Vegan resto co-owner Mo Wyse takes us to her fave places along the city High Street
Once a quiet suburb of Italian and Greek immigrants, Northcote in Melbourne’s inner-north has blossomed into a thriving hub for artists, musicians, creatives and families who take great pride in their neighborhood’s progressive, bohemian reputation. It’s home to cozy bars, quirky boutiques and bustling marketplaces where you can still hear nonnas (grandmothers) shouting orders in Italian. Mo Wyse — co-owner of Melbourne’s much-loved Smith & Daughters vegan restaurant and neighborhood shop Smith & Deli and co-author of Smith & Deli-cious: Deli Food (That Happens to be Vegan) — takes us to her favorite places along Northcote’s High Street.
10am: Jumpstart your day at Penny Farthing Espresso
A hideout for freelancers and Sunday brunchers with trendy toddlers in tow, the café’s light-filled front room, long communal tables and sunny courtyard makes you instantly feel at home. Mo comes especially for the filter coffee from Industry Beans, local coffee-roasters who specialize in small batch seasonal blends and single origin coffee. Try a breakfast of smashed “avo” (avocado) on toast too — it’s a Melbourne thing. pennyfarthingespresso.com
11am: Pick up something nice at A Quirk of Fate
Every single item in the bright, colorful shop has been carefully selected by owner Kylie Harker. “I stock things I really love, and I like supporting local designers and small businesses,” she says. You’ll find a stunning selection of cooking and lifestyle books (including Mo’s), unique pieces by Australian designers like Melbourne clothing label Kuwaii, vegan nail polish by Kester Black and a reusable coffee cup by Frank Green to take on your travels. “It’s the best place for people who are hard to buy for because there’s something for everyone,” says Mo. fb.com/aquirkoffate
1pm: Lunch at Tahina
A lot of places do falafel in Melbourne but vegetarian Israeli street food joint Tahina does it right. “I go out of my way to come here. The monkey salad is the best,” says Mo. It has quinoa, roasted sweet potato, corn, broccoli and avocado topped with spiced dukkha chickpeas and tahini dill dressing. The roast eggplant with kale chips, color-coded pita pockets and green warrior smoothie are also too good to pass up. But it’s the condiment bar that really makes this place — a complimentary offering of pita, hummus and hot peppers while you wait. tahinabar.com
2pm: Step back in time at Palace Westgarth Cinema
Built in 1921, the Palace Westgarth Cinema has retained the Art Deco charm and character. “There’s something about old cinemas… the smell, the feel, the history. It makes me happy that people still choose coming here over the mainstream cinemas,” says Mo. Known for showcasing foreign, classic and arthouse films alongside the current blockbusters, the Palace also has an outdoor cinema in the courtyard for those perfect summers. Try the vegan-friendly popcorn (cooked with olive oil, instead of butter). palacecinemas.com.au/cinemas/westgarth
4pm: Pre-loved pages at Brown and Bunting
Say hi to Olive the shop cat before scouring the shelves of Brown and Bunting, a second-hand bookstore specializing in rare and valuable publications and books you can no longer find in regular bookstores. There are sections dedicated to art, literature, cooking, children and travel. “You’ll come in here not knowing what you’re looking for, but there’s no way you’ll leave empty-handed,” Mo says. brownandbunting.com.au
5pm: Chill at Joe’s Shoe Store
Before it was a bar, Joe’s, a beloved neighborhood watering hole, was — no surprise here — a shoe store. The wine and beer are all either made locally in Victoria or by small-batch, independent producers around Australia. Joe’s infuse their own tequila with jalapeños, which you can taste in their perfectly balanced spicy margarita. After some chill time at the beautiful wood-paneled bar, lulled by tunes from their vinyl collection, settle into one of their coveted booth seats for an early dinner of pizza (brought in from Pizza Meine Leibe, right next door).
7pm: Dessert at Black Waffle
Black Waffle is a standout dessert bar, especially if you’re looking for gelato — everything’s made in-house and half of their gelato selection is dedicated to creamy vegan options. “I usually go for the vegan caramel crunch in a black waffle cone,” Mo says, but today it’s all about berries. Black Waffle also offers amazing non-vegan gelato. instagram.com/blackwafflemelbourne
9pm: Catch a live band at Northcote Social Club
A neighborhood icon, Northcote Social Club is the best place for live music on almost any night of the week, where local musicians and foreign acts perform in an intimate band room backed by an atmospheric bar. “It’s still a place where you can see your friends play,” says Mo. “And it’s a very Northcote experience.” northcotesocialclub.com
8am: Escape to nature on Merri Creek Bush Trail
A winding, 21km trail through Melbourne’s inner-north, the trail, perfect for long quiet walks, features parks along the way that are great for picnics with friends or for relaxing as you listen to the babbling creek. “We’re so lucky to have a place like this where you can clear your head, be in nature, see the birds and still be in the city,” says Mo.
9am: Stock up on health foods at Terra Madre
One of the largest and most well-stocked health food stores in the city has everything from fresh fruit and vegetables, whole grain breads and cereals, gluten-free and vegan snacks and seeds, spices and nuts in bulk. “I think the biggest issue with traveling is the waste you create. But here, you can bring takeaway containers or your own little bags and fill them up with beautiful, locally sourced organic food for the rest of your trip.” terramadre.com.au
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Meet the locals: Diana Ferrante of Black Waffle
Why did you start a dessert bar?
Diana: My co-owners, Jess and Ahmed, and I are a bunch of young adults with lots of passion. Rather than working long hours for an employer we thought: why not do that for ourselves with the creative freedom?
Why vegan gelato?
Diana: Jess is vegan so it was always important for her to have outstanding vegan options on our menu, and we knew how hard it was to find quality vegan gelato in Melbourne. It’s a balance and a long process to make vegan gelato. But the vegan gelato we make is so creamy — it’s impossible to tell the difference between our vegan options and regular gelato.
What should we try?
Diana: Lemon shortbread waffle — two Belgium waffles topped with lemon gelato and raspberry purée.
This article first appeared in the September 2018 issue of Smile magazine.