Trying to get a table on the weekend at this Richmond hot spot can see you queue for the better part of an hour. Stay patient, as Top Paddock is owned by a team with serious foodie pedigree (variously from dining spots Two Birds One Stone and Three Bags Full). Interiors are simple, hues of timber contrasting with white tiles. Natural light comes in through floor-to-ceiling windows, plus there’s a large outdoor area to eat in. An organic menu features brunch options that burst with flavor, from coconut chia pudding dressed with tropical fruit and rose petals to the hangover favourite of chorizo, pickled onions, bacon, green tomatoes and poached eggs served on toast.
Top Paddock, 658 Church St, Richmond, VIC, Australia, +61 3 9429 4332
Award-winning gelato is perfect in Victoria’s oft-sweltering weather. No wonder Gelato Messina has pulled in the crowds since opening two years ago, mixing delicious ice cream inside a bright, hip hangout spot. An import from Sydney, there are now three across Melbourne; you’ll know you’re nearby when you see people, cone in hand, getting stuck in to vividly colored iced treats. Flavors hit the deepest sweet spots imaginable, and there’s also a fine range of sharper fruit (pear and rhubarb, yoghurt and berry) and sorbets to counterbalance. Create your own combinations; Italian nougat next to tiramisu is a divine match. Or dig into their inventive specials (at the time of writing, a recipe of shortcrust gelato with marshmallows, raspberry purée and chocolate chips named the ‘Wagon Wheel’).
Gelato Messina, 171 Chapel St, Windsor, VIC, Australia, +61 3 9533 7110
Country, barbeque and fried chicken scream Nashville, and Belle’s Hot Chicken is a great place for all three. It’s no surprise: Music City is where chef and co-owner Morgan McGlone was working before heading home to open this chic chook shop on Gertrude Street. The concept may be basic but tastes are not: coatings give a satisfying crunch to each mouthful, and you choose your level of spice (bravado aside, hot is certainly hot). Better than any fast-food alternative, Belle’s now has a second outlet in Richmond too. Think of it as a not-so-guilty pleasure, and line up for an iconic red basket of chicken accompanied by a side of crinkle cut fries.
Belle’s Hot Chicken, 150 Gertrude St, Fitzroy, VIC, Australia, +61 3 9077 0788