As the steady march of inner-city gentrification heads north, culturally diverse Coburg has been given a makeover.
Back in the mid-1800s this neighbourhood was called Pentridge, but with the arrival of HM Prison Pentridge it was renamed to avoid the stigma of being known primarily as a place where criminals were sent. These days, it’s hard to tell where Brunswick ends and Coburg begins as you head up Sydney Road. Middle Eastern bakeries and restaurants, like Zaatar, where dishes like kefta pie, filled with beef, tomato, onion, parsley and spices, and grilled haloumi wrapped in zaatar bread are popular. Duck around the corner into Munro Street and you’ll find True North, a cosy, rustic spot with sweet and savoury options for breakfast and lunch. Who could resist the Double R pancakes, with cherry pie pancakes, lemon custard, sweet pie crust cookies and orange?
Walk off a full stomach along Merri Creek. Where the creek widens, you’ll find Coburg Lake Reserve, a popular spot where there’s a playground, walking trail and plenty of spots to stretch out on the lawn beside the water for a break.
Afterwards, head to Present Story for a special gift or something to brighten your home. Owner Linda Whiteside has carefully selected a number of local artists, craftspeople and wholesalers to present a covetable range of homewares, candles, skincare, jewellery and more, with new products arriving every week. Another interesting spot is Vasili’s Garden. Run by TV presenter Vasili Kanidiadis, it’s a garden centre that aims to help people live healthy, sustainable lives. There’s also a cafe on site
If you’re after fresh produce, head to Sydney Road’s Coburg Markets. As well as fresh fruit and vegetables, there’s a delicatessen, bakery, butcher fishmonger, florist and more. Basically, it’s a one-stop shop for everything you could need for your pantry. And the prices are great, so don’t forget to pop a few shopping sacks and a cooler bag in the car before you leave.
It’s been a busy day, so it’s time to think about dinner. Coburger & Co, with its exposed brick wall, long timber tables and neon hamburger artwork, is popular with just about everyone looking for a good-value meal. You can grab a beer and any number of American-style burgers, including the Makin’ Bacon Duplex (double beef, double cheese, double bacon) and KFC (Korean fried chicken) burger.
Two of the best restaurants in Coburg also happen to be located in great pubs. The Post Office Hotel is a renovation of a classic old boozer that breathes new life into its Art Deco walls. There’s a cosy lounge bar, live music in the front bar from Thursday to Saturday and a dining hall, where you can order juicy steaks, pizzas and dishes like mussels in chilli sugo and mushroom risotto. Further up Sydney Road, another tarted-up pub, The Woodlands Hotel (it’s Moreland’s oldest), is popular for its craft beers and leafy garden. You can eat the mod-Oz cuisine at the bar or head upstairs to the Alice in Wonderland-style dining room. Steak is a specialty, but there are also burgers, pasta and curry.