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Best Melbourne Markets - Dandenong Market Tour

If you live in Melbourne and haven't visited Dandenong Market then you must. This is one of the great foodie destinations of Melbourne, with a unique personality and 150 nationalities under one roof. Each market in Melbourne has its strengths but there are many attributes of Dandenong Market you don't get anywhere else.

We were invited on a tour of Dandenong Market with the irrepressible Tim Hollands, chef and consultant, as our tour guide. Tim is charasmatic and represents Australia on the big stage in terms of promoting our Australian produce internationally. As a passionate foodie, Tim loves to take food tours when he's in Melbourne at Dandenong Market.

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A media group was keen to explore the delights of Dandenong Market. Free Food Discovery Tours are a feature of Dandenong Market and are one of the great foodie things to do in Melbourne; running Tuesdays and Fridays for one hour and include scrumptious food samples from market traders.

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First stop was Why Not? Wooden Bakery which bakes traditional Lebanese pizza and pasties of various flavours, all baked daily and while you wait. We were privileged to taste the house specialty "zaatar" pastry of thyme, sesame seed, olive oil on a pizza base. Also popular are Rhonda's traditional Lebanese meat pizzas. Help me Rhonda!

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Dandenong Market. Is there a more muticultural market in Melbourne? Is there a more authentic market? Is there a more affordable market? After all markets around the world are meant to be affordable. They are meant to be bustling hubs of community. And is there a market in Melbourne that captures a bustling sense of community more than Dandenong market? Dandenong Market is not a predictable market but full of surprises.

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Slovenian-born Joza Hart has been producing honey from Lilydale for many years. His 600 portable beehives are located across Victoria, allowing him to offer a wide range of honey. A honey specialist. Of course we tasted his wares, with my favourite being Leatherwood honey. Think Yellow Box, Iron Bark, Stringybark, Mixed Blossom and Red Gum honey.

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Dandenong Market is a true bustling market with locals flocking. Over 5.2 million people visit Dandenong Market a year, more than South Melbourne Market and Prahran Market.

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Batory Continental Deli brings a slice of Poland to Australia. Check out the lines for fresh and traditional custom small goods. This was a popular tasting among our group! Polish sausage baby! Batory Continental Deli specialises in 
Polish and Hungarian meats and sausages made by local butchers. Cured meats, smoked, air dried or aged. Think pancetta, prosciutto, smoked hams, bresaola, mortadella, speck and coppa. Smallgood heaven!

Did I say unique experiences? Dennis Schwarze from Schwarze Seafoods is a true market personality and third generation trader with the business serving customers since 1930! Dennis handpicks the highest quality seafood from the wholesale makret each day. His range is 90% Ausstralian and 10% New Zealand sourced including fresh oysters, smoked trout and Atlantic Salmon, live mussels and pippies, prawns, live mud crabs and spanner crabs, fresh calamari, octopus, cuttlefish, squid, a large variety of fish fillets, cutlets and whole fish.

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Sam's Spice and Grocery is a standout stall... Where else would you go in Melbourne for such a comprehensive and compelling array of spices? This is a mecca for spice lovers and cooks. Sam also stocks a large selection of rices, olive oils, feta cheese, chutneys, teas, flavourings, Greek-style yoghurt and frozen foods. I loved his front of store display!

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Spice art - we couldn't resist!

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Sam Vavasis and family hve been part of the Dandenong Market for over 40 years. Sam told us on the tour that coming here every day is not really work to him; it's a passion. Decades ago Sam's family set up a small nut cart at the market which has grown over the years to become Peanut Market. Sam also owns Sam's Spice and Grocery - what a success story! Sam is a much loved market identity - he will have a smile ans a compliment for you.

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'M is for Market' by artist Anne Ross is made of bronze, and painted with bright colours, reflecting the vibrant nature of the market.

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Dandee Donuts is an institution in Dandenong Market. It attracts a loyal following from all over Melbourne, with the Bell family serving donuts for over 40 years. Generously they gave all of us on the tour a donut. The secret to Dundee Donut's huge popularity is that they are freshly made - no frozen ingredients here! Cooked on site. Dandee Donuts are also dairy free, egg free, and have no additives (other than in the jam). They use yeast donut dough that is twice raised, giving them a fluffy light texture. All of Dandee Donuts ingredients are Australian grown.

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 Yes please!

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Saccha Cane Juice is another unique experience defining the fabric of Dandenong Market. Enjoyed in over 130 countries sugarcane juice is the quintessential drink to have with any street food. I loved the theatre of this stall with the dramatic cutting of the cane. I also loved the nuances of the flavours - not just straight cane juice but ginger, lime and chilli variations. The theatre continues with the "drum twirls" with the sugar cane. Warm sugar cane drinks are also a thing.

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PiqNiq Hut is a Sri Lankan sensation serving Sri Lankan Street Foods such as devilled chicken, street curry combo, hoppers (bowl shaped pancakes), Lamprais and Kothu Roti which is cooked on the BBQ grill while you wait. Owner and chef Vijay Sivaraj was generous with his tastings for our tour group. Delicious food with some welcome heat and spice. I was eying off the Goat Curry; something I'll have to come back for.

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The Fruit and Veg section is full of fresh, local, seasonal and organic delights. We were given a tasting and it was a joy to bite into an organic Pink Lady apple.

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Dandenong Market is a huge 8,000 square metres. Some 49% of Dandenong Market shoppers speak a language other than English at home.

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 Free range eggs? Duck eggs?

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We visited the Meat, Fish and Deli Hall and stopped by Taza Bread and Afghan Cuisine.

We ended our tour with a delicious meal at Hot Pouch Bar & Dining where I indulged in a large Burrito.

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Thank you to Dandenong market and Brinony from City of Dandenong, as well as Kate & Co and Tim our guide for a fabulous tour.

Dandenong Market is open -

Tuesday   7am - 4pm

Friday      7am - 5pm

Saturday  7am - 4pm

Sunday    10am - 3pm