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Pasta dish at Arlechin Melbourne
Photograph: Carmen Zammit

The best date-night restaurants in Melbourne

Trying to impress someone? These are our favourite bars and restaurants for setting the mood.

Written by
Time Out editors
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"You choose the place," is a phrase that hardly anyone wants to hear when it comes to arranging the perfect date (the pressure!) – unless you're armed with a fail-proof list of romantic spots. You can't go wrong at any of these restaurants (unless you can't afford the more expensive ones: check the menu first!). Good luck, daters.

Successful evening? Take it to the next level with our list of Melbourne's most luxe hotel stays.

Super fancy

  • Restaurants
  • French
  • Fitzroy

Welcome to Poodle, an art-deco inspired multi-level venue where head chef Josh Fry (Marion, Cumulus Inc) takes kitschy dishes and gives them a signature Italian-inspired makeover. The intimate booths downstairs make for the perfect close-proximity dinner date situation. Get the sharing menu for a degustation of bite-sized, medium and larger plates, delivered by expert staff who will make you and your guest feel like the only ones in the room.

  • Restaurants
  • South Yarra
  • price 2 of 4

The fit-out at Matilda is so luxe you can almost smell the expense. There’s a fire and charcoal-driven kitchen, a botanical-filled glass cabinets and a dining room of rough-edged wooden-topped tables and the fattest, softest leather banquettes. If you're trying to impress someone, this is the place.

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Vue De Monde
  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Restaurants
  • Melbourne
  • price 3 of 4

It always pays to book ahead if you're going to impress sky-high. If you can't drop that much cash on dinner, you can also hit up Lui Bar next door for a cocktail at sundown over some very smart snacks.

Attica
  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Restaurants
  • Ripponlea
  • price 4 of 4

This is the restaurant anniversaries are made for. You'll be receiving some of the tightest service served alongside an impressive winelist and a modern interpertation of Australian cusine by an internationally celebrated Kiwi chef who we've adopted as our own. It's fine dining without the stiff service.

 

Hidden gold

  • Restaurants
  • Melbourne
  • price 2 of 4

'Eating house' doesn't quite cut it. ‘All-day diner’ falls worryingly short. In fact, when trying to sum up the place Cumulus Inc plays in Melbourne’s hungry heart, ‘favourite clubhouse’ comes as close as any description. This beloved venue is down-to-earth fine dining, perfect for impressing someone without looking like you've tried too hard.

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Lupino
  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Restaurants
  • Melbourne

Classic food in a modern venue. The high energy and fast pace of this restaurant will keep your date in good spirits. Approachable food and smart drinks means it's one less thing to think about, too.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Restaurants
  • Carlton

It may be in an old gentleman's club (you know what we mean), but a lot has changed since those days. The service here is the best in Melbourne and perfect for romancing the one you've been crushing on for years.

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Tempura Hajime
  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Restaurants
  • South Melbourne

Tiny, hidden, intimate; this 13-seater tempura bar in a side street of South Melbourne is our pick for dining without a crowd. Just be confident in your conversation because there will be nowhere to hide.

Wine and snacks

  • Bars
  • Wine bars
  • Fitzroy
  • price 2 of 4

This Gertrude Street institution is more than just a pre-dinner pit stop. Its simple, but excellently executed bistro menu is unfussy and delicious. The real star of the show is the wine list – a mix of local and international producers that are food-friendly or great on their own. Get some fries and let the staff pick you a bottle to share. 

  • Restaurants
  • Carlton
  • price 2 of 4

Upon being seated at the Carlton Wine Room, the crew hands you a one-pager of aperitif and cocktails before you even see the food menu. The full wine list contains 100 bottles, but it's approachable, decipherable and balanced. Even if you're not a fine wine connoisseur, trust us when you say you can't really go wrong here. Great for a pre-dinner drink or a low-key date night.

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Ombra Bar
  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Restaurants
  • Melbourne

It's dark, convivial and intimate, what could go wrong? Learn your salumi from your salami over a few carafes of wine and lean in over a pizza.

Bar Di Stasio
  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Bars
  • St Kilda
  • price 2 of 4

If southside, it's only natural to head to Bar Di Stasio. Sit up at the marble bar and watch the bartenders craft your cocktails over a plate of fritto misto and people watch the who's who of St Kilda. 

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Hihou
  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Bars
  • Cocktail bars
  • Melbourne
  • price 2 of 4

Ring the doorbell and be led upstairs to indulge in Japanese whiskies and sake while overlooking the Treasury Gardens. Perfect for a nightcap when you don't want the world to find you.

Fancy a drink after dinner?

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