On a clear night you can see Melbourne light up. The bridges turn a neon blue; skyscrapers emerge in electric yellows. This is one of Australia’s most vibrant nightlife centres with a great dining scene to boot. Check out some of its best restaurants, catering for venues both big and small.
Recommended — check out other city guides to ensure you get the best out of the world’s restaurants.
Among the many great restaurants in Melbourne, this one serves dishes to precisely match the heat of South Australia. Using chillies in a great deal of their meals (the half Milawa chicken has three types alone), the meals here are a favourite among those with hot palettes. Neighbour to a number of hip wine bars, cool down and grab a crisp drink beforehand to prepare for the flavours ahead.
2. 22 Yards
Cricket fans will feel right at home in 22 Yards as the bar television regularly shows cricket coverage to keep everyone up-to-date on one of Australia’s favourite national pastimes. A laid-back atmosphere and chicken-based Indian menu makes this the ideal spot for chilled nights out, keeping in tune with the match scores.
3. Dodee Paidang
For Thai food connoisseurs, head straight to Little Collins Street, a walk away from Melbourne Town Hall. This venue is all about the street food experience, promoting authentic Thai meals and hospitality in a bustling urban quarter of the city. Note that Dodee Paidang doesn’t accept bookings — so arriving early at a good time is a must.
In Carlton near Melbourne city centre, visitors will find a restaurant made for serious taste buds. Adhering to Japanese principles and philosophy (the restaurant promises a “make everything count” experience, that is something to treasure), the menu is a serious assortment of supreme meals — duck with shiitake mushrooms, salmon on radish, and cod roe on nori crisps. Go with the five-course menu.
5. Hardware Club
This creative Italian restaurant has its quirks. A liquor cart wheels around tables between meals to bring drinks to guests. A fried octopus dish comes in the green-red-and-white colours of the Italian flag. The upstairs area displays colourful pop artwork. With a one-page menu serving both traditional and ambitious new Italian dishes, this is a venue that will assuredly please everyone.
6. Tipo 00
For over a decade, Tipo 00 has specialised in serving up the best of Italian carbs. Unashamedly, this is a self-described “pasta bar” — often suggested as one of the best restaurants in Melbourne. Lunch is the mainstay here.
Heading into the auspiciously titled “Adventure Town”, guests will certainly find a top-quality guest experience, with a magnificent marble bar for those waiting on their tables (remember that bookings tend to max out pretty quickly).
One of the best restaurants in Melbourne brings the tastes of Istanbul right to its doorstep. Tulum is serious about its cuisine, insisting that it delivers on refined and authentic Turkish recipes. Yet the restaurant is adamant on local ingredients. Freshwater fish native to Australian waters regularly feature on the menu, which changes often to keep things surprising.
8. Smith and Daughters
For one of the best vegan spots in Melbourne, head straight to Cambridge Street. This is more a local project than anything else as the owner has previously experimented with Latin-inspired menus, and then switched to an Italian style in May 2018.
Suffice to say, though, this is the real thing. The team put extra care into delivery of dishes (all ingredients are made in-house), certain to convert many a vegan sceptic.
9. Dainty Sichuan
Since 2003, Dainty Sichuan has proved a favourite among many Melbourne restaurant goers. The menu favours Sichuan cuisine, heavy on peppers, high on heat. Fried pork belly and golden pieces of aubergine consistently prove a hit among guests. So much so that many claim the Dainty Sichuan in South Yarra is a Melbourne treasure.
10. Grossi Florentino
Far more deluxe than its neighbours, the Grossi Florentino matches level of care with quality. Croqueta and panna cotta are prize dishes here heaped with luscious ingredients, such as a fermented sauce recipe invented by the ancient Romans. A lavish European charm is certain to bring a smile to any visitor’s face.
From Tel Aviv to Melbourne, one of the best dining experiences in the city boasts a most exciting menu. Miznon has imported intimate flavours from the Mediterranean, from hot chick peas to world-class pita bread, stuffed with lamb rib and tomato steak. This restaurant’s produce will ensure multiple visits.
Boasting everything Japanese, Yakimono is like a miniature Tokyo. The interiors are sleek and futuristic, buzzing with a constant energy. Soy-based dishes like their Wagyu are sticky treats, while short-rib with mustard and jalapeno mayo is a frequent favourite.
13. Napier Quarter
Hop across the city and you’ll find Melbourne’s world of French cuisine. This little blue building hosts a special venue that is big on Parisian flavours. Wine and specials are a double combo that every guest can expect at the Napier. Sample any of the roast dishes and expect everything to come in garlic marinade, lemon, rosemary, and meat juices.
14. Mr Lee’s Foods
Pork is food royalty at Mr. Lee’s Foods. Its exclusive menu uses pork in every dish, deriving its ideas from traditional Korean cooking. Expect South Korean takes on sausage, pork belly, and rice soup.
Wine lovers should all flock to this nifty venue located on Gertrude Street. Best enjoyed as a quick stop, Marion specialises in seafood, with special mention going out to mussels and nduja. Plenty of fish crowds the menu, but key selections are easy to make (the kingfish crudo for instance, a beautiful main) securing this venue’s place as one of the best restaurants in Melbourne Australia.
16. Neighbourhood Wine
Continuing the theme, wine pairing is an ideal activity at this Fitzroy North favourite. An extensive wine list accompanies exquisite small plates, such as their snack collection: crispy seed crackers or smoky artichokes in a vegetable chutney.
Another French venue that started with a simple yet tantalising idea: to exclusively serve steak frites and try to get away with it. Today, however, Entrecôte have expanded widely, and their menu offers a fine selection of French-inspired dishes. There is duck in orange, Queensland prawn on sourdough baguettes, and pork croquettes with quail eggs and salad.
18. Rising Embers
No bookings are required at this fantastic restaurant. Partnered with the team from Dainty Sichuan, look hard for the entrance (beneath ground level, it’s on the very corner of Little Bourke Street) and you’ll find a treasure trove of pan-Asian dishes. The Ox tongue takes pride of place as a popular crowd pleaser.
19. Jan Chi Korean Feast
Everyone talks about the special, the braised short rib in pear-and-apple soy sauce, accompanied by fresh salad. Waiting for tables is no problem, as a neon-lit bar serves up the best cocktails a venue can offer.
20. The Recreation Bistro
High style and dedication are staples at this North Fitzroy bistro. The menu is a confident blend of various traditions, drawing simultaneous inspiration from Japanese, English, and European cuisine. If you’re looking for audacious meals like grilled fish in grenobloise sauce, then this is the spot for you.
Did you know some of the best restaurants Melbourne Australia are now using Carbonara App to help them manage their businesses? Find out how you can join them.