MoVida is at 1 Hosier Lane, near the Federation Square. MoVida Next Door is next door to it.
I had a short list of restaurants I wanted to eat in in Melbourne, among them Cutler & Co, which is rated by Gourmet Traveller as the best Australian restaurant for 2011 and yes, it is in Melbourne, not Sydney. However, being a country bumpkin from Borneo, I didn't make any reservations and I didn't know that most restaurants in Melbourne are closed on Mondays. I was told that Cutler & Co would have a long waiting list and I had to choose between eating and shopping (not so great since the Oz dollar was too strong. My daughter had warned me that Oz is more expensive to shop and eat than Europe, and I didn't believe her until I got there). Lucky for us, MoVida was open the last Monday I was there so we were clever and got there at 5 pm just when they were opening.
The sign said MoVida Next Door, and when we were seated, we asked and were told that the original MoVida (the one listed as Melbourne's top Spanish restaurant and one of its top ten restaurants) was next door. I was very tempted to move next door (so I can brag to you that I ate at one of Melbourne's top restaurants) but the promise of the same food at lower prices convinced me to stay. Also, the cooks, and especially the head chef, were running between the two restaurants and I was comforted by that.
A couple of nights before that, we had gone to another Spanish restaurant and had a so-so paella which left me craving for paella. Unfortunately, MoVida only served a limited variety of tapas and raciones (slightly larger plates of tapas), and the tapas were not the ones we liked, those canapes-like tapas we ate in Barcelona. I don't think there's any Barcelona-type tapas restaurant in Melbourne, which is strange especially since there are not one but two MoVida tapas restaurants.
MoVida has an open kitchen and it was fun to see them cook. MoVida's bread rolls (in the bucket, on the house) were the hardest I have ever eaten, so hard that they can knock a dog dead. The bread hurt my mouth and tongue and I had to tear it off between my teeth like a cannibal.
Potato tortilla, AUD 4, was good but then I've never had a bad tortilla.
Empanadillas, AUD3 or 4, was quite good but very small, about the size of a little curry puff.
Fish of the day with Serrano ham, AUD18/USD19/RM58, was very disappointing because the fish had a not-so-fresh flavor--fishy with a hint of refrigeration. I expected nothing but the best since the waiter had said that this MoVida specializes in seafood. We struggled to finish even such a minute portion. The portion was so small it made us giggle at the pretentiousness of it. Come on. That's a ridiculous portion for that price.
Lomo (char-grilled pork loin with preserved peppers & salsa verde), AUD15/USD16/RM48, was the best dish we had. The pork was tender and tasty, the preserved peppers tangy and crisp and the salsa refreshing. Simple but very well done.
The ternera (veal girello poached with white anchovies & mojo picon), UD12.50/USD13.3/RM40, was light and delicate but a little bit bland.
The bill came to about AUD53/USD56.50/RM170 (not cheap but not that expensive either for such a highly rated restaurant but it is a tapas restaurant after all, not a fine-dining restaurant. The original MoVida too has similar setting and menu) and we weren't too full so we left to grab a pho. Just as the waiter had said, MoVida was next door (if you eat at MoVida Next Door like we did, you use the washroom at MoVida) so I took a photo of its menu, just in case you are going there. For such a famous restaurant, the menu is surprisingly limited.
MoVida's menu is limited.
Walk down Hosier Lane and you can see walls of graffiti, something that Melbourne artists are proud of: