Despite being a relatively small city (four million people) at basically the end of the earth, Melbourne has food that’s up there with places like New York City or London, and has the kind of variety you won’t find anywhere else.
While Sydney gets all the international attention, if you travel mostly just to eat a lot, Melbourne is where it’s at. The influence of multiple waves of immigration is felt at every level, from the city’s longstanding obsession with coffee to a European drinking culture to a whole lot of Vietnamese and Chinese food. Basically, any kind of food you want, Melbourne has it.
There’s plenty to eat in the main Central Business District (the locals just refer to it as “the city”), but a lot can also be found in surrounding neighborhoods like Fitzroy, Carlton, and Richmond. And while you can certainly go all-in on fine dining, these days a lot of the more interesting spots are casual, focused on family-style menus or small plates or things to share. And then you have the cafes. Melbourne is a coffee town, but “coffee shops” are unheard of – cafes are almost always table-service affairs with full menus with actually-exciting things to eat. Competition is fierce, which means you’re more likely to get ham hock benedict or a full Indonesian breakfast than plain old bacon and eggs at some of the cooler spots around.
The Melbourne food scene is interesting and insanely varied, and yes, also pretty expensive. But if you like to eat, you need to get Melbourne on your list. And maybe plan on doing more than just three meals a day – you’ve got a lot to get through.
Cutler & Co.
Cutler & Co is the perfect example of A Melbourne Restaurant. Simple, bistro-like food (maybe some roasted flounder to start and then a giant rib eye to share), done in a fine dining setting that somehow also feels casual and relaxed. The same chef is behind a bunch of other fantastic restaurants in town, and you should definitely get to one before you leave: Cumulus Inc. is an all-day, no-reservations, small plates operation with the best tuna tartare in the city. Supernormal is basically the Asian version of Cumulus (although they’re only open for lunch and dinner), Ricky & Pinky is classic Australian-Chinese food gone kind of fancy inside a pub, and Marion is the ultimate in wine bars that don’t suck. Don’t leave town without eating at one of these places.
Cookie is like that one sweater that’s been shoved in the back of the closet: sometimes people forget it’s there, but then they eat here once and never forget it. Not that Cookie is ever empty or quiet, but it’s been around for so long and is so consistently good that Melbourne kind of takes it for granted. They serve some of the best Thai in town in a huge space that’s half bar, half restaurant, and fully one of our favorite places to eat in the city.
On a quiet street in Carlton, right near Melbourne University, is a pizza place that feels like it’s actually on a quiet street in Rome. The menus are handwritten photocopies and often covered in red wine stains, wine is poured into tumblers, and the seating is so cramped you’ll definitely be involved in the relationship debrief happening at the table next door. Yes the pastas are good, but we’d advise not using too much stomach space for those – it’s all about the thin-crust, simply-topped pizzas. And that includes the dessert pizzas too.
There’s no avoiding it: if you plan on going to Chin Chin, you’re going to have to plan on waiting. This no-reservations modern South-East Asian spot on Flinders Lane in the heart of the city is a very Melbourne take on Asian dining halls and is always a lot of fun. They’ve been slammed since opening in 2011, and a recent expansion of the space hasn’t slowed things down. Be here well before 7pm on a weeknight, put your name down, and grab a drink at GoGo Bar down the street behind the restaurant. Once you finally get to sit down, you might feel a bit weird saying “feed me” to your waiter, but after you do they’ll start bringing out dish after excellent dish.
While we can confidently say Melbourne has Chinese, Vietnamese, and Thai eating on lock, Japanese food hasn’t ever been a strong point. There are way too many $3 hand rolls filled with canned tuna to claim otherwise. But Minamishima is a true outlier, offering one of the only omakase menus in town and using both local seafood and fish imported straight from the Tokyo fish market. Unsurprisingly, locals are all about it, so make sure you book a spot at the sushi bar before you arrive.
Thanks to a constantly-growing Indian population, Melbourne has a bunch of good casual Indian spots. But when it comes to modern upscale Indian restaurants? Tonka is pretty much it. In addition to the more expected (tandoori chicken actually cooked in a tandoori oven), there are plenty of classics with a twist (duck korma with apple and beetroot). So yeah, we’re fine with just having Tonka on the scene. Also, you’ll be getting very familiar with eating and drinking down alleys in Melbourne, although they’re locally known as laneways and are generally less frightening than the word alley suggests. This one is down one of the central city’s many laneways.
