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What Is The Best Restaurant In Melbourne?

Melbourne's world-renowned restaurant scene has been through the wringer lately. And while a few of our favourites have fallen (we miss you, Gertrude Street Enoteca; you too Shark Fin House), the establishments that survived not one, not two, but four Covid lockdowns are back open for business. Again. Here's hoping it's for good this time. 

Thankfully, Melburnians–for whom dining out is practically a religious experience–couldn't be keener to get back into our favourite restaurants, order our favourite bites and catch up with our favourite bartenders. But while familiarity is comforting, now is also the perfect time to visit those places you're yet to tick off your list. To try something new and–dare we say it–may even venture to the other side of the river. 

Fine Dining

Attica

It's the only Aussie restaurant that made The World's 50 Best Restaurants… and for a good reason! Ben Shewry's ability to balance respect for nature and suspending culinary disbelief is life-changing dining - even if you have to wait three months for a booking!

Bistro Gitan

What's not to love about the French, from their beautiful language to their heavenly cuisine? The same can be said about Bistro Gitan, a hallmark of French cuisine within Melbourne's inner suburbs. A contemporary French - and Spanish - the inspired menu is what you'll find at Bistro Gitan, but the steak fries are a must! Bistro Gitan is the perfect location for an intimate dinner date or for those looking to escape Melbourne for one night in Paris.

Cutler & Co

The flagship in the Andrew McConnell empire is also the most creative and adventurous. While his other venues leave many mid-level eateries for dead, this avant-garde spin on McConnell's style makes its culinary statement. So if you don't want to do the full deg, hot the lounges at the front, soak up the atmos and jump into some cracking snacks and cocktails.

Gimlet

The Rundown: One of Melbourne's most admired talents comes Gimlet at Cavendish House, the latest venture from chef-restaurateur Andrew McConnell (Cutler & Co, Cumulus Inc., Supernormal). The grand European-style bar and dining room are not only unmistakably Melbourne, but it endeavours to make a statement of optimism for an industry that's been on its knees. So come for the spectacular James Bond-esque martinis and oysters, as you marvel at the restaurant's decor whilst sitting at its French marble bar, or reserve a table for a casual lunch or a formal dinner - either option at Gimlet is one to revel in. On the menu, expect classics like seafood salads, dry-aged duck from the wood oven and a selection of beef offerings over a fire. McConnell also promises "a perfect Style club sandwich for $20."

  • Aru. Restaurant. This sultry sibling to Sunda is every bit as stellar.
  • Gimlet at Cavendish House. Restaurant.
  • Nomad. Restaurant
  • Society. Restaurant
  • Yakimono. Restaurant
  • Alterra. Bar
  • Hope St Radio. Bar
  • Bar Romanee. Restaurant.

The Iconic Dishes of Melbourne

  • Lamb Roast. There's nothing more Aussie than a Sunday roast
  • Banh mi. Thousands of refugees settled in Melbourne after the Vietnam War, and with them came to a wave of incredible Vietnamese bakeries
  • Meat pie
  • Gozleme
  • Hot jam doughnut
  • Pippies in XO
  • The magic
  • Capricciosa pizza.

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.

FAQ's About The Best Restaurants In Melbourne

Longrain

Since taking over the helm in mid-2020, chef and restauranteur Scott Pickett (of Estelle, Matilda, Pastore fame) have kept the flame alive for this Melbourne icon. Longrain highlights modern Thai cuisine in a rustic setting, offering a banquet and A la carte menu that allows patrons to fully explore - and appreciate - the exceptional Thai-inspired dishes on offer. Expect delectable dishes like a seared scallop in betel leaf, red kangaroo curry with wild ginger and macadamia, and Panang curry of chargrilled lamb, coriander, candlenut. 

Minamishima

The best Japanese restaurant in Australia. A super quaint, 40-seat restaurant helmed by Japanese sushi master Koichi Minamishima. Chef's Omakase (his choice) menu is a crash course in tranquillity, tradition and focus, and simplicity, humility and respect. Book seats at the chef's counter (only 12 available) so you can watch the little master at work. It's mesmerizing.

Contemporary

Half Acre

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Somewhat hidden in the backstreets of South Melbourne, Adam Wright-Smith's (formerly The Fat Radish, NYC) new venture in 'Half Acre' would be missed by the average passer-by. With what was once an old mill now converted multifaceted space including a bar, restaurant and event hall, Half Acre is all but your average eatery. Serving seasonal modern Australian cuisine in an open flamed charcoal fireplace, Wright-Smith has emulated a true' home away from home' with communal dining tables, rich lighting and hearty cuisine.

Etta

This Brunswick East hot spot is under the chef-ship of 28-year-old Rosheen Kaul, who we'd comfortably back in a cook-off against any of the nation's top chefs. This is because her menu is thoughtful and clever but never pretentious; whether it's a plate of woodfired oyster mushrooms with lap Cheong, a cured egg yolk and panko for crispness (flame cooking is Kaul's shtick) or her famous pork belly (served with oysters, no less), every single item on the menu is prepped, cooked and plated to its fullest, most flavoursome potential. 

