Restaurants In Melbournes Coolest

What Are The Restaurants In Melbourne’s Coolest Neighbourhoods?

Many of us have gone some way to throw off those shackles. Border restrictions are loosening. Bars, restaurants, even clubs are reopening. We’re all tentatively reaching out to something that kind of resembles a better normal.

So, what’s that, exactly? To find out, you’ve got to look at what’s going on around you, out on the street, down the park, in your backyard. Throughout 2020 and 2021, our cities have thrived. 

Against impossible odds, communities banded together, hung out, made stuff. They displayed all the same energy and resilience, and grassroots ingenuity that allowed them to spring up in the first place. They survived.

And now we come to our annual ranking of the world’s coolest neighbourhoods. This year, we couldn’t help but switch up our priorities. Food, drink, nightlife, culture – important. Community spirit, resilience, sustainability – just as important, especially if we are to come out with things we can be proud of and tell the rest of the world about.

Melbourne’s thriving food scene attracts millions of visitors every year, but there’s more to the cool Aussie city than great coffee and brunches. Whether you’re seeking a Michelin-starred meal or street food to shout about, here are the must-visit restaurants in the city’s hippest areas.

10 Unmissable Restaurants in Melbourne’s Coolest Neighbourhoods

Ezard

Any Melburnian will tell you that Ezard is a must-visit restaurant. Owned by Teage Ezard, one of Australia’s most renowned chefs, the restaurant in CBD serves what many consider to be the best tasting menu in Australia. 

If you’d rather stick to the à la carte, confections such as the signature oyster shooter or mouthwatering pork hock are sure to impress.

David’s Hotpot

One for those who don’t plan on venturing too far away from central Melbourne, David’s Hot Pot serves up bubbling Sichuan broth with various unusual dipping options – from tofu to ox penis. 

The experience of the restaurant is top-notch, thanks to the kitsch atmosphere and passionate staff. Reservations are essential.

Munich Brauhaus

A German beer hall that seats an impressive 900 people, Munich Brauhaus is as much an event as it is a restaurant. 

That doesn’t mean the owners are scrimping on taste, though: the menu features suckling pig, sourced locally and then cooked over a charcoal spit before being sprinkled with cardamom and fennel salt. Plus, there’s a strudel aplenty.

Neighbourhood Wine

Fitzroy is undoubtedly Melbourne’s coolest neighbourhood – but among all the Instagram-worthy pop-ups are some reliable gems, including Neighbourhood Wine

The sustainable menu at the restaurant changes daily. Still, you can expect comforting dishes such as potato and ricotta gnocchi with goat’s cheese or grilled octopus with fried purple potato – all served with excellent wine pairings, of course.

Macelleria

Meat-lovers: this one for you. Macelleria translates as “butcher shop”, and customers browse the meat before selecting their cut and how they want it cooked. Owner Peter Zaidan aims to educate diners about meat, but even if you’re not up for a lesson, you can expect one of the best steaks of your life.

Gerald’s Bar

The ’70s decor in Gerald’s Bar adds to the homely vintage vibe of this well-loved restaurant and bar. It’s garnered such a following over the years that the owners have even expanded to the foodie paradise that is San Sebastian in Spain. 

The North Carlton offering, however, serves up daily seasonal dishes, or an excellent degustation menu, with drinks, for 60 Australian dollars. Book in advance.

Restaurants In Melbournes Coolest

Los Hermanos

Los Hermanos Mexican Taqueria, a tiny little restaurant in the hip suburb of Brunswick, serves up out-of-this-world tacos and delicious homemade guacamole. 

If you’re visiting during winter, make sure to try the truly memorable Sopa de Fideo (Mexican soup made with noodles). The watermelon margaritas, however, are perfect all year round.

Penny Young, Moonee Ponds

What looks like a traditional Australian bottle-o (read: off-licence) turns out to be a treasure trove of great beer and cider in Moonee Ponds, along with some of the best pizza around. 

Cooked in an oven imported from Italy, Penny Young’s pizzas go down beautifully with a local bottle of ale or wine from the carefully curated list.

Lezzet’s Anatolian Kitchen

St Kilda is known for being the closest beach suburb to central Melbourne, but locals will tell you that Lezzet’s Anatolian Kitchen is just as good a reason to venture away from the CBD. 

A fragrant combination of traditional Turkish and modern Australian flavours, the banquet menus feature delicious meze, best enjoyed with one of the signature cocktails.

Amok Restaurant

Modern Cambodian cuisine reigns supreme at Amok Restaurant on hip Chapel Street in Windsor. There’s a focus on local produce, with fruit and veg sourced from nearby markets and fish caught on the Australian coast. 

