middle eastern restaurants

What Are Melbourne’s Best Middle Eastern Restaurants?

There are sharp distinctions between the regional fare of the Middle East. Still, there is also a lot of common ground, especially for the love of chickpeas, tomato, parsley, pickles, garlic, lemon, proteins grilled over coals, and falafel. 

Whether you're specifically in the mood for some Lebanese fare with enough garlic to kill your dining partner or open to whoever is doing the best hummus in town, Melbourne boasts an ace Turkish, Israeli, Lebanese, Persian, Syrian, or Armenian restaurant to sort out your particular craving for Middle Eastern food. 

Beyond the plethora of kebab shops in Melbourne, you can find dozens of restaurants serving some of the city’s best Middle Eastern cuisine. From Turkish to Moroccan, the collection of Middle Eastern restaurants in Melbourne is greatly diverse, catering for all appetites. Here are the best.

The best 20 Middle Eastern restaurants in Melbourne

Smoky, exotic, fresh, vibrant and made for sharing - is it any wonder Middle Eastern food is having a moment? Here are our favourite Melbourne restaurants - plucked from the Good Food Guide - that are taking Middle Eastern food to heady new heights. 

New Jaffa

  • Restaurants
  • Middle Eastern
  • Collingwood
  • price 2 of 4

Since the first hummus recipe was recorded in 13th-century Cairo, it has travelled far and wide throughout the Levant and Mediterranean. Everyone claims their version is the best, and it's certainly the main attraction at New Jaffa, a Middle Eastern diner in the backstreets of Collingwood. 

Owner and chef Moshe Ittah makes it fresh daily with traditional ingredients (chickpeas, garlic, lemon, oil and tahini sourced from Israel) using a secret technique. The result is a silky texture, a rich, nutty flavour, and the perfect balance of salt and acid. 

Miznon

  • Restaurants
  • Middle Eastern
  • Melbourne
  • price 1 of 4

Fans of Ottolenghi would do well to take note. In his cookbook Jerusalem, the renowned chef hailed the mastermind behind global Israeli pita empire Miznon, Eyal Shani, as “the voice of modern Israeli cuisine”. 

And that voice is now getting global reach – Melbourne’s Hardware Lane outpost has become Shani’s sixth Miznon, and it's where people queue to get their hands on the famous cauliflower.

The best spot to experience this bustling Israeli party is perched at the bar, watching dozens of cauliflowers being lovingly tended to in the oven. The staff shouted "Bag of meat!" (shredded brisket and sausage-sizzle-y onions) or "Saq de coq!" (self-contained roast chicken, herbs and potato) and belted out '80s pop.

Babajan

  • Restaurants
  • Cafés
  • Carlton North
  • price 1 of 4

In this tiny open kitchen, they make everything from scratch, in-house, and all the action is visible from the 20-odd seats inside. On any given day, the fruits of their labour include piles of hearty salads that wouldn't look amiss in an Ottolenghi cookbook, teacakes, pastries, and Turkish bread-like pride and simit.  

Menemen is the Turkish take on baked eggs that are traditionally pre-scrambled with tomatoes and spices. At Babajan, they choose to bake the eggs whole so you can dunk your simit – a slightly sweet, bagel-like bread ring encrusted with sesame seeds – into the eggy tomato mess. 

Maha

  • Restaurants
  • Melbourne
  • price 2 of 4

Maha’s signature slow-roasted lamb shoulder is the stuff of reveries for many carnivores who have crossed its path since the early days. Also, see crab meat with the lilting heat of harissa mayo nestled under the brick pastry. 

And charry quail duking it out with garlic sauce and dried apricot in a deathmatch to deliciousness. Maha has an old-fashioned Middle Eastern approach to hospitality that has ensured its admission to the club of restaurants that aren’t just restaurants but part of the fabric of a city. 

As befits a Middle Eastern restaurant, where generous feasts are the cultural norm, your only options for dinner at Shane Delia's honey-toned basement bazaar are either a four-, six- or eight-course banquet. 

The four-course source menu is more relaxed, with plates of garlicky lamb shoulder or Turkish delight-stuffed doughnuts designed to share. Delia has also just opened a Maltese meze bar, MahaBar, in Collingwood, already one of the openings of 2020. 

Maha redefines traditional Arab food with a modern twist. Undergoing a massive renovation in 2015, the restaurant’s now stylish and contemporary setting offers a fine-dining experience with traditional Arabian vibes. Maha takes an unrestricted approach to recreating Middle Eastern flavours. 

Mains include a 12-hour roasted lamb shoulder as well as local barramundi served with asparagus and lemon yogurt. Refreshing drinks induce saffron and pomegranate infused cocktails as well as Arabic coffee martinis. The hugely popular burger range also puts a modern, Aussie twist on traditional Middle Eastern flavours.

