What do you call a place that’s a deli, grocery store, dry-foods-mart, cafe, bakery and corner store all in one? ‘Al Alamy’ would pretty much sum it up, which means ‘world of foods’ in Arabic. And that’s exactly what Al Alamy is: an enticing world of just about every imaginable (and unimaginable) Middle Eastern foodstuff.
This unassuming spot has been sitting just off Bell Street in Coburg for about five years now, serving everyone from penny-pinching hungry students to Melbourne’s elite gastronomes. (We’re sworn to secrecy, but can assure you that quite a few well-known Melbourne restaurateurs shop here.)
Ahmed the super-friendly manager will give you a taste of practically anything in the shop just because he loves sharing foods that most people would never have tried before. Last time we were there he practically forced us to sample a fig-paste sausage, which was an entirely new experience.
Easily among the best-value food in Melbourne, the $2 pizzas – YES $2 PIZZAS – are beyond words. You can get traditional toppings, or try the excellent meat with chilli and lemon or the amazing zataar variety.
It’s a good spot for a strong coffee too: have a cup inside, savouring all the heady spice aromas, or sit outside and watch the endless variety of Coburg life go by.
Other delectable edibles on offer include Turkish fairy floss, baklava, halva, nuts, dried fruits, goji berries, stuffed vine leaves, chutneys, sauces, grains, spices and a whole load of other Middle Eastern produce that you never knew existed – which is where Ahmed comes into his own in this very special world.
51 Waterfield St, Coburg
(03) 9355 8866
Open Mon–Sat 7am–9pm, Sun 7am–7pm