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Chefs' Favorite Hot Spots

Chef Enrique Olvera at La Nicolasa, a grocery next to Nicos, one of his favorite places in Mexico City.

Photo: Gregory Allen

Other Melbourne Musts...

Market: Weekend mornings are the best time to visit the South Melbourne Market (322 Coventry St., Fitzroy; 61-3/9209-6295), which opened in 1867. “There is so much under one roof,” Cooke says. “I buy specialty cheeses from various delis.” And he never leaves without stopping for dim sim, a cheeky play on the Chinese dumpling that’s become a cult snack.

Spices: For spices, Cooke heads to Simon Johnson, Purveyor of Quality Foods (12 David St., Fitzroy; 61-3/9644-3630). “If he doesn’t have it, it’s not worth having. He sells everything from hand-harvested sea salts and smoked paprika to saffron tips and organic Manuka honey from New Zealand.”

Bakery: Noisette (84 Bay St.; 61-3/9646-9555; pastries for two $7) is the place to go for French-style cakes and pastries. “I buy the dense walnut bread to munch on when I’m out and about.”

Late-Night Feast: After his shift, Cooke drops by the Woolshed Pub (Shed 9, Central Pier, 161 Harbour Esplanade; 61-3/8623-9640; dinner for two $50), in a converted cargo shed on the water. “Start with crisp-fried Berkshire pork belly with coriander-and-red-chili sauce, followed by grass-fed porterhouse steak and chips with horseradish sauce. And sticky date pudding. It’s worth going there for that pudding alone.” The Den (61-3/9698-8888; drinks for two $38), the bar beneath Cooke’s restaurant, is his pick for a nightcap. The Cohiba No. 23, with tobacco-infused añejo rum, pear eau-de-vie, fresh apple juice, and bitters, is served in a balloon glass and delivered in a humidor. “It’s a great way to end the night.”

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