What’s Hood: A Westside Story in Footscray
From the wild west of the USA to Broadway, the West has always been a hedonistic land of both opportunity and unbridled pleasure. This edition of ‘What’s Hood?’ takes us to Footscray, having after explored Glen Iris and Pascole Vale, and the adjoining burbs where the motto ‘Food is Lyf’ is the unofficial mantra.
Like anything worth doing in life, it starts off with coffee. If Melbourne is the coffee capital of Australia then let us reassure you that the west does not disappoint.
Train Station Rush: “Romans Original” is only metres from the tram stop and next to the train station.
Crew Fave: “Migrant Coffee” with their NY style bagels lives up to the hype!
Popular with the Locals: On a warm spring day Rudimentary is as hard to get in as Scarlett Saturdays.
Maribyrnong Magic: “Jack B. Nimble” does some of the best brunch and the coffee is great.
Ascot Vale: OK, l’m really stepping out of the 3011 but “Number 19” is very noteworthy for coffee & food!
Footscray is bursting at the seams with places to eat – you could have easily called it FOODscray. And since the gentrification of the ‘00, we’ve seen a mass migration of hipsters outside of their natural Brunswick habitat. Adding to the colour, culture and culinary delights are places like Sapa Hills, Nhu Ngoc Bakery ( or Nhu Lan Bakery), Pho Hung Vuong (or Chu The Pho), The BBH at Dong Ba, Pie Thief, The iconic Hong Kong BBQ, Claypot Rice and the old faithful Cavallaro & Sons. There’s just too many to list them all so here are a few we’ve spotlighted for you.
Huu Huu Thanh (Vietnamese) inside the Footscray market is one of my favourite places to eat. They only serve about a dozen dishes with each one being a winner and at just $10 for a small bowl, you can’t get better value. Ras Dashen (Ethiopian) – This family owned business provides the warmth of sub-Saharan hospitality that makes you feel like you’re sharing a meal in their living room. It’s one of the original Ethiopian restaurants of this eclectic neighbourhood (Thx Micheo).
If you want to step it up a notch, there are plenty of fine-casual dining options in the west where the dishes are what you would expect from a hatted restaurant, good enough to for a date night yet casual enough you can drop in with a pair of jeans and a tshirt. Our two picks are Copperpot Seddon, famous for their European “Feed Me” road trips and Imbue Food & Wine of Maribyrnong. Both are just as good but each with their unique twists. Imbue has an Asian influence.
One can not have the “F” without the “B”, that’s why they call it F&B. Disclaimer here, I’m biased towards LITTLEFOOT BAR for many wonderful reasons. Whether it be the amazing staff headed up by owner and drinker “Stu the wizard” or the wide selection of tasty bevvies, find any excuse to park your rear on the stool and relax. Other notable bars doing amazing things in the west are MR WEST, with their cleverly named bagnum (get it?) Martini Espressos (available for delivery) and HOP NATION brewery, tucked away in a mini factory estate that’s turning hops and grains into tasty bevvies.
There are plenty of great places in Footscray to stock the pantry and fridge so in the interest of time l’ll just name a handful.
Built by a Romanian immigrant, it opened back in March of 1981 and to this very day it remains the beating heart of 3011. Footscray Market is a rich tapestry of Asian, African & European cultures, food and history. There are over 60 stores competing for your attention, from delis, restaurants and florists to greengrocers, fishmongers & butchers and so much more. Open from Tue to Saturdays, it is the perfect way to experience Footscray under the one roof.
Fast becoming the Little Tokyo of Footscray, this quaint little hood “konbini” (Japanese for convenient store) is your one stop shop for all things Japanese. From vegan treats, sauces and marinades to meats & mayo (kewpie of course) Vinnie and Erika have got you covered. Did l mention they have a great range of hard-to-find Korean and Japanese instant noodles. They even have Afuri and Ichran (but keep that a secretary)? They also do stock some Korean goods and a limited selection of Chinese/Vietnames pantry essentials.
If it’s live seafood you are looking for then there’s only one place that has top restaurant quality ocean bounties. Situated on Leeds St, this place offers just about everything from the sea; oysters, crabs, lobsters, fish, sea urchin, clams, live prawns, yabbies, abalone… you get the idea.
Set along the Maribyrnong river with sweeping views of the Flemington racecourse and city skyline is Footscray Park. It has been a green sanctuary well before the pandemic hit with many locals throwing a rug on the grassy slopes and letting the tranquility set in. And now that up to two households are permitted to meet up (max of five people), a park like this is an ideal place for friends and family to catch up.
It’s home to many cultural events and has even played host to the famous Laneway festival. It has been the spiritual home of the Vietnamese Lunar New Year festival for decades and more recently has become the outdoor gym for nearby residents swinging their kettlebells, walking their dogs, scaling the steps or a quick sprint across the oval. Whatever your pleasure, this luscious pocket of the inner west is the perfect place to unwind and relax or work out.