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Green velvet banquettes and a vintage bar at the Espy
One of the many bars at the Espy
Esplanade Hotel

The 38 Essential Melbourne Restaurants

An indispensable guide to Australia’s sprawling culinary capital

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One of the many bars at the Espy
| Esplanade Hotel

Known for its cool city laneways, graffiti-filled streetscapes, and rooftop bars, Melbourne is a haven for food-obsessed travelers. 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, Spanish, Italian, Greek, French, Middle Eastern, Mexican, and North African descent. Contemporary restaurants embrace innovation and creativity, and Melbourne boasts some of the top restaurants in the country. Wine bars run rampant and restaurateurs are moving away from the white-tablecloth fine dining routine, so diners can get some of Melbourne’s best food experiences without spending a fortune.

Here, then, is our locally curated map to the most essential places to eat across town — from a hip Turkish cafe to a historic Italian espresso bar to a late-night souvlaki shop, it’s all here.

Editor’s Note: Eater is not updating international maps at this time given disruptions to global travel during the COVID-19 crisis.

Price per person, excluding alcohol:
$ = Less than 15 AUD (11 USD)
$$ = 16-40 AUD (12-29 USD)
$$$ = 41-65 AUD (30-47 USD)
$$$$ = 66 AUD (48 USD) and up

Eater’s bringing this map to life with a trip to Melbourne, brought to you by Black Tomato. See the full itinerary and book a food-filled trip now.

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Note: Restaurants on this map are listed geographically.

1. A1 Bakery

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643-645 Sydney Rd
Brunswick VIC 3056, Australia
(03) 9386 0440
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This family-owned Lebanese bakery in Brunswick, a largely Middle Eastern neighborhood, has been going strong for more than 25 years. A favorite 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, and don’t go over 15 Australian dollars ($10) for a generous chicken tawouk and falafel platter. In between, you’ll find a thick pie filled with hunks of haloumi, fresh tabbouleh, and ful medames. While you’re there, grab a bag of one of the freshly baked flatbreads to go. [$]

Flatbreads and more at A1 Bakery
A few of the offerings at A1 Bakery
Adam Moussa

2. Very Good Falafel

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629 Sydney Rd
Brunswick VIC 3056, Australia
(03) 9383 6479
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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, but 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 extra zhug, which is house-made and loaded with cilantro and green chile. [$]

A diner holds a sandwich from Very Good Falafel
A falafel sandwich at Very Good Falafel
Audrey Bourget

3. All Are Welcome

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190 High St
Northcote VIC 3070, Australia

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 neighborhood 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. [$]

Fruit-piled bostock
Fruit-heaped bostock at All Are Welcome
Audrey Bourget

4. Babajan Eatery

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713 Nicholson St
Carlton North VIC 3054, Australia
(03) 9388 9814
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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 favorites. Later in the day, fish, salads, and hummus continue to satisfy. 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. [$ - $$]

A cast iron pan of baked eggs at Babajan
Shakshouka at Babajan
Courtesy of Babajan

5. Gerald's Bar

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386 Rathdowne St
Carlton North, VIC
+61 3 9349 4748
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You’ll find plenty of industry types hanging out here — even Heston Blumenthal has been known to spin records behind the bar. For nearly 10 years, owners Gerald Diffey and Mario Di Ienno have been the jovial characters that this bar embodies, full of laughter, good cheer, and happy times. The drink list is interesting and far-reaching and there’s a simple bistro menu to keep you well-fed. [$$]

Chloe O’Loan

6. Lune Croissanterie

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119 Rose St
Fitzroy, VIC
+61 3 9419 2320
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Want to feel like a local? Join the early morning line for the best croissants outside of Paris. Siblings Kate and Cam Reid have an A+ recipe for these dreamy layers of pastry and butter — they take three days to make. For an insider’s perspective, try booking a stool at the experiential Lune Lab, where you get a bird’s eye view of the action and a three-course pastry flight. [$]

Sharlee Gibb

7. Napier Quarter

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359 Napier St
Fitzroy VIC 3065, Australia
(03) 9416 0666
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Napier Quarter is the kind of place that will have you considering a move to the buzzy and leafy Fitzroy area. The tiny neighborhood 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 octopus. The rye toast with Spanish anchovies, boiled egg, and parsley has a legion of fans. [$$]

