on the day or time. No catch, just great value for money!
This bar/restaurant – a "barestaurant" – not only has a spacious ground level with a factory feel to it and interesting wall collages, but it also boasts a vintage rooftop section that overlooks Brunswick St and the city skyline. It's perfect for the start of a night out, or to impress a hot date, but make sure you're willing to get out of your culinary comfort zone!
Now unlike the other restaurants on this delicious list, Pellegrini's is not a buffet, nor a banquet. It's just more of Nonna's pasta than the able-bodied can stomach for a reasonable price. But to those Italians reading, you'll know that Nonna's pasta is always more than the able-bodied can stomach. That's what makes this place so unique – it's authenticity. It's almost as though Pellegrini's grew wings, flew right out of Italy and perched itself on Bourke Street for us Melburnians to enjoy their delicious pasta, risotto and a variety of desserts. And make sure you wash it down with a glass or three of their watermelon granita! Now while your plate might harbour a few cracks from the strain of generous portions, the most notable aspect of this 'espresso bar' is actually its atmosphere.
The forward friendliness that borders on flirtation from the Italian bar staff – I wouldn't say waiters – immediately makes a newcomer feel welcome. It's hard to avoid a conversation with either the staff or from a stranger when Pellegrini's has such an intimate setting. Maybe it's the size of the room that makes the servings seem so large, or maybe watching yourself eating in a mirror makes you eat slower. Either way, you won't leave Pellegrini's with an empty wallet or an empty stomach.
Moroccan Soup Bar does not actually serve soup. I wanted to clarify that first before any soup lovers were excited to read about the soup of Morocco. But let me assure you that the alternative is much better. For twenty-five easy dollars you can be dining like King Mohammed VI of Morocco with a three course vegetarian banquet and refreshing mint tea or Moroccan coffee.
The food options, including the banquet, are described verbally by a waitress who visits each table so the staff are very busy, but if you ask you will receive. Considering how full the restaurant is, the food does not take long to arrive, and arrive, and arrive. Included in the banquet is a world of dips with Lebanese bread as an entrée, a main of traditional Moroccan dishes, and their desserts are as unique as they are delicious.
This restaurant has a wonderful authentic Moroccan feel to it and just a generally charming atmosphere, with plates and pans hung across the vibrant yellow walls. However this restaurant does tend to get very packed and it is recommended to arrive before they open a session at 6pm or 8pm to steal a seat as booking is only permitted for 6 or more people.
For the healthier option on a budget, try Gopal's Vegetarian on Swanston St. This restaurant is like a refuge from the noise of the frenzied city with its peaceful Indian vibe and friendly staff. In my opinion, the most notable aspect of this restaurant is its simplicity. After climbing up a flight of stairs, you're faced with a large window overlooking Swanston St that lets you inconspicuously people-watch, and a spacious setting with colourful decorations. It may be simple and casual, but it's also warm, welcoming and authentic Indian.
The food is fresh, diverse and piled onto your plate according to the special specials that feels like stealing with the value for your money. Some of the specials range from the Economy Special at $8.50, fundamentally a main course; or the Weekly Special at $11.90, a three course meal washed down with an Indian juice/Lassi. You'll walk away from Gopal's Vegetarian feeling refreshed, satisfied and with cash in your pocket.
Wow I have been to this place. Amazing hare krishna food. Really tasty and very staff. No place like this in city. Every one must go to enjoy amazingly fresh vegetarian and vegan food. Go go go.... Andrew