The Age Good Food Under $30 award winners 2014

The Age Good Food Under $30 guide.
The Age Good Food Under $30 guide. 

EFTPOS BEST RESTAURANT

B'Stilla, South Yarra

With its share-happy format and layers of flavour, Moroccan food finds a new groove at B'Stilla, with cranked funk tunes, an all-weather front deck and dishes with delicate details. Try a terracotta dish of fresh, white cod fillet with a paper-thin crisp skin on zesty chermoula, or perhaps a chocolate mousse dessert with a festival of elements including coffee jelly, amaranth wafers and cinnamon creme fraiche. The brainchild of Jason Jones (Mamasita), B'Stilla is an always classy and, cor-blimey, affordable restaurant.

VILLA MARIA NEW ZEALAND BEST NEW RESTAURANT

Dainty Sichuan, Box Hill

The pioneers of Sichuan cuisine push further with this, their third Dainty Sichuan, being the first restaurant in Melbourne to offer individual hotpots where every diner gets their own induction cooker, broth and dunkables. Fun, fun, fun.

TRAVELLER COUNTRY CHAMP

The Forge, Ballarat

This hopping bare-brick warehousey pizza place turns out wood-fired, charry-chewy pizzas with dozens of topping combos, from textbook (margherita) to new classics like the Blacksmith: pork sausage, mozzarella, mushroom, garlic and parsley.

BREAKFAST SPOT OF THE YEAR

Hammer & Tong, Fitzroy

In a skinny, stepped space with vintage-industrial charm, Hammer & Tong delivers fine-dining flair on a cafe budget. Dip fontina briont soldiers into duck egg. Slurp breakfast ramen, or try a chewy rye bagel with kale, smoked rainbow trout, poached eggs and nori hollandaise.

BAR MENU OF THE YEAR

Bomba, Melbourne

An observation post at Spanish-inspired bar Bomba lets you watch staff flirt, mix manzanilla martinis and deliver plates of king prawn pil pil, charry lamb chops and tomato-rubbed bread.

BEST VALUE

Binh Minh, Richmond

Two courses for under $30? Try seven. Vic Street's Binh Minh has been loved a long time for its bargain Vietnamese/pan-Asian menu. Its five banquets (including veg) for two to four people cost less than $30 a head, and they’re a steal.

SUSTAINABLE PRACTICE CHAMP

Hawthorn Common, Hawthorn

It uses a whizz-bang composter, and buys local produce – including herbs from beds it installed at the local primary school. Most everything is made from scratch – producing healthier, wholefood eating, with less waste. Not so common after all.

VEGETARIAN OF THE YEAR

Yong Green Food, Fitzroy

It's doubled in size, expanding into next door, since winning this award in 2012. But this jumping place's ranging menu continues to cover raw, vegan and Ayurvedic, as well as Mexican, American, Japanese, Korean and Thai – to name a few.

DAILY LIFE HALL OF FAME

Moroccan Soup Bar, Fitzroy North

When Moroccan Soup Bar was Cheap Eats Champ in 2005 its three-course banquet cost $16.50. Almost a decade later, it's still amazing value at $20: all dishes are vegetarian, warmly spiced and generously portioned. Let's raise a glass of mint tea to 16 years.

3-star winners

The following venues scored 18-20 out of a possible 20 points and are bestowed three stars.

MELBOURNE
Bar Nacional
Bomba
Chin Chin
Fomo Thai
The Grain Store
Mamak
Mamasita
Nama Nama
Ombra

INNER SOUTH & BAYSIDE
Chez Dre
The Petty Officer
Salford Lads Club
Station Street Trading Co

ST KILDA
Radio Mexico

INNER SOUTH-EAST
B'Stilla
Colonel Tan's
Hobba
Mr Miyagi
Two Birds One Stone

INNER EAST
Demitri's Feast
Three Bags Full

INNER NORTH & WEST
Auction Rooms
Bistro K
Carlton Espresso
Hammer & Tong
Horn Please
Jimmy Grants
Rockwell & Sons
Small Victories
Smith Street Alimentari
Yong Green Food
Young Bloods Diner

SOUTH-EAST
Bistro Goemon
Bombay by Night
Merchants Guild
True South

EAST
Dainty Sichuan
Hawthorn Common
Izakaya Jiro
Life on Mars
Ora Specialty Coffee

NORTH
Bar Idda
Lolo & Wren
The Moor's Head
Pope Joan
Wide Open Road

WEST
The Premises

OUTER SOUTH-EAST
Fat Bob's Bar & Grill

HILLS & YARRA VALLEY
A Boy Named Sue
Amanda's Cafe
The General Food Store

GEELONG & BELLARINE PENINSULA
Elk Horn Road House
Piknik
Warren & Hutch

GREAT OCEAN ROAD
Wye River General Store

CENTRAL VICTORIA
Apple Annie's
Breakfast & Beer
Dhaba at the Mill
Du Fermier
The Forge Pizzeria
Lucky Strike
Naam Pla Thai Kitchen
Taste of the Orient
Wombat Hill House

The Age Good Food Under $30 will be available for $5 with The Saturday Age on March 1 from participating newsagents, while stocks last. It will also be available in selected bookshops and online at theageshop.com.au for $9.99.