Time Out Melbourne

This bustling 'burb five kays west of the CBD is a melting pot of cuisine and culture

Olympic Doughnuts

One of the first things to welcome you as you arrive at Footscray station is Olympic Doughnuts. It’s the spray-painted metal box just to the left as you exit, that could have arrived here direct from 1989. The man inside is impaling golfball-sized doughnuts onto the nose of a ceramic dolphin that pumps hot jam into each one. The doughnuts, perfectly crispy on the outside and pillow-soft on the inside, are  famous Melbourne-wide. And for 80 cents a pop, this humble old-school doughnut isn’t a bad introduction to Footscray.

Footscray Community Arts Centre

Footscray Community Arts Centre has well and truly earned its stripes as an institution – not just in Footscray but Melbourne-wide. With enough exhibitions, performances, workshops, and festivals happening every week, it’s worth heading west and getting a good dose of suburb envy. On February 4, Footscray Arts will host the world-class music festival St Jerome’s Laneway Festival. In 2011, the lead singer of Les Savvy Fav even embraced Footscray by jumping into the mighty Maribyrnong River, returning to the stage and drinking the river water from his shoe. If that’s not a thumbs up, we don’t know what is.

T Cavallero & Sons

Tommaso and his wife Sarina Cavallero opened their Footscray sweet store in 1956, just in time for the Melbourne Olympics. Tommaso’s father was a pastry chef back in Italy, and now his son Carmelo runs the store – and he hasn’t changed a thing. “Our secret to success is simplicity,” Carmelo says. You can still order a fresh cannoli casing, choose your filling flavour, and they’ll pipe you a fresh one out the back. Italian biscuits pastine di mandorla, amaretti and croccantini are always favourites, too. It takes for people to make every canoli, and with Carmelo carrying on a 130-year-old family tradition, you know they’re made with love.

Nhu Lan

Lots of terrible things happened during the French colonisation of Vietnam during the 1900s. You know: invasion, oppression exploitation. But then came independence! And when France gave Vietnam back to its people, it threw in its classic baguette recipe. The banh mi is a French baguette, with Vietnemese style fillings: meat (or tofu), fried shallots, pâté, cucumber, chilli, coriander, grated carrot. Ask a Footscray local what they eat for lunch, and most would tell you to fetch a banh mi. And where from? Our recommendation is Nhu Lan. Pictured banh mi with shredded pork skin. It’ll cost you less than the train ticket you bought to get there, too.

The Station Hotel

On the wall of The Station Hotel is a giant cow, its parts outlined and numbered. Your waiter will guide you through the choices in the menu, pointing out the bavette from the rib eye, explaining that a happy cow is a tasty cow and that the one you’re about to enjoy frolicked freely in a Gippsland field. (We recommend the John Dee 100-day grain-fed Black Angus 'flat iron steak' from Queensland.) Although there are a couple of decent vegetarian dishes, it’d be wise to leave your less bloodthirsty friends at home while you roll around in The Station Hotel’s carnivorous glory. 

Updated on 29 Oct 2012.

By Isabel Dunstan   |  
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