There’s something about moving to a new city and starting from scratch – meeting new people, discovering bars for the first time, and wandering down unknown streets and laneways with no specific destination but confident it’s going to end in a good time – that those who have been fortunate to have the opportunity to do so can relate.
Prior to working at The Gospel, I admittedly hadn’t spent a lot of time in Brunswick, initially exploring the areas surrounding where I first lived in Melbourne – Fitzroy, Fitzroy North, Collingwood, Carlton and Carlton North. So, with the opportunity of a new job, also came the opportunity to discover Brunswick – a suburb and community that is eclectic, sometimes unpredictable, but always friendly and open.
With COVID mostly over, the walk to work has been an important part of my day (mental health, physical health and a new appreciation of being outside) and, being a foodie, I’ve been getting energy from all the food spots to try. Here are 5 I’ve had the chance to visit, with many others on the list still yet to explore.
643-645 Sydney Road, Brunswick
A1 Bakery is one of those places that just feels authentic. The staff are always up for a chat and happy to talk you through the menu without making you feel like an idiot. There are young and old patrons, there is shisha, its low fuss, and its all-around positive vibes. Simple as it sounds, the Cheese Pie with halloumi is phenomenal, with a good cheese to pastry ratio. Legend has it that the distillery’s first Christmas (when it was only half built), included a lively team breakfast of cheese pies and whiskey. It makes me happy I’ve finally found a place with fresh-as-f^ck takeaway bread and homemade dips (a habit I was looking to recreate from my lifetime of buying from Erciyes in Surry Hills, Sydney).
Very Good Falafel
629 Sydney Road, Brunswick
When a shop claims to be the very best of anything (‘Best Vanilla Slice in Victoria’ or ‘Best Meat Pie in New South Wales’) I can’t help but to go in with a little bit of scepticism. However, Very Good Falafel lives up to its name. With a simple menu, the falafel is legit one of the best I’ve tried in Melbourne – crispy on the outside, soft and fresh on the inside, served with homemade hummus, zhoug (garlic chilli paste), and pickled veg. I’m also partial to adding a ktzitot (Israeli meatball) on the side – it might not look like much but the spice, the tenderness and the flavour is honestly melt-in-your-mouth delicious. It’s an added bonus that the staff are so wonderfully friendly.
Small Axe Deli & Small Axe Kitchen
Deli: Shop 1/625 Sydney Rd, Brunswick
Kitchen: 281 Victoria St, Brunswick
With a Sicilian heritage, I was excited to try Small Axe Deli and sister shop Small Axe Kitchen, who claim to be ‘inspired by the colours and flavours of Sicily with Melbourne soul’ – a merging of my two favourite places. I’m not sure why but browsing shelves stocked with products direct from Italy gets me feeling super nostalgic, and gives me the confidence to whip out some of the Italian language I’ve been learning. As the name suggests, the deli is small but filled with everything you could need to embody the life of an Italian. And over at the kitchen, the space invites you to stay a little longer (I highly recommend the smoked eggplant salad). Small Axe Kitchen is also where the OG team went to celebrate one of The Gospel’s first deals, and holds a special place in our history.
K&H Hot Bread Bakery
397 Sydney Rd, Brunswick
Big call but K&H Hot Bread Bakery has the best Bahn Mi in Brunswick, and potentially the best on this side of the river. Order a roast pork roll - the bread is crisp on the outside and soft on the inside, and it’s filled with fresh coriander, crunchy pickled carrot, juicy roasted pork and crispy crackling. It’s honestly like eating one you’d get from the side of the road in Hanoi. If only I could also sip on a ca phe trung (Vietnamese Egg Coffee) afterwards, to complete and relive the memory.
Mile End Bagels
1 Wilkinson St, Brunswick
The guys at the distillery go the Mile End Bagels at least twice a week. Reminiscent of New York style bagels, they have a shiny crust with a savoury crunch, and the inside is chewy but not doughy. With ten different fillings you could eat here for 2 weeks straight and still not have the same thing twice. Staff consensus is the #7 bagel is the one to try.
Are there other places in Brunswick you recommend to try? Shoot an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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