Over the last few years, street food has gained a lot of traction in Australia. Food carts are no longer considered a weekend indulgence but a daily gastronomic destination. It makes sense when you consider that the street food scene in cities like Melbourne has grown in leaps and bounds since these restaurants-on-wheels first made their appearance on Aussie streets.
Plus, Australian culture has always embraced street food thanks to centuries-old markets like the Dandenong and Queen Victoria markets.
Gourmands and regular foodies are spoilt for choice with a wide array of cuisine choices. From tantalizing Asian-fusion fare to American comfort food with a twist. Everywhere you turn, it’s like there’s a new and exciting dish to tantalize your taste buds.
Street Food Markets in Australia
You’re never far from great food in Australia especially if you visit one of the many food markets that pop up on weekends and special occasions.
Queen Victoria Market, Melbourne:
This 140 year old landmark is arguably the most famous food market in the city and it boasts the largest open-air market in the Southern hemisphere. It typically houses over 600 businesses on a 7 hectare land, where you’ll find clothes, souvenirs, organic products and of course- LOTS OF FOOD!
During Wednesday nights in winter, Queen Victoria market hosts an event that celebrates all the different cultures that call this city home. From Malaysian, to Korean to South Asian, everyone is usually well represented in these events and visitors often walk away feeling positively overwhelmed by all the various food choices. We highly recommend trying out a donut from the American Doughnut food cart. It’s a foodie’s dream come true.
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Dandenong Market, Melbourne:
This market is actually older than the Queen Victoria market mentioned above, and was initially set up in 1866. Since then, it has evolved to adapt to modern times. This is a proper world market with over 200 traders and half of them originate from foreign countries. It’s the place to be if you want to experience a wide array of flavors and spices from different regions of the world.
The vibe here is slightly more relaxed and offers the perfect opportunity to spend the entire day exploring all the different flavors on offer. Our best tip on visiting the Dandenong Market is – come hungry! (And wear loose fitting clothes. Wink-wink!)
Prahran Market, Melbourne:
This is another super-old market that actually pre-dates the city of Melbourne altogether. This neighborhood has a very “lived-in” ambience. There’s a wide range of gourmet products and it’s the perfect place to spend a Saturday afternoon with family and friends.
It’s also the type of place that people go to for weekday lunch and since it doesn’t over power you with an endless selection of options, the Prahran Market is not as hectic as the other options on this list.
Friday Night Market, Sydney:
The Friday Night Market in Sydney happens in Chinatown and it’s one of the most popular street food markets in the country. From Japanese to Malaysian cuisine, it’s the perfect place to nibble on the flavors of the world. There are a variety of stalls, including gifts and merchandise as well as delectable food carts with dishes that’ll blow your mind.
Among these is the Twist Potato food cart which sells authentic Korean curly fries in 15 different flavors. Then you have Emperor’s Garden Cakes & Bakery whose unique Cream Puff recipe draws scores of adoring fans each Friday. The Colo Taki food cart specializes in a Japanese dish called Tako Yaki and it’s another flavorful favorite.
Also try the grilled squid dish from Happy Snack which is lip–smackingly spicy.
Aside from these well-known markets, every inner and outer suburb in Australia has their own market with food carts that specialize in a particular dish or style of cuisine. Here are some of our favorites:
- Addison Road Markets: This market happens on the first and third Saturday of each month. It offers a variety of authentic ethnic food from countries like Ethiopia, Iran, Colombia, Sierra Leone and Egypt.
- Paddy’s Night Food Markets: This market happens on the first Saturday of each month and is located in an undercover park in Flemington. It offers street food favorites like satay chicken with rice, hot dogs and gourmet burgers.
- Hank Marvin’s: This Saturday market offers a mix of unique culinary creations such as Yakitori chicken skewers, baos, vegan pizza, waffles and Hallelujah coffee.
- Eat Street: This market is the place to be from Friday to Sunday if you want a combination of great food, beautiful ambience and stunning views.