Melbourne's best snacks: Northern suburbs

Read about the best snacks around Melbourne's northern suburbs. When you're ready to eat, use the map to journey through the area, stopping for one snack at a time.

MFWF presents: Melbourne's best snacks

Do you know where to find the best banh mi, the perfect pie, or melt-in-your-mouthiest croissant? We've teamed up with Melbourne Food & Wine Festival to give you the ultimate hit list of snacks.


It's time to find some of the best snacks around Melbourne's north.

Melbourne Food & Wine Festival has brought together some of Melbourne's most established and promising illustrators, along with the city's leading food writers, to capture the best street eats around our city and beyond. 

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Snacks of the northern suburbs

Some of these might be on your tried and tested list for when the hunger pangs strike, others might be a new hidden delight to discover. 

Read all about the people that make these delectable snacks, what makes them the best, and where you can find them.

When you're ready to eat, use the map to journey through the area, one snack stop at a time.

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Illustration: Esther Sandler.

Halloumi Pie, A1 Bakery, Brunswick

The halloumi pie has been on the menu since A1 opened in 1992 and the recipe remains the same, even as the next generation moves into the family business.

According to Haik Raji, son of original co-owners Elias and Nadia Raji Farah, and a manager of the Brunswick bakery along with his brothers, “the key to a
good pie is all in the pastry”. A1’s pastry recipe is both a secret and the secret of the pie’s success.

A symphony of simplicity – the filling is halloumi only, dried briefly after it’s soaked in brine, and then shredded and stuffed into the pastry – the pie straddles the sweet-savoury divide, aided by the gloriously textured pastry, powdery with flour on the outside, firm enough to inspire confidence, soft enough to preclude flaking.

According to Raji, it’s all about resting the dough. “We rest it for about 45 minutes when we first mix the dough, then again when we cut it into portions and then again for another ten minutes or so before we put it into the oven,” he says. He’s not letting on any more than that – the perfect excuse for consuming more halloumi pies in the quest for knowledge.

A1 Bakery , 643-645 Sydney Rd, Brunswick.
Text by Michael Harden. 


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Illustration: Ambrose Rehorek and Chanel Tang, Creature Creature.

Adonai, Moin Moin, Carlton

Tucked away beneath a block of government flats at the end of a no-through road, Adonai is Melbourne’s only Nigerian restaurant. Owner Funmi Ewedairo offers traditional dishes cooked fresh each morning, displayed à la bain-marie.

From the snack department comes moin moin, cylindrical steamed bean cakes that will set you back just $3.50. To prepare them the kitchen painstakingly peels the husks from soaked black-eyed beans, blends the beans with onion, red capsicum, and a little chilli, and then steams the mixture in cups with trevally and hard-boiled egg.

The result is a spongy, umami-packed snack that also happens to be good for you. “It’s nutritional food. You get a lot of protein and energy,” says Ewedairo. “When we start with solid food for our babies, we start with the moin moin. It’s good for them and it digests quickly.”

After a decade balancing catering gigs with working for the Department of Human Services and Wesley Mission, Ewedairo opened her Carlton restaurant in 2017. Most of her regulars are African, but she welcomes other customers eager to try her cooking. “It’s in my blood, I love it,” she says. “I just like seeing people’s faces when they eat. Good food makes you happy.”

Adonai Foods , 478 Drummond St, Carlton.
Text by Sofia Levin.


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Illustration: Juan Rodriguez.

Medovnik, All Are Welcome, Northcote

When Russian-born pastry chef Boris Portnoy was thinking about cakes for his new bakery, he wanted to include some from the “lesser-known canon”. Enter the medovnik, the multi-layered honey cake covered in buttercream, native to several countries in eastern Europe including Russia and the Czech Republic.