The packed dining space at Napier Quarter
The dining room at Napier Quarter
Gareth Sobey

8. Carlton Wine Room

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172-174 Faraday St
Carlton VIC 3053, Australia
(03) 9347 2626
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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, with dishes like duck and pork croquettes, tripe and cuttlefish gratin, and a classic rum baba. The revolving wine list satisfies both lovers of traditional drops and offbeat natural ones. Melbourne’s beloved arthouse Cinema Nova is just around the corner for a perfect date-night pairing. [$$$]

Diners and drinkers fill the dining room at Carlton Wine Room
The dining area at Carlton Wine Room
Kristoffer Paulsen

9. Bar Liberty

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234 Johnston St
Fitzroy VIC 3065, Australia

Melbourne loves a wine bar, but the rapscallion owners here call Bar Liberty an “alcohol bar” because they serve way more than their favorite wines, like the locally distilled aperitif Okar (like Aperol, but better), sour beers, and a solid lineup of bourbons and rye. Food is also important at Bar Liberty, and locals keep coming back for brilliant dishes like XO pippies with savory doughnuts, and burrata with black garlic and soured cucumber. This place is capital-F fun and this plays through the drinks list, which includes quirky notes on wine throughout. [$$$]

10. The Old Raffles Place

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68-70 Johnston St
Collingwood VIC 3066, Australia
(03) 9417 4450
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When a restaurant’s entrance involves sidestepping through the kitchen, you know the place is more focused on the food than the trappings. That said, the Old Raffles Place is quite charming with its fairy lights and photos of old Singapore. The owners opened the restaurant as their retirement project. Two decades later they’re nearly 80, and having too much fun to quit. The Singapore-style char kway teow (rice and Hokkien noodles cooked with sweet soy sauce and packed with shrimp, Chinese sausage, and squid) and the Hokkien mee (Hokkien noodles, rice vermicelli, shrimp, squid, and pork belly braised in savory broth) are impeccable, but the favorite might be the char koay kak. Also called “carrot cake,” it’s made of radish and rice cakes fried with sweet soy sauce, egg, garlic, bean sprouts, and chile. [$$]

A collage of dishes on a table at Old Raffles Place
A Singaporean spread at Old Raffles Place
Audrey Bourget

11. Smith & Daughters

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175 Brunswick St
Fitzroy VIC 3065, Australia
(03) 9939 3293
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Chef-owner Shannon Martinez was making faux meat delicious long before it was Impossible or Beyond. Initially Spanish, the menu at her trendy vegan restaurant recently shifted Italian, which means she now uses cloud mushrooms to recreate trippa alla Romana, and a secret rice blend for her “beef” carpaccio. The buzzy spot attracts vegans and omnivores alike, bluffed by Martinez’s wizardry. A couple blocks away, sister spot Smith & Deli slings mock-meatball subs and “lox.” [$$]

A full house at Smith & Daughters
The buzzy Smith & Daughters
Courtesy of Smith & Daughters

12. Aunty Peg's

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200 Wellington St
Collingwood VIC 3066, Australia
(03) 9417 1333
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This Collingwood warehouse is an intimate shop and tasting room for Melbourne’s Proud Mary Coffee. If Proud Mary Cafe (with a second branch in Portland, Oregon) is a brunch destination, Aunty Peg’s is all about the coffee. Sit down for a flight of single-origin espressos or try the super-smooth cold brew on tap. It’s a welcoming space — free community cupping events are held every week — just don’t ask for cream in your coffee. (A barista might let you know that “no milk is kept on the premises.”) Stock up on freshly roasted beans before leaving. [$]

A barista makes a drink at Aunty Peg’s
The serious baristas at Aunty Peg’s
Audrey Bourget

13. Cutler & Co.

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55/57 Gertrude St
Fitzroy VIC 3065, Australia
+61 3 9419 4888
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Chef Andrew McConnell put Fitzroy’s Gertrude Street on the map when he opened Cutler & Co. Since then, it’s had a few refurbishments, and this latest incarnation nails it: In the dining room, a showpiece green granite wall and exposed brick surround sexy leather booths. This is modern Australian cooking at its best, and the menu covers its bases with a la carte and tasting menu options. The bar at the front of the restaurant is a hot spot, and the abalone katsu sandwich and fruits de mer platter are masterstrokes. Plus, there’s sister wine bar Marion next door for a jolly night cap. [$$$$]

