Get us in your inbox

Search
Octopus dish.
Photograph: Graham Denholm

The 50 best restaurants in Melbourne

Too many restaurants, not enough time. Cut the fat with our guide to the best restaurants Melbourne has to offer

Jade Solomon
Lauren Dinse
Written by
Jade Solomon
Contributor
Lauren Dinse
Advertising

February 2024: Courtesy of Saint Valentine, February's the official month of romance and the perfect time to seek out new restaurants for wining and dining a special someone. But in a town like ours, every month is a great month for eating out, so our advice is to bookmark this list indefinitely. It's your map to the best spots around Melbourne that have foodies obsessed.

The continually evolving and expanding dining scene in Melbourne is both a blessing and a curse: how do you choose between so many incredible restaurants? Well, that's where we come in. Stop endlessly scrolling, and commit to making your way through Time Out’s list of the best restaurants in the state right now. Our always-hungry local experts and editors have curated 2024's most delicious and divine, innovative and imaginative, comforting and familiar, memorable and magical dining experiences right here at your fingertips. From old favourites and culinary institutions such as Attica, Stokehouse and Flower Drum, to emerging standouts and instant icons such as Serai, Gimlet, Amaru and Reine and La Rue, we've got it all covered here. 

Get out, and get eating! You've got a lot to get through! 

Prefer a tipple-focused adventure? These are the best bars in Melbourne. Looking for a knock-out dining experience that won't break the bank? Look no further than our list of Melbourne's best cheap eats.

The 50 best restaurants in Melbourne

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Restaurants
  • Bars
  • Melbourne
  • price 3 of 4
  • Recommended

To question Gimlet’s beauty is like pondering out loud whether the sky is blue. One foot through the door into the Trader House team’s almighty fine diner (in fact, our crowned winner of the Best Fine Dining award in 2023) and you’re swept into an era of astonishingly impressive 1920s glamour. The handsome, plush curved booths invite you to settle in and share a bottle of Champers with a friend, uniformed staff skate around the floor with ease, and warm light dances off the grand chandeliers overhead. You can, of course, go all out at Gimlet and dine on lobster, caviar service and exxy bottles of wine all night, but even just popping in for a few cocktails and a taste of a few dishes here and there is truly a lovely way to experience the restaurant, which tends to feel welcoming and adaptive no matter how much you’re willing to splurge.

https://media.timeout.com/images/105888524/image.jpg
Jade Solomon
Contributor
  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Restaurants
  • Beaconsfield
  • price 3 of 4
  • Recommended

Time Out's Restaurant of the Year in 2023 may be almost a decade old, but it still stands out as one of the most energising fine dining experiences in Melbourne. This farm-to-table restaurant kitchen sources all of its ingredients from nearby Cardinia, owned and run by friends of the chefs. Even if you haven’t done your research, it’s immediately clear that there’s a reverence for organic locally sourced ingredients at O.My. Each dish elevates humble produce to new heights, an alchemical feat that looks far outside the box in delivering an experience you'll remember.  

Advertising
  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Restaurants
  • Armadale
  • Recommended

Amaru offers one of Melbourne's most thrilling contemporary dining experiences right now. Nestled in leafy Armadale, the restaurant is run by chef Clinton McIvey (Auterra) and offers multi-course seasonal degustation tastings with the option to pair alcoholic or non-alcoholic beverages. Expect fresh local produce with a native edge, cutting-edge fermentation and cooking techniques, and plating aesthetics prettier than a picture.  

  • Restaurants
  • Melbourne
  • price 3 of 4

Under the stewardship of the Grossi family, this Bourke Street Italiano staple still shines. The grand Mural Room is one of Melbourne’s last bastions of lavish European dining charm where the lighting is set to dim, and the mood set upon arrival by the proffering of a handbag stool. Through three generations of hard graft and some damned fine cooking they’ve cemented their place in the city’s dining history.

Advertising
  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Restaurants
  • Modern Australian
  • St Kilda
  • price 3 of 4
  • Recommended

This seafood institution's luxe beach house charms have had us spellbound for decades – and like a fine wine, it's only getting better with time. The multi-storied luxe beach house slash relaxed diner transports our serious city-fatigued souls to a cool and calming Aussie seaside escape. It’s got all the necessary ingredients: picturesque ocean views, award-winning seafood, a sustainable ethos that nabbed its Legend Award at our 2023 Food and Drink Awards, quality wines and some of the best and brightest well-trained service in the biz. We couldn’t be more infatuated. 

  • Restaurants
  • Chinese
  • Melbourne

The only reason this OG Melbourne institution has given up top spot on this list, is because we know it doesn’t need first place on this, or any other list, to continue its reign as a city-wide favourite. Flower Drum is rooted in enough history to step aside and make space for some young guns to forge their path through the upper echelons of the Melbourne food scene.

Advertising
  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Restaurants
  • Japanese
  • Melbourne
  • Recommended

While our city's filled with a labyrinth of outstanding and historic establishments, few really deserve the coveted title of being a Melbourne culinary institution – an overused and often meaningless phrase. However, after experiencing a meal in the tranquil yet dynamic dining room at Kenzan, the Collins Street restaurant that has been serving traditional Japanese fare since 1981, you leave with the feeling that there aren’t many ways more apt to describe the place. 

 

  • Restaurants
  • Filipino
  • Melbourne
  • price 3 of 4

Time Out’s 2022 Restaurant of the Year (also our Best Casual Dining Venue) impressed us from the outset, a shot in the arm for the city’s food culture. Riffing on chef Ross Magnaye’s Filipino heritage without suggesting anything like straightlaced authenticity, the fire-licked food is irreverent, playful and fun while also introducing the non-Filipino Melbournians to a new world of flavour. Backed by a pithy, natural-leaning wine list and a whole lot of buzz, the menu is a tour-de-force of things we want to eat. Such as the lechon, the roasted free-range pig married to a pineapple-infused, gently spicy-sweet palapa sauce. Or the deliciously inauthentic McScallop, a cheeky riposte to the golden arches starring a single fried scallop doused in deliriously rich crab-fat sauce cut through with papaya pickle and sandwiched in a toasted pandesal bun. The only challenging thing about Serai? Trying to score a table.  

Advertising
  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Restaurants
  • Melbourne
  • Recommended

Anyone with even the slightest interest in Melbourne’s food and hospitality scene has been talking about Reine and La Rue of late. The highly ambitious project from Nomad Group has  transformed Melbourne’s hallowed old Stock Exchange building into a European-inspired restaurant as ritzy as it is regal, with a speakeasy bar (the Rue part) accessible through an adjoining courtyard. The group’s executive chef Jacqui Challinor and head chef Brendan Katich have collaborated closely with Victorian producers to curate a menu that pays homage to the French classics with fresh Aussie flair. The results? Showstopping.  

  • Restaurants
  • Modern Australian
  • Ripponlea

After a few years away, we have a reinvigorated appreciation for Attica as a pillar of innovation and authenticity. It’s a restaurant doing incredible things with the best produce and ingredients Australia has to offer. Attica is not just a meal. It's an all-consuming sensory experience that deserves a top spot because it continues to demonstrate to us all what it means to be adaptable and ambitious qualities we could all use a little more of.

https://media.timeout.com/images/105888524/image.jpg
Jade Solomon
Contributor
Advertising
  • Restaurants
  • Modern Australian
  • Yarraville
  • price 2 of 4

Navi is a fine dining den of distinction, where cork tiles line the ceiling, moody hues rule the walls, and a mere 25 seats dot the narrow shopfront floor and the bar overlooking the cooking action.  Navi is a chef’s-own temple, down to the a la mode pottery Hills threw himself, the soundtrack of “I'm playing what I goddamn like” and the snackage sent in to soften diners up as they acclimatise to the evening ahead (line honours go to raw wallaby and pickled flowers in its cured egg wrapping).