Heritage-wise, it makes sense, but even without the personal connection for Portnoy, this is a cake of substantial merit. For starters, there’s the sculptural precision of its 10 layers. Then there’s the honey (“medovnik” means “honey cake”) that infuses each of them, Tasmanian leatherwood adding a unique
southern-hemisphere gum-flower intensity to the mix. There’s further beauty in the dulce de leche that flavours the buttercream sandwiched between the layers and coating the outside of the cake. Then there’s the texture. Rolled thin before baking, the cake’s layers have a crunchy texture more akin to a biscuit than sponge cake that’s particularly satisfying to eat in conjunction with the soft, rich buttercream. 

The final secret to its success? The cake is assembled and then set in the fridge overnight so that the ingredients can “age” and impart a depth of flavour that, in fairness, should move the medovnik into the better-known canon.

All Are Welcome , 190 High St, Northcote.
Text by Michael Harden.


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Illustration: Madison Connors, Yarli Creative.

Iskender Tantuni, Anatolia Tantuni, Fitzroy

Tantuni is a specialty from Mersin, in the south of Turkey. At Anatolia Tantuni in Fitzroy, chef, owner, and former Turkish army cook Burhan Kurucu has made it his mission to give this dish, which is popular in Turkey but not so well known in Australia, a fitting home in Melbourne. He moved to Australia to support his brother who had pancreatic cancer and his family and started the casual restaurant in 2017 after his brother’s passing.

Today he dishes up the street-food specialty to everyone from daytime gym-goers to late-night clubbers. He painstakingly dices flank steak by hand as his family buzz around him taking orders and frying gözleme. The fat is discarded and the meat is left overnight in the coolroom to dry out before it’s sautéed with antep chilli (capsicum’s spicier cousin), sumac, oregano, and smoked paprika in a large fryingpan called a sac.

The meat and its gravy go into a paper-thin lavash imported from Turkey along with fresh tomato, red onion, parsley, lemon, and pickled chilli, then it’s all sealed carefully in foil, or plated on fluffy pita or rice. Anatolia also does versions of the dish with chicken, a mixture of chicken and beef, or, one that’s entirely vegetarian, making it a tantuni shop for all comers.

Anatolia Tantuni , 15 Johnston St, Fitzroy.
Text by Rushani Epa.


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Illustration: Beci Orpin.

Peanut butter miso cookie, Falco, Collingwood

If 2020 could be considered the year of the bakery, then-newcomer Falco definitely came out as a frontrunner. Opened on the site of American diner Rockwell & Sons by the Rockwell team, it carried an echo of the American diner’s barnstorming spirit.

Baker Christine Tran works alongside the chef Casey Wall (who is also across Bar Liberty and Capitano) in a kitchen turning out naturally leavened loaves and baked goods with an American influence. The peanut butter miso cookie has developed a strong following of people who love the deep caramelisation and studded crunch of a sugar cookie and the chewiness of a peanut butter cookie in the same biscuit.

Wall is from the US and wasn’t sure Australians would gravitate towards a traditional peanut butter cookie, so injected the dough with some dehydrated miso that was being used at Bar Liberty to give the treat a salty, balanced backbone. Given that the bakery now sells hundreds and hundreds of them a week, placing them in the top five sellers alongside the country loaf and chicken sandwich, it’s safe to say he nailed it.

Falco Bakery , 288 Smith St, Collingwood.
Text by Jess Ho.


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Illustration: Esther Sandler.

Ta’ameya, Half Moon Café, Coburg

There’s a little shop on a pedestrian mall in Coburg that measures out its heart in ta’ameya. That’s the Egyptian name for the meal-sized snack Melburnians better know as falafel, and the differences don’t end at linguistics.

This is a particularly verdant falafel, made with fava beans (otherwise known as broad beans) rather than the chickpeas favoured by the Lebanese, which are the more common example in Australia. Nabil Hassan opened his shop in 2003 but has been making ta’ameya for 30 years. As he explains it, “We love everything green, so there’s lots of coriander and parsley as well.” Cumin and coriander seeds go into the mix too, along with around a five per cent measure of chickpeas for added texture, but beyond that, all questions must desist: “I won’t tell my closest friends the secrets.”

