When people rave about the chic cafes and bars in Melbourne’s mysterious laneways, they are usually talking about Centre Place. It’s turned up in television advertisements for Melbourne, but it’s also the people’s laneway, covered in graffiti – and crammed with bargainista places to grab lunch.

Centre Place is that fabulously cluttered laneway that we all discovered on our first trip to Melbourne –  and then promptly lost forever. It can be tricky to find, tucked away between Flinders Lane and Collins Street. One way to familiarise yourself is through a taster tour online:

Take a virtual tour, pick up a map, and see two amazing panoramic views of Centre Place before you go. http://panedia.com/virtualtour/content/3593, http://panedia.com/virtualtour/content/3592

Our tip: Find the enormous shopping centre on Collins Street (Australia on Collins) then look over the road. See that very ordinary-looking arcade full of shops? That leads straight to the narrow, winding, gloomy slice of culinary heaven known as Centre Place.

Truly hungry but on a budget? Try The Soup Place at 14 Centre Place for home-made bowls of chowder, meatballs or minestrone for under AUD$10.

Because so many Melbourne locals take their working day lunch-break here, you can expect prices in Centre Place to range from reasonable to downright low – expect panini, sandwiches, sushi, pasta or soup – along with excellent coffee and Victorian wine. It’s not gourmet, but if you’re tired of walking and shopping, this is the laneway to sink into.

The Aix Cafe Creperie at 24 Centre Place has deliciously light pancakes for lunch.

Our favourite Centre Place standby is Hell’s Kitchen. You will find it  upstairs at 20 Centre Place. It’s easy to miss the doorway, so look upwards for the big neon red love heart sign.  Climb the stairs to a lovely birds’-nest perch (often populated by the music industry).

Not only can you gaze through the windows down at the crowds below in a smug fashion, you can also wallow in retro 1970s chic. The menu is good and basic. And the cocktails are frankly  great.
Centre Place is not Melbourne’s hippest laneway. But it’s a welcome stretch of bargainista breakfast, lunch, bar and dinner heaven in the city, for those in the know.

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Holiday Goddess. Travel for Less.