Reader Report: Gluten-Free Melbourne, Australia

Australia is one place I’ve dreamed about visiting for years. Whenever I do finally make it there, Stuart Holding’s advice about Melbourne will come in very handy. Thanks so much to Stuart for writing this wonderful report!

Stuart’s Report on Melbourne

Travelling to Melbourne? Perhaps you live here and crave for that perfect pizza?

Well, I’ve been living as a diagnosed coeliac (celiac) for around 5 or 6 years now and have noticed a marked increase in both awareness and understanding in recent years around Melbourne. I’m no expert on the topic, but I’ve spoken at length with Australia’s leading dietician, researcher and cookbook author on the subject in Sue Shepherd from Shepherd Works. The first thing I can recommend is to get a hold of her cookbooks. They have wonderfully simple recipes and have taken me back to the tastes of some of my old favourite dishes that were once forgotten (post diagnosis).

Most wait staff in restaurants in Melbourne will understand exactly what you mean when you tell them you have coeliacs disease and require a gluten-free meal, and more and more are indicating on their menus which dishes are gluten-free. However, some places I’ve come across show some dishes as gluten-free yet omit some that are naturally gluten-free, so don’t necessarily just order what they say is gluten-free.

Some of my favourite restaurants around Melbourne are below, but I’ve had to keep the list quite brief. If you’re visiting Melbourne as a tourist you’ll likely find a great place to eat in one of Melbourne’s famous laneways that will happily cater for your needs. Just be sure to remind the waiter and don’t assume they know!

Quite simply the best pizza in Melbourne (and that includes all of the famous Lygon Street Italian eateries) is Pizza Farro in Thornbury about 20 minutes on the #86 tram to the north. Vince and Evette are the proprietors and specialize in spelt (non GF) and gluten-free pizzas. They are traditional Italian pizzas in a quaint family-run restaurant setting. Tell them I sent you — they mightn’t give you any discount, but they’ll look after you.

A recently opened “forward thinking answer to the emerging popularity and awareness of authentic Mexican food and beverage” in Melbourne Central Business District (CBD) is Mamasita’s. It’s a Mexican restaurant that serves more traditional tacos, quesadillas, tostitas, etc. Everything on the menu is gluten-free! And the sangria isn’t half bad either.

One of the things I miss most since eating gluten-free is a good “Parma and Pot.” An Australian pub meal at its best! Mrs Parma’s in Melbourne’s CBD specialize in “Parmas” (chicken, veal or vegetarian parmigianas) and offer their entire menu in a gluten-free option. They also stock locally brewed beer O’Briens Pale Ale or O’Briens Lager to help wash down the meal. It’s a must-try, but it’s not the cheapest Parma you’ll find at around $20-$25.

A favourite breakfast treat is located in North Melbourne called Fraus. It’s a creperie and hot chocolate café and all of their gallettes are gluten-free and make for a great substitute to traditional bacon and eggs on toast.