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parma at The Leveson

The best parmas in Melbourne

Meet the pubs upholding the proud Australian tradition of the humble chicken parma

By Fred Siggins and Time Out editors

We set out to discover the best of what Melbourne has to offer in the way of the chicken parma; Australia’s most iconic pub meal.

To judge parma perfection, we arrived at a set of criteria that each winning parma would have to meet. We asked ourselves: is the chook fresh, flavoursome, moist and tender? Is the crumb well-seasoned and crisp throughout? Is the cheese rich and bubbly golden brown? Is the ham thick and rich, lending depth and umami to an otherwise simple dish? Is the sauce made from scratch, with the freshest of ingredients? And of course, are the parma's natural allies – the chips, the salad and the beer – all up to scratch? 

After much deliberation, here, in no particular order, are six of the city's best and the personalities they represent.

Find more of Melbourne's best pubs with our guide, or go back to the dish's roots with the best Italian restaurants in town

Melbourne's best parmas

parmas, flying duck hotel
Photograph: Graham Denholm

1. Flying Duck Hotel

Restaurants Prahran

The Relative Newcomer 

While this parma might not have been around as long as some of its competitors, it's still at its flying best. The crumb and sauce here are both packed with fresh herbs, the crust is perfectly cooked to an even golden brown and the ham is thick and flavourful. This one also comes in a half size for the less gluttonous parma fans, or if you want to leave room for another dish.

2. The Leveson

Bars North Melbourne

The Inner City Gem

Head over to North Melbourne to take advantage of this meaty fix. The Leveson's classic chicken parma comes with all the fixings (crumbed chicken breast, shaved ham, napoli sauce and cheese) alongside a roquette salad and some crisp beer battered chips. It's all you'd ever want in a pub meal. 

The Exchange Hotel parma
Photograph: Supplied

3. The Exchange Hotel

Bars Port Melbourne

The Old Favourite

We included this parma in our last round-up a few years back, and checking in on the old girl proves she’s still got it. This is a stock standard traditional parma done just right, providing a perfect standard by which to judge all others.

4. The Napier Hotel

Bars Fitzroy

The True Blue

A perennial Fitzroy favourite, The Napier is known for its epic pub meals like the infamously huge Bogan Burger. Their parma is no dainty morsel either, and comes either with ham or with thick slices of smoked and peppered kangaroo loin alongside shoestring fries and a garden salad. Get that up ya.

Bartender at The Palace Hotel in South Melbourne
Photograph: Graham Denholm

5. The Palace Hotel: South Melbourne

Bars Pubs South Melbourne

The Footy Fan 

It’s rare to find a pub where the food is as good as the sporting culture, but The Palace – our 2016 Pub of the Year – is just that place. Their parma is thick and flavourful and you choose to make it Hawaiian (with pineapple), Mexican (with jalapenos), Italian (with salami, chili and olives) or Greek (with olives and feta). Come on a Monday to grab one for only $15.

6. The Royston

4 out of 5 stars
Bars Richmond

The Beer Nerd

Melbourne’s original craft beer pub remains one of our best, and their parma is no disappointment. Huge quantities of cheese ooze from the sides, capturing crispy chips and ensuring the perfect combo of chicken, ham, sauce, cheese and chip in every bite. Paired with one of their amazing beers, you can’t go wrong.

Want more pub action?

The Lincoln
Photograph: Graham Denholm

The best pubs in Melbourne

Bars Pubs

Melbourne is a city that really knows how to do pubs. From beer halls with more than 50 craft beer taps to cozy locals with a great fireplace, there's a pub for every occasion.


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