When it comes to Brunswick Street institutions, or indeed culinary institutions of any location or persuasion, Joe's Garage in Fitzroy is most certainly one.
This place pretty much covers all bases when it comes to moderately priced eateries: it's big and almost always busy, the staff are on the ball and friendly to a fault, it's open from very early until very late (meaning you can pretty much rely on it being open and serving, within reason), it's licensed and carries a very well stocked range of alcoholic and non alcoholic beverages, it has an outdoor bar and eating area that's perfect for beautiful sunny days and it caters plentifully for both carnivores and herbivores.
The menu is extensive and varied, covering breakfast til 3pm, light or large lunch and dinner. The breakfasts are hearty with the eggs cooked to perfection. Give the scrambled eggs infused with avocado a go, and with a hash brown on the side you are in Brekkie heaven! The pizzas for lunch or dinner are thick and substantial and the tasty toppings are piled on generously, just the way you want it. A broad range of delicious focaccias are on offer, and the dinner menu will leave no one unsatisfied, with burgers, fish and chips, steak sandwiches up to slightly more exotic dishes such as oven roasted lamb shanks, lentil dahl and salt and pepper squid. Check out their signature dish, the grilled beef burger, it's a must for meat eaters. Then there's the tempting cakes and desserts - the mouth fairly waters.
Special mention must be given to Joe's coffee. One thing you learn from sampling them in cafes all around the city, country and world is that coffees ain't coffees, they need to be brewed and made with skill and attention. You can get a weak, watery and undrinkable one in a café next door to one you had a magnificent one the day before. Joe's coffee never fails to hit the spot, however, it's always rich and full bodied and flavoured.
If there's one small criticism of Joe's is that it can get mighty loud in there at times. They play their music quite loud and when the place is full and buzzing, you can barely hear the person sitting next to you. So a destination for a quiet and romantic date or important business get-together it is definitely not. A vibrant atmosphere is one thing, but when you want your head filled with noise and fury, head over the road to the mighty Evelyn Hotel when your favourite heavy rock band is playing.
Aside from this however, this place is a gem. Whether it's for a very filling feed or just a coffee and cake, Joe's Garage is a Brunswick Street must.