It’s been happening for a couple of years now. Smart restaurateurs and bar owners got in early, snapping up prime spots when others were still wondering whether it would really take off. But Smith Street, still a little rough around the edges, continues to flourish.
There are plenty of kebab shops from end to the other, but George Calombaris’s Jimmy Grants – rhymes with immigrants, geddit – is probably the schmickest souvlaki joint from here to Athens.
Artist David Wenn has painted a DC3 and the Patris, a ship that carried migrants from Europe to Australia on the walls. There’s a small area at the front of the shop and seats at the bar out the back.
Everyone’s talking about the Patris on the menu – a souvlaki of prawns, honey, mayonnaise, cucumber, mint and coriander – but before a night out (or at the end of a long one), tuck into a Mr Papadopoulos featuring lamb, chips, mustard aioli, onions and parsley. The fluffy, fresh pita is worth the price of admission alone.
Hailing from another part of the world completely is Po’Boy Quarter, a cute eatery from the Gumbo Kitchen food truck folk. Nawlins jazz pumps over the stereo and po’boys – crusty bread rolls stuffed with deep-fried shrimp, pulled pork or cajun catfish – come out of the kitchen.
If you’re feeling particularly under the weather, attack the Dom, a pile of chips covered in beef debris (beef cooked right down in a gravy), cajun mayo and pickles. The closed doors at the rear of the diner lead out to a bar, due to open in November. Sazerac, anyone?
Just across the road, Smith Street Alimentari – sibling to next door’s Gorski & Jones and the much-loved Brunswick Street Alimentari – is due to open very soon, serving up piadinis, ciabattas and wraps.
Also on the any-day-now agenda is Lee Ho Fook, a posh Chinese joint boasting chef Victor Liong (formerly of Sydney’s Mr Wong) on the old Boire site.
Daily 11am – 10pm
113 Saint David Street, Fitzroy
T: (03) 9416 0060
Daily 11am – 11pm
295 Smith Street, Fitzroy
(03) 9419 2130
Smith Street Alimentari
302 Smith Street, Collingwood
Lee Ho Fook
92 Smith Street, Collingwood