As one of the largest migrant communities in Victoria, Dandenong is also en route to becoming one of Melbourne’s most exciting culinary destinations. With streets colloquially known as Little Everythings — from Little India to Little Afghanistan — Dandenong is an around-the-world trip that can be accomplished in a day. Over 150 nationalities thrive in this postcode, living side-by-side and adding to the diverse community tapestry with their own unique cultural contributions.
Ginger Jones is proving that Zone 2 is more than capable of competing on the cool café front. Housed in a semi-industrial, wholly contemporary setting, this on-trend café — with its smart menu and consistently excellent coffee — is up there with the best of what Melbourne has to offer.
Dandenong Pavilion is on the bucket list of die-hard burger fans the world over. These are the kinds of burgers you need two hands and a whole stack of napkins to eat; the kind that you’ll finish, no matter how full you are, because they’re that good. Word to the wise: ask for the secret burger menu, so you can feel exclusive and gloriously greasy all at once.
Representative of Dandenong’s uniquely vibrant culture — specialising in multicultural flavours with a cosmopolitan twist — A1 Bakery delivers authentic Lebanese pizzas and pies in a bustling space that is half café, half Middle Eastern grocer. While the food looks simple enough, classic combinations — such as the cheese and spinach pies — are taken to new heights by a skilled team of bakers who won’t settle for anything less than perfection.
Afghan Rahimi Restaurant was one of the first Afghan restaurants in Dandenong, but since opening in 2001 it has triggered a cultural revolution. Mesmerising locals with the heady scent of spices wafting down Thomas Street and successfully converting them to the region’s cuisine with its bold and authentic flavours, this street is now a haven for Afghani restauranteurs catering to the newly acquired cravings of the local community.
With a range of more than 300 cakes and 50 bread varieties, Polish Rye Crust Bakery is proving that quality and quantity don’t have to be mutually exclusive. Working from a small, deceptively low-key space, this powerhouse family is serving the large local Eastern European community with their authentic Polish offerings — and winning multiple awards along the way.
In Melbourne’s competitive culinary climate, it takes something great to withstand the test of time. Which means Dandenong’s Albion Hotel must be doing something right, considering it’s been in business since 1891. Whether it’s the hearty pub food, the thoughtful drinks list, the friendly service or the warm ambience that has made this pub such a local institution — well, you’ll have to decide that for yourself.
Dandenong’s educational institutions are successful in both the traditional and non-traditional sense. While Dandenong Primary School and Dandenong High School are exemplary in their high academic achievement, they also foster strong and supportive student cultures; environments in which all students are empowered to succeed.
Be you bargain hunter, treasure seeker or food lover, Dandenong Markets is a world of delights waiting to be discovered. As a place where you can talk to friendly stall-holders — who always seem to find time between customers to swap recipes and walk you through how produce was grown — the marketplace is reminiscent of a time when grocery shopping was a pleasant pursuit; one that allowed the forging of connections within the community.
Both celebrating and enhancing the local community with a beautifully curated selection of Australian art, Walker Street Gallery is the vibrant home of creativity in Dandenong and surrounds.
Dandenong Library is less a library than it is a home away from home. So much more than books, this massive community space offers computers, widescreen televisions, various reading nooks, spaces for children and beanbags to lose yourself in.
A 6 cinema complex in the heart of Dandenong Plaza — offers a full line-up of blockbuster films in both 2D and 3D. Combining big city offerings with small town prices, Reading makes it easy to keep up to date with Hollywood.
Consolidating Dandenong as a vibrant hub for the arts, Drum Theatre is a heritage icon that draws audiences from all over Melbourne. As a 521 seat, state-of-the-art performing arts theatre, ‘The Drum’ is dedicated to making creative activities accessible to the whole community as well as providing support for local artists.