Worldwide icon-chevron-right South Pacific icon-chevron-right Australia icon-chevron-right Melbourne icon-chevron-right The best lunches in Melbourne's south

Heads up! We’re working hard to be accurate – but these are unusual times, so please always check before heading out.

The best seafood at Bacash
Photograph: Carmen Zammit

The best lunches in Melbourne's south

Everyone's gotta eat, right? We've got you covered for whatever situation may arise

By Jess Ho
Advertising

Melbourne's southside gets a bad rap, but this list is guaranteed to change the minds of even the snobbiest northsiders. Or plan your next lunch in the CBD and cap it off with a visit to one of our favourite wine bars.

The best southside lunches

Inside at Matilda
Photograph: Vince Caligiuri

1. Matilda 159 Domain

Restaurants South Yarra

Best for: The power lunch

The fit-out is so luxe you can almost smell the expense. There’s a fire and charcoal-driven kitchen, a botanical-filled glass cabinet and a dining room of rough-edged wooden-topped tables and the fattest, softest leather banquettes that elicit a gasp of surprise from more than one diner (it’s the endlessly entertaining Matilda spectator sport). 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.

Food at Dainty Noodle
Photograph: Graham Denholm

2. Dainty Sichuan Food: South Yarra

Restaurants South Yarra

Best for: The long lunch

Don’t let the name fool you, there is nothing dainty about the food here. Dainty Sichuan serves up cuisine out of Chengdu, proper, with no adulteration to traditional recipes and tastes. Gather a group together, order a range of foods from the cold and hot dishes and break up the spice with plates that have a zero chilli rating. Don’t forget the rice.

Advertising
Shaved cabbage, lemon, mint and parmesan at Bellota
Photograph: Melissa Cowan Photography

3. Bellota Wine Bar

Bars Wine bars South Melbourne

Best for: The boozy lunch

Since Nicky Reimer has taken over the kitchen, the neighbourhood lamented over the loss of the cheesy croquettes. Never fear, they’ve been replaced with equally cheesy arancini with her new, Italian-inspired menu. Wander next door to the Prince Wine Store and pick a bottle off the shelf to drink in house if the by-the-glass list doesn’t inspire you. Who knows, you may end up staying for dinner, too.

4. France-Soir

Restaurants South Yarra

Best for: The boozy lunch

Drink from France Soir's extensive wine list or bring your own, either way, locking yourself in for a full-day affair of wine and Parisian bistro classics is the best way to take in South Yarra. 

Advertising
Generic siu mai
Photograph: Creative Commons

5. Lau's Family Kitchen

Restaurants St Kilda

Best for: The long lunch

After selling up Flower Drum to his head chef, Gilbert Lau and his sons opened up this neighbourhood Chinese restaurant. Start on the sui mai and move on to a whitebait omelette, a gelatinous piece of perfectly steamed barramundi with spring onions and ginger accompanied by a hot pot of braised beef brisket with radish next to a bowl of fluffy white rice. Take on the specials of the day and let the staff do the rest of the work. This is not your average Chinese restaurant.

Food at Bar Carolina
Photograph: Graham Denholm

6. Bar Carolina

Restaurants Italian South Yarra

Best for: The casual catch-up

Bar Carolina is a slim, corner spot making Toorak Road great again. Bar Carolina shows every sign of following Melbourne’s Ivy League of Italians with a menu that serves two masters – old faithfuls and technique-driven modern twists, two sides that mostly manage to happily coexist with just a little whiplash for the unwary, making it a gathering place for the beautiful and leisurely, alike.

Advertising

7. Komeyui Japanese Restaurant

Restaurants Port Melbourne

Best for: The power lunch

Komeyui is the most underrated Japanese restaurant in Melbourne. It's comfortable flying under the radar because that maintains the standard of its impressive sushi, outstanding bento boxes and hot pots of rice porridge and seafood. Pots of genmaicha are served upon being seated, so there is no pressure to dive into a bottle of sake if you’re doing business.

The best seafood at Bacash
Photograph: Carmen Zammit

8. Bacash

Restaurants South Yarra

Best for: The power lunch

Head to South Yarra’s Bacash restaurant for the ultimate fine dining experience. Specialising in high-quality fresh seafood, restaurant owner Michael Bacash pores over ever single piece of fish the enters and exits the kitchen. Pair that with an excellent and well-priced wine list and you'll be having your client eat out of the palm of your hand.

Advertising
Food at Cicciolina
Photograph: Graham Denholm

9. Cicciolina

Restaurants St Kilda

Best for: The boozy lunch

The thing about institutions is that you know they're reliable. Cicciolina is certainly one that fits the bill. Large portions, friendly service, laid-back atmosphere and a wine list worth drinking through is the answer to killing time when work is not on the menu.

10. David's

Restaurants Prahran

Best for: The casual catch up

One of Prahran’s gems is David’s, a 15-year-old Shanghainese restaurant that delivers traditional comfort foods in an approachable, modern environment. You can get a serve of the familiar spring rolls alongside a bowl of sticky pork belly simmered with floury potatoes and rice, or a sweet-and-sour scallop, octopus, fish and egg stir fry. Treat yourself to the surprisingly smart wine list while you’re there. It's a place that encourages you to linger.

Advertising

11. Tempura Hajime

Restaurants South Melbourne

Best for: The power lunch

This 12-seater tempura restaurant is guaranteed to leave a very strong impression. From the hidden location to the exclusivity of the restaurant and impeccable quality of every piece of tempura and sashimi, Tempura Hajime is the definition of perfection through minimalism. Another bonus is that it won’t cost you an arm and a leg. This is definitely the place to schmooze your food-loving client.

12. Railway Club Hotel

Bars Port Melbourne

Best for: The power lunch

Steak. Steak is the ultimate power food. It’s unapologetic, it satisfies blood-lust, and it's not conducive to sharing. To see the who’s who of the Port Melbourne business community, make your way to the Railway Club Hotel, which specialises in different cuts and sizes of perfectly cooked beef, served alongside an extensive list of big, powerful reds in a classical, gastro-pub setting.

Feel like eating more of Melbourne?

Paccheri at Osteria Ilaria
Photograph: Graham Denholm

The 50 best restaurants in Melbourne

Restaurants

Unless you have the metabolism of a nine-year-old, and the finances of a Kardashian, you never stand a chance against Melbourne's ferocious dining machine. The openings just don't stop and ain't nobody got time to keep on top of what's what. Except us, that is. So behold, our eat-and-destroy list – a guide to Melbourne's 50 best restaurants.

Recommended

    You may also like

      Advertising