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Food at Embla
Photograph: Graham Denholm

Where to have a long lunch in Melbourne

For Fridays, or the days where your wallet feels a little too heavy

Written by
Time Out editors
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Grab that company credit card and a bunch of your co-workers, 'cause these lunch venues call for a big blowout. If you're looking for something low key, check out the best cafés in Melbourne, or make it easy with our round-up of Melbourne's best burgers.

Best long lunches in Melbourne

  • Restaurants
  • Melbourne
  • price 2 of 4

Lee Ho Fook proper is all about southern Chinese cuisines like Cantonese and Fujian, but the bar on the ground floor is now serving food from more central regions like Hunan and Sichuan. Downstairs, Victor Liong is dishing up pickles, chillies, prickly ash and spices, making for a lip-smacking lunch minus the palate fatigue. Our top picks are the ‘husband and wife’ tripe and pig’s ear salad in a hot and numbing dressing, the warming mapo tofu and whole boned fish, slathered in a thick, umami-laden chilli bean sauce with fresh chillies. Rice is not optional.

  • Restaurants
  • Vietnamese
  • Melbourne
  • price 1 of 4

Having clocked the Vietnamese fast food game with Pho Nom, Jerry Mai opened up a restaurant that is close to her roots and even closer to home. Annam is the culmination of flavours and techniques learned from the family kitchen, as well as years of cooking alongside mentors like David Thompson. Annam’s lunch menu is stuff Mai would eat herself: braised pork belly with bamboo shoots on rice, a spicy Asian spag bol with tofu and thick noodles or lamb ribs coated in a luscious tamarind caramel. Get it in your face hole.

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  • Bars
  • Melbourne
  • price 2 of 4

It’s one of the hottest restaurants in Melbourne, but that doesn’t mean Embla is exclusive or unapproachable. Unlike at dinner time, you can reserve a table for lunch, and get in and out without breaking the clock. It may seem like a snooty thing to pay for bread, but when you experience the craft, time and flavour put into Embla’s perfect loaf, you’ll order it every time you dine here. Food is super seasonal, so you’ll rarely eat the same thing twice. The chicken liver parfait is a great way to start any lunch, and a whole fish, which has met the coal oven, always makes it on the menu. The must-do thing here is to end the meal on Embla's selection of always-interesting cheeses.

  • Restaurants
  • Italian
  • Melbourne
  • price 2 of 4

Can’t stand waiting in line for a table at the much-loved Tipo 00? Luckily, the crew opened up Osteria Ilaria next door in a venue much larger than their older sibling. Pasta is not the lead act at Ilaria, but our money’s on the pork liver sausage with rhubarb topped with a crunchy, sourdough crumb, the impossibly crisp zucchini flowers and grilled calamari. The wine list isn’t too shabby, either.

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  • Restaurants
  • Melbourne
  • price 2 of 4

Head to Rosa's Canteen for traditional Italian fare with a nod to Sicilian cuisine. Rosa Mitchell (owner and namesake) arrived from Sicily when she was seven years ago and applies her heritage and flair in all of her dishes. Expect seasonal dishes that pair well with its extensive wine list. 

 

 

Natural History
  • Restaurants
  • American
  • Melbourne

Morgan McGlone and Michael Delaney have teamed up to bring Melbourne a New York-style big city bar and grill serving porchetta sandwiches at 7am, and encouraging three-martini lunches, five days a week. Bookings are recommended if you want to saddle up in a large leather booth. Start with a serve of oysters, share the beef tartare, which gets an update with a soy cured egg, oyster emulsion and tendon chips and finish on a perfectly cooked hanger steak crowned with a pat of melting café de Paris butter.

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  • Restaurants
  • Barbecue
  • Melbourne

Get your bearings, Melbourne. Palermo the restaurant is named after the barrio in Buenos Aires, not the city in Sicily. The difference is perhaps more academic than it immediately appears, given the profound Italian influence on Argentinian cuisine, but the distinction is necessary to explain the particular mise-en-scène of its kitchen: the whole pig tangled in a wire frame over a red-brick fire pit (the asador) and the contraption known as a parilla, where shelves of chorizo, morcilla and other meaty bits are raised and lowered over glowing coals with a NASA engineer’s precision. It’s a scene not dissimilar to Palermo’s older sibling San Telmo. Palermo is more or less the same concept, migrated to the other side of the city on the cusp of the legal district where the deification of steak is as sacrosanct as wigs and gowns.

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