The quality shows – chef Woody Chet’s fragrant dishes such as the Cambodian duck curry won him Most Outstanding Apprentice Chef at the Australian Culinary Federation’s Fine Foods competition.

FAQs About Melbourne Restaurants

(drumroll, please) - it's Smith Street, Collingwood. This may be news to some but, with its vast range of food and dining options, funky bars, artisan outlets and vintage shops, it's easy to see why this once 'working class' area has become the number one must-see street on Time Out magazine's world hotlist.

But in a city like Melbourne, declaring one street as the 'coolest' might be a little contentious. To even out the playing field, we’ve rounded up some other close contenders for must-see streets in one of the world’s most liveable cities.

The best restaurants in Melbourne

  • Flower Drum. Restaurants. Chinese. 
  • Poodle Bar & Bistro. Restaurants. French. 
  • Anchovy. Restaurants. Richmond. 
  • Gray and Gray. Restaurants. Northcote. 
  • Kazuki's. Restaurants. Japanese. 
  • Vue de Monde. Restaurants. Price 3 of 4. 
  • Minamishima. Restaurants. Richmond.
  • Etta. Restaurants. Bistros.

There is no authentic Melbourne dish or cuisine. Rather, the city's food options are limitless because it is a multicultural melting pot. Food is a portal into a culture, and Melbourne's vibrant immigration history remains at the forefront of its culture partly because of its undeniably international cuisine.

Melbourne has certainly changed plenty since British settlers arrived in 1788. It is now home to more than 200 nationalities and, thus, a similar number of sources of culinary inspiration.

One of the longest-standing foodie institutions in Melbourne is Queen Victoria Market, on the north side of the CBD.

It has been open since the 1870s and gets nine million visitors each year. It is one of four major markets feeding the city.

People bustle to and fro inside the food halls, buying from the butchers, fishmongers, deli, and niche produce vendors.

All the meat in the meat hall comes from Australia, mostly from Victoria. Some families have worked there for four generations, and locals say the butchers know their orders so well they can recognise them.

Outside, crowds peruse the fresh produce stalls and meet in the middle to chow down on doughnuts.

The American Doughnut Kitchen trailer is parked up on Queen St, outside sheds H and I. It has been there since 1956, dishing out classic doughnuts with a dollop of red jelly in the centre.

For a tipple, taste some top Australian wines at DeWine. Their mulled wine is particularly heavenly on a winter's day.

The Coolest Neighbourhoods in Melbourne

  • St Kilda. 
  • Fitzroy. 
  • Footscray. 
  • South Yarra. 
  • Carlton. 
  • Collingwood. 
  • South Melbourne. 
  • Melbourne CBD.

Toorak

Toorak held its position as the most expensive suburb in the city with a staggering median sale price of $5m, despite a 9.1 per cent drop in the previous quarter.

The Coolest Neighbourhoods in Melbourne

The words ‘cool’ and ‘Melbourne’ go together like toasted sourdough and smashed avo, a laneway and graffiti art, or a cold beer and a warm pie watching the footy at the MCG. 

Sydney might boast about beaches and weather, but its southern neighbour claims art, food, coffee, music and sport.

So much of Melbourne was built in the Victorian style by the riches that arrived with the Gold Rush in the 1850s. Still, a wave of European migration after World War Two – then the irrepressible rise of the specialty coffee-swilling hipster in more recent decades – have made the city what it is today. And a mosaic of colourful neighbourhoods gives Melbourne a unique cultural texture.

From the salubrious streets of the south to the hipster hubs of the north, the eclectic east to the working-class west, these are the ten coolest neighbourhoods in Melbourne, Australia.

Brunswick

When Anthony Bourdain visited Melbourne to film an episode of No Reservations in 2009, he made a beeline for Brunswick’s Sydney Road. “In a boom of post-war immigration, many immigrant families established business along this stretch of road just north of the city centre,” Bourdain explained.“And the number and variety of eateries here have continued to diversify.” 

The food tourist excellence sank his teeth into Lebanese icons Town Hall Kebabs and A1 Bakery, but that was only an entrée to the culinary delights that make Brunswick Melbourne’s coolest foodie destination

Try Tom Phat, Rumi, Los Hermanos, 400 Gradi, Brunswick Mess Hall, and plenty more top-drawer eateries. And there’s so much more to this old-school, the working-class neighbourhood turned hipster haven, thanks to speciality coffee shops Kines, Code Black and Wide Open Road, shabby-chic retailers like Lost and Found Market, American Vintage and Dejour jeans, and watering holes such as Howler, the Spotted Mallard and Thunder Road Brewery.