14. Queen Victoria Market

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Queen St
Melbourne VIC 3000, Australia
(03) 9320 5822
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The Queen Victoria Market is mentioned in every Melbourne travel list for a reason. It’s the largest open-air market in the Southern Hemisphere, housing more than 600 stalls and small businesses, and it’s still the de facto grocery store for thousands of locals. You can also, of course, grab an exceptional bite to eat here: Start with a borek or a bratwurst in the deli section, and then follow up with chocolate from Koko Black, a hot jam doughnut from the American Doughnut Kitchen, and a flat white from Market Lane Coffee. On Wednesday evenings, street-food vendors take over the market. [$]

Queen Victoria Market
Queen Victoria Market
Tristan Lutze

15. Sunda

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18 Punch Ln
Melbourne VIC 3000, Australia
(03) 9654 8190
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Sydney-born chef Khanh Nguyen has made a splash on the Melbourne food scene with Sunda. Here, he challenges preconceived notions about Southeast Asian cuisine with imaginative versions of classic dishes that feature both regional Asian and native Australian ingredients. Instead of the traditional fish custard wrapped in a banana leaf, his take on otak otak is a crab curry parfait with finger lime. His egg noodles come with XO sauce, chicken crackling, and native pepperberry. Ask for the off-menu Vegemite curry, limited to a few portions a night. [$$$$]

A fluffy roti-style pastry with dip at Sunda
A dish at Sunda
Courtesy of Sunda

16. Bar Margaux

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Basement/111 Lonsdale St
Melbourne VIC 3000, Australia
(03) 9650 0088
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Bar Margaux is the latest Central Business District (CBD) venue from Michael and Zara Madrusan, the duo behind some of the city’s most acclaimed bars, like the Everleigh and Heartbreaker. Walk down a flight of stairs and through the door marked “MGX” to discover a New York-meets-Paris brasserie. On weekends, it feels like you can find half of the city there. Come for a cocktail or stay for a full French meal. Locals like to stay up late so steak tartare, snails, and lobster croque-monsieur are served all night. [$$ - $$$]

The bar at Bar Margaux
The bar at Bar Margaux
Gareth Sobey

17. Daughter In Law

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37/41 Little Bourke St
Melbourne VIC 3000, Australia
(03) 9242 0814
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Jessi Singh — the chef behind Babu Ji in St Kilda and New York and Bibi Ji in Santa Barbara, California — is back in town. His latest restaurant, Daughter in Law, is pure exuberance: blue velvet banquettes, live DJs, and Bollywood films projected on pink walls. The food pushes the “unauthentic Australian-Indian cuisine” concept he started years ago in Melbourne even further. It means dishes like naan pizza, oysters with pickled mango, and beef tartare in crisp papadum cups. The lunch thali is a steal at 15 Australian dollars ($10). [$$-$$$]

A spread of Indian dishes from Daughter In Law
An Indian feast from Daughter In Law
Peter Tarasiuk

18. Siglo Bar

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161 Spring St
Melbourne, VIC
+61 3 9654 6631
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Siglo Bar is the best stop in the city for soaking up the cool views of the Melbourne cityscape, be it late afternoon or much later at night. The impressive drink list caters to every whim, and there’s a tight snack menu to soak up the booze. Within the same building, you will also find Spring Street Grocer for primo gelato by the scoop or a mind-blowing cheese selection from the basement cellar. [$$]

Tess Kelly

19. Pellegrini's Espresso Bar

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66 Bourke St
Melbourne VIC 3000, Australia
(03) 9662 1885
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Eating a simple plate of spaghetti Bolognese at the Pellegrini’s counter is a quintessential Melbourne experience. Opened by Italian immigrants postwar, Pellegrini’s was one of the first espresso bars in the city and is largely considered the birthplace of Australian cafe culture. Not much has changed here since 1954; the food is the same and so is the narrow room with its checkered floor and red-vinyl stools. There’s no menu so you’ll have to chat with the staff to learn what’s on offer that day. Your best bet is one of the old-school plates of pasta and a glass of the signature melon granita. An espresso is also a must. [$]

The packed bar at Pellegrini’s
The bar at Pellegrini’s is an institution
Audrey Bourget

