Northcote - Melbourne Suburb Checklist (8 Must-Dos!)

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A very understated suburb: tiny area, many offerings.

Northcote deserves an exclusive suburb zero-in... has anyone put this on the official Melbourne's attractions map yet? Surely this has to qualify one of those 'off the beaten track' records. Northcote is a typical but extremely well-stocked neighborhood in the northwest of Melbourne city district, away from the rest of the touristy crowds and your best chance to mingle with the locals and see a slice of the locals' lifestyles.


Northcote  - Melbourne Suburb Checklist (8 Must-Dos!)
Northcote  - Melbourne Suburb Checklist (8 Must-Dos!)

As compared to the Fitzroy and Collingwood suburbs, Northcote is absurdly lacking in (spectacular) graffiti. There come a point where fancy spray paint drawings on walls become mandatory. Whatever they lose out in aesthetics, they definitely more than made up with how easily navigable it is (everything is on High Street) and the variety of activities you can engage there to somewhat feel what it is like as a regular Melburnian.

1. Brekkie at Umberto Espresso Bar
Begin your trail at Umberto Espresso Bar, a giant in its own right with an immense local following. People swear by its Italian menu - look out for their pastas in the lunch menu (hint: marinara) and punctuate your meal with a sweet note of tiramisu.
Umberto Espresso Bar
822 High Street
Thornbury VIC 3071

Take a tram 86 (towards Waterfront City) down to Espresso Room at stop 34.

2. Cake at Espresso Room 
Espresso Room Northcote  - Melbourne Suburb Checklist (8 Must-Dos!)
Espresso Room Northcote  - Melbourne Suburb Checklist (8 Must-Dos!)
Espresso Room Northcote  - Melbourne Suburb Checklist (8 Must-Dos!)

I know you can't possibly eat dessert twice... or can you?! Espresso Room did a really delicious rendition of a raspberry lime cheesecake, a mixed bag of sweets and sours with a happy topping of meringue. Such a sugar rush! I have to say... I fell in love with their pastel-colored coffee cups too. I never knew I could have such a fatal attraction to ceramics.

Espresso Room
410 High Street
Northcote VIC 3070

3. Bibimbap for lunch, meal buckets for dinner at Seoul Soul
Seoul Soul Northcote  - Melbourne Suburb Checklist (8 Must-Dos!)
Seoul Soul Northcote  - Melbourne Suburb Checklist (8 Must-Dos!)
Seoul Soul Northcote  - Melbourne Suburb Checklist (8 Must-Dos!)

Seoul Soul happens to be the next on the list if you were to move systematically down the street, though it'll be lovely to go shopping in-between first instead of non-stop eating, unless that's how you'd roll. You can always jumble the sequences by tramming up and down on route 86. Seoul Soul is one of those fuss-free, contemporary Korean restaurants that has a variety of bibimbap for 10 bucks a plate. It is highly raved on review sites - but I will tone it down a notch - it wasn't breathtaking but pretty well-done, balanced and enjoyable. I have the urge to say that I can fashion up the same dish in my kitchen but that's just me. Others make a beeline for Seoul Soul's teriyaki chicken meal buckets only available during dinner time - its neo-Seoul industrial-theme that felt slightly misfitting in daylight would be more on point. I would say: Go for this only if you really like Korean food.
Seoul Soul
315 High Street
Northcote VIC 3070

4. Shop at A Quirk of Fate
A Quirk of Fate Northcote  - Melbourne Suburb Checklist (8 Must-Dos!)

There are a couple of similar shops but A Quirk of Fate is one of the more notable ones with its impressive array of whimsical products. It sure got me lost in a reverie in there. Get ready to shop to your hearts' content to search for souvenirs (yourself or others). Zip in and out of these shops!
A Quirk of Fate
289 High Street
Northcote VIC 3070

5. Big Dreams
Big Dreams Northcote  - Melbourne Suburb Checklist (8 Must-Dos!)


Big Dreams is a children's emporium with all kinds of funky toys, clothes, and entertainment. It transports me back to the era of my childhood and how I wished I had everything in here. It's such a wonderland. Not so friendly to photography.

Big Dreams
269 High Street
Northcote VIC 3070


6. A slice of Indonesia with Yuni's Kitchen
Yuni Kitchen Northcote  - Melbourne Suburb Checklist (8 Must-Dos!)
Yuni Kitchen Northcote  - Melbourne Suburb Checklist (8 Must-Dos!)

My food hunt had me sniffing down Yuni's Kitchen, an Indonesian eatery that is tucked away in a church. The hosts were extremely welcoming to any random guest that wandered in (not really, I followed Google Maps), surprised that anyone actually can find it. I had a chicken mei goreng at a ridiculously priced 12 bucks (don't mind me, we pay an equivalent of 4 bucks back where I stay) and hence had way higher expectations than I should. I found it fairly decent, hitting the right notes where it should, slightly sweeter than I would liked it to be, but the fresh chilli was unbelievable good. Overall, it's pretty good with impeccably friendly service and a satisfying meal. Moral of the story, don't proportionately equate Urbanspoon/Zomato's ratings and price to its delicious-o-meter. 

Yuni's Kitchen
251 High Street
Northcote VIC 3070

7. Organic Grocery Store
Organic Food Store, High Street, Northcote  - Melbourne Suburb Checklist (8 Must-Dos!)
Organic Food Store, High Street, Northcote  - Melbourne Suburb Checklist (8 Must-Dos!)
Organic Food Store, High Street, Northcote  - Melbourne Suburb Checklist (8 Must-Dos!)
Organic Food Store, High Street, Northcote  - Melbourne Suburb Checklist (8 Must-Dos!)

Make a mark on your map: this is a must-go. This organic grocery store is packed to its brim on weekends, and its queue snakes all around the narrow aisles of the shop. 
'Why is this place so popular?' I casually asked a middle-aged women loading boxes of flax seeds onto her basket. For a while, she seemed perturbed by the question as if she never really realized that it was extraordinary. (It is, by the way. The rest of Northcote is very peaceful, but it's a consumption nightmare in there)
'Oh. The organic food here is really cheap. So much cheaper and better than the rest of Melbourne.' Aha.
'Do people travel all the way here to buy organic food?' I try to keep the incredulity out of my voice like a deserving social science major.

'Not me. I live around this area, but I know some of my friends does. She live all the way at Richmond.'
Looking at people fervently buying organic bananas, carrots and gluten-free something, I felt like a fish out of water not knowing what to buy. The selection is crazy. I shall come back when I feel more health-conscious.

Organic Food Store
103 High Street
Northcote VIC 3070

8. Catch a movie at Palace Westgarth Cinemas

Palace Westgarth Cinemas NorthcotePalace Westgarth Cinemas Northcote
I think I've been to enough regular cinemas to say... this is the most comfortable cinema I've ever been in. Wide berth for arm rests, no weirdly angled neck rests, and beautiful surround sound. Swing by to find out what it is like to catch a movie in Melbourne. This is probably the perfect winter activity where you actually get really comfortable in there. Wonderful, homely and non-intrusive service here at Westgarth. Love it.
Palace Westgarth Cinemas
89 High Street
Northcote VIC 3070


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I share interesting episodes in life revolving around food, lifestyle, travel and inspirational ideas. If you would like to stay in touch, follow me on my Instagram on @spherepiece and Facebook page! 

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