Tulum

  • Restaurants
  • Turkish
  • Balaclava

Discover the Turkish nation’s edible vitality from a smart narrow Carlisle Street shopfront made classy with wall sconces, greenery and turquoise Moorish tiles. 

Turkish food may have been reduced to cliché in the Australian imagination, but this is a kitchen bringing the kind of modern Turkish food you’d find in Istanbul’s thumpingly vibrant restaurant scene to Balaclava with a program of pickling, preserving, fermenting and hanging (yoghurt, that is). 

The food here has context and heart, and it's rendered with a fine dining sensibility in a cosy and welcoming restaurant. Flavours are traditional but reworked with flair. Impressively dainty and entirely delicious beef dumplings (manti) paddle in a toasty burnt butter sauce.

Yagiz

  • Restaurants
  • Turkish
  • South Yarra
  • price 2 of 4

Southside’s Middle Eastern dining boom keeps on booming, and the cooking here is the real deal. Turkey’s favourite bar food, cigar (liver), is cooked the way the Albanians do (these guys are legendary butchers). 

Cubes of rich lamb liver are pan-fried in lots of oil and liberally seasoned with cumin, marjoram, paprika and chervil. Pile it on crisp lavash for crunch and knock back a raki while you’re at it. The borek is likewise a standout. 

This isn't your average suburban Turkish joint. It's South Yarra, so your table is precisely spot-lit with flattering lighting. Start with confit duck cigars in dinky glass jars, the bubbled pastry ends dipped in ash-like isot pepper, then make your way through share-friendly plates. Sandwich grilled ezine cheese – Turkey's answer to saganaki – between yufka pastry sheets for a savoury mille-feuille of sorts.

Shuka

  • Restaurants
  • Middle Eastern
  • Windsor
  • price 2 of 4

The name translates as ‘marketplace’ in Armenian. Imagine a night bazaar without the frenzy. As for the food, Shukah isn’t wedded to tradition – it’s Middle Eastern food by way of Melbourne. To start, order the hummus immersed in brown butter, accompanied by a giant fire-baked lavash. 

Bread is king in Middle Eastern cuisine, and this one hits the mark: it’s just the right kind of greasy, with a healthy sprinkling of za’atar providing that body-tingling zing. Or begin with a meze selection.

Anatolia Tantuni

  • Restaurants
  • Turkish
  • Fitzroy
  • price 1 of 4

Tanti is the antidote to every disappointing kebab you’ve ever had. At Anatolia Tantuni, owner Burhan Kurucu makes his tan tunic with beef or chicken (or a mix) that has been animated with red pepper flakes, smoky paprika and oregano. 

He wraps it up with diced tomato, sumac-coated red onion and parsley, which cut through the oily redness of the spiced meat, adding acidity, tangy bite and herby freshness. 

Just Falafels

  • Restaurants
  • Middle Eastern
  • Fitzroy North
  • price 1 of 4

This bright little shopfront is bringing seriously good falafel and all its zesty bandmates to North Fitzroy. Falafel is the Middle Eastern answer to gnocchi. Do it wrong, and you wind up with rubbery pucks of sadness. Do it right, and angels weep. 

Just Falafs deserves to have a host of teary, harp-playing spirit guides hovering overhead. Still, we didn’t notice, thanks to being face-down in a fluffy pita pocket stuffed to the gunwales with those crunchy balls with the flicker of harissa fire cooled by cucumber and silken tahini.

Abla's

  • Restaurants
  • Middle Eastern
  • Carlton
  • price 2 of 4

When young Abla Amad came to Melbourne in 1954, she brought the love of cooking while watching her mother in their north Lebanese village, then came to the restaurant. 

Abla’s opened in 1979 in the same location it’s in today. Upon entry, you experience a pleasant time warp – the hospitality is instant: a warm welcome, olives and pita crisps already on your table, your wine whisked away for uncorking (it’s BYO for $10). This is one of those places where it's worth considering the banquet. 

middle eastern restaurants

Very Good Falafel

  • Restaurants
  • Middle Eastern
  • Brunswick

Friends Louisa Allan and Shuki Rosenboim cultivated quite the following for their falafels at farmer’s markets around Melbourne before they opened Very Good Falafel on Sydney Road. 

Now, the permanent home where the menu works is mainly because it’s so simple. Sticking to the traditional Israeli take on the Middle Eastern pita wrap and platter, options are limited to the falafel, sabih (fried eggplant), and tzitzit (meat patties).

Bar Saracen

  • Restaurants
  • Middle Eastern
  • Melbourne
  • price 2 of 4

Back in the old days, ‘Saracen’ was the word Christians would use to describe people from the Middle East without their knowledge – originally meaning to steal or plunder. 