Naturally, it's racking up rave reviews. And though the food is hard to beat, the chill but Etta's team's well-versed vibe deserves mention. 

Hazel

When you enter the gorgeous facade of Flinders Lane's historic Richard Allen & Son building, you're immediately transported into a space that feels close to a European-style cocktail bar, without being pretentious; it's still cleverly Melbourne. Hazel is a new venture exploring fine dining without the fuss from the team behind Melbourne's staunch breakfast favourites in Higher Ground, Top Paddock and the Kettle Black. So let your eyes naturally gravitate to the 'On Toast' menu section, where bread lovers can rejoice in house-made sourdough bread charred over woodfired grills and serve with anchovy and kefir butter.

The Chef's Menu does well at providing you with a taste with a range of Hazel offerings, like house-made fromage frais (fresh cheese), house-made capocollo with grilled peach, and juicy scotch fillet with wild garlic butter for mains.

Marano

When dining at Marameo, think cheeky Italian but in the best kind of way - it's Melbourne's newest go-to for authentic Italian cuisine with a contemporary twist. The team behind Il Bacaro, Bar Carolina and Sarti are at play here, putting together an Italian all-day dining venue that will leave you wanting more. Chris Connell Design has transformed the previously moody space to reflect a new diner that is fun, easy-going and playful. And the airy restaurant also features a sleek outdoor terrace, perfect for summer evenings with an Aperol Spritz in hand.

Head Chef Geoff Martin includes Italian staples to his menu, like salumi and cheese, fresh pasta made in-house daily and a selection of meats cooked over Marameo's grill.

Marion

Technically, Marion is a wine bar. But Godspeed to you if you plan on exiting this chic Gertrude Street spot without ordering at least one morsel off the food menu.  Its dishes are seasonally-led and, in a rarity for purveyors of 'bar food' in the city, they don't skimp on portion size. The Jerusalem artichokes, golden raisins, feta and sunflower dish, is a personal favourite, but when you're sipping a King Valley Gewürztraminer, the cheeses go down mighty fine, too. 

This Brunswick East hot spot is under the chef-ship of 28-year-old Rosheen Kaul, who we'd comfortably back in a cook-off against any of the nation's top chefs. This is because her menu is thoughtful and clever but never pretentious; whether it's a plate of woodfired oyster mushrooms with lap Cheong, a cured egg yolk and panko for crispness (flame cooking is Kaul's shtick) or her famous pork belly (served with oysters, no less), every single item on the menu is prepped, cooked and plated to its fullest, most flavoursome potential.  Naturally, it's racking up rave reviews. And though the food is hard to beat, the chill but Etta's team's well-versed vibe deserves mention. 

Bar Lourinhã

Mediterranean flavours + wine = cherished memories. It's a philosophy that's hard to argue with, and the charming Bar Lourinhã does an excellent job at proving just how cherishable food cooked with soul and wine made with passion can be. 

Good luck getting past the sweetbread and morcilla pintxo with wild mushroom, which is one of the more delectable savoury treats our taste glands have made contact with. For dessert, it's the Ginjinha de Obidos and chocolate cup. Wondering what that is? All the more reason to book a table and order up. 

Supernormal

Adding another McConnell establishment to our list, but this time one has served hungry foodies since 2014. Supernormal is a cult favourite for Melburnians and visitors alike thanks to its level of cool, ambience and, of course, exceptional food.

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You can't go and not try the New England lobster rolls - a signature of the famed restaurant and a dish you'll be thinking about long after your visit. The prawn & chicken dumplings in chilli & vinegar sauce are among the best in town. The slow-cooked Xinjiang lamb with sesame bread & coriander paste is exceptional. Ending high with the peanut butter parfait, salted caramel & soft chocolate is a must.

Taquito

Head to the quaint suburb of Carlton, where you'll find Taquito, a Mexican-inspired bar and eatery dishing up some of the best tacos and margaritas in town… and we don't say that lightly. Tortillas are made in house from 100% gluten-free stone-ground corn, with all tacos available as flights of 4. Larger share plates like the BBQ pork cutlet with mole Amarillo, fennel & celery are hearty and delicious, and desserts include staples like Churros con dulce de leche atole.

Anchovy

The Anchovy team refer to their cuisine as 'a little bit in between' Asian and Australian. But in our opinion, that descriptor oversimplifies the ingenuity of what's being plated up inside this small Richmond restaurant.

From chilli crab with corn to the pigs head banh mi with crispy chilli oil, everything owner Jia-Yen Lee and chef Thi Le put together is like comfort food with a curveball–the curveball being a fancy, unexpected little touch that sears each dish into your 'most epic meals' memory bank. 