Cafe Di Stasio
Cafe Di Stasio is one of the Melbourne restaurant big guns, but also off the radar of most tourists. If a local invites you for dinner at Di Stasio, it basically means they’re in love with you. Waitstaff in white jackets will treat you like royalty and bring you plates of some of the best upscale Italian food you can find in town. The newer, more casual bar next door serves as both a pre-dinner drinks spot and a laidback place for a bite for St. Kilda locals.
Pacific Seafood BBQ House
You won’t find chicken chow mein or General Tso’s anything at Chinese restaurants in Australia. The Chinese food here is pretty different – a lot less sweet and arguably a bit closer to the Chinese food they eat in China. Despite its location amongst pho shops and Vietnamese restaurants on Victoria Street in Richmond, Pacific Seafood BBQ House is one of the best options for Chinese food in town. The tables are always a little sticky and there are specials written in Chinese on colored paper taped to the walls. Get the salt and pepper calamari, half a peking duck, and a hot pot.
Pellegrini’s is the definition of a Melbourne institution. This simple Italian spot is open all day, plonking down bowls of spaghetti bolognese and glasses of watermelon granita like they’re doing you a favor just by serving you. And they kind of are: this time capsule (they’ve been open since the 1950s) is a perfect spot for an afternoon fuel-up between tourist sites in the city.
No place celebrates Australian ingredients like Attica, a dark, world-renowned restaurant in Ripponlea, a Melbourne neighborhood better known for being full of historic houses and families than anything cool. Throughout what can sometimes be a twenty-course tasting menu, you might get dishes like a vegemite pie, a wallaby blood pikelet, giant emu eggs, and probably some kangaroo. You need to be feeling adventurous to come here, but Attica never feels overwhelming or stuffy.
Charcoal Grill on the Hill
Charcoal Grill is not the kind of place you’re going to walk past as a visitor (it’s in Kew, a twenty-minute drive from the center of town), and it’s certainly not the coolest place in town, but it’s also one of our all-time favorites. This suburban spot is a temple of steak – you’ll be greeted by a huge case of raw meat right as you walk in. While there are a few starters and non-beef things, you’re here for the main event: pick your cut and weight and it comes out perfectly-grilled with a huge basket of chips (sorry, fries) and a green salad. The entire restaurant is red (even the carpet), the crowd is older, and the wine list is nuts, and while that might sound serious and uptight, Charcoal Grill is a whole lot of fun. If you’re in town for a while, this is a meal you won’t regret.
Vue De Monde
There aren’t many places to eat with a view in Melbourne, but Vue de Monde, on the 55th floor of the Rialto building, is the best one. Vue is a fine dining restaurant where you can only do a tasting menu, but despite this it feels pretty casual. The space is dark and modern and the food is serious (and often includes little-seen native Australian ingredients), but service is laid-back and there are no hushed tones. Be warned: you’ll be dropping some serious money. For a less-expensive option with a view, have a cocktail and a snack at Lui Bar next door.
Australian burgers are not like American burgers – order one with “the lot” and it will have less cheese, more bacon, a fried egg, and slices of beetroot, and will be generally less likely to make you fall asleep after eating one. Except at Huxtaburger, where the burgers lean more In-N-Out than local fish and chip shop. What started as a single store in Fitzroy with a consistently long line has become a mini-chain that hasn’t sacrificed quality at all. Think of it as Melbourne’s Shake Shack and ignore the Cosby Show theme that wasn’t quite so weird when they opened.
Chinese food has all its bases covered in Melbourne – dumplings, yum cha (what we call dim sum), modern takes, traditional takes. But if you want traditional Cantonese done at the highest of levels, Flower Drum is where it’s at. They’re known for their peking duck, but regulars will always get an order of abalone in there as well. They’ve been doing their thing for 41 years, and we’re not entirely sure things have changed much since then, but that’s just the way we like it.
Hutong kicked off the xiaolongbao obsession in Melbourne, and is still the best spot for soup dumplings in town. There are locations in the city and Prahran, and both work for big groups as well as dates, although the Prahran location is a little fancier. You might have to wait at peak times, but these dumplings are worth it.
Movida is single-handedly responsible for bringing authentic tapas to Melbourne, and considering that Spain and Australia are about as far from each other as you can possibly get, this is no small feat. Down a graffiti-filled laneway in the city, Movida has been open for more than 15 years and is still the best place for Spanish food in town.