Naturally, Abboud and Vlassopoulos thought, ‘to hell with that,’ and confidently labelled themselves as such with the slogan, ‘Of Middle Eastern appearance’ in case you didn’t get the memo. And that’s pretty much the style of food they serve: Middle Eastern-ish. We advise you to book ahead to snag a table in the dining room.

Koy Restaurant

  • Restaurants
  • Korean
  • South Melbourne

We're willing to weather a lot to get our hands on a serve of beautifully light flaky pastry wrapped around minced beef, peppers, tomato and herbs, topped with chilli flakes, lemon juice and a spoon of natural yoghurt. 

That's why we head to the South Melbourne Market to stand in line for gozleme from Koy's takeaway stall on market days. We like that it's busy, and the lady operating the grill has no time for anyone's nonsense. 

Rumi

  • Restaurants
  • Brunswick East
  • price 1 of 4

Rumi has set the bar for restaurants of its ilk. The pottery is straight from grandma’s house, and the furniture is stripped back. There are draping fabrics, and wooden panels etched with gold calligraphy – touches of glitz, minus the pretension.

You can order à la carte, but we recommend a banquet: the Classic champions Rumi’s mainstay dishes ($55 for 12), while the Seasonal centres on seasonal produce ($60 for 14). 

For almost 13 years, the chef has been serving vibrant, modern, Middle Eastern cuisine such as light halloumi, feta and kasseri "cigars", tissue-thin golden skins dimpled in the fryer, the ends forming gorgeous brown spirals. Tahini is mixed with Turkish red pepper paste on tender chicken shish kebabs, dusted with tangy sumac.

With Farsi calligraphy adorning its walls, Rumi pays homage to Persian culture and flavours. While there is a strong focus on Persian and Lebanese cuisine, Rumi incorporates the wider and ancient flavours of the Middle East and the Mediterranean. 

There is a wide range of fresh meals perfect for vegans, vegetarians and lovers of meat. The slow-roasted spiced lamb shoulder marinated with sirkanjabin is a signature dish and perfect to satisfy the biggest appetites.

Oasis Bakery

  • Restaurants
  • Murrumbeena
  • price 1 of 4

Oasis Bakery, a three-in-one bakery, café and supermarket deep in suburban Murrumbeena, has become a bit of a cult foodie destination. It's a one-stop-shop for modern Middle Eastern marketplaces, complete with a dessert bar, crepe station and a deep fryer pumping out fresh Lebanese doughnuts. 

Next to the dessert bar, the deli offers piles of cured meats and cheeses you can take home for later. But first, lunch. You can’t go wrong with the lamb shawarma. 

Balha's Pastry

  • Restaurant
  • Pastry Shop
  • Middle Eastern
  • Pastries

Selling more than 6000 baklavas in ten different varieties daily, Balha’s Pastry is easily one of Melbourne’s best Middle Eastern restaurants to satisfy a sweet tooth. Everything is made fresh daily in this family-run restaurant, which doubles as a sweet shop. 

Besides its famous baklava, Balha’s offers over 40 traditional Lebanese biscuits, pastries, cakes and desserts. If choosing among this huge range is difficult, knafeh and znoud el-sit are popular favourites not worth missing. Balha’s Pastry is also renowned for producing great Middle Eastern varieties of coffee.

Kamel

Restaurant, Middle Eastern, African, Moroccan

Nestled in the bayside suburb of Albert Park, Kamel serves a variety of flavours spanning from the Middle East to North Africa. Banquets and mezze dishes are designed to share with friends and family, giving an authentic Middle Eastern dining experience. 

The spices and blends by Kamel incorporate the traditional recipes of a vast area from Yemen to Morocco. Despite the array of traditional North African-inspired furniture, this restaurant provides a unique fine-dining experience. Kamel’s wide collection of local wine provides the perfect complement to a traditional, hearty meal.

Sahara

Bar, Restaurant, Moroccan

Hidden up a secret staircase in the heart of Melbourne’s bustling CBD, Sahara is an ideal space to find tranquillity with Moroccan cuisine. With a rooftop bar overlooking the State Library and Melbourne’s colourful city lights, Sahara is an ideal place to enjoy a cocktail with friends after a long day. 

The menu is simple and uncomplicated, with a wide range of tapas and traditional Moroccan tagines. The entire space is adorned with colourful Moroccan furniture, architecture and ornaments. 

The rooftop is also an ideal place to enjoy a wide range of shisha flavours. With its beautiful setting, flavours and vibes, Sahara is the best place to explore Morocco in the heart of Melbourne.

