Celebrity chef Anthony Bourdain once famously said: “I'd rather eat in Melbourne than Paris.” The city is peppered with topnotch restaurants and cafes, tucked away in basements, down narrow alleyways, and atop sky-high buildings. With new ones popping up weekly, the only problem is trying to fit them all in.
For refined paletes
Named Australasia’s best restaurant in the 2014 San Pellegrino World’s 50 Best Restaurant awards, the focus here is on modern cuisine using native Australian ingredients. Sample the range with the extended tasting menu featuring dishes such as salted red kangaroo, Goolwa pippies, and wattleseed bread.
Vue de monde
Perched on the 55th floor of the Rialto Building, with sweeping views over the city, dining here is a culinary journey against a backdrop showcasing Melbourne’s history. The degustation menu fuses age-old cooking styles with modern techniques, using organic vegetables grown on its own property.
Melbourne’s Southbank precinct has more eating establishments than can be counted, however seafood lovers won’t want to miss The Atlantic. Daily menus here are inspired by the best wild and sustainable fish; while The Oyster Bar serves up an amazing selection of oysters and shellfish.
More casual fare
Cumulus Inc. and its upstairs wine bar, Cumulus Up, serve up some of the finest cooking Melbourne has to offer without fuss or fanfare. Housed in old rag trade building on Flinders Lane, the atmosphere here is casual, with entertainment provided by the open kitchen.
The Waiters Club
This Italian eatery, hidden away in Meyers Place laneway, has been serving up simple home-cooked pasta dishes for more than 60 years. While it’s not fancy, tucked away up a flight of rickety wooden stairs, the food is the best Italian this side of Milan.
Explore Melbourne one culinary precinct at a time. Carlton is Little Italy; Richmond is best for Vietnamese; Brunswick for Lebanese; Fitzroy for Spanish. For authentic Chinese dim sum, Chinatown is hard to beat; while Acland Street, St Kilda, tops the list for cakes.
Melbourne’s oldest building is the Mitre Tavern, and is a must visit, not only for its famous chargrilled steaks and gourmet burgers, but for the significance it holds in the city’s history. It’s extremely popular, massive outdoor beer garden is the largest in the CBD.
Melbourne’s fleet of food trucks have added a new dimension to the city’s already full menu of dining options. Found through social media, the trucks set up at different sites all over town, offering everything from authentic Indian curries, to African feasts, to artisan gelato.
For deli goods
Apart from the Queen Victoria Market Deli Hall, Albert Park Deli is another Melbourne favourite, stocking a vast range of hard-to-find specialty items. Fitzroy’s family-run Casa Iberica is concerned with all things Spanish, South and Central American, supplying all the ingredients for a perfect paella.
Melbourne takes its coffee seriously, thanks to its European heritage, and in the CBD, great coffee is never more than a few steps away. Some local favourites are Cup of Truth, Seven Seeds, Five Senses and Brother Baba Budan, but honestly, it’s pretty good everywhere.