The best of American food, sports, and culture in Victoria

American style burger

Jessica Taylor Yates

Posted July 04, 2022


Whether you’re looking to indulge in some US candy or catch a game of baseball, here’s how to experience the USA in Victoria.

As the Americans light their fireworks and chow down on some apple pie to celebrate the fourth of July, a large portion of Victoria will also be celebrating, as Australia is home to the sixth-largest American population in the world.

In the USA, the fourth of July commemorates the Declaration of Independence, and while individuals and states may differ, no one celebrates patriotism like the Americans.

While there may not be the same level of enthusiasm Down Under, there are plenty of ways to live the American dream in Victoria. 


Where to find American food and drink in Victoria

Fast food

The ‘Americanisation’ of food Down Under can be traced back to the 1960s, when fast-food chains started to bring their fried burgers, chicken and fries to the masses. The first KFC opened in Sydney, and was soon followed by McDonald’s, Pizza Hut and Burger King.

These days, if you’re wanting your hit of American fast food, the above chains have quite the hold over our state, with McDonald’s holding 253 locations in Victoria alone.

That said, it’s not just fried food that has Aussies salivating for American-style delicacies. If you’re looking for an American drink, Starbucks came along in 2000, while those wanting a New York-deli style sandwich can hit up one of the 282 Subway chains around the state.

The only country to make original glazed donuts outside of the US, the popular Krispy Kreme brand had banks of cars blocking up the Monash Freeway to try the US-style donut when they opened their first Victorian store in Narre Warren in 2006.

And if you’re simply just hankering for some Hershey’s chocolate, assorted ‘candy’, creamers, soda or some patriotic paper plates, head on down to USA Foods, the All-American grocery store stocking authentic American food and supplies. 

Dine in

While there are almost as many American dining joints as there are expats around Victoria, we’ve rounded up a few of our favourite places where you can experience the best of Americana Down Under:

  • Diners - Looking for that 1950s jukebox, milkshake and burger feel? Try out SodaRock or Parlour Diner on Chapel Street in Melbourne's south-east, Bowery to Williamsburg which is styled in homage to NYC Bowery subway station in East Melbourne, or the famous American restaurant chain TGI Friday’s at one of their seven locations around the state.
  • Burgers - A good old burger and fries just feels synonymous with America (even if they originated in Hamburg, Germany). American burgers are usually stacked with a large number of fillings, and you can get your stack on at places like MerryWell Bar and Dining, the Grand Trailer Park Taverna in the CBD, or burger chains like Betty’s Burgers, Carl's Jnr and Royal Stacks.
  • BBQs and Saloons - Americans love a grill – just don’t call it a shrimp on the barbie! If you’re looking for some deep south grill or a southern-inspired fare, consider a visit to the White House Saloon for some gumbo and deep-fried chicken in Prahran, or get your Tex-Mex and southern cuisine on at Smokey Jake’s in Ormond or Fancy Hank’s slow-cooked American BBQ in the CBD.
  • Pizza - While pizza, of course, is an Italian speciality, the great migration of Italians to the US, and especially New York City, brought with it a new spin on the mix of bread, tomato and cheese. If you’re looking for an authentic ‘American’ style (read: huge) slice, try out Sal’s Authentic New York Pizza in the CBD and Brunswick, or Pizza Pizza Pizza, the hole-in-the-wall with a secret bar tucked away on Meyer’s Place in the city.
  • Speciality - If what you’re looking for is some American specialities, Victoria’s cultural hubs have you covered. Get your Fresh Prince on at Sparrow’s Philly Cheesesteaks in Fitzroy, grab some authentic crab and chowder at Miss Katie’s Crab Shack, or enjoy some home-style Cajun creole specials like gumbo and cornbread at The Mouldy Fig in Brunswick East.

 

 

Popular in the USA and Japan, baseball has taken off Down Under. Image: Getty.
Grad a milkshake and hot dog at the American-themed Soda Rock Diner in South Yarra.

American sport in Victoria

While AFL will always remain the number-one sport amongst the True-Blue Victorians, avid sports fans can still get their fix of American sport Down Under.

American Football (Gridiron)

Gridiron has a small but loyal following in Victoria, and offers competitions for all ages and sexes.

Running for over 25 years, Gridiron Victoria has clubs all over Victoria, and even has state and national teams, the latter of which competed in the International Federation of American Football World Cup championships.

Baseball

Baseball has also been on the rise in recent years and was even featured for the first time since 2008 at the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo. Whether 'you win some, you lose some' for the New York Yankees or the Dodgers prove that 'home is where the heart is,' cover all bases by joining a club, or simply watching a game with Baseball Victoria.

Cheerleading

If you like your sport in choreographed routines, the all-American-style cheerleading is also a sport that has been brought Down Under. But be warned – this is not simply waving pom-poms about. Teams like the Victorian State Cheerleaders compete at a national level, involving routines with strength, fitness, precision, and dance.

 

One of the most popular musicals of all time, Hamilton, focuses on the American revolution and is showing in Melbourne. Image: Alamy.
Bowling is a popular American pastime that can be enjoyed in Australia. Image: Getty.

American entertainment in Victoria

While many of the pastimes Australians love may have been influenced by other cultures – the Brits introduced us to our love of country pubs, we have cultural hubs for international foods all over Melbourne and we love us some Swedish trends – the Americans sure do know how to entertain:

The drive-in

If you’re looking for an American-style drive-in straight out of a 60s film, head to the Village Coburg Drive-In, where food from the local American diner can be brought to your car as you take in the latest Hollywood flicks, from Top Gun to the latest biopic on Elvis that was filmed on the Gold Coast.

Plus, RACV Members save on movie tickets.

Exhibitions

Victoria has more public art galleries than any other state, with over 100 in Melbourne and an impressive amount of works at galleries in regional Victoria. If you’re looking for an artistic American experience this Independence Day, consider taking a trip to the Elvis: Direct From Graceland exhibition, which celebrates the poster boy of Americana, Elvis Presley, complete with the all-American 1960 MG red convertible, Vegas jumpsuits, and even a replica of the music icon’s Graceland street frontage.

Car Shows

Is there a car that celebrates Americana more than the Ford Mustang? The Mustang Owners Club of Victoria Inc. will be hosting a special American Independence Day market on July 3, featuring live music, American cuisine, and of course, Mustangs on display.

Musicals

Luckily for Victorians, musicals are back, with a myriad of shows to choose from with all the plays and musicals coming to Victoria in 2022. If you’re feeling nostalgic for American history this July 4, grab a ticket to the musical that’s won 11 Tonys and sold $1 billion worth of tickets worldwide, Hamilton.

Billed as ‘the story of America then, told by America now,’ it showcases the story of American Founding Father Alexander Hamilton through modern forms of music including rap, hip-hop and R'n'B. Just you wait!

Bowling

While bowling was not invented in America, it is listed as the number one recreational activity in the USA. After featuring in many American shows and movies, it is seen as somewhat of a North American pastime, perhaps also due to the diner-style food usually served at most 10-pin bowling establishments.

Those looking for a strike can try their luck with Zone Bowling