Introduction by Derek Green
A restaurateur once observed that my family and I were “very economic”. At the time I remember smiling and taking this as a compliment. On reflection it may not have been. Engaging and fun as the fellow had been, we had fallen well short of his expectation that we would turn out to big spenders. He then went on to have a go at my haircut, and it kind of went downhill from there. So in the spirit of economy I recently threw the challenge out to our collective of volunteers and contributors, who came up with these classic inner-west eateries that manage to hit the right notes with both the taste-buds and budget. Enjoy.
Sunshine Charcoal Chicken
80 Harvester Rd, Sunshine
If you live around Sunshine you’ve definitely heard about Sunshine Charcoal Chicken, it even featured in the hilarious YouTube video ‘Rising Sunshine Style’. No it’s not your everyday baked chicken that you pick up from Coles, the locals refer to it as Spanish chicken (even though it’s no-where to be seen on the actual menu board) cooked over hot coals – you can pick one up every day of the week within the Sunshine Marketplace food-court. It’s for when you want a chicken but your ordinary BBQ chicken just won’t suffice as these whole chickens are coated in delicious addictive marinade. Be warned though even though the marketplace closes at 5pm showing up at 4pm can leave you walking out with merely chips, gravy and a salad as these little golden nuggets are in hot demand.
The Dosa Corner
587 Barkly St, West Footscray
The Dosa Corner is a cheery and casual restaurant on Barkly Street offering tasty Indian cuisine with a special focus on the namesake “dosa” (a rice flour crepe.) A plain dosa will set you back only one dollar, although you’ll be tempted to try the many dosa variations, such as cheese dosa and masala dosa.
7 Ballarat St, Yarraville
Now re-opened after a brief reno, Yarra Lounge is a great little drop-in either before or after a flick across the Pop-Up park at The Sun Theatre. Great for an early light dinner and drinks, or to just soak in the Yarraville atmosphere on a warm afternoon. Highlights are the local craft brews on tap, washed down with some stock favourites – Spanish meatballs, calamari, patatas bravas with aioli, saganaki and a range of tapas-style pizzas. Also kid friendly, though its not huge, so large tables need to book.
T. Cavallaro & Sons
98 Hopkins street Footscray
To satisfy that sweet tooth you can’t go past the original and the best canolli from T. Cavallaro & sons. As soon as you step into the door you’ll feel as though you have stepped back in time into 1970s Footscray. The family have been making these canolli for over 50 years so they know what they are doing! You won’t find them displayed at the counter and that’s because they are freshly made to order and let me tell you the wait is well worth it! They also stock a variety of Italian biscuits and cakes.
168 Victoria Street, Seddon
Formerly Waldies and until recently still bearing their signage, this old-school bakery has now all but transformed into “Seddon’s Eatery”, a go-to spot for sensational pies and sausage rolls, and delicious, fresh Banh Mi, with crispy roast pork the standout. Some simple sweet options are offered up – slices, donuts and cookies – but they aren’t the hero here, just a distraction. Busy from go-to-whoa, trust when we say that “whoa” is what you will go when you sink your teeth into that buttery French pastry, or crunchy pork crackle. Oh and try not to giggle at “Just for Laughs”, the show they have running on constant loop on their corner TV – a classic!
27 Ballarat St, Yarraville
Classic authentic Cambodian fare and a long-time favourite around the village. Famous for its friendly service, super freshness and reasonable prices. To start, try the Kdam (Chicken and Crab rolls), Prawn Skirts (Prawns wrapped in crispy pastry) or scrumptious spicy Poulet (Stuffed chicken drumettes). Follow up with a top value winner in Bai Char (Fried rice and vegetables with your choice of protein), Kari Khmer (Curry), Char Kroeung (Noodles and veg with your choice of protein) or the hero dish, the spectacular Amok (Fish in coconut curry) Note, this place is small and intimate – couples might find themselves sharing a larger table, and you might need a reservation at peak times.
The Baker’s Son
50 Old Geelong Road Hoppers Crossing
The best crispy pork Bahn mi rolls. That crunch from the crackle when you bite into these scrumptious freshly made baguettes loaded with crispy pork, pate, pickled carrot, fresh herbs and chilli home grown from the owners veggie patch! Definitely Hits the spot (and packs a punch!!) The baker’s son is a Vietnamese bakery at the busy hoppers crossing shopping centre. There’s always a queue here and it seems as though they have an endless supply of roast pork as it just keeps coming!! For a healthier version they also do BBQ pork rolls.
81A Hudson’s road, Spotswood
Whenever I am in the Spotswood area I just can’t go past a sausage roll from Candied bakery. Let me tell you this is not your ordinary bakery! Their sausage rolls are made with buttery, crunchy pastry and organic beef. They are also on our list for the best meat pies. For dessert here you will find delights such as key lime pie, custard tart donuts and chocolate chip cookies with marshmallow and sea salt. Are you drooling yet?
Shop 4, 38-46 Edgewater Blvd, Maribyrnong
A small, easily missed Malaysian/Chinese restaurant with friendly staff and prompt service. $11 lunch menu specials, flavoursome rich Laksa and cheap $13 rice and noodle dishes. Cheap but limited wine and cocktail lists ranging from $5-$9. Perfect for no-fuss lunch or dinner for singles, couples and families. Opposite Aldi and two doors down from the Edgewater Medical Centre.
The Brotherhood Yiros & Grill
9 Buckley St, Seddon
Hole in the wall take-away-only joint that barely blips on the radar but will leave you wanting more. Simple menu of Yiros (Chicken, Lamb or Veggie) wrapped with salad and chips in one hearty package. Watch them make the soft fresh bread in front of you but don’t linger – there’s only standing room for about 3 people. Tasty little Greek desserts on offer too!
Slice Girls West
4 Yewers St, Footscray
Tucked in a laneway behind Conways Fish, these girls have been slicing away for 3-4 years now, catering to the take-away crew as well as the adjoining premises Back Alley Sallys (upstairs) and Lickety Split (out back). A recent change in the base dough has proven a winner, making their Spice Girls inspired offerings even better than before. Try the Zig Ah Zig Ah (Salami, peppers, chilli), Kevin Bacon (BBQ sauce, bacon, chorizo & salami) or Cray Cray (beef mince, onion, pickles, mustard). Fans of gluten free are catered for, and if you feel like lasagna instead of pizza, you’re in luck!