Chef Shannon Martinez's heart lies in Fitzroy. She was born in the inner-city neighbourhood and it's where you'll find two of her businesses – vegan bar and eatery Smith & Daughters and nearby sister store Smith & Deli.
'I'm such a Melbourne girl,' she says. 'Nothing makes me happier than coming home to Melbourne. It's the easiest city to live in and every neighbourhood has its own vibe.'
For her, Fitzroy has all anyone could want. 'There's always something to do and there's always something new.' It's here she finds the perfect mix for her creativity, balancing the frenetic, social vibe of the hospitality industry, with quiet moments in nature (such as along the nearby Merri Creek trail) and time spent at local farmer's markets, filled with fresh Victorian produce.
Shannon's newest venture, Lona Misa, takes her renowned vegan cuisine south of the river, to Ovolo's South Yarra hotel. She's teamed up with fellow Melbourne chef Ian Curley to create a vegan and vegetarian menu for the hotel restaurant, which pays homage to her Latin roots.
Shannon shares her favourite spots in Melbourne with us.
1. Live music venues and theatres
Shannon reckons Melbourne is spoilt when it comes to live music and loves to catch gigs at venues such as the Tote in Collingwood, which she's been patronising for 20 years. 'When I think of Melbourne, I think of the Tote. It's iconic.' Her other favourite places to rock out include the Corner Hotel in Richmond and the Forum in the CBD. She also loves the architecture of the city's historic Princess Theatre.
2. With Grace
This sustainable salon sells vegan and cruelty-free skincare within their Smith Street shopfront. Shannon commends not only their stellar service, but their care in establishing connections between them and their customers.
3. et al
Melbourne is serious about its fashion and et al design with the city's unique style in mind. The local brand creates timeless garments for all body shapes and sizes, resulting in a cult-like following. Shannon counts herself among its fans, collaborating with the label on a project earlier this year.
4. Chinese cuisine
Shannon reckons Melbourne does the best Chinese food. Sichuan House in Chinatown is her favourite place for authentic Asian cuisine. She also likes Tina's Noodle Kitchen in Preston and says Dragon Hotpot really hits the spot, 'especially at 3am'.
5. Tattoo studios
Melbourne is home to all sorts of artistry and you'll find some especially talented hands within the city's tattoo studios. Shannon's top spots to get inked include Crucible Tattoo Co in Kensington and Heretic Studio, which is conveniently located directly above Smith & Daughters in Fitzroy. 'One day when I felt particularly stressed in the kitchen, I ducked upstairs to get a tattoo,' she says. 'It was great stress relief!'