Emma Armstrong-Porter is an artist and educator who lives and works on Dja Dja Wurrung Country.

They were born in 1986 and are known for their work across many disciplines, especially printmaking and chemistry-based photography. They were the co-founder of NOIR darkroom, a gallery and photographic darkroom based in Naarm/Melbourne. They were the recipient of the 2021 Midsumma Australia Post Arts prize, were a finalist in the 2020 Bowness Photography Prize and are a finalist in the 2023 Burnie Print Prize, Geelong Gallery Print Award, Iris Award and National Photographic Portrait Prize. Armstrong-Porter has exhibited across Victoria and interstate, and their work is in the collection of the National Gallery of Victoria as well as many private collectors.

When I’m in Melbourne my local is The Tote. I’m not much of a barfly these days but I love to head down to see local live bands. Let’s all hope it stays on as a live music venue and doesn’t turn into apartments. It would be a huge loss to the Melbourne music scene and to so many local artists.

I know I’m in Melbourne when I walk through Chinatown and the waft of mouth-watering delicacies hits me right in the nose.

In the mornings you’ll find me at Zaatar in Coburg. They make a killer spinach and cheese pie to take away when you’re on the go. I would recommend you grab some eggplant dip while you’re there. They actually catered the carbs at our wedding. I used to go to Telstar Bakery in Brunswick East, but it got turned into apartments.

My defining food moment in Melbourne was my first bite of a hot Preston Market doughnut. It took me back to being a kid, and also burnt the roof of my mouth. Preston Market is another Melbourne institution that is at risk of being turned into apartments. It would be such a blow to the local community and culture to lose such an amazing place with affordable fresh produce and delicious hot meals.

When I want to show the city off to friends from out of town, I like to meet up at Dragon Hot Pot on Swanston Street; they offer good vegan options for my plant-based mates. I used to love to go with friends to Shanghai Dumpling on Tattersalls Lane for a feast, but nowadays we always seem to be catching up while slurping up noodles.

My favourite place to stock up on supplies is KFL in Coburg. It’s got the goodsThere’s lots of fresh fruit and veg and the biggest array of frozen dumplings I’ve ever seen.

The best new thing I’ve found is Uncle Tetsu’s, the home of Japanese cheese tarts. Delicious! It’s been on Swanston Street for a while now; when I’m in the CBD I join the queue and grab one (or two).

When I want to go all out on a special meal, I head down to Victoria Street Mall in Coburg. There’s so many choices for falafel but my go to lunch-date spot is Half Moon Cafe for an Egyptian falafel wrap with everything in it. It’s worth the wait.

There’s no better value in Melbourne than a fresh tofu banh mi across from Footscray station at Sunny Nguyen Bakery.

If I could change one thing about eating and drinking here it would be more on-street dining so you can soak up the atmosphere of the city and people-watch while you’re enjoying a meal. Also, outdoor dining is sometimes a more accessible option for neurodiverse people like me.

But the one thing I hope never changes in Melbourne is the small, family-run restaurants that serve affordable food that tastes out of this world. I never leave a restaurant near Barkly Street in Footscray without a full tummy and a big smile.

Emma Armstrong-Porter’s work is currently on show at the Geelong Gallery, as well as the National Portrait Gallery in Canberra, the Burnie Arts Centre in Tasmania, and at the Perth Centre of Photograph. Follow Emma’s further adventures on Instagram at  @champion__ruby or at emmaarmstrongporter.wordpress.com.