Trattoria Emilia

Trattoria Emilia is one of those hole-in-the-wall locations that you either need to know about or stumble across. Authentically Italian in every way possible, expect heartwarming food from Northern Italy, like Tortelloni Modenese (a popular dish from the Emilia-Romagna region); handmade pasta with mortadella, prosciutto, Parmesan and aged balsamic from Modena; or Vitello tonnato, which is poached veal, tuna mayo, capers and veal jus. If you're lucky, you'll even walk home with a fresh loaf of ciabatta bread just for stopping by!

Tipo 00

It's hard to go past a good pasta. Especially when that pasta comes from the Tipo 00 kitchen. Owned by ex Vue de monde chef Andreas Papadakis, the menu here pays tribute to Papadakis' fine dining roots while peeling away the fuss that tends to get associated with dining at a fine establishment. 

Inside Tipo, you can smell the passata bubbling away on the stove as waiters glide by balancing plates of locally-sourced braised duck and homemade gnocchi, which is so light and pillowy that eating it feels like a sin. Until it doesn't. 

Essential Restaurants

A1 Bakery

This family-owned Lebanese bakery in Brunswick, a large Middle Eastern neighbourhood, has been strong for more than 25 years. A favourite of students and locals alike, the place — a veritable institution around these parts — is as unfussy as it is sublime. Prices start at 1.50 Australian dollars ($1) for just-out-of-the-oven za'atar pizza covered in thyme, oregano, sumac, sesame seeds, and olive oil. They don't go over 15 Australian dollars ($10) for great chicken stock and falafel platter. In between, you'll find a thick pie filled with chunks of halloumi, fresh tabbouleh, and ful medames. While you're there, grab a bag of one of the freshly baked flatbreads to go. 

Very Good Falafel

The name gets it right: Very Good Falafel has easily the finest in town — bright green and chunky on the inside, crisp on the outside. Friends Shuki Rosenboim and Louisa Allan grew their business from a temporary stall at local markets to a permanent shop a few years ago. However, sometimes they still stuff pita at the University of Melbourne farmers market. The cute Brunswick storefront is seemingly always packed with young people in search of a quick bite, maybe a crisp salad, velvety hummus, or sabich bursting with eggplant — and falafel, always. If you like heat, ask for an extra zhug, house-made and loaded with cilantro and green chile. 

All Are Welcome

After working as a pastry chef in Napa Valley's three-Michelin-starred Restaurant at Meadowood, Boris Portnoy moved to Australia for a change of pace. His community-focused bakery, All Are Welcome, is located in a converted Christian Science Reading Room in the hip neighbourhood of Northcote. Viennoiseries go way beyond the classic croissant — expect to find Bostock piled with fruit, gooey chocolate babka, and a fancy spin on the Georgian khachapuri. During the colder months, don't pass up a slice of the medovnik, an impressive 10-layer Slavic honey-and-buttercream cake. 

Babajan Eatery

In Melbourne, you can eat just as well during brunch as you can at dinner, maybe better — and Babajan is proof. This place is tiny but mighty. Chef-owner Kirsty Chiaplias puts all her effort into making her soulful, Turkish-inspired brunch fare from scratch. In the morning, the menemen (a baked egg dish with spiced tomato sauce and pistachio dukkah) and the lahmacun (flatbread topped with spiced ground lamb, tomato, pickled chile, onions, and parsley) are favourites. Later in the day, fish, salads, and hummus continue to satisfy. Then, on a sunny day, get one of the sidewalk tables. Expect a wait; coffee and a house-made pide or simit should ease the pangs. 

Napier Quarter

Napier Quarter is the kind of place that will have you considering a move to the buzzy and leafy Fitzroy area. The tiny neighbourhood gem transforms from an espresso bar in the morning to a wine bar in the afternoon. To match a mostly Australian wine list, chef Eileen Horsnell creates inspired dishes with carefully selected local ingredients like heirloom carrots and Bass Strait octo.

Carlton Wine Room

Wine bars are having a moment in Melbourne, and Carlton Wine Room is one of the best. Now led by a team of hospitality superstars (vets of Marion, Cutler & Co., and Coda), this popular haunt has a comfortable dining room with banquettes upstairs and a lively bar downstairs. The menu leans European dishes like duck and pork croquettes, tripe and cuttlefish gratin, and classic rum baba. The revolving wine list satisfies both lovers of traditional drops and offbeat natural ones. In addition, Melbourne's beloved arthouse Cinema Nova is just around the corner for a perfect date-night pairing.

Kalimera Souvlaki Art

Pita-wrapped, french fry-stuffed lamb souvlaki is Australia's favourite late-night snack. Still, Oakleigh's Kalimera Souvlaki Art is all about the traditional spit-roasted pork that owners Thomas Deliopoulos and Sylvia Gabriel pack into a chargrilled pita along with onions, tomatoes, tzatziki, paprika, and fries — always fries. Attica's Ben Shewry is a vocal fan of the pork platter here.

Conclusion:

Melbourne is a haven for food-obsessed travellers, known for its cool city laneways, graffiti-filled streetscapes, and rooftop bars. There's an elaborate sense of hospitality and food culture that stems from a history of immigrants setting down roots in the city, including people of Vietnamese, Chinese, Indian, Japanese

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