Richmond

As Richmond’s football club marched towards a drought-breaking premiership in 2017, journalist Jonathan Horn summed up this sports-mad neighbourhood: “Once known as Struggletown, it’s a hodgepodge of a suburb, with its footy pubs, converted warehouses, social housing blocks, hipster bars, workers cottages, cashed-up tradies, Vietnamese restaurants and hot yoga studios.” 

Footy is sewn into Richmond’s fabric, with the hulking Melbourne Cricket Ground routinely filled with 100,000 fanatics. But in the shadow of this revered sporting cathedral lies one of Melbourne’s most diverse communities — catch a gig at the Corner Hotel, hunt a bargain at the vintage stores along Bridge Road, grab a bowl of phở on Victoria Street, then sip on craft beer at micro-breweries like Moon Dog, Mountain Goat and Burnley Brewing.

In Richmond, you can expect an endless supply of restaurants thanks to the explosion of culinary life blooming along the main routes like Bridge Road, Swan Street and Church Street. The suburb’s culinary pedigree owes to a rich array of cuisines.

Expect places like I Love Dumplings – an institution of sorts within Melbourne which dumpling lovers swear by, Kong – a smokey Asian barbecue restaurant, the French restaurant named Noir and the Japanese, Minamishima, among many others. For fresh and fast Vietnamese food, head down Victoria Street – Melbourne’s very own Little Saigon. Richmond is the place to be for all-day eating.

St Kilda

At the turn of the 20th Century, St Kilda was to Melbourne what Coney Island was to New York City, right down to the sea baths and Luna Park fairground overlooking the sandy beach. But like the rest of the city, migration quickly changed the face of the neighbourhood. 

Alongside Jewish delis and cake shops, venues like the Espy and the Palais Theatre turned St Kilda into a live music hub in the 1960s and 1970s, before backpacker bars and seaside pubs kept the party going in recent years. 

“Few neighbourhoods can claim to have the mix of nightlife, cafés, lifestyle with the beach at your doorstep,” says Melbourne street artist Ling, whose mural masterpieces can be spotted all over Melbourne and on his Instagram.

Restaurants In Melbournes Coolest

Fitzroy

In her acclaimed debut novel Frankie (2016), local author Shivaun Plozza described a tram making a sudden stop in Melbourne’s bohemian inner north. “I hope no one inside took a tumble,” she wrote. “Then again, it’s the 86 and probably full of hipsters. 

They’ll land softly on their beards.” No part of Melbourne is as synonymous with this maligned hipster tag as Fitzroy, which became Melbourne’s first suburb in 1839, but is much more famous for its new wave of fixie-riding, natural wine-drinking, Dejour jean-wearing residents that have moved in over the past two decades. 

Look up any list of Melbourne’s hottest places to eat and drink, and Fitzroy is always generously represented: Naked For Satan, Neighbourhood Wine, Miss Katie’s Crab Shack, Black Pearl, Cutler and Co, and Belle’s Hot Chicken are all on the menu.

Fitzroy is an on-trend foodie enclave with affordable pubs and swankier established restaurants for fans of fine dining. Gertrude Street acts as a microcosm of Fitzroy – once a rough area, now home to a cool crowd frequenting popular bars, restaurants, pubs, boutiques and galleries.

You can brunch at Breakfast Thieves, enjoy afternoon tea at Archie’s All Day, head to Ladro for pizza or the fancier Cutler & Co for a modern Australian dinner and wine at Gertrude Street Enoteca or sip a beer at the Builders Arms Hotel. Further, explore Brunswick Street, where the super popular tapas rooftop bar named Naked for Satan is found. Other notable streets to wander down are Smith Street (further into Collingwood) and Johnston Street.

Footscray

Franco Cozzo (of those legendary baroque furniture ads) is the de facto mayor of Footscray, arriving in Australia from Sicily with nothing in his pocket before becoming the neighbourhood’s favourite son. 

The furniture king’s tale is typical of Footscray, an industrial hub that’s welcomed people from the Mediterranean, the former Yugoslavia, Vietnam, Africa and every other corner of the globe. 

This multiculturalism makes the area a must-visit for food-lovers, dishing up everything from cannoli at T Cavallaro & Sons to Vietnamese at Phở Hung Vuong Saigon and unbeatable burgers at 8bit.

 “It’s the inner west’s hipster haven,” Ling explains. “Surprisingly close to the CBD. Affordable real estate – or at least was affordable – and a multicultural melting pot with food to match.”

South Yarra

“Chapel Street reminds me of the East Village, Sunset Strip and Haight-Ashbury all combined into one juggernaut,” New York photographer Spencer Tunick said when he was organising one of his large-scale nude shoots on Melbourne’s premier shopping drag. 

