A Local’s Guide to the Best Food in Melbourne

LB2 Specialty Coffee, Melbourne, Australia

Melbourne is well known as having some of the best food in Australia.  

The diverse city located in Victoria, southeast of the continent has a cooler climate than most of Australia, which has created a culture of art and food lovers.

Melbourne has been calling to foodies who travel Australia for years; there is tremendous competition in the food industry, so new restaurants are often opening, and menus are always changing.

There is no genuine food or cuisine from Melbourne. Instead, the city’s diverse population means that there are countless dining options available, and the city’s multicultural population and top-notch restaurants have an impact on the wide variety of food.

Melbourne is undoubtedly a destination city for food lovers and due to its diversified people and culture, it has developed a special and vibrant culinary scene that attracts tourists from all over the world.

The greatest restaurants in Melbourne are those that leave a mark, a satisfying aftertaste, and are the complete package, including the cuisine, the beverages menu, the decor, and the service. 

Some of Melbourne’s top restaurants are dispersed throughout the sprawling city and can be found on the most unlikely suburban streets, underground, or even on the 55th level of the Rialto skyscraper. 

Melbourne is on par with New York, Tokyo, and London as a cuisine city. The dining scene is inventive and diverse, combining local and international cultural influences.

Additionally, the wine bars are influenced by those in France and Spain, the coffee culture was established by the immigration of Greek and Italians, and the sheer amount of great ramen and noodle shops suggests that Melbourne is not far from Asia. 

Local foods were formerly a hard-to-find novelty but are today appreciated not only at daring fine-dining establishments but also in cafés and cocktail lounges. Melbourne may also be referred to by its indigenous name, Naarm, in a nod to non-Indigenous Australians’ growing desire to honor their culture.

There are countless lists of the best restaurants and food in Melbourne.  Here below are some popular top Melbourne eateries as well as some personal top eateries to add to your travel Australia list:

Best Melbourne Food CBD

Queen Victoria Market

The Queen Victoria Market, located on the north side of Melbourne’s CBD, is one of the city’s oldest institutions for foodies.

It has been open since the 1870s. It is one of the city’s four main markets. Inside the food halls, shoppers move back and forth while making purchases from the butchers, fishmongers, delis, and specialty produce merchants. Queen Victoria Market is a must-visit for travelers to the city looking for an authentic taste of fresh food in Melbourne.

Hardware Lane

Between Little Lonsdale and Bourke Streets in the Melbourne CBD, Hardware Lane is one of the city’s most popular dining and cafe streets.

Along this stretch are hip bars, cafes, and cake shops that serve a fusion of contemporary Australian, Mexican, Thai, Italian, and Greek cuisine. Prepare to savor some of the world’s most exceptional flavors and culinary creations.

Many of the structures on this lane are warehouses that are more than a century old, reflecting Melbourne’s fascinating history. The best places to eat are outdoors under the stars in the summer, and the restaurants are also a warm haven on chilly winter nights.

At Campari House’s quirky rooftop bar, sip a cold Australian beer while listening to live outdoor jazz music, or just relax and take it all in. Grill Steak Seafood is the place to go if you enjoy seafood. Alternately, go to Vons and indulge in a delectable pudding. Visit Golden Monkey for the tastiest cocktails to round off your day.

For mouth-watering Mexican food served with tequila and tapas, visit Amigos, or try Il Nostro Posto for authentic Italian cuisine. 

Try Max On Hardware for top-notch food and beverages while dining al fresco with family or friends in the center of the famous laneway. Max also serves genuine Australian-Italian food, including hand-crafted pizzas, luscious steaks, and burgers.

You can choose from a variety of items on the Max menu while dining outside on the cobblestone pavement, including seafood paella, or the restaurant’s famous chicken Max. Other options include Moroccan beef or cajun chicken salad, numerous risottos, pasta dishes, and pizzas.

Many of the cafés in Hardware Lane are open early in the morning for coffee or breakfast on the go, and they stay up late for people looking for an after-dinner drink. 

