Melbourne’s restaurant scene does a lot of things right, but wheelchair accessibility isn’t always one of them. With our fêted laneway culture comes uneven cobbled lanes, narrow or nonexistent footpaths, tiny holes-in-the-wall, and venues hidden up flights of stairs… It’s not great if you’ve got wheels or limited mobility. We’ve compiled a list of the ten best accessible restaurants in Melbourne, with a side-order of five accessible bars we think you’ll enjoy. Every venue listed here includes an accessible toilet, naturally.
Wheelchair accessible restaurants in Melbourne
This leafy canteen holds a special place on the list because not only do they serve up great Thai fusion, but go the extra mile with accessibility built into the restaurant’s $2 million renovation. Bang Bang’s online functions kit even includes a useful map for pre-visit research, detailing the locations of ramp access, accessible toilet, types of seating, and weather protection for this indoor/outdoor crowd-pleaser.
It’s appropriate that an ultra-modern restaurant should be accessible to modern diners of any mobility. Located on the third floor of Crown Towers, Dinner by Heston benefits from the complex’s lift access throughout. Inside, the restaurant is completely step-free. Only the Chef’s Table, a semi-circle booth with a view of the kitchen, is inaccessible to powerchair users to take in the view with their companions.
Bordered by a broad cycling path and abutting a playground, Park Street delivers on its commitment to community-friendly practice. It’s step-free and has comfortable aisles between the rows of tables, plus this friendly inner north establishment has lots of options for indoor and outdoor seating. They’ve ensured their ethical standards extend beyond the food and into the community.
This buzzing, Asian-inspired diner features a spiral staircase down into their private dining room for exclusive functions, but there is also lift access to the lower level. The main area at street level has a step-free entrance from Flinders Lane, where you can join the perennial queue for a table at this popular spot. Consider an early bird special to take advantage of the fact that they take bookings until 5.30pm.
Located inside a renovated factory, Cutler and Co gives you ample floor space to socialise. A small dining section up the back is elevated by a single step, but everywhere else is smoothly level with Gertrude Street. Low lighting soothes the eyes, while the music is turned up just loud enough to remind you it’s after work hours and you can do whatever you like.
Rolling up Gertrude Street’s quaint, cobbled kerb ramp and into Marion’s narrow rooms feels as natural as ordering that second glass of red. With low, two-seater tables lined up against exposed brick, you can expect to get intimate with the people sitting next to you. The dining space wraps around into two front rooms, split by a thick wall, with the benefit that the other patrons’ spirited conversations don’t overwhelm yours.
Enter Little Bourke Street where it meets Punch Lane for the nearest kerb ramp, and two doors down you’ll find this casually cool Vietnamese joint. There is a slight lip from the footpath to the narrow front door, but once inside it’s a spacious dining room with tables to tuck your knees under while you tuck into some squid ink cuttlefish with Szechuan chilli salt.
Punch Lane’s finest dining experience offers step-free access at street level, but unfortunately no lift access to their mezzanine for functions and events. When booking it’s best to request the lower level so you aren’t seated upstairs.
Enter via the Crown complex (the restaurant entrance from Yarra Promenade involves steps) and heat up your night with Thai street food served in a prime riverside location. Long Chim has an upstairs section that is only accessible by stairs, so when making a reservation make sure to advise of your accessibility needs.
Maha is a sensory experience, beginning with the automatic door you touch to open and the gleaming golden tactiles at the top of the stairs. A sub-basement location means yeah, you’ll have to ask staff to come upstairs and operate the service lift for you. Downstairs, though, effort has gone into creating an atmosphere where you can relax and hear yourself think while you inhale the rich Middle Eastern aromas.
Just want a drink?
Melbourne’s bar scene is legendary, but wheelchair accessibility isn’t always top of the list of design features for venues situated in cobbled lanes, down narrow or nonexistent footpaths, inside tiny holes-in-the-wall, and hidden up flights of stairs. But when you're after a drink in this city of great booze, these venues are easy to access.