An industrial-chic bolthole just off Brunswick Street, Hammer and Tong may be best known for its inventive breakfasts, served with a side of booze, but we’re all about the soft-shell crab burger: a crisp-battered Queensland crustacean housed in puffy brioche with squiggles of Sriracha mayonnaise and 'slaw. It's the fun dishes based on can't-fail combinations that will keep us coming back to this joint time and again.
Top Paddock’s soft-shell crab burger is reimagined at sister café Kettle Black: pearly nubs of poached King Island crayfish, yuzu mayo and sorrel are bundled into ash-dusted brioche. It’s petite for its price, but it sure is photogenic – you might have spotted the bun on your Instagram feed.
Admittedly it's a little posher than a burger joint, but Andrew McConnell's Supernormal gets a look-in thanks to its standout New England lobster roll. A transplant from the Golden Fields menu (the St Kilda restaurant has become wine bar Luxembourg), this fist-sized stunner features medallions of fresh crayfish, peppery watercress and a smear of mayonnaise, all packed into a toasted, buttery-sweet brioche bun. Worth the splurge.
In a city packed with top-notch cafés, it takes some serious commitment to queue for brunch – and yet the team at Top Paddock continues to draw the hordes each weekend. One of the standout dishes right from the start has been the crab roll – that’s a juicy, battered soft-shell Queensland muddy in a brioche bun with zippy lime mayonnaise and a refreshing fennel and dill salad. And no one looks askance if you order it before midday
More Melbourne burgers we love
The best things you'll find between two buns. Although food trends will come and go, there will always be a place in our arteries for the humble hamburger.
And for the home cook
Introducing Castello's new Burger Blue: this wonder of cheese technology has all the bold, umami-intensive blue-cheese taste you'd expect from Castello, but it comes pre-sliced with an easy-peel pack, that makes it perfect for melting over your beef or mushroom burger patty. A first for Australia, this is the end of awkward cheese crumbs and the beginning of a beautiful, blue, thinly sliced square future. Grab it from the dairy aisle of major supermarkets.