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Restaurants
  • Richmond
  • Recommended

Exquisite dishes notwithstanding, Minamishima is a masterclass experience in excellent service and meticulous attention to detail. As we turn from one dish to the next, the table is meticulously constructed around us with different ceramic saucers and implements taking centre stage. Everything is elegant and artful, right down to the zigzagged wet towel for us to dampen our hands with between sushi eating. A convivial quality is present in waitstaff. Minamishima’s genuine warmth and affection for what they do is matched by the sushi, the best we’ve had in Melbourne. 

https://media.timeout.com/images/106047259/image.jpg
Sonia Nair
Time Out Melbourne food and drink contributor
Advertising
  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Restaurants
  • Italian
  • Fitzroy
  • price 2 of 4
  • Recommended

What could be so extraordinary about yet another Italian joint in a city brimming with some of the best of them? Do your research though, and you’ll quickly discover that Alta Trattoria is not, in fact, just “another Italian joint”. The restaurant’s specialty is a little different, zeroing in on the northern Italian region of Piedmont, which is located at the foot of the Alps and home to some of the boot nation’s most prized culinary exports. In addition, the team behind Alta Trattoria includes Luke Drum (Carlton Wine Room), chef McKay Wilday (Victoria by Farmers Daughters), Carlo Grossi (Ombra, Grossi Florentino) and vino expert James Tait (King and Godfree). Anticipate rustic yet elegant trattoria-style dishes, sophisticated and rare Italian wines, and keen service who've nailed the brief.

  • Restaurants
  • European
  • Melbourne

Tucked inside Collins Street’s heritage-listed Olderfleet building, the street visible through a trio of ecclesiastical windows, Freyja is a restaurant immune from any accusations of culinary copying. Under the leadership of Jae Bang, formerly head chef at Norway’s two-Michelin-gonged Re- Naa, Freyja swings from daytime smørrebrød, the traditional Danish open sandwiches we prefer to think of as a full meal on rye, to a dinner menu packing cool Scandi sophistication. Ironically for a restaurant named after an over-worked Norse goddess, Freyja is trailblazing a work/life balance for its staff by opening only on Tuesday to Saturday. It’s another Scandinavian approach to life we’re happy to embrace. This goddess has earned her break, and our devotion.

Advertising
  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Restaurants
  • Thai
  • Melbourne
  • Recommended

Not that we needed it with the likes of Soi 38Dodee Paidang and Nana Thai now in our midst, but Thai Tide is further proof that Melbourne’s Thai food scene is more alive and thriving than ever. Standing out in a city where standing out is never easy, Merica Charungvat’s pristine gem of a restaurant is treating our city to what may just be the boldest (and rarest) Thai flavour experience we can get our hands on yet, at least without booking flights to the ‘Land of Smiles’ itself. From ants larvae soup to a hot and cold tofu claypot, every dish at Thai Tide is a mouthwatering adventure.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Restaurants
  • Japanese
  • Melbourne
  • price 3 of 4
  • Recommended

Think of it as an ultra-boutique Japanese banquet running headlong into performance art and theatre. Omakase is a showcase of skill and showmanship, although Warabi deformalises the experience with an emphasis on chef-diner interactions. The cross-counter chat proves a welcome pressure valve to those gathered in the serene, timber-lined cocoon lording it above Collins Street – at least before the sake has its chance to do some mood-loosening of its own. The rules of Warabi engagement are as follows: 12 ringside seats, $245 a head. Like a stage production, it waits for no one: kick-off is 5.30pm and 8pm, with a two-hour sitting time proving long enough to transport you to Tokyo’s glittering Ginza and back. Two hours of omakase power later, the chef show is over. The temptation is to clap, but even this dining spectacle demands some deference. So let’s make up for it now. Applause. 

Advertising
  • Restaurants
  • Brunswick

Koreans have a word for food that’s consumed with alcohol – anju – and while a lot of the anju we see here in Melbourne are things like sticky soy garlic-glazed fried chicken wings or thin strips of beef sizzling away on a Korean barbecue, tiny eatery Chae is here to highlight a different side to Korean cuisine. Chae started in a Brunswick apartment and has recently experienced a change of scenery, relocating to Cockatoo, to be surrounded by greenery and nature around 50km southeast of the Melbourne CBD. Chae remains as intimate, as exquisite and as charming as ever.

  • Restaurants
  • Bistros
  • Brunswick East
  • price 2 of 4

There was a time when Brunswick East threatened to throw itself into a positive feedback loop of mince and suds. Wouldn’t have sucked. Alas, it’s now more likely to be a loop of polished neighbourhood wine bars – probably the better outcome –skippered by Hannah Green’s pick-of-the-litter Etta.

