Sonia Bandera – eat & drink insider knowledge

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Sonia Bandera was the Australian young waiter 2013 and is senior sommelier at Rockpool Bar and Grill in Melbourne. Check out the places Sonia says are her favourite in her home town.

favourite coffee spots

Alimentari, Fitzroy
the coffee is always great and it’s the perfect place to grab a sandwich or some salad with a coffee to take away or have there

Persillade, East Melbourne
aren’t really a coffee shop per se but their coffee is just so good it has to get a mention

Small Victories, Carlton North
staff are lovely and the coffee is too

All that said, it’s pretty hard to go wrong with a coffee in Melbourne!

favourite casual eateries

Ici, Fitzroy
because service and food always over deliver

Babka, Fitzroy
because they have the best Sandwiches in Melbourne, the staff seem pretty happy to be there and you can pick up a loaf of the best bread in Melbourne while you’re there. (The cakes are pretty tempting too)

Alimentari, Fitzroy
I love grabbing some of their take away muesli with compote and yoghurt on my way to work. They always have great salad, great coffee and friendly and smiley staff. (Plus I then get to duck to the organic grocer next door)

favourite restaurants

Movida, Melbourne
because I just love that style of dining, the intimate dining room always creates the perfect environment for good conversation and the food is authentic. I love sitting up at the bar area the most

Hu-Tong, Melbourne
because they have the best dumplings in town.

Brae, Birregarra
because it’s faultless

favourite bars

Black Pearl/The Attic, Fitzroy
you won’t find more knowledgeable bar tenders this side of the equator. I always learn something when I’m there, they’re friendly, they make sure their patrons are happy and I just love watching them work their magic and enjoying the end result. Hands down my favourite bar in Melbourne

The Everleigh, Fitzroy
pretty much for the same reasons above. They’re solely table service based which means you can only really go in with a small group of people which can be quite nice. The staff are great at guiding you towards a drink you’ll enjoy. I always like telling them what spirits I feel like and what cocktails I normally enjoy and then letting them work their magic so they can teach me when they bring it over. Very sharp, professional staff

Hihou, Melbourne
a Japanese bar for grown ups where the staff do everything with aplomb. This bar has my favourite view in Melbourne and is possibly the best looking bar as well. They have a unique offering of Japanese spirits which I have quite the penchant for. It’s cosy, sophisticated and the bar snacks are pretty tasty too!

favourite markets

The Vegetable Co., Brunswick St, Fitzroy
Great Organic produce and helpful staff

Little Saigon, Footscray
for great fresh seafood and asian fruit and veg

The Mushroom Stall, Prahan Market
alway has the best in season mushrooms

favourite interstate restaurants

The Bridge Room, Sydney
best Lunch spot in Sydney. Love the dining room, everything there is meticulous

Bistro Dom, Adelaide
Duncan always has something honest and interesting to offer

Ethos Eat Drink, Hobart
for fresh produce and fresh ideas. The young wine lady is a talent to keep your eye on as well

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