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Time Out Melbourne Food Awards: Past winners

Each year, we crown the champions of Melbourne's restaurant scene. Here, you'll find them all in one place

Photograph: Graham Denholm

Since their inception in 2013, the Time Out Melbourne Food Awards has quickly established itself as the bible for Melbourne's dining scene. From Restaurant of the Year to the People's Choice, a Food Awards trophy signals a restaurant that is a notch above the rest.

Here, we present all of our Food Award winners, dating back to our inaugural champions in 2013. For the most up-to-date guide to Melbourne's restaurant scene, be sure to check out our most recent winners of the Time Out Food Awards, as well as our Melbourne restaurant hit-list.

Best Fine Dining Restaurant: Igni

Igni’s the best thing to happen to