Advertising
  • Restaurants
  • Melbourne

Farmer’s Daughters is bringing Gippsland to the city at its swish multi-level venue at 80 Collins St. Executive chef Alejandro Saravia spent many years bringing his vision of a deli, restaurant and bar to life, and the venue was welcomed with open arms by Melburnians seeking a taste of their own state. The colour palette is inspired by gumtrees, from olive green through to terracotta, and each level of the three-storey venue represents a different location. Sink into brown leather banquettes and snack on warm Irish soda bread with cultured cream, Koo Wee Rup asparagus with black garlic and Tarago brie mousse before moving onto the likes of rabbit with Pink Fir Apple, black garlic and leek chutney or dry age O’Connor beef with Wattlebank Farm oyster mushrooms and spring brassicas. Dining at Farmer's Daughters is as much of an educational experience, as it is a luxurious, wholesome and memorable meal.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Restaurants
  • Cremorne
  • Recommended

Untitled, sister restaurant to adjacent cocktail bar Ugly Duckling, is the latest in a slew of restaurants to resuscitate Swan Street’s aspirations to be a dining destination. The current menu on offer is distinctly Italian with some flourishes from around the globe – harissa is present in more than one dish, while the beef tartare, pommes puree, and fennel and potato gratin point to French influences. Sitting in a buttery reduction, crab and chilli linguini is enlivened by pops of salmon roe dotting the pasta. Immaculately breaded pork cotoletta comes as two large cutlets, with celeriac remoulade and a drizzling of caper and sage butter. Untitled isn’t too fancy to refrain from blanketing its bowls of pasta with grated parmesan, and if you're a fan of great steak you can't go wrong with a 220g cut of Blackmore Wagyu dry-aged full blood bavette. Is it pricey? Sure. But some occasions are worth the celebration. The folks at Untitled will ensure it's a memorable one. 

Advertising
Tedesca Osteria
Tedesco Osteria

21. Tedesca Osteria

Tedesca Osteria on the Mornington Peninsula is a fixed-menu dining experience, that is an utter celebration of locally grown and sourced produce. While the food is undoubtedly excellent, this farmhouse-fantasy is not as easy-going of an experience as it may seem from the outside, for example, it is just so difficult to get a booking. But hey, we know that is part of its allure. In any event, the food is good enough to persist with your quest to book. Join as many of the waitlists as they will let you and keep your fingers crossed that they will call you with a last-minute cancellation spot, so you can see for yourself why we named it the best regional restaurant of 2022

https://media.timeout.com/images/105888524/image.jpg
Jade Solomon
Contributor
  • Restaurants
  • Carlton

A chef, a sommelier and a maitre d’ walk into a bar. Bada-bing. Carlton Wine Room is no joke but the brilliant result of three of the industry’s accomplished stars banding together to take the leap into restaurant ownership. Snacks stand out as stars here: order the anchovy with fried bread, ricotta and pickled cucumber, and the Stracciatella with pickled mushrooms, chive oil and potato focaccia, always. 

Advertising
  • Restaurants
  • Japanese
  • Carlton

On Lygon Street's kingdom of carbs and cheese comes the Japanese-ish, French-ish Kazuki's from Daylesford. There are two ways to tackle Kazuki’s, starting at the five-course option for $130 and heading northwards to the seven-course menu for $160. Our advice: go the five-course menu, if only to commandeer the four snacks as the first course, which could include Goolwa pipis on the shell, a profiterole filled with parfait and Davidson plum jam, grilled duck hearts, or whipped cod roe on a nori crisp.

  • Restaurants
  • Melbourne
  • price 2 of 4

Because after living through a global pandemic, we make our own rules now. We know we are only supposed to include one restaurant per spot on this list, but when you live in a city with just so much good food, you have to make a couple of exceptions here and there, so coming in hot together are Maha and Maha East. Like an older, responsible sister, Maha continues to show up just the way you want her to, providing comfort in the form of whipped hummus, slow-roasted lamb shoulder, and smoked aged rice, like an upgraded version of a familiar and warming home-cooked meal. But Maha East, her sassy, independent younger sister, who doesn’t like being told what to do, is bringing a taste of the Middle East to Chapel Street, in a carefree, fun and fresh way.

https://media.timeout.com/images/105888524/image.jpg
Jade Solomon
Contributor
Advertising
  • Restaurants
  • Japanese
  • Melbourne
  • price 3 of 4

Ishizuka's menu specialises in Japanese kaiseki. It’s also a rabbit hole, both quasi-literally (the ordeal of finding it through a nondescript door, along an arcade, down a level via a keypad and elevator and through another nondescript door, can feel a little daunting, which is probably the point) and figuratively, thanks to chef Tomotaka Ishizuka performing the food equivalent of needlepoint.