20. Flower Drum Restaurant Melbourne

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17 Market Ln
Melbourne VIC 3000, Australia
(03) 9662 3655
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Ask Australia’s most famous chefs about their favorite Melbourne restaurant, and many will namecheck Flower Drum, the 44-year-old Cantonese fine dining institution in Chinatown. Take the elevator up from the host stand to the large red-carpeted dining room and be awed by the besuited waiters who deliver some of the best formal service anywhere in the world. There are dumplings and noodles, a legendary Peking duck, and seafood fished out of tanks and sold by the kilo just prior to cooking. Most dishes are served with some level of tableside preparation and panache, adding to the pure theater of the experience. [$$$$]

A waiter serves a dish tableside at Flower Drum
Barney - one of our longest serving members of staff - wrapping Peking Duck in Flower Drum since 1982
Flower Drum/Facebook

21. ShanDong MaMa

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Mid City, 7/200 Bourke St
Melbourne VIC 3000, Australia
(03) 9650 3818
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Each day, office workers make a beeline for this dumpling shop nestled in a CBD arcade with retail stores and a smattering of other restaurants. The Shandong-style fish dumplings from this mother-daughter team are nothing short of iconic. Cylindrical and filled with a puffy mackerel-and-herb mousse, they are pan-fried till crisp and juicy. Also worth braving the crowds for: the veggie dumplings with zucchini, tofu, black fungus, and noodles, and the squid-ink dumplings with garlic oil. [$]

A plate of pan-fried dumplings at ShanDong Mama
Pan-fried dumplings at ShanDong Mama
Audrey Bourget

22. Soi 38

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38 Mcilwraith Pl
Melbourne VIC 3000, Australia

For a second, you might wonder if you’re in the right place. But walk further into this CBD parking lot and you’ll find one of Melbourne’s most-lauded Thai noodle shops. It’s always busy, but you’ll eventually score a seat at one of the colorful tables. Grab a form, fill out your order, then bring it to the “counter” — an old cart the owner used to sell soup from. There are a few different noodles and soups to try, including tom yum and laksa, but Soi 38 is mainly known for its boat noodles with beef (braised, sliced, and meatballs), water spinach, bean sprouts, and pork crackling. The sweet, aromatic broth can and should be customized with chile, fish sauce, and sugar. [$]

A dish of boat noodles on red tablecloth at Soi 38
Boat noodles at Soi 38
Audrey Bourget

23. N Lee Bakery Cafe

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61 Little Collins St
Melbourne VIC 3000, Australia
(03) 9654 8177

Ask a bunch of Melbournians which place makes the best banh mi and brace for impact. You’ll hear about Bun Bun, Trang, Nhu Lan, and To’s, but the name that will be mentioned most often is N. Lee Bakery. There are two locations in the CBD, but the one on Smith Street is the best. Don’t be afraid of the quick-moving lunchtime queue. The fixings are traditional: house-made pate, mayo, cucumber, pickled carrot, cilantro, a choice of pork, chicken, or tofu, and a secret sauce. The freshness of the bread, the quality of the pork, and the sheer size of the sandwich make it one of the best deals (not to mention meals) in town. [$]

A loaded banh mi sandwich
A banh mi from N Lee Bakery
Audrey Bourget

24. Embla

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122 Russell Street
Melbourne, VIC
+61 3 9654 5923
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This wine bar is a must-do in Melbourne. It has a sleek, modern vibe and is always buzzing, as the kitchen (and bar) is open all day. Chef Dave Verheul uses the wood oven as the centerpiece of the kitchen and is punching out wine-friendly food to suit the boundary-pushing wine list. Upstairs, Lesa is Verheul’s full-blown restaurant where you can settle in for a set-course menu. [$$]

Kristoffer Paulsen

25. Tipo 00

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361 Little Bourke St
Melbourne, VIC
+61 3 9942 3946
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Named — with good reason — for the super-fine Italian flour, the pasta dishes here are legendary. Tipo 00 has a light and bright room that fills up quickly with the nearby business crowd day and night, so book early or arrive outside peak times. [$$-$$$]

James Morgan

26. Cumulus Inc.

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45 Flinders Ln.
Melbourne, VIC
+61 3 9650 1445
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Snug in the middle of Melbourne’s fashion and art precinct, Cumulus neatly fits the category of Best All-Arounder. It's open all day (avoid peak times if you want to linger) serving specialty coffee and a contemporary menu that is consistently excellent — good for both small bites or larger meals, with a slick drinks list heavily leaning on Australian drops. Make sure you order the lemon curd madeleine. The second time around, try the wine bar upstairs called Cumulus Up. [$$-$$$]

Courtesy of Cumulus Inc.