Grossi Florentino

Restaurants in Melbourne that will open the door for you, hang your jacket, recline your chair, and fold your napkin across your lap are becoming increasingly rare. But at Grossi Florentino, this behavior is highly valued.

The restaurant, which was first established in 1928, has recently had a more modern makeover by architects Mills Gorman, who also created the interiors for Guy Grossi’s other Bourke Street restaurant, Ombra Bar.

With its dark wood tables, towering leather upholstered seats, black marble, and numerous big murals throughout, the great dining room is reminiscent of the Renaissance period and worth the visit in itself.

Red Pepper

At the Parliamentary end of Bourke Street, Red Pepper is an elegant Indian eatery. With French bistro-style wooden seats, polished floorboards, and crisp white walls with carefully positioned, framed photos, the decor is exquisite. Delicious naan breads go well with richly colored curries. Better yet are the surprisingly inexpensive rates and the 3 am closing time. Outside tables provide wonderful views of Parliament House.

Byblos Bar and Restaurant

Byblos Bar and Restaurant offers delectable Lebanese and Mediterranean cuisine together with opulent service, elegant surroundings, and an exceptional drink menu.

Byblos is the perfect place for a riverside lunch or supper, after-work cocktails, or a celebration, and is situated by the lovely Yarra River on the edge of the Melbourne CBD.

Prepare yourself for a memorable evening of exquisite food, first-rate service, and a breathtaking view.

Chinatown

With beginnings in the 1850s gold rush, Melbourne’s Chinatown is a distinctive and well-known neighborhood. The longest-running Chinese community in the West is located in Melbourne, Australia. Little Bourke Street, which connects to Bourke Street and Lonsdale Street via alleyways, is where Chinatown’s core identity and main focus are found.

Step inside Melbourne’s Chinatown’s impressive red gates to discover authentic Asian cuisine, karaoke, drink lounges, and trendy boutiques.

You can fill up at the well-known Asian eateries Shark Fin Inn and Westlake, where lunch is referred to as yum cha, or try the fantastic Flower Drum for exquisite Cantonese cuisine. At HuTong Dumpling Bar, Shandong Mama, and China Red, sample the best dumplings the city has to offer.

Choose the ideal restaurant for dinner, then proceed to Manchuria, New Gold Mountain, or another establishment for cocktails by following the lanterns and neon lights up a flight of stairs or down a laneway in this popular part of Melbourne CBD.

Best Melbourne Food Inner Suburbs

The days when going out to eat required a trip to the CBD are long gone. Today, some of Melbourne’s best-kept culinary secrets can be found close to home. Nearby restaurants that serve genuine cuisine from throughout the world include some of Melbourne’s greatest eateries. 

The top suburban restaurants and cafes in Melbourne are opening up all the time, from Reservoir to Moonee Ponds and Carnegie, Richmond, Fitzroy and Clifton Hill, South Yarra and many more of Melbourne’s inner suburbs, are providing world-class restaurants and cafes to suit all tastes.  There are thousands of fine places to eat in the inner suburbs of Melbourne.  Here are some of the hotspots to add to your Australia travel bucket list:

Lygon Street

Wander along Carlton’s lush Lygon Street to find Little Italy, the birthplace of Melbourne’s renowned cafe culture.

This stretch of Lygon Street, which runs from Queensberry Street in the south to Elgin Street in the north, is jam-packed with Italian eateries, ice cream parlors, boutiques, and bars.

The vibrant Lygon Street is lively, noisy, and exquisitely tasty. Lygon Street has retained its Italian eateries and pizzerias for 70 years, but things are changing.

Food from all over the world is now available, including Pakistani (Khabbay and Ziyka restaurants), Indonesian (D’Penyetz & D’Cendol), Egyptian (Leyalina and Cairo Nights), Iranian (Mixity), Afghan (Kabana), Lebanese (Tabouli), Turkish (Nefes, Lambs on Lygon St, IloveIstanbul), and shisha (El Giza and Balcony) bars.

