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Our food scribes, Peckish Pom & the Food Dude give the expanded Lava In Balaclava the thumbs up!

While many eating establishments in St Kilda come and go with each wave of adventurous backpackers, Carlisle Street’s famous Lava in Balaclava remains. For six years, proprietors Irene and Yacov have provided regulars and newcomers alike with an evolving blend of excellent food at a steal, in a comfortable, modern interior. As word of the delicious food and great coffee has spread, Lava has picked up a booming trade that spills onto the bustling hub of Carlisle Street. To meet the ever-growing demand for their sincere hospitality, Lava have expanded into a newly empty unit next door, acquiring not only sparky new staff but also enviable amenities, continue to conquer St Kilda one step at a time.

The original unit of Lava in Balaclava has had, and continues to sustain, one philosophy: to offer good food at competitive prices coupled with cost efficient and speedy service. The space itself has developed over time, with décor and style adapting to meet changing needs. Luxurious banquettes in warm, bold colours sit snugly aside cosy free standing tables, and a keen sense of local spirit is felt through posters advertising upcoming events from around the area. The design moves easily from day to night, the daytime coffee machine fading into the background as a wine bar blossoms in its place. It is a space dedicated to comfort and ease, visibly lacking the pretence and ‘look-at-me’ vibe one often feels in the coffee shops and cafés in the surrounding locality. Lava welcomes one and all with open arms, and with the expansion into next door, its more than capable of doing so.

One is met with a completely different feel when passing through into next door. A coffee window peeps out onto furtive passers-by, whilst an elegant courtyard area takes full advantage of the dramatic Melbourne weather scape. Heaters, even blankets available and cosy seating increase space here once again, but still manages to keep an intimate, personal feel.

Next door has its own bar and coffee machine, and a sleek, sharp design for a quick ‘ mac’ drinker or a languid latte aficionado. A perfect function space, this quirky spot can cater to almost every whim or desire the host may desire – from slick business lunches to riotous reunions, Lava aims to completely cater to your tailor made celebration (within the realms of imagination).

Linking these diverse areas is one talented and adventurous kitchen, filling bellies and tantalising taste buds with a quick consistency that has earned Lava such a sterling reputation. Great coffee must always accompany sensational food, and the hand-picked, award-winning roaster Veneziano really pulls its weight here. The coffee spans both venues, and the numerous passionate baristas work tirelessly to provide consistent taste from dawn ‘til well past dusk. Touching base with the familiar keystones of St Kilda and bold Balaclava traditions while at the same time giving them an invigorating spin, Lava in Balaclava maintains its position as one of the top dogs, and with expansions and further festivities on the horizon, it’s well on its way to becoming number one.


Lava in Balaclava Open 7 days 219 Carlisle Street, Balaclava Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner (03) 9527 2205

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