I Love Pho 264
Victoria Street in Richmond is wall to wall Vietnamese restaurants, and it can be hard to pick just one. But if you’re in the mood for pho, I Love Pho has to be your move. This family-owned shop has become so busy in recent years that they’ve opened up another one right across the street. On a cold day, there’s no better meal in town than the beef pho with some spring rolls on the side.
French food might not be very cool anymore, but don’t tell that to France-Soir. This isn’t fussy Michelin-style French food – you’ll eat classic bistro dishes like escargot and steak frites. They’ve been open for thirty years, and not much has changed since then: we’re pretty sure you have to be French to work here, and there’s always a table of businessmen in the corner who’ve been there since lunch.
Who knows if the World Pizza Championships is a real thing, but it sounds impressive and it turns out the guy who won it in 2014 is in Melbourne, not Naples. 400 Gradi started as a small pizza place in a little-trafficked part of Brunswick, but now has three locations around town. If you want pizza that’s as authentic as it gets, this is your spot.
If you think New Yorkers take brunch seriously, you haven’t met Melbournians yet. While we prefer to call all morning meals involving eggs “breakfast” and typically turn our noses up at the thought of having a burger before 12pm, our devotion as a city to what Americans would call brunch is all-consuming. And Top Paddock is one of the city’s best spots for all-day breakfast any day of the week. They have everything from a simple egg and bacon roll to eggs benedict with pork jowl, yuzu apple, and bacon crumb. Do you even need us to tell you the coffee is excellent too? Go on a weekday to avoid a long wait.
A Lune croissant was once the mythical food item of Melbourne – something that required standing in line at a tiny shop early in the morning (which still didn’t guarantee you’d receive one). But now, with their new huge bakery in Fitzroy, the lines might still be long (and there’s a six-pastry limit), but you’ll get to sample croissants and French pastries that are both traditional and creative. If you plan ahead too, you can book a spot at Lune Lab (a nine-stool bar) and be served a three-course pastry meal that includes new things they’re developing and bottomless cups of coffee.
In a city that seems to prefer tiny cafes down hard-to-find laneways, Higher Ground isn’t afraid to go big. The double-story cafe/restaurant hybrid is open all day and in a rarity for Melbourne cafes, won’t mind if you open up your laptop and do some work. The menu goes way beyond the usual avocado toast (although there is still one of those) with things like steamed fish and a minced lamb “fry up” during the day and graduates to serious things like pork shoulder at night.
A larger offshoot of the tiny Brunswick Street Alimentari close by, the Smith Street version has everything we love about an Italian deli. There are plenty of things you can take to go, but you’re likely to get distracted by the dining room and end up sitting down for breakfast before you leave.
Market Lane Coffee
Have we mentioned yet that the people of Melbourne take their coffee very seriously? We may not drink as much of it as Americans, but our undying love for espresso drinks is obvious everywhere you go. One of the most “Melbourne” of our many, many coffee specialists is Market Lane, a roaster and cafe with a few locations around town. The power move is to head to their Carlton location, grab a cafe latte, and pop in to Baker D. Chirico next door for a pastry.
You better believe we put a gelato shop on this list. The owner comes from a legendary Melbourne restaurant family, but went to Italy to learn all about gelato making. Even in the dead of winter (which, fine, is no New York winter), there’s likely to be a line out the door for scoops of peanut butter with toasted brioche and nutella. Oh and they have chocolate on tap.
Unlike those weird wine bars that are unnaturally quiet except for when they start lecturing you about the difference between cabernet sauvignon and cabernet franc, Embla is completely approachable and ridiculously cool. Their food menu is available from midday until 3pm and 5pm until close, there’s a $50 set-menu lunch on Sundays, and they have small bar snack available all other times..
Speakeasy-style bars are far and few between in Melbourne (mostly because we never did anything as stupid as banning alcohol), but The Everleigh feels like it came to us out right out of New York in the ’20s. Up some stairs and overlooking Gertrude Street in Fitzroy, there’s a long list of old-school cocktails, but the move here is to tell the bartenders what you’re in the mood for and let them steer the ship.
The building that houses the restaurant Cookie is essentially an adult playground. Once you’re done with dinner, head to the next floor up for espresso martinis and maybe a show at The Toff In Town (a bar and venue showcasing local DJs and bands), or all the way up top to Rooftop Bar. Rooftop is relaxed during the day, has a big program of outdoor movies in the warmer months, and gets downright rowdy at night. If you’re here in the summer, it’s a must-visit.
Siglo could be the best bar in Melbourne. It might not have the most carefully-made drinks, or the coolest crowd, but this rooftop spot has a view over the State Parliament building and a genuinely great vibe. Come here after a weeknight dinner for multiple glasses of prosecco and the feeling that there’s nowhere else you’d rather be.
Melbourne’s Best Restuarants
In this one, we dive into the city’s food scene, revealing the best restaurant Melbourne has to offer.
One of the advantages of Melbourne’s cosmopolitan nature is the fact that with it comes an incredibly rich food culture. Indeed, almost half of all of Melbourne’s residents were born abroad! Some of the cultures influencing Melbourne’s gastronomic scene most profoundly include Chinese, Italian and Greek.
To many, Melbourne not Sydney is Australia’s culinary capital. And the world took notice of this in 2017 when this amazing Australian city became the first in Australia to hold the World 50 Best Restaurants awards.
Fanfare and statistics aside, we know you’re looking for a place to eat in Melbourne. That’s why we compiled our own list of 14 of the city’s best restaurants. Here they are!
1. Cutler & Co.
To understand the essence of Cutler & Co, you first need to understand its owner- Andrew McConnell. Being his flagship restaurant, Cutler & Co really is a perfect manifestation of Andrew’s journey. Before setting his roots back home in Melbourne, Andrew spent his formative years learning from the best in Europe, Hong Kong, and Shanghai- influences of which reflect in this pièce de résitance.
The restaurants setting (a repurposed metalworks factory) is distinctively Australian (a blend of grit with a touch of class). The food itself, a perfect manifestation of his training is a Euro-Asian fusion.
Saying that Cutler & Co. is well received by the public is an understatement. The restaurant has consistently featured in the World’s 50 Best Restaurants awards and been declared time and again as the best fine dining restaurant in Melbourne by several websites including the Herald Sun and Time Out.
Our Recommendation: Their King George Whiting is a must-try! They also have a great wine list.
Address: 55/57 Gertrude St, Fitzroy VIC 3065, Australia
Phone Number: (03) 9419 4888
2. Grossi Florentino
Established in the early twentieth century Grossi Florentino is one of the oldest fine dining restaurants in the Melbourne CBD area. When you go to Grossi, you enjoy more than food- and believe me, the food is good. You enjoy the love and passion of a culture steeped in service and honor. Grossi is Italian fine dining exemplified.
The restaurant has kept with the changing times, but its foundations of excellence remain the very same. Every ingredient is chosen deliberately, every flavor perfected.
Our recommendation: Their uncomplicated take on gnocchi makes it that more alluring.
Address: 80 Bourke St, Melbourne VIC 3000, Australia
Phone Number: (03) 9662 1811
3. Vue de Monde
Few restaurants can beat the view that Vue de Monde has. You get to experience Shannon Beckett’s take on French cuisine overlooking the entire city atop the Rialto! Yes, the food is the star of the show, but the vibe one gets from the location is to die for.
Vue de Monde is high on our recommendation list for special locations.
Our recommendation: Their buttermilk kingfish with a touch of kale
Address: Rialto Towers, 525 Collins St, Melbourne VIC 3000, Australia
Phone Number: (03) 9691 3888
4. Tipo 00
Tucked away in Melbourne’s CBD, within its laneway locale, Tipo 00 exemplifies my ideal type of dining- casual dining. The restaurant itself is unassuming and does not impose. What do I mean by this?
Tipo 00 is what would happen if you converted an Italian kitchen into a restaurant. You walk in and the first thing you notice is the open kitchen overlooking a very homy dining room. Not only does that give a very welcoming vibe, but you know a chef is confident in their skill when they let you see how they cook!
Yes, they specialise in one thing- Italian cuisine and specifically pasta. The name itself is derived from the type of flour they use in their pasta making-“Italian 00 flour.” Don’t let the otherwise self-effacing nature of Tipo 00 fool you, they’re good! Over the years they’ve garnered all manner of awards ranging from Best casual dining restaurant from Time Out to Australia’s best new restaurant.
Our recommendation: Their Riso Carnanoli is to die for. Vegans are in luck as they do have vegan options.