27. Lee Ho Fook

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11-15 Duckboard Pl
Melbourne VIC 3000, Australia
+61 3 9077 6261
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Chef Victor Liong is delivering a new-style Chinese cuisine with finessed flavors and a deft touch. The crispy eggplant has reached cult status as the must-have dish and Lee Ho Fook’s relocation from Smith Street to a hip hidden laneway in the city has only increased its appeal. [$$$-$$$$]

Dom Cherry

28. MoVida

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1 Hosier Ln
Melbourne, VIC
+61 3 9663 3038
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Find the doorway on this graffiti-covered laneway and on any given day you’ll meet a friendly bunch of strangers perched on stools at the bar — probably sipping on a glass of sherry and tucking into a delicate plate of Ortiz anchovy and smoked tomato sorbet toasts. There are a few offshoots of the brand, but this original location is still the best. [$$]

Courtesy of MoVida

29. Maha Restaurant

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21 Bond St
Melbourne, VIC
+61 3 9629 5900
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Amidst the office buildings in the CBD, walk downstairs to this basement gem and prepare to be dazzled by the luxurious space. Chef/owner and TV presenter Shane Delia travels frequently, discovering new flavors and recipes for his modern Middle Eastern menu that takes hints from Malta, North Africa, Iran, and Turkey. For a more casual experience, check out the newly opened Maha East in Windsor. [$$$-$$$$]

Courtesy of Maha

30. Anchovy

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338 Bridge Rd
Richmond, VIC
+61 3 9428 3526
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Ace chef Thi Le (The Town Mouse, Cumulus Inc.) draws on her Vietnamese heritage to add swag to her modern Australian food. Classic and clean flavors speak volumes in dishes like sand crab with makrut lime, tamarind, chille, and coconut. Plus there’s a cocktail list to make you weep, with infused spirits and fresh herbs galore. [$$$]

Courtesy of Anchovy

31. Prahran Market

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163 Commercial Rd
South Yarra VIC 3141, Australia
(03) 8290 8220
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The oldest continuously running food market in Australia, the Prahran Market is a local go-to for specialty and gourmet foodstuffs, and the perfect place to assemble the ultimate Melbournian picnic. Start with a visit to cheesemonger Anthony Femia at Maker & Monger. His “chapel of cheese” is fitted with a large fridge filled with local and international cheeses, a maturation room, and a kitchen to produce cheesy dishes featuring produce from his friends at the market. Round out your basket with a baguette from Q Le Baker, some wagyu pastrami from Gary’s Quality Meats, unusual produce from Damian Pike, fluffy chickpea-broad bean falafel from the Falafel Man, and a heap of colorful Turkish delight from Naheda’s Choice. [$-$$]

The cheese-focused Maker & Monger stall inside Prahran Market
Maker & Monger at the Prahran Market
Kristoffer Paulsen

32. Lau's Family Kitchen

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4 Acland St
Melbourne, VIC
+61 3 8598 9880
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It’s a family affair with brothers Michael and Jason Lau, sons of former Flower Drum patriarch Gilbert Lau, running the floor of this busy eatery in the heart of St Kilda. There’s a simple menu of home-style Cantonese food including the renowned mapo tofu. Bookings are recommended, as locals love this place and snap up all the tables in advance. [$$]

33. Hotel Esplanade

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11 The Esplanade
St Kilda VIC 3182, Australia
(03) 9534 0211
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A list of Melbourne essentials wouldn’t be complete without a pub, those sacred drinking dens where townies come for cold beer, hearty meals, and live music. St Kilda’s Espy is like a pub on steroids, with its five levels of eating, drinking, and music. Once an elegant hotel, the 140-year-old building has had a massive makeover to bring it back to its former glory. Think tropical wallpaper, velvet couches, and chandeliers. The seaside pub has 200 beer taps and two kitchens, one for classics like parma and fish and chips, the other for Cantonese. If you’re after something less flashy, check out the Napier Hotel in Fitzroy. [$$]

Green velvet banquettes and a vintage bar at the Espy
One of the tropicalia-glam bar rooms at the Espy
Courtesy of Esplanade Hotel