  • Restaurants
  • Melbourne

There’s something brewing in the heart of Little Collins Street. It could be the numerous jars of potato skins or cabbage fermenting away in Sunda’s latest sibling, Aru Restaurant, or perhaps it’s Khanh Nguyen’s playful and determined spirit. Whatever it is, it’s a welcome change in a relatively underserved pocket of the CBD. The venue heroes pre-colonial techniques of cookery across Southeast Asia – “cooking over fire, preserving, fermenting, dry-aging, curing and all those kinds of treatments” says Nguyen. It’s a spirited take on the ‘f’ word that can often miss the mark, but here, Nguyen manages to make light-hearted commentary on colonisation through his fusion food, and he does so in a way that’s both moreish and respectful.

Advertising
  • Restaurants
  • Italian
  • Carlton

Like many of us during the COVID lockdowns, Italian-born chef Andre Vignalli tried to make lemon juice from a suddenly sour situation. He launched his own pasta delivery service, Al Dente, which quickly spread in popularity around Melbourne and has since evolved into the upscale modern restaurant it is today – Al Dente Enoteca. Vignalli and Bonadima’s dishes change with the seasons to focus on local quality produce and regionally inspired Italian flavours. Think house-baked pane with cultured butter and an impressively rare aged balsamic vinegar reduction, panzerotti pomodoro with mozzarella and basil (the most epic take on a pizza pocket you’ll ever try) and juicy golden-fried olives stuffed with meat for starters. 

  • Restaurants
  • Melbourne
  • price 2 of 4

Did ‘fusion’ really ever leave? Was it merely masquerading as ‘new-style’ all along? And when it’s this delicious, does it even matter? These are the hard-hitting questions you must ponder at Victor Liong’s time-honoured, pan-Asian institution Lee Ho Fook. At this Melbourne favourite Australian producers and grocers, and seasonal ingredients, are championed through a platform of modern Chinese food. Perhaps it'll be Tasmanian ocean trout sashimi with black bean and orange dressing to start, followed by the lacquered duck with quince hoisin, spring onion, and bing bread, all capped off with a rose tea and red fruit trifle with vanilla and osmanthus cream. Whatever you eat, it's sure to be excellent. 

Advertising
  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Restaurants
  • Fitzroy
  • Recommended

The heady smell of incense is apparent as soon as you walk into Flint’s dark confines. Charcoal walls surround a centrepiece open kitchen where sous chef Yukio Endo works his magic on the night we visit. Through an alcove is a private mezzanine dining area that overlooks the restaurant while perched aloft. Flint combines the no-waste fermentation ethos of the since-closed Parcs with a healthy respect for flames and a penchant for wood-fired grilling. There are no ovens at Flint – only ‘fire, smoke and charcoal’. There's a sense of theatre here and the kitchen surprises with every turn and trick. 

  • Restaurants
  • Middle Eastern
  • Carlton
  • price 2 of 4

When young Abla Amad came to Melbourne in 1954 she brought the love of cooking developed while watching her mother in their north Lebanese village. Later, she sharpened her culinary skills with the Lebanese women who would meet in each other’s kitchens to exchange recipes. Abla loved feeding people so much that meal-making for her family turned into hosting Sunday feasts for the community – and then came the restaurant. It’s easy to see why this has been a Carlton institution for 40 years. There’s no pomp or pretence here – it's so authentic it should come with a certificate. Places like Abla’s are not just about a good feed. They are part of the fabric of our city, and in these days of hyped new openings, it's important to celebrate this rare breed of restaurant.

Advertising
  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Restaurants
  • French
  • South Yarra
  • Recommended

France-Soir is truly a Melbourne institution. Established in 1986 by owner Jean-Paul Prunetti, the bistro was an instant success, and in the fickle world of hospitality, that success has endured. This is not a venue for the claustrophobic. Tables are packed tightly, and seats are in high demand. Steak tartare is ubiquitous in the Melbourne dining scene, however, this rendition is one of the best we've encountered. Served pre-mixed, it's gooey and rich. Freshened up with a healthy serving of dijon mustard, the only thing missing was its fried potato counterpart. Fried lamb brains with a caper sauce are salty and melt-in-the-mouth soft. The roast quail in truffle sauce may not be the most sharing-friendly starter, but the sauce is so good you’ll happily trade your bit of bird for the remainder of the liquid gold it's swimming in.