Address: 361 Little Bourke St, Melbourne VIC 3000, Australia
Phone Number: (03) 9942 3946
Truly Australian in every way, Attica gives a different meaning to fine dining altogether. To them, fine dining is more about an open, conversational atmosphere than it is about expensive plates and cutlery. To them, fine dining is about the creative use of local ingredients than it is about the most pricey ones.
You won’t see gold leaf in your dish, but you will enjoy authentic modern Australian cuisine exemplified by local ingredients such as the lobster looking crayfish called Marron- native to Australia.
Our recommendation: Go for their full degustation menu. Its a bit pricey but it’s the only way to get a full understanding of Attica’s unique take on food.
Address: 74 Glen Eira Rd, Ripponlea VIC 3185, Australia
Phone Number: (03) 9530 0111
6. Cumulus Inc.
Another creation from Andrew McConnell Cumulus Inc. is located in upscale Flinders Lane. Expect the same class and standards in any of Andrew McConnell’s restaurants.
One of the few eateries on this list that is open for breakfast, brunch, lunch, and dinner!
Our recommendation: The chef’s tasting menu
Address: 45 Flinders Lane, Melbourne VIC 3000, Australia
Phone Number: (03) 9650 1445
7. Flower Drum
Apart from their amazing take on Cantonese cuisine, flower drum is known for their impeccable cuisine. You won’t find moody or arrogant workers here. Believe me, the incredible service itself qualifies the restaurant’s place on this list.
Our recommendation: Their Quail Sang Choi Bao
Address: 17 Market Ln, Melbourne VIC 3000, Australia
Phone Number: (03) 9662 3655
One of the most celebrated chefs in Melbourne, Thi Le’s take on Southeast Asian cuisine is amazing.
Our recommendation: Their Vietnamese Pâté Chaud (dumpling with pork filling)
Address: 338 Bridge Rd, Richmond VIC 3121, Australia
Phone Number: (03) 9428 3526
9. Chin Chin
From the people that brought you Kisumé, Chin Chin is another great Asian fusion restaurant specialising in Malay cuisine. That being said expect food with influences from all over Asia including Thai and Vietnamese cuisine.
Their food is particularly great for people who like that extra kick in their food and can stand the chilli.
Remember that the place has a general no booking policy, so it’s pretty much first come first serve. The long queues are totally worth it though!
Our recommendation: Amazing Pad Thai
Address: 125 Flinders Ln, Melbourne VIC 3000, Australia
Phone Number: (03) 8663 2000
The third Andre Mcconnell restaurant featured on this list, Supernormal takes on Japanese fusion with a confidence reserved only to master chef such as Mcconnell. Don’t confuse is it with its little sister in St.Kilda (Supernormal canteen)- the one featured on this list is the fully-fledged restaurant.
The restaurant opens at 11 am and doesn’t close till late at night.
Our recommendation: Great Prawn and Chicken dumplings
Address: 180 Flinders Ln, Melbourne VIC 3000, Australia
Phone Number: (03) 9650 8688
11. Dinner by Heston Melbourne
You may know Heston Blumenthal from the Australian iteration of Masterchef. Dinner by Heston is his signature restaurant in the south Melbourne, although he has another in London where he spends most of his time.
The cuisine is distinctively British, with dishes invented as early as the 12th century.
Our recommendation: Their spiced duck is a must!
Address: Level 3, Crown Towers, 8 Whiteman St, Southbank VIC 3006, Australia
Phone Number: (03) 9292 5779
The problem with many Asian restaurants is this- a lack of authenticity. So when you find an authentic Asian restaurant, boasting actual Japanese and Korean chef’s, you know you must try it!
Our recommendation: You want to sample as much sushi as possible, so go for the chef’s tasting menu
Address: 175 Flinders Ln, Melbourne VIC 3000, Australia
Phone Number: (03) 9671 4888
Smith & Daughters
Address: 175 Brunswick St, Fitzroy VIC 3065, Australia
Contacts: +61 3 9939 3293
Google Reviews Rating: 4.4/5 (From 906 reviews)
Lupino Bistro & Bar
Address: 41 Little Collins St, Melbourne VIC 3000, Australia
Contacts: +61 3 9639 0333
Trip Advisor Rating: 4.5/5 (From 369 reviews)
Google Reviews Rating: 4.4/5 (From 215 reviews)