Visit Lygon Street for the incredible food and drink options and to take in the historic and multicultural atmosphere

Best places to eat in Fitzroy

Fitzroy, the oldest suburb of Melbourne is the best location to gauge the restaurant scene outside of the CBD. From jovial Japanese restaurants to chic wine bars, it seems like everything new and exciting is occurring here or in nearby Collingwood. Here are my top picks for relaxing and enjoying a substantial lunch.

Marios: Longstanding authentic Italian restaurant on Brunswick Street.

Cutler and Co: A tasting menu and premium modern Australian cuisine are served in a historic metalworks factory that has an open-plan kitchen.

Veggie Bar: Innovative vegan and vegetarian dishes, raw foods, and beverages are served in an energetic area with a lush patio.

Naked For Satan: An upscale establishment with a rooftop bar where tapas-style dishes and infused vodka are served.

Shop Ramen: Warm and relaxed restaurant that serves Japanese noodle soups with a choice of meats and vegetables.

Also read: Japanese food awesomeness

Northcote food scene

With the launch of Estelle and the regrettably defunct Merricote,  the Northcote foodie scene heated up in 2011. The Estelle is still the crowning achievement in Northcote’s eating scene, but if you’re looking for a more laid-back supper, there are a number of top-notch pizzerias, one of the greatest Ethiopian restaurants in the area, Israeli take-out, and a satisfying pub meal at the Northcote Social Club. Consider taking a stroll to Cuppa Turca after dinner and have some squishy Turkish ice cream.

St Kilda

Acland Street and Fitzroy Street, and the surrounding areas aren’t quite as happening as they were in the late 1990s but Cafe Di Stasio, and the Stokehouse, two of Melbourne’s best-known upscale restaurants, remain located in St Kilda. Beyond that, there is a lengthy list of renowned businesses in the community, like Cicciolina and Donovans, as well as new, interesting competitors, including Supernormal Canteen and Cafe Southall.

St Kilda is recommended for any traveler, to experience the history, atmosphere, and food of the area.

Conclusion

The most exciting food capital of Australia has traditionally been Melbourne. Yes, Sydney has been steadily rising in the rankings, and many of the best chefs have recently relocated to smaller cities. However, Melbourne’s eateries are still going strong. Melbourne – and larger Victoria – are recognized for food, from eateries that are regarded as some of the greatest in the world to new local treasures that best capture the city’s relaxed and cool atmosphere.

Melbourne’s restaurants serve as international culinary incubators; many talented chefs receive local training before moving abroad to gain additional expertise, where they go on to establish illustrious careers.

Numerous foreign chefs repay the favor by doing the reverse and building their lives and careers here after receiving training at renowned restaurants all over the world. In Melbourne, it sometimes seems as though there are more chefs employed who have worked in numerous Michelin-starred establishments than there are locally trained competitors. Exceptional fresh ingredients, flavorful fusions, a dedicated foodie culture, and a fine dining philosophy that emphasizes enjoyment over formality all draw in these exceptional imports. 

Chefs all around the city employ fresh, locally sourced ingredients, with many of them having a preference for artisanal, organic ingredients. Menus are likely to list the producers of meat (East Gippsland’s grass-fed and Wagyu beef is preferred), cheese (look for options from Gippsland and the Yarra Valley), salt (the pink grains from Murray River are frequently used), and seafood (Pacific oysters and Coffin Bay scallops from neighboring South Australia are hugely popular).

Melbourne is without doubt on par with New York, Tokyo, and London as a cuisine city. The dining scene is inventive and diverse, combining local and international cultural influences.

Whether you are a foodie or simply love choice when deciding where to eat and drink when you travel Australia, Melbourne is not to be missed and is suitable for all ages and nationalities.

Kate Rae is the founder of She Travels Australia, providing alternative and unique travel tips for Australia. She Travels Australia is a go-to place for Australian travel secrets (like the best walks in Sydney!), written by a local. 

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