Australia’s got a hard-earned rep for producing some of the best beef in the world. Unfortunately, our track record at cooking the stuff hasn’t been quite as golden, with “grilled to within an inch of its life” a common approach, historically. Thankfully, Melbourne’s restaurants are catching on to what many have known for years – that when it comes to premium cuts, fresh is not always best. Dry-ageing, the longer the better, has finally taken off, and the result is tender steaks packed with meaty flavour, worthy of the noble beasts from whence they came. If you’re in need of a red meat fix, here’s our list of ten of the best places in Melbourne to get yours. These are by no means the only places in town throwing a rump on the grill, but they’re our go-to for every budget and occasion.
Just want something fun? Try one of Melbourne's best teppanyaki restaurants.
The best steak in Melbourne
Sometimes you just want to pretend the stock market crash of 1989 never happened. Do so here with a selection of excellent steaks and prestige bottles of Barossa shiraz to help you max out your Amex. The dry-aged porterhouse is our pick of the bunch, the ends crisp with satisfying char and served with a sweet port wine jus. The chandelier hanging in the old-fashioned dining room above one of Melbourne’s oldest pubs, not to mention the affogato for dessert, will have you pining for the heady days of the ’80s.
Butcher’s earns its spot on the list because it’s the only steak worth the trouble you can get at 3am. Mostly known for burgers, the CBD’s latest all-night drunk food spot also has a huge case for ageing meat, and a rotating steak on the 24-hour menu. On our visit it’s a rump sprayed with Maker's Mark bourbon for 40 days straight. It’s not the most incredible steak in town, but it’s well aged, well cooked, cheap and tastes properly meaty. With plenty of beer, wine in 375ml bottles, and 1950s rock on the soundtrack, this strange approximation of an American diner is worth a gander next time you need to fuel up on the stumble home.
San Telmo is huge, the char-grillers are hot, and the meat is good. The beauty of this place is not so much the outright quality of the food, but its flexibility and fun. This is the spot where your in-laws from out of town, your awkward work lunch, or your fussy kids will all be happy and full of meat when they leave. Tasty and inexpensive South American wines and exotic yet approachable snacks will leave everyone feeling like they’ve had an exciting Melbourne laneway meal without pushing their boundaries, or their wallets, too far.
While many have tried to imitate the classic French bistro menu of late, none have done so as well as French Saloon. Pop upstairs from Kirk’s Wine Bar on Hardware Lane to find a big warehouse dining room flooded with evening light. Start with a glass of bubbles and some oysters, then tuck into their small but intensely beefy steak frites, topped with rich Roquefort butter and fried breadcrumbs. Shoestring fries and a piquant salad round out the plate for a superb and satisfying meal that won’t leave you in a meat coma.
We've established that the wine, service and pasta at the Recreation are awesome, but the steak also happens to be one of the best in town for a casual weekday treat. Their 7+ Score Sher Wagyu is served a well-rested medium rare, the fats allowed to render and caramelise, and the rich meat gently grilled so as not to overpower with char. Served with a sweet and creamy green peppercorn sauce, some of the best wines in town, and the kind of service that makes you feel like everything will be OK, this is the steak you need when the world is just a bit too much.
The new steak house/gastropub in Prahran has some serious meat on the menu. Cooked over a wood-fired grill by former Rockpool sous chef Declan Carroll, these steaks are ideally charred, a whiff of wood smoke permeating the tender meat. The O’Connors Gippsland 28-month-old, grass-fed rib eye is presented sliced from the bone, which is still on the plate and begging to be picked up and gnawed. This thing has also been dry aged for a minimum of 30 days, giving the fat that incredible bacon-like quality that makes congestive heart failure seem worth it.
If you and your boo both reckon sinking your canines into a giant hunk of meat is the perfect date, look no further than Epocha. Their Gippsland porterhouse is ideal for sharing, presented on gorgeous vintage China printed with delicate pink roses. Tender and flavoursome, the flesh is a perfect colour spectrum of dark brown char to bright, just bloody pink, perfectly rested so that barely any juices escape. Served with Bordelaise sauce and outstanding Mediterranean wines curated by proprietor Angie Giannakodakis, who also happens to be the best floor manager in Melbourne, this is one of the most entirely enjoyable and romantic steak experiences around.
If you long for the pub meals of the past, the Railway Club Hotel is a brilliant panacea to the pains of the modern world. But despite the old school styling of this dining room and the casual service, the steaks are as good as any in the city. All dry aged and cooked to perfection, there’s nary a bad one on the list. Little copper pots full of your choice of sauce, and proper mustard service to boot, make this one of the only places left in town where the fun of a proper old-fashioned steakhouse meets the quality of modern techniques.
The steak at the Lincoln was a big part of the decision to make them our 2017 Time Out Pub of the Year. There’s only one on the menu, and the cut of beef and how it’s served change regularly, but it’s always a cracker. Chef Howard Stamp knows his way around a bit of beef like few others in the city, sourcing only meat that’s been aged for a minimum of 28 days, and always grilling it with a deft and practiced hand. The thrice-cooked chips will probably take years off your life, but it’ll be worth it, and the excellent selection of and wine and craft beer help to make this the best choice for a casual steak in the city.
If you ask your mum what she reckons the best steak in the city is, chances are she’ll say Rockpool. And she’s not wrong. Despite the long tenure of this tourist-packed Melbourne institution, when it comes to very expensive pieces of grilled meat, they’ve still got it. Put down $119 for a 220gm portion of David Blackmore nine-year-old Mishima rump cap, aged for 41 days. The meat has that mineral, bloody tang our inner caveman craves, while the fat is so well aged and rendered that it presents like the delicate, translucent fat of prosciutto. Impeccably scorched, seasoned and rested, we're happy to pronounce this Melbourne's best few bites of beef, and by a serious margin.