How to find a neighbourhood’s juiciest dumplings? Its freshest pies? The flakiest baklava? Ask a local!

Dish Cult asks the locals because we know their recommendations are tried and true. This week we travel to Coburg, in Melbourne’s north, with Flavourhood Tours owner Raffaela Ceddia.

From left, menemen from Chorba Cafe is a popular breakfast in Turkey; Mixed drinks at Bluestone American BBQ; a selection of Middle Eastern pastries from Al Alamy; and inset, our guide to Coburg Raffaela Ceddia. Image credits Chorba Cafe, Bluestone American BBQ; Al Alamy and Raffaela Ceddia.

Raffaela is the ultimate food know-it-all, so much so that she started her own tour company, Flavourhood Tours. She used to take friends on impromptu food tours around her favourite northside neighbourhoods that were so successful starting her own business seemed like a no-brainer. Since then she’s guided foodies around Coburg, Northcote, Preston Market, Brunswick East and more. Her latest endeavour has been the super popular Carlton Aperitivo Tour, but for now, let’s have her virtually walk us through all the best places to eat and drink in vibrant, multi-cultural Coburg.

Where do you go for your morning coffee?

“You can get a typical Melbourne coffee anywhere. In Coburg, I like to get a cultural coffee. At Axilleon I like to wake up with a strong Greek coffee.”

Where would you go for brunch with friends?

“Sometimes I go to Coburg specifically for the menemen at Chorba Cafe, which is like a Turkish version of a shakshuka. It’s topped with feta and mozzarella and it is really good. I like to get either an apple or rosehip tea here which comes in a small, traditional, tulip-shaped glass.”

What about for a fast lunch?

“A place that sounds ordinary but is not ordinary at all is Melbourne Kebab Station. They do the most amazing kebabs. I like to get mine on an open plate with plenty of dips that you can choose yourself. They also have the best Turkish bread you’ve ever had in your life, you can buy a massive loaf that costs next to nothing!”

Who does the best takeaway?

“I don’t do this one on the tour but if I’m in a hurry it’s the veggie fried rice at Wang Wang. It’s really flavourful. They’re known for the dumplings, but the owner recommends the pork dumplings fried and the vegetable dumplings steamed. Otherwise, The Pie Place. I love the steak and mushroom pie, and they’re great to stock up the freezer with.”

Drinks after work?

“Coburg doesn’t have much of nightlife yet, but if I were to go somewhere for drinks at night Bluestone American BBQ has a good drinks menu with wine, beer and lots of American whiskey. The in-house smoked meats are fantastic.”

A selection of Middle Eastern pies at Zaatar. Image credit Zaatar

Best bakeries in Coburg?

“People come here for something out of the ordinary, not the usual sourdoughs. Zaatar and Al Alamy are great for Middle Eastern savoury pies, pizzas and flatbreads. For sweets I like Trivelli Cakes, it’s authentic Italian and I sometimes like to bring a tray of their beautiful biscotti over to a friend’s as an unexpected gift – it’s something a bit different where people are pleasantly surprised.”

The falafels at Half Moon Cafe are always popular. Image credit Half Moon Cafe

Where would you go to really impress people?

“I always ask my tour guests what their favourite place was and I’ve never met one person who didn’t love the falafels at Half Moon Cafe. While other falafel shops are usually all the same, here they make everything themselves and have an assortment of beautiful pickles and different fillings. You can watch them fry the falafels fresh in the window. Plus if you need another coffee they add cardamom to theirs which I think is a really interesting flavour.”

Coburg’s secret gem is…

“Everyone loves Al Alamy, but you have to be in the know for their off-menu fatteh that I think might be Coburg’s best-kept secret. It’s yoghurt, hot browned butter, chickpeas and toasted almonds on top of day-old pita – it’s really special. The cheese and olive pies that come straight out of the oven are great here too!”

Coburg is a great place to eat because…

“You can get heaps of real, authentic multicultural food! There’s such diversity, there’s an option for everyone and all are welcome. The energy is special here, you can feel it at the Victoria Square Mall where everyone gathers to eat and drink. The vibe here is sort of like what you’d experience if you went to Europe. I think there’s basically nothing left like it in Melbourne. I genuinely love Coburg and hope it never changes.”

Your Coburg address book:

Axilleon Cakes: 424 Sydney Rd, Coburg VIC 3058

Chorba Cafe: 11 Victoria St, Coburg VIC 3058

Melbourne Kebab Station: 451 Sydney Rd, Coburg VIC 3058

Wang Wang Dumpling: 3/51 Waterfield St, Coburg VIC 3058

The Pie Place: 471 Sydney Rd, Coburg VIC 3058

Bluestone American BBQ: 470 Sydney Rd, Coburg VIC 3058

Zataar: 365 Sydney Rd, Coburg VIC 3058

Trivelli Cakes: 369 Sydney Rd, Coburg VIC 3058

Half Moon Cafe: 13 Victoria St, Coburg VIC 3058

Al Alamy: 51 Waterfield St, Coburg VIC 3058

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