34. Attica

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74 Glen Eira Rd
Ripponlea, VIC
+61 3 9530 0111
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Prepare to be wowed. Ben Shewry and his team are all about the details, right down to the knives forged by the staff. The tasting menu here is a unique mix of modern Australian with a strong focus on native ingredients, and each course plays out as a series of stories or moments in time. Attica should be on your bucket list — in the meantime, get to know Shewry on Netflix’s Chef's Table. [$$$$]

Colin Page

35. Tuck Shop Take Away

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273 Hawthorn Rd
Caulfield North VIC 3161, Australia
+61 431 406 580
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Burger joints are a dime a dozen in this town, but this one stands out from the crowd with its collection of old-school furniture, hip-hop on the stereo, and soda counter. Oh, and the burgers are kick-arse. A few doors down, sister shop Sundae School Ice Creamery churns fun flavors like orange and poppy seed and natural bubble gum. [$]

Damien Kook

36. Kalimera Souvlaki Art

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316m/41 Chester St
Oakleigh VIC 3166, Australia
(03) 9939 3912
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Pita-wrapped, french fry-stuffed lamb souvlaki is Australia’s favorite late-night snack, but Oakleigh’s Kalimera Souvlaki Art is all about the traditional spit-roasted pork that owners Thomas Deliopoulos and Sylvia Gabriel pack into 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. [$]

A platter of pita, vegetables, and meat from Kalimera Souvlaki Art
Souvlaki from Kalimera Souvlaki Art
Courtesy of Kalimera Souvlaki Art

37. Igni

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Ryan PL
Geelong, VIC
+61 3 5222 2266
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Igni is one of those tasting-menu-only restaurants where you definitely want whatever the chef is offering. In this case, the chef is the brilliant Aaron Turner (Loam, Husk, Hot Chicken Project). The menu has a regional focus and draws on unique home-grown offerings from friends and suppliers. The dining room is urban chic with light wood furniture, polished concrete floors, and a cascade of windows that look out onto the alleyway. This is intimate and relaxed dining, and it’s worth the hour drive out of Melbourne to get there. [$$$$]

38. Brae

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4285 Cape Otway Rd
Birregurra VIC 3242, Australia
+61 3 5236 2226
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Chef Dan Hunter (Mugaritz, Royal Mail Hotel) has created a destination dining room complete with gardens and, now, luxe rooms for overnight nights — and it’s only 90 minutes outside Melbourne. The menu is modern Australian, with plates crafted from what’s grown and sourced in the region. The package makes for one of Australia’s best dining experiences. [$$$$]

Colin Page

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1. A1 Bakery

643-645 Sydney Rd, Brunswick VIC 3056, Australia
Flatbreads and more at A1 Bakery
A few of the offerings at A1 Bakery
Adam Moussa

This family-owned Lebanese bakery in Brunswick, a largely Middle Eastern neighborhood, has been going strong for more than 25 years. A favorite 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, and don’t go over 15 Australian dollars ($10) for a generous chicken tawouk and falafel platter. In between, you’ll find a thick pie filled with hunks of haloumi, fresh tabbouleh, and ful medames. While you’re there, grab a bag of one of the freshly baked flatbreads to go. [$]

643-645 Sydney Rd
Brunswick VIC 3056, Australia

2. Very Good Falafel

629 Sydney Rd, Brunswick VIC 3056, Australia
A diner holds a sandwich from Very Good Falafel
A falafel sandwich at Very Good Falafel
Audrey Bourget

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, but 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 extra zhug, which is house-made and loaded with cilantro and green chile. [$]

629 Sydney Rd
Brunswick VIC 3056, Australia

3. All Are Welcome

190 High St, Northcote VIC 3070, Australia
Fruit-piled bostock
Fruit-heaped bostock at All Are Welcome
Audrey Bourget

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 neighborhood 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. [$]

190 High St
Northcote VIC 3070, Australia

4. Babajan Eatery

713 Nicholson St, Carlton North VIC 3054, Australia
A cast iron pan of baked eggs at Babajan
Shakshouka at Babajan
Courtesy of Babajan

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 favorites. Later in the day, fish, salads, and hummus continue to satisfy. 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. [$ - $$]

713 Nicholson St
Carlton North VIC 3054, Australia

5. Gerald's Bar

386 Rathdowne St, Carlton North, VIC