If you love food and live in Melbourne, your 'must-try' list of new restaurants, cafés and bars probably takes up your iPhone's entire storage capacity by now. Still, we must persevere. For a tightly curated guide to dining in Melbourne, we suggest you visit our restaurant hit list.
The devil’s in the detail. Specifically, in the chicken larp. Try ordering the headline hot act at Long Chim and you’re pretty much guaranteed a look of waiterly concern followed by an interrogation about how much heat you can really handle, quite possibly followed by an intervention. It’s endearing - so are the staff, without exception - but if you can stand the heat you should order the larp because it sums up so much of what is great about Long Chim.
This is by no means your standard take-away corner shop. Tommy Ruff’s even has its own hashtag – #eatwithtommy. The newest outpost of a family of second-generation fryers is in Windsor, and this branch boasts beautiful mosaic-tiled floors, dangling lights and a glowing pirate skull – it’s all rather suave for a fish and chip shop. The menu skips between the traditional and more sophisticated menu items and charming service means there’s nothing ruff about Tommy.
Shopping for eggs is an ethical minefield these days, but conscious eater are in for a treat at Good Egg. The fried chicken number is a delicious embodiment of the "chicken or the egg?" riddle. The black sesame-speckled batter is fried to a crisp (take care with that first bite, it's a scorcher), and is topped with a fresh salsa verde and an egg cooked over easy which splits to release a golden yolky sauce. If you're a stickler for tradition, a pile of crispy bacon and silky, pale yellow scrambled egg on a brioche bun with tomato sauce.
Girls and Boys creators Laki Papadopoulos and Mark Price are no strangers to creating vegan magic. Their two plant-based restaurants, Vegie Bar and her newer, higher-end cousin Transformer have changed the game when it comes to vegetarian and vegan dining. Now, they're welcoming a new addition to the family: Girls and Boys. This take-away spot will provide plant-based treats: we're talking soft serve, gelato and cakes, plus maca fudge bars, matcha almond tarts and bounty bites.
At New School Canteen, you can eat as clean or dirty as you feel like. Open for breakfast, lunch and dinner daily, this Fitzroy café does healthy breakfasts featuring more than a few of vegetarian and vegan options like the Ottolenghi-style freekeh salad, panko crumbed eggs with braised tofu, and the vegan raspberry chia pudding. If you're not into #cleaneating, head straight for the burger list. New School Canteen do big burgers damn well: the Canadian riffs on their basic wagyu burger with double cheese and maple glazed bacon, while the cauliflower cheeseburger proves that dairy-friendly vegetarians don't have to miss out on the messy burger experience.
Long ranked among the world’s great cocktail cities, Melbourne has nonetheless fallen prey to that typically Australian self-consciousness, taking ourselves a little too seriously in fear of being thought parochial. But venues like House of Correction, the new cocktail bar downstairs from the Goldilocks rooftop, is proving we’ve moved on. Like recent triumphs in the realms of restaurant (Tipo 00) and wine bar (Embla), HOC is just plain-and-simple good.
The Elysian is located on Brunswick Street, but this new whisky bar by two former Whisky and Alement alums is also straight out of Japan. Yao Wong and Kelvin Low have crafted a little portal to Tokyo with their minimalist, unfussy décor, careful service and impressive collection of firewater.
The best restaurants in Melbourne
Unless you have the metabolism of a nine-year-old, and the finances of a Kardashian, you never stand a chance against Melbourne's ferocious dining machine. The openings just don't stop and ain't nobody got time to keep on top of what's what. Except us, that is. So behold, our eat-and-destroy list – a guide to Melbourne's 50 best restaurants.