Arabesque

Bar, Restaurant, Middle Eastern, Turkish, Moroccan

Specialising in Moroccan, Turkish and Mediterranean cuisine, Arabesque caters for all appetites. The wide range of mezze dishes and banquets encourages sharing, which is perfect for groups and families. Arabesque features gold and red fabrics draped across the tables and ceiling, radiating the vibes of a sultan’s palace. 

There is a strong focus on traditional and modern Turkish recipes. Hearty mains include classic favourites such as shish lamb and kofte. Refreshing Moroccan mint tea or a Turkish baklava cocktail is ideal to complement a delicious meal.

Téta Mona

Restaurant, Australian, Pastries, Salad Bar

For hearty, home-cooked Lebanese meals, Téta Mona is hard to miss. This restaurant prepares wholesome village food just like a Lebanese Teta (grandmother) would at home. 

This homely space offers an array of traditional and simple Lebanese dishes, including falafel, hummus and spiced lamb. The cigar bi lahem is an iconic cigar-shaped lamb pasty served with a crisp salad and cool yogurt.

middle eastern restaurants (3)

FAQs About Melbourne Restaurants

Though Middle Eastern and Mediterranean food is distinct from each other, the two share flavours, and "Mediterranean" is often used as an umbrella term to describe both. For example, flatbreads, roasted meat, and hummus are generally considered stables of both types of cuisine.

Middle Eastern food inherently attracts people looking for healthier options. This means plenty of salad, as well as main dishes that are nutrient-rich and grilled rather than fried. The abundance of healthy ingredients used in our cuisines, such as tomatoes, peppers and chickpeas, makes it a great choice.

It's the same as Mediterranean food.

Share some similarities, but Mediterranean food denotes food influenced by the Mediterranean sea (think: Greece, Spain, Morocco, France, and Turkey). Most Middle Eastern countries are not even by the sea, hence why most relatives don't even know how to swim.

The Most Surprising Dishes From The Middle East

  • Camel Meat. Camel meat is plentiful in the Middle East, particularly in the Gulf area, where camels are reared for their meat and leather. 
  • Fesenjoon. 
  • Ghoul. 
  • Hindbeh. 
  • Kashk-e Bademjan. 
  • Kushari. 
  • Mandi.
  • Maqluba.

Grains. Grains are the basis of the Middle Eastern diet, where wheat and rice are considered staple foods. Barley is also widely used in the region, and maise, in addition, has become common in some areas. Bread is a universal food eaten in some form by all classes at nearly every meal.

Middle eastern foods such as pita bread and hummus are considered Greek. Several middle eastern dishes such as hummus or baba ganoush are based on traditional Mediterranean ingredients, and often I see them in Greek restaurants. However, they are not Greek.

Visit the Best Middle Eastern Restaurant Melbourne

Enter a dining experience like no other when you visit the Afghan Gallery in Fitzroy. We serve up a delicious menu featuring some of the best middle eastern cuisine locals know. 

If you’ve been looking for some of the best middle eastern food in Melbourne, locals are happy to recommend Afghan Gallery Restaurant. We provide dining experiences set against some of the most enchanting tapestries to adorn the walls of our gallery. We offer a complete sensory treat that takes you beyond a delicious meal and transports you to the heart of a heritage experience. 

The Afghan Gallery is as resplendent with its menu as it is with its rich interior decor. Heritage adorns our venue and the dishes we have on offer, and we have easily been known as one of the best middle eastern restaurants in Melbourne.

Enjoy the Best Middle Eastern Cuisine in Melbourne's North

When it comes to sampling middle eastern food, Melbourne diners are spoilt for choice. Those craving middle eastern cuisine Melbourne locals consider authentic will need to look no further than in the various suburbs, rich with immigrant history. 

If you’ve been looking to try a middle eastern restaurant Melbourne locals keep coming back to, the Afghan Gallery is just a stride away from the CBD. Located in Fitzroy, we serve up some of the tastiest middle eastern food available in the northern suburbs. Whether you’re craving Iranian or Persian cuisine, you won’t be disappointed with our menu. Among our dishes, you’ll be delighted to find a delicious variety of:

  • Qormas,
  • Kebabs, and
  • Pilau rice dishes, to mention just a few examples.

Located within earshot of popular suburbs such as Carlton and are often frequented by residents searching for middle eastern cuisine Melbourne diners adore. If you’ve been searching for a middle eastern restaurant Carlton diners can conveniently visit, consider booking a table with us in Fitzroy.

Resources:

The best Middle Eastern restaurants in Melbourne

Middle Eastern Restaurant Melbourne

Five of Melbourne's best Middle Eastern restaurants

The Top 10 Middle Eastern Restaurants In Melbourne, Australia

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