2010 UPDATE: EL GRAN CAFE ON LONSDALE ST HAS BEEN REPLACED WITH MADAM KAYES PLATZ WITH A MALAYSIAN THEME. I just noticed this while walking past and fell over all the tables and chairs out front. Nothing struck me as particularly good value for money and Madam Kayes after my quick glance at the menu board while brushing myself off. El Gran is now located in South Melbourne on St Kilda Rd. I can't say if my original post below is still accurate. If anyone has tried El Gran in it's new location please comment.
The irony of the Beef Filled Arepa is that it is the cow that ends up inside the corn. Arepas are a corn bread which can be stuffed with a filling a bit like we would fill a pita bread. El Gran Cafe offers an authentic taste of South America off busy Lonsdale St in Melbourne. For $7.95, they offer a range of Arepa hot fillings you can choose from. The uninitiated gringo visiting here for the first time won't know what fillings to order for their Arepa without asking the staff. Upon request, they will produce a handwritten list of fillings from which you can choose. I ordered the Beef with Cheese Arepa for lunch (pictured). Interesting, but I found the beef to be a little stringy. I'm still flossing it out that evening. I'd be prepared to give the Arepa concept another try with perhaps the Chicken and Avocado next time. Other Latin American discoveries are Empanadas $4 (looking a bit like a pastie) or Spanish Frittata $5.95.
The best value lunch has to be the Pasta Dishes for only $4.95. Behind the glass counter you'll find little white bowls of pasta ready to be heated and served. Not huge, but just about the right size for a light lunch. Be early for those.
Breakfast also can't be overlooked. The most simple fare is raisin toast for $2 a slice. Thickly cut it's served with strawberry jam. A bagel is $4.50. Coffee is $3.60. Tea $3. There are all manner of traditional and contemporary hot breakfasts ranging in price between $9 and $16.
El Gran Cafe
South American food.
Open 7 days for breakfast and lunch.
139 Lonsdale St
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