It’s ta’ameya as performance art at this daytime-only gaff. Place your order then watch through the window as the balls of bright green paste are formed on a metal contraption and dropped into bubbling vegetable oil. They’re all about a fluffy interior encased in a layer of crunch, the standard version swaddled in pita with tahini, tomato, and pickles but the repertoire extends to hummus and olives, fried cauliflower and eggplant, babaghanoush and shanklish. A symphony of choice for around a tenner.

Half Moon Café, 13 Victoria St, Coburg.
Text by Larissa Dubecki.


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Illustration: Ambrose Rehorek and Chanel Tang, Creature Creature.

Ham and Gruyère croissant, Lune, Fitzroy

If the devil exists, he might be lurking in the detail of Lune’s ham and Gruyère croissant. Specifically, in the extra shavings of cheese sprinkled over the top that the oven turns into addictively caramelised nubs of salty goodness.

Co-owner and chief baker Kate Reid’s entire oeuvre is about enslaving people into her cult of croissant-worship, and the queues outside are as long today as when Lune first moved to Fitzroy from Elwood five years ago. The anatomy of desire begins with the fundamentals of a perfectly flaky croissant, made to Reid’s own three-day recipe with two types of butter – one from fellow Fitzroy travellers St David’s Dairy for the dough, the other a French Beurre d’Isigny for the laminating.

The Gruyère is Swiss, from Calendar Cheese Company; the smoked ham from Andrew McConnell’s Meatsmith. “There’s also a sneaky little ingredient in there that a lot of people don’t pick up on,” says Reid. “It’s French seeded mustard to add a little pop of vinegar.” Eaten straight out of the oven, the innards molten and cheesy, it’s a compelling reason to get out of bed before sunrise. Boasting rights go with the territory. 

Lune Croissanterie , 119 Rose St, Fitzroy
and 16/161 Collins St, Melbourne.
Text by Larissa Dubecki.


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Illustration: Esther Sandler.

Seftalies, Miksa , Coolaroo

Miksa started life as a food truck and then morphed into a bricks-and-mortar shop in Coolaroo. It’s a place mostly about char-grilled meat (and a little fish) in the Turkish style. There’s plenty to love with chef Ismail Tosun's adana and kofte but the glistening jewel in the coal-fired crown is his seftalies.

A Cypriot sausage without a casing (like a luxe rissole, or the French dish, crepinette), seftali are a salty mix of spiced minced lamb wrapped in caul fat, the membrane surrounding a lamb’s stomach. When the seftalies are grilled over the coals, the caul fat melts away, making the seftalies juicy and flavoursome. 

They’re then either stuffed in bread with tomato or served as they are, accompanied by a salad of shredded lettuce and tomato. Both versions come with the essential addition of red onion dusted with sumac. You can get your seftalies to go but they’re never better than fresh off the grill, dripping with delicious juices and at the height of their powers.

Miksa , Shop 6/1350 Pascoe Vale Rd, Coolaroo.
Text by Michael Harden.


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Illustration: Beci Orpin.

Anchovies and boiled egg on toast, Napier Quarter, Fitzroy

Napier Quarter chef Eileen Horsnell was looking to create “the perfect little snack on toast” when she lit upon a combination of anchovies, boiled egg, and salsa verde. It sounds simple, but there’s alchemy in the signature dish of the backstreet Fitzroy café and wine bar.

The bread from Baker Bleu is rye, with a hint of caraway. It’s blanketed with a rich whole egg mayonnaise heavy on the Dijon. Next come slices of hard-cooked egg, courtesy of free-range, pasture-fed chickens. There’s a stripe of herbaceous salsa verde and then the pièce de résistance of fat, premium Olasagasti anchovy fillets hailing from the Cantabrian sea.

Riding shotgun is a cheek of lemon – for squeezing, of course, and because it looks great in photos, which might explain why this dish has become Horsnell’s most celebrated creation as well as something of a bête noire over the last five years. “We serve about 300 a week,” she says. “I tried to take it off the menu but there was pushback so now it’s a verbal special every day.” Its adaptability is another strong suit.

Accessorise it with coffee – it’s breakfast. With chilled red – it’s lunch.

