Where to Eat Like a Local in Footscray

Written by Birchmore Photography by Mitch Fong

While Melbourne is a true melting pot of cultures and flavours, it’s rare to find a single neighbourhood where you can truly taste the diversity of Australia’s premier food city. Footscray, with generations of food-obsessed migrants and a new wave of culinary stars, just so happens to be one of them. Here are our top five places to eat like a local:


#1 Kariton Sorbetes is the very definition of a melting pot – creating incredible gelati with Filipino flavours that pay homage to Footscray’s suburban roots. Established in 2020 by fine dining chefs John Rivera and Minh Duong, you will find island favourites such as ube (purple yam), jackfruit, and coconut sorbet in between the ‘Thrilla in Vanilla’ with two strains of Papua New Guinea vanilla bean, or the Milo Dinosaur with malted milk chocolate ganache and green Milo honeycomb.

#2 Small Graces is brought to you by husband-and-wife team – Diego Portilla and Rebecca Howell who met while working on culinary projects in regional Victoria. This small and sunny café has all the beauty and warmth of a country kitchen with shelves full of seasonal preserves, syrups, and sauces. In a neighbourhood known for cottage-like cafes, Small Graces is as good as they get.

#3 Hop Nation is the creation of Sam Hambour and Duncan Gibson: two former winemakers who took over an industrial complex in Footscray to create offbeat beers like The Chop and Jedi Juice. There’s something magical about sitting in this brewery with its church like windows that beautifully marry Footscray’s industrial past with its inner-city future. Oh, and it so happens to be 50m from the Maribyrnong river bike trail.

#4 Trouble in Dreams is the brainchild of two local food superstars including Aaron Donato who runs neighbouring Bar Josephine and Pie Thief. Featuring cover versions of classic cocktails as well as a playlist of natural wines, this is the quintessential Footscray bar: unpretentious, inexpensive, and unashamedly individual.

#5 No culinary trip to Footscray is complete without a Bahn Mi and Nhu Lan regularly tops the list of Melbourne’s best. A neighbourhood staple for some 25 years, everyone in town has a favourite order and personal opinion. Somewhere between a conveyor belt and a cult experience, it’s a wonder to wait in line and watch as the ingredients come together to make the perfect sandwich.


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