While Chapel Street is known for its great shopping and bars, you'll also find some excellent restaurants dotted along the street. From Prahran to South Yarra, these are the best places to eat along Chapel Street.
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The best restaurants on Chapel Street
The latest venture from Garen Maskal (of Ezard pedigree) isn’t wedded to tradition – it’s definitely Middle Eastern food by way of Melbourne. To start, order the hummus. Boring, you say? Not a chance. It arrives immersed in brown butter, accompanied by a giant fire-baked lavash. The seared octopus comes on a bed of labne, pistachio and olive, and the kofte are a version of the Middle East’s beloved dolma.
In both its size (it could double as an aircraft hangar) and the breadth of the menu (60 dishes across 12 categories) this dining hall is huge. You can flit from beer food and dumplings and buns, through to roti and satay, noodles and salads, proteins from the coconut barbecue and curries and stir fries. Two people can barely scratch the surface, which is why this rowdy no-bookings joint is best tackled with a sizable crew.
We’re big fans of Fonda Mexican in Richmond. The fuscia-bright taqueria was one of the first of the new wave Mexican joints to spring up, and their super fresh tacos and chipotle mayo corncobs are still some of the best going. So raise your hands in the air and keep that perpetual Mexican wave going for Fonda Windsor.
This Polish café, bar and restaurant is notable both for its menu of warm, heavy food from the homeland, and for its incredibly long drinks list. Alongside 100 varieties of vodka you can enjoy kopytka, a dish of pan-fried gnocchi with mushrooms; uszka, Polish dumplings filled with either porcini mushrooms or beef; and the eponymous borsch, a traditional beetroot-based soup.
This mod-Japanese joint is as cultishly loved as its 1980s zen master namesake. They’re wielding a fair whack of whiskeys, sakes and decent wines by the carafe and the menu, set out in rounds like a title fight, is protein and fried stuff rich. Crumbed and fried triangles of succulent pork jowl with Kewpie mayo and sesame-oiled apple sticks are juicy mouthfuls of crunch.
The excellent do-it-yourself buns here involve three key components. One: plump, pillowy envelopes of sweet steamed dough. Two: a slab of 18-hour-braised beef on a bone shank as big as your fist. Last but not least, a bowl where crisp lettuce leaves surf a medley of pickled goodness: lace-thin cucumber discs, zingy curls of carrot and tiny tissues of ginger, doused in a vinegary soy sauce.
Let yourself loose on over 60 types of teas, covering every choice of black, white, green, oolong, fruit and herbal. You can stop for a drink there, or buy it and brew it at home. There's also a great choice of yum cha – and each traditional dish is paired with an appropriate tea.
“I dislike the people who treat Windsor like schoolies week” says Clint Hyndman, Something For Kate drummer and owner of this Chapel Street bar. It’s all about the whisky here. For boffins, there are 50 types of single malts and blends to consider, or if you’re a noob, get to asking questions – there’s knowledge behind that bar you should be tapping.
With its roadhouse diner portions, vinyl menus and jugs of sangria, Yellow Bird offers up round-the-clock Mexican-inspired dining in the heart of Windsor. There's a hefty outdoor section for those who prefer a street view with their Corona and nachos, leading into an airy interior framed by kitschy wall art, low-hanging ceiling fans and a cafeteria-style configuration of tables and chairs that are functional, if not much to look at.