Melbourne loves a queue. It tells us what’s at the end is so good it’s worth your time as well as your money. There’s an art to the queue, and sometimes it’s part of the whole experience. Old hands at the waiting game know the secret hacks, including which ones are worth it, when the best time to go is and which queues to skip altogether. Behold, our queue-rated list of the best orderly lines you’ll find in Melbourne.
Melbourne's best food queues
Lune Croissanterie has lines snaking out of the store at all times, and it's true that the pastries fly out of the shop by noon most days. But does Lune really cut the mustard? In short, yes. Created in a climate-controlled lab, Lune croissants are almost mathematically perfect: crisp and golden with visible layers of delicate pastry.
It’s a testament to Mamasita’s staying power that people still patiently queue on the staircase each night almost ten years after this Collins Street crowd-pleaser first opened its doors. After all that time, we’re still digging the lengua tacos of meltingly soft ox tongue and arbol salsa, the braised goat tostadas, and the oft-imitated street corn slathered with chipotle mayo, salty queso and lime.
Fresh, delicious gelato with Nutella on tap – what more could we want? Lisa Valmorbida’s gelateria boasts several silver vats filled with fresh gelato, and you’ll regularly see a line snaking down Lygon Street, especially if the temperatures have hit the high 20s. Lucky for us there are also stores in Windsor and the CBD now.
One nibble of American Doughnut Kitchen's hot jam bliss bombs shows you why generations have been happy to queue for them. This beloved family business has been operating since the ’50s, and on many market mornings, there’s a line of doughnut devotees peering through the windows of the blue and white van. What makes these doughnuts elite is the heat factor – minimal fryer-to-mouth time keeps them hot and crisp on the outside, soft and pillowy on the inside. Then there’s the shock of molten red jam that threatens to stain your workplace attire. The American Donut Kitchen and its products are authentic classics. May they ennoble the Vic Market for decades to come.
This particular incarnation of Shanghai Street isn’t located in Chinatown alongside other dumpling greats, but it still manages to pull a crowd. The reason? You won’t get a slap-dash serving of grease-filled dumplings and thick skins. Instead, the classic xiao long bao is expertly made with high-quality ingredients. The fluffy shen jian bao is a must-order, too – think of them like XLB’s hotter, crispier, more put together cousin.
It was high time Melbourne got an all-night ramen joint, and Shujinko definitely delivers. It’s one of the city’s most popular late-night venues, with night owls happily slurping up soothing bowls of soup and noodles at all hours. For those waiting in line Shujinko has a tiny waiting area at the front, which is basically an invitation for you to practise your greasies on the lingering patrons inside.
Higher Ground is a hot café. Not because of the temperature (though the heritage-listed former powerhouse has windows so big you might need sunglasses during mid-morning) but rather because of the sheer number of people itching to dine at this happening joint. Rest assured, though: you’ll get deft service, striking surrounds and incredibly beautiful food here. If you can, avoid the peak periods. If you can’t, you might just have to grin and wait it out.
For a tiny venue that has no menu, no booze and no meat, competition for diner real estate is astoundingly fierce at Moroccan Soup Bar. So what the devil is all the fuss about? Contrary to what the name suggests, this is not a bar, nor is soup the main event. The menu is verbal and has been the same for years, earning dishes like the chickpea bake and dips legendary status. Plus, it's bang for your buck ($23 or $28 gets you an enormous vegetarian spread and dessert).
Frequented by the well-heeled patrons of Chapel Street, contemporary Japanese eatery Mr Miyagi is forbiddingly popular. But don’t come seeking traditional Japanese. Instead, you’ll get a free-wheeling izakaya that serves sakes, salmon nori tacos and plenty of fun (it says so right there in the name).
Yes, it is Melbourne’s busiest restaurant, and life certainly is tough when you’re wanting to dine at a restaurant that notoriously doesn’t take bookings. To be honest, the Time Out Melbourne team is divided as to whether the restaurant truly is worth the wait time. The consensus is, however, that being flexible with your desires (sit at the bar where possible or eat downstairs at the GoGo bar if you’re a bigger group) will have you out on top. Especially if you’re after zesty Asian-fusion with a side of hottest-seat-in-town stirfry.
Smiles and sambos make this joint a top dog. Top Paddock, located in a former car park and reborn as a Jetsons-era cantina, churns out coffee order after coffee order (someone hazarded a guess that it was about a thousand coffees a day). During coffee peak hour, don't be surprised if your food order is up before your cup of Joe is.
Melburnians have been having tea at Hopetoun Tea Rooms for over a century. The olde-worlde charm of the Block Arcade makes for a cosy retreat from the bustle of Collins Street, but it's the sandwiches and cakes that really draw the crowd. Pro tip: if you're doing high tea, avoid constrictive clothing – we actually couldn't believe how much there was to eat.
Naked for Satan is a dark and moody affair downstairs, yet one elevator ride away lies a rooftop bar area seemingly custom-made for good times. Known as Naked in the Sky, this part of Naked for Satan has cracking views of the CBD, a blockbuster wine, beer and spirit list, and a combination of indoor and outdoor seating. It makes sense then that the queue for the elevator up is packed by 6.30pm most nights.
More of Melbourne's best eateries
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.