A snack for all seasons, then. Just make sure you order before 5pm.

Napier Quarter, 359 Napier St, Fitzroy.
Text by Larissa Dubecki.


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Illustration: Joanna Hu.

Pistachio gelato, Pidapipó, Carlton

There’s a reason for the queue that forms outside Pidapipó, even in winter. Owner Lisa Valmorbida wasn’t mucking around when she decided to become a gelato maker. She enrolled at Bologna’s Carpigiani Gelato University to learn how to make it then went to work at the Gelateria Alberto Marchetti in Turin to learn how to scoop gelato the Italian way, from pozzetti – the stainless steel cylinders traditional in Italy – with a flat paddle.

Little wonder that her standards at Pidapipó are so closely aligned to trad Italian flavours – all the gelato is made in small batches, from scratch, on-site, with only fresh (not frozen) fruit. For her superb pistachio gelato, Valmorbida uses a pistachio paste imported from Bronte, a small town in Sicily famed for the quality of its nuts.

It’s not bright green (a colour which often flags that the gelato maker has added food colouring) but a darker, deeper green that brings with it a more intense flavour of concentrated pistachio nuts. She also buys only top-notch whole milk that is pasteurised on-site and uses carob powder as a stabiliser because it’s a natural ingredient that doesn’t get in the way of the flavour. Get in line.

Pidapipó , 299 Lygon St, Carlton.
Text by Michael Harden.


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Illustration: Ambrose Rehorek and Chanel Tang, Creature Creature.

Egg McMartinez, Smith & Deli, Fitzroy

“No one is too good for some greasy hangover food,” says Shannon Martinez. Fitzroy agrees, with Smith & Deli having sold around 40,000 Egg McMartinez muffins since mid-June 2015.

The vegan take on McDonald’s Bacon & Egg McMuffin epitomises what Melbourne’s favourite plant-focused chef does best: serves food vegans usually miss out on. “I remember when I first made them, someone cried when they ate it, because they hadn’t had one since they were 12,” says Martinez. She doesn’t give much away about the cooking process but says the egg white is mostly tofu and the yolk is based on mashed potato. 

There’s black salt, vegan American-style cheddar, and of course, “bacon”. “The whole point of bacon is the grease, salt, and fat,” says Martinez. “We shallow-fry the bacon, salt the shit out of it, and are very liberal with vegan butter.” They’re sandwiched in an English muffin with your choice of sauce and wrapped in custom greaseproof paper (to keep the grease in, not out).

Martinez tried multiple cooking methods but insists the best result is with the humble microwave, which steams the muffin and turns vegan cheese slices (which can resist melting) to just the right kind of goo.

Smith & Deli, 111 Moor St, Fitzroy.
Text by Sofia Levin.


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Illustration: Beci Orpin.

Sabich pita, Very Good Falafel, Brunswick

Very Good Falafel is known for – well, falafel. And it’s very good. But there’s more to Shuki Rosenboim and Louisa Allan’s Israeli eatery than their talent for frying patties of chickpeas.

Sabich is a traditional Iraqi-Jewish breakfast that Rosenboim’s family would prepare for Shabbat on Saturdays, when cooking, per Jewish tradition, is not allowed. He and his mother would prepare all the ingredients – fried eggplant, the mango chutney called amba, tahini, hummus, chilli, potato, and vegetables – the day before (though he would sneak a bite here and there during prep), and in the morning after visiting the synagogue they would build their own sabich and stuff a pita with their choice of ingredients.

Sabich also traditionally comes with boiled eggs, but they’re omitted here to keep the whole dish vegan. It’s no great loss in this case, though: the melting eggplant, fluffy potatoes, soft pita, and zingy sauces are more than enough for a hefty and delicious meal. Rosenboim’s favourite bit is towards the end of the meal when you get to the bottom of the pita pocket: you’ll find all the sauces pooled together in a flavour bomb of tang and zest.

Very Good Falafel , 629 Sydney Rd, Brunswick.
Text by Chynna Santos.

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