Ade and I love traveling overseas, visiting new places and experiencing new cultures. But there’s always a little piece of us left behind in Melbourne, Australia. Especially in our hometown: Windsor/Prahran. Windsor, and it’s close neighbor Prahran (the two are definitely intertwined), are a couple of suburbs of Melbourne, and are eclectic and daggy cool in a kind of funky way. Moreover, they host some of the best restaurants to travel the world from Melbourne.
TAKEAWAY: If you’re traveling to Windsor/Prahran from overseas, you’ll probably catch the Sandringham train from the city center. You’ll be tempted to get off at South Yarra to wander down the glamorous end of Chapel Street. You may have heard about it; it’s where all the beautiful people hang out and where the stars come to shop when they visit Melbourne. But don’t be tempted. Stay on the train just one more stop.
This is Prahran, and this is where the fun starts. You can have a taste tour around the world from Windsor beginning in Chapel Street. Trust us, our first question to guests, when they want to come out for dinner with us, is “What kind of cuisine are you after?” So let us take you through some of our favorites.
Sometimes I just want to feel like I’ve stepped back into an episode of “Happy Days” and I am hanging out in Al’s Diner. On such occasions, we head to Parlour. But it’s always busy, so we tend to sit outside and watch the quirky people of Chapel St pass us by. You’d expect Parlour to have great burgers and fries, and they do, but also try the corn and the popper. Just make sure you’re sharing, that’s an awful lot of food to get through.
Huxtaburger is said to be one of the best burgers in Melbourne. It’s a chain burger joint, which specializes in, well, burgers. You’ll find the Windsor Huxtaburger in High St, not far off Chapel Street.
You’ll need to head off Chapel St for our favorite Korean dish. However, it’s just a short walk away, and you won’t be disappointed. Subi Q is up Malvern Rd. If you are organized (we’re not) you can book ahead and arrange a Korean barbecue. Otherwise, just try the Beef Bolgogi and the Bibimbap or the seafood pancake. Subi Q is a real family-owned restaurant. The parents cook out the back while the son waits on customers out the front. He is the friendliest waiter we’ve ever come across. His smile is sure to leave you with a warm, fuzzy feeling.
Again, this is not technically in Chapel St, but it’s not far off the main drag. This place is so authentic that, when my father-in-law asked for parmesan on his seafood pizza, the waiter looked at him askance. He wouldn’t do it, telling us you don’t have parmesan on seafood. We took his advice. 48H (so named because, apparently, you should leave pizza dough for 48 hours before cooking it) specializes in pizza and gnocchi. That’s it. Oh, you can get a salad here, but don’t expect lasagne or spaghetti bolognese. We have worked our way through the menu, both the pizza and gnocchi and have never been disappointing.
I’m not much of a pizza fan, unlike Abe. Nonetheless, I do love traditional Italian pizza with its thin crust and few toppings. The Margherita here is fantastic. But if you’re a little more adventurous, you might want to try the patate (potato) pizza. Ladro is also an excellent spot for a couple of drinks on a sunny afternoon. For those occasions, remember the beer degustation.
Sauced is a chain restaurant, on which we’re normally not really into, but there’s generally a reason why there is more than one of them. You always know what you’re getting here, and the quality is invariably good. Sauced is a nice choice for pasta dishes. You can choose your pasta and your sauce, and have it cooked the way you like it.
Ok, this one is a bit of a walk from Chapel St, but it’s not too out of the way and still resides in Windsor. And seriously, what’s a food tour without Indian? India House has a lovely atmosphere – it’s another family run business – and the food is delicious. Our favorite is chicken makhani (we know it’s predictable!) but also make sure you try the aloo tiki chat for an entrée. In fact, we sometimes order Indian just for this!
When Mr. Miyagi opened, it was the first Japanese restaurant in this particular area. Since the restaurant has a classy and yet fun vibe to it, it’s always packed. Hence, you’ll need to book to get in. Once you get a table, try the Miyagi fried chicken and the duck spring rolls. Oh, and don’t miss the cocktails!
Tokyo Tina is owned by the same people that own our favorite Vietnamese restaurant, Hannoi Hannah. It’s in the heart of Chapel St and is another one of those ‘tough to get into places,’ but it’s worth the wait. Shared plates are the way to go here. To get the best out of this experience, sit outside so you can watch the life in this part of the world.
Fonda was the first Mexican restaurant I found that I actually enjoyed. And it wasn’t until recently that I found out Fonda was a traditional restaurant set up in someone’s home in Mexico. (You won’t be in someone’s home here, but you will get a fantastic meal.) When you visit it, try the corn and the fish tacos. This is another chain restaurant, though there are only a couple of them so you won’t find one on every corner.
The first time friends took us to The Thai it was kind of like that skit, “who’s on first?” We were trying to work out where to meet when he said: “How about The Thai?” “We love Thai,” I shot back. “But which one?” “The Thai” he answered. “Yes, but which one do you mean? There are lots on Chapel Street.” Finally, he told me, that’s the name of it. We’d walked past this place many times but never been in, it is always full – and there’s good reason. The food is beautiful. Our recommendation: try the pancakes, they are listed under entrée, but they’re sweet enough you could have them as a dessert.
This place can take a bit of searching for if you don’t know where to look. You’ll need to head upstairs to Revolver, walk past the first bar and into the second door. Yes, it looks like a bar. That’s because it is. Nevertheless, don’t be put off by the caged-in DJ; the food and the vibe are seriously worth it. If you can get a table in the restaurant area, well and good. But don’t worry if you can’t. In that case, just find a couch and sit, someone will come and take your order. Don’t miss the pad thai and the soft shell crab from Colonel Tan.
Restaurants and cafes can turn over pretty quickly in Chapel Street, we’ve seen many come and go since we’ve been here, but Marmara has been a stalwart. The atmosphere inside is beautiful – softly lit, small and intimate – and the food is lovely. While it doesn’t have a huge choice on the menu, the standard Turkish food is very tasty. Go for the mixed kebabs and enjoy!
We’re starting with our favorite: Hannoi Hannah. You’ll struggle to get a table here, and they don’t take bookings. However, trust us when we say “listen to the crowds.” Leave your name on the list, head back to Chapel St to Lucky Coq or across to Queen of the South and have a drink while you wait. Hanoi Hannah is small, and it can get loud. But the charm of it is that you may find yourself seated at an old fireplace. If you go, make sure you try the tuna rolls – best rolls ever!
House of Hoi An
House of Hoi An is one of the newest Vietnamese restaurants in the precinct. Just off Chapel, on Green Street, it is located in a relatively large old warehouse. Set up by Ms. Vy and her daughter from Hoi An, the food here is the real deal. You can buy the book of recipes if you want to recreate it yourself at home or just head down to the beautiful restaurant for the authentic version. If you’re lucky, you may just find Ms. Vy in the kitchen, visiting from one of her restaurants in Vietnam.
With this many stops you will be sure to enjoy a complete taste tour around the world from Windsor, Australia. Without venturing too far from Chapel Street, you will find lots of restaurants to travel the world from Melbourne. You will be able to try any kind of food you can imagine. So take this chance and come visit us in this diverse hometown of ours!