South Yarra is a heaven for shopaholics, with upmarket boutiques and cafés hugging Chapel Street for four kilometres (2.5 miles) between Richmond in the north and St Kilda in the south. 

This neighbourhood is certainly the most exclusive on this list, but the parade of cutting-edge designers like Zimmermann, Gorman and LIFEwithBIRD protect its cool factor. Prahran’s market and Windsor’s vintage stores will lure tireless shoppers to these nice nearby neighbourhoods, too.

Carlton

Coffee is a Melbourne-wide obsession. However, it wasn’t always that way. Carlton’s University Café imported Australia’s first European coffee machine in the early 1950s – the cornerstone of the caffeine addiction that’s gripped the city in decades since. 

“Carlton is traditionally the Italian centre of Melbourne, although this is less relevant these days,” Ling says. “That said, Lygon Street is still home to numerous restaurants, including the recently renovated King & Godfree.” 

Like so much of Melbourne, Carlton was built by the Gold Rush in the 1850s – the gorgeous Carlton Gardens and World Heritage-listed Royal Exhibition Building are evidence of that – but became cool thanks to post-war immigration, as the strip of cafés and pizzerias along Lygon Street became Melbourne’s Little Italy and transformed Australian cuisine forever.

Carlton may be a small suburb, but it packs a punch with its rich Italian migrant history that brought along with it the food that many know and love. In this northern Melbourne neighbourhood, expect to find the very best of gelati, pizza, pasta, and coffee – all of which are in abundance in the neighbourhood’s epicentre, Lygon Street.

Popular places for a mean bowl of Bolognese are D.O.C. Espresso, 400 Gradi, and Brunetti – all along Lygon Street. Toto’s Pizza House, Australia’s first pizzeria established in 1961, deserves an honourable mention. Others worth visiting are Olivomare, Tiamo and Il Cantuccio. For some festival fun, look out for the Lygon Street Festa, one of Australia’s largest outdoor annual street festivals.

Collingwood

Collingwood shares its name with the most hated football club in Australia, but don’t hold that against it. Sitting just east of Fitzroy in Melbourne’s uber-cool inner-north, this once working-class suburb has swapped flour mills. It Fosters breweries for eccentric eateries and quirky boutiques along stylish Smith Street without losing live music institutions like the Tote, the Bendigo and the Gasometer. 

Another permanent feature is the Collingwood Magpies, the biggest AFL club in the country and a punching bag for rival fans. “I loved the gritty, old-fashioned, working-class feel,” wrote Nathan Buckley, once a legendary Magpies player and now their coach. “There was no glitz or glamour, and the facilities were primitive, but I ate that up.”

South Melbourne

This leafy suburb surrounds the unmissable South Melbourne Market (“Get some dim sum,” Ling says), which has been selling some of the city’s freshest produce since way back in the 1860s.

 A historic hive of Victorian-era streetscapes, South Melbourne also offers elite coffee joints like St Ali and Chez Dre plus renowned restaurants such as Meatworksco and Claypots Evening Star with the lakefront Formula One Grand Prix race track next door in Albert Park.

Melbourne CBD

The CBD claims most of Melbourne’s big-ticket attractions: Flinders Street Station, Federation Square, Queen Victoria Market, Royal and Block Arcades and the Eureka Centre across the Yarra River on Southbank. But that’s not what makes it cool. 

The city centre also boasts more than its fair share of top specialty coffee shops – Dukes, Brother Baba Budan and Market Lane among the best – and world-class street art on the walls of laneways like Hosier Caledonian, Union and AC/DC Lanes. 

“Known for its laneway culture, the CBD is a great place to explore and find new places tucked away off main streets,” says Ling, who’s responsible for plenty of this colour. “Shops, pubs, clubs, food, something for everyone – whether down the laneways or on main streets, the CBD has whatever you’re looking for.”

Melbourne’s CBD has made a name for itself with the notorious Flinders Lane attracting thousands of eager diners day after day. While the queues for the food may be painfully long, the food is worth the wait… plus there are plenty of bars nearby to pass the time. Supernormal deserves mention for its innovative mix of cuisine from Tokyo, Shanghai, Seoul and Hong Kong – you’ll be indulging in many courses.

Make sure to try the famous peanut butter parfait with salted caramel and soft chocolate. On Little Collins Street, you’ll find authentic Thai food at DoDee Padang and along Flinders Lane, the high-calibre Japanese restaurant, Kisume. For some pastry delights, a must-try is Om Nom Kitchen.

Resources:

A Foodie’s Guide to Melbourne’s Neighbourhoods

The 49 coolest neighbourhoods in the world

The Coolest Neighbourhoods in Melbourne

10 Unmissable Restaurants in Melbourne’s Coolest Neighbourhoods

Scroll to Top