 

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Restaurants
  • Richmond
  • Recommended

Restaurant and wine bar Lene, pronounced Lenny, doesn’t take itself too seriously. It’s a veritable gallery with wall-to-wall expanses of bold and colourful paintings, but there’s no stiff tablecloths or opaque dining codes to abide by here. Thin, crisp slivers of crostini fashioned out of unused sourdough nibs are the perfect vessel to scoop out one of the most ingenious creations we’ve come across – a runny poached egg mixed in with fried strands of Brussel sprouts, almost like floss, lifted by the citrus of salted lemons. Chef Williams changes the menu every week, but you can expect the same ethos across the rotating cavalcade of dishes – housemade everything, varying cultural influences, new and exciting combinations of ingredients, and novel interpretations of age-old classics. 

Advertising
  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Restaurants
  • Vietnamese
  • Fitzroy
  • Recommended

Rue De Thanh is situated on the quiet end of Brunswick Street, a celebration of Vietnamese food spearheaded by owner Than Tran. With more than twenty years of restaurant experience, he's paired with Head Chef Thi Hong Nguyen to create a menu that covers the gamut of familiar Vietnamese favourites with a contemporary flair and dash of French technique. Take, for example, the Bò tái Chanh, which is a rare beef salad but instead comes in the form of Melbourne-y beef carpaccio – sumptuous pink beef fillet topped with shallots, herbs and crispy garlic. It's vibrant, fresh and has the well-rounded, sweet-salty-sour-profile that's the signature of Vietnamese cuisine. Oysters come grilled or fresh, the latter topped with zesty nuoc mam and popping citrus finger lime pearls, an invigorating one-biter that leaves me cursing myself for only ordering one. Bánh khọt, coconut and turmeric pancakes are crispy-outside-gooey-inside perfection.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Restaurants
  • European
  • Melbourne
  • Recommended

As Society’s more relaxed and – dare we say – cooler sibling at Melbourne's swanky 80 Collins precint, Lillian is a Euro-inspired bistro and bar named in honour of the legendary couture atelier proprietor and businesswoman, Lillian Wightman. The moniker is apt, given the ultra-chic and sophisticated vibes of the space, which is flourished with fringed, almost flapper-esque pendant lights, curved caramel-hued banquettes and an enormous black-and-white piece of art that looks like it belongs in an issue of Vogue Italia. Expect approachable brasserie fare with a classy touch, like lobster and leek croquettes in a zesty herb emulsion, scallops with labneh and smoky paprika-rich sobrassada and an epic power lunch steak sanga. A generous, sweeping wine list makes a long lunch here a no-brainer.

Advertising
  • Restaurants
  • Fitzroy
  • price 3 of 4

Cutler and Co has been a mainstay on the fickle Melbourne hospitality circuit for many years, and for good reason. Andrew McConnell opened the restaurant way back when in 2009 in a former metal works factory, and it has undergone a transformative evolution over all those years, emerging as his flagship restaurant. However Cutler and Co has stayed true to its values of refined, simple and hospitable dining throughout the years, as the industry continued to grow and evolve around it. Seasonable menus champion modern Australian food showcasing local producers and growers, expertly crafted by the skilful team in the kitchen. 

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Restaurants
  • Italian
  • Melbourne
  • price 2 of 4
  • Recommended

Everything at this moody laneway pasta bar is made in-house, including the pasta, the bread, vinegars and more. The menu’s also interesting, not your standard showcase of traditional Italian ingredients. Mossy green ribbons of pappardelle come topped with shavings of abalone, and you’ll spot diverse ingredients like kumquat, romesco, dashi jelly and edamame also making unexpected appearances in several dishes. There’s clearly a flirtation with Japan going on here. Perhaps most surprisingly, the Korean-born chef eschews added salt in his cooking, instead building his dishes from a savoury base of house-made chicken stock. But when you're hungry for a satisfying lunch, you don't really care about any of that. You just want to know that what you're about to eat will be damn delicious. Spoiler alert: Alt knocks every dish out of the park.

Advertising
  • Restaurants
  • African
  • Kensington

While Footscray is known for its African food, if you head a little closer towards the city to the Abyssinian for your dose of injera bread, you won't be disappointed. This Racecourse Road eatery serves up a combo of traditional and spiced-up Ethiopian dishes including kifto beef, goat with kemmam sauce and the lamb hot pot shiro bozena. Order the mixed platter feast to get a chef's choice of curries and a small salad served on a giant serve of delightfully spongy injera flatbread. Cutlery is barred here, so get your hands in there and sop up all the flavours.

  • Restaurants
  • Melbourne

A dark staircase entranceway leads down to a warm, energetic space with a slightly subterranean vibe, that buffers from the hubbub outside, while at the same time suggesting you are in one of the most happening pockets of the city. Soft lighting, combined with the polished wooden floors, cool blue tones and generously spaced tables creates a cosy, cave-like dining area which builds a sense of anticipation for what is to come and the knowledge that you are in for an inspired dining experience. The smell of toasty spices emanates from the metaphorical and physical heart of the restaurant, the wood-fired oven. Its creations are born here. Fish, meat and bread all receive its smokey embrace, peppering a charred and fat-rendered profile throughout your dining experience, while the service is effortless yet attentive. A must-visit.

Advertising
  • Restaurants
  • Melbourne
  • price 2 of 4

Possibly you’re here for a quick bowl of pasta and a glass of wine at the handsome marble bar. Good for you, you’re not alone. If you can afford the time, though, take it easy and consult the starters - Stracciatella, salumi, chargrilled octopus or grilled asparagus. But don't fill up before the main event: the pasta, of course. The braised duck gnocchi is a menu mainstay, for good reason, but if that's too heavy for lunch, go for something a little lighter such as the spaghettini with scallops, anchovies and gremolata. That Tipo 00 is one of the country’s best carb bars is not new news. That it continues to excite after this many years is cause for celebration. Tipo 00 is the kind of restaurant you want to show off to visitors, the kind of place that makes you proud to call Melbourne home.

  • Restaurants
  • Richmond

The bad news is the closing of Anchovy, otherwise known as chef Thi Le’s personal exploration of Vietnamese cuisine. The good news is its replacement by the Laos-leaning Jeow. There has been no observable change to the single Bridge Road shopfront, which remains as intimate to the point of squeezy as ever. You don’t come here for the design brilliance, but there’s also no cause for leaving before dessert thanks to the durian Swiss roll.

Advertising
  • Restaurants
  • Turkish
  • Balaclava

This is a kitchen bringing the kind of modern Turkish food you’d find in Istanbul’s vigorous restaurant scene to Balaclava with a program of pickling, preserving, fermenting and hanging (yoghurt, that is). It’s fresh, pretty, textured and refined. 

  • Restaurants
  • Italian
  • Melbourne

What we have here is not so humble as an osteria. Sure, it has an underlying rustic Italian brief, exemplified by the chargrilled whole octopus brutishly splayed over a sauce made of the fiery Calabrian spreadable salami, `nduja. Despite its aims to be everything but a pasta bar, Ilaria's signature has become a plate of paccheri (thick tubes of pasta) strewn with nubs of Crystal Bay prawn meat, grounded in tomato and sorrel purees and anointed with the heady cologne of prawn oil.

Advertising
  • Restaurants
  • South Yarra
  • price 2 of 4

Scott Pickett has built his reputation on a jazz-riff approach to Michelin classicism, but here he’s favouring the visceral attractions of smoke, flame and char. The elemental approach to cooking goes hand-in-hand with the strictly a la carte menu and a pragmatic wine list that will please both the haves and the have-yachts.

  • Restaurants
  • Yarra Valley

We’re at the end of the line. Literally – the end of the Hurstbridge Line, a 50-minute train ride out of the CBD, is where you’ll find a cool rustic bolthole big enough for an open kitchen, vinyl spinning turntable and just 15 seats. It feels less like a conventional restaurant, and more like you’ve accidentally wandered into the bijou farmhouse of someone with really good taste.

Advertising
  • Restaurants
  • Abbotsford

Black-and-white family photos adorning the walls; kitsch-covered tissue boxes lining each table; eclectic chairs and arguably out-of-place rustic style exposed brick walls; and pastel coloured crepe cakes being served at every table. A niche description which only a frequent visitor to Jinda Thai in Abbotsford could pick. For those of you who that didn’t mean anything to, do yourselves a favour, and go check out this Thai food mecca as a matter of urgency.

https://media.timeout.com/images/105888524/image.jpg
Jade Solomon
Contributor
  • Restaurants
  • Melbourne
  • price 3 of 4

Both the dining room and kitchen at Vue have recently been refurbished, while the menu has evolved to become an 18-serving series of culinary enchantments – not too far of a stray from the globally recognised fine diner’s usual brand of refinement, but with just enough changes to thrill returning and new visitors. (Don’t fret – that mind-blowing chocolate soufflé hasn't gone anywhere.) Executive chef Hugh Allen and the senior culinary team have collaborated closely with exceptional Aussie producers to highlight local seasonal ingredients. Dishes from the opening menu include grilled lamb sweetbreads with asparagus sourced from Koo Wee Rup and fermented macadamia sauce; padrón peppers stuffed with heirloom eggplant cooked in wild nasturtium oil; and grilled marron tail with a fried native herb paste followed by a warm marron roe custard.   

Advertising
  • Restaurants
  • Melbourne

It’s the roti with Vegemite curry, OK? This Punch Lane spot is renowned for making the most spectacular play for the hearts of Melbourne with a crazy-brave combination of buttery deconstructed roti and a curry sauce with a Vegemite-umami backbone.

Entrecôte
  • Restaurants
  • Prahran
  • price 2 of 4

Pucker up for a Parisian party at Entrectes new digs in Prahran. A night out here will have you feeling a lil’ bit fancy, whether you’re seated at one of the outdoor tables (reminiscent of a Parisian sidewalk) enjoying one of Entrectes signature Spritzers, or lounging in the sexy, moody brasserie downing an Entrecte Martini, or sipping on ross in the courtyard. Perhaps skip the hors d‘oeuvres, but do not skip the bread. The bread is good. The butter is very good. The butter, lathered (in most peoples’ opinions but not ours, too thickly) on the bread, is very, very good. And the pièce de résistance the steak frites of course. Perfectly cooked, pasture-fed, Cape Grim angus porterhouse served with a secret herb butter sauce, and, of course, frites.

https://media.timeout.com/images/105888524/image.jpg
Jade Solomon
Contributor
Advertising
  • Restaurants
  • Melbourne

Walking down Hardware Lane means running the gauntlet of cheek-by-jowl waiters trying to entice potential diners into their venues with proffered 15-page illustrated menus. But not all venues rely on their front-of-house to charm the masses on the hoof, and restaurants like Hardware Club prove this with one-page menus full of straight-up Italian-inspired hits.

  • Restaurants
  • Korean
  • Ringwood East
  • price 1 of 4

When a 20-seater restaurant in the heart of suburbia that only offers a few dishes, with no bookings, no website and no advertising is never with an empty seat, you know it has to be good. Mr Lee’s Foods is well worth the trip to Ringwood if you’re a fan of pork; all dishes are derived from the animal, offering an insight into the economical traditions of Korean dining, utilising an unconscious, innately cultural nose-to-tail philosophy. Venture outside of the city grid, prepare yourself to try something different and you’ll be rewarded with the perfect simplicity of Korean comfort food.

More of Melbourne's best restaurants

  • Bars
  • Cocktail bars

Melbourne's bar game is strong. From world-beating cocktail lounges to down-and-divey saloons to quench our never-ending thirst, there's just about somewhere for everyone. If you're looking for a bar to head to, we've rounded up the best 53 bars that represent the pinnacle of Melbourne drinking. Many are Time Out Bar Awards winners, while others feature in some of our most popular guides, like Melbourne's best cocktail barswine bars and rooftop bars

Above all, these bars have one thing in common: they are the very best this fine drink-swilling city has to offer.

Show us where you head to! Be sure to share the love with the hashtag #TimeOutDrinkList. You can also find out how Time Out makes recommendations and reviews bars here.

Advertising
Recommended

    More on cheap eats

      You may also like
      You may also like
      Advertising