Down Ballarat’s laneways and streets are a treasure trove of hidden gems just waiting to be discovered – if you know where to look.
Hydrant Food Hall
3 McKenzie St, Ballarat
Tucked away down a CBD laneway with minimal signage, Hydrant Food Hall’s industrial aesthetic makes for a warm and character-filled environment.
Husband and wife team Sam and Elise Rowe serve up a mean modern Australian menu in this renovated brick warehouse.
Along with the Hydrant’s name, dishes such as The Big Pipe (bacon, eggs, thyme mushrooms, roasted tomato, beans, halloumi, smashed peas and sourdough) pay tribute to the building’s former life as a fire hydrant store in the 1950s.
Vegas & Rose
Lane Street, Brown Hill
They say when one door closes, another door opens. For Vegas & Rose’s Penthea Marshall-Radcliffe, that new door is a lovely shade of pink.
“We previously had a cafe on Humffray Street North for five years,” Penthea said. “We decided to close that two years ago to find that work/life balance, but I missed baking and kept bumping into customers from our cafe days.”
“It got me thinking, why not start operating from home and get into catering and delivering lunchboxes, donuts and brownies all over Ballarat? Our home kitchen is registered with the council and we went from there. People order from our online shop and pick up their orders from us at the pink door.”
Keep an eye on Vegas & Rose’s Instagram and Facebook accounts for pink door opening times and menu updates.
3 Doveton Street North, Ballarat
Blink and you’ll miss Underbar’s nondescript facade. You might even be mistaken for thinking the building is long closed, shut off from the rest of the world.
But that’s all part of the buzz around this 12-seat restaurant, which is open only Friday and Saturday nights and booked out months in advance.
Chef Derek Boath has spent more than 20 years working in some of the world’s top eateries, including three Michelin star New York restaurant Per Se.
Derek works with local purveyors and natural ingredients foraged from the Ballarat region to create his Insta-worthy set-course tasting menu.
404 Raglan Street South, Ballarat
After operating in busy Sturt Street for many years, you can now find Australia Fare nestled away in a residential area a couple of blocks back from the main drag.
Known for its homemade pies, cakes and slices, the bakery is open Thursdays and Fridays 3pm-6pm plus Saturdays 10am-12pm.
Food is Free Laneway
Corner of Ripon Street South and Warrior Place, Ballarat
While on the southside of town, stop by Food Is Free Laneway or the nearby Food Is Free Green Space (corner of Ripon Street South and Urquhart Street).
The grassroots Food is Free Inc’s core purpose is assisting and promoting food security and community cohesion and inclusion.
As the name suggests, all of the nutritious veggies, fruit, herbs and seeds at the sites are free for the taking thanks to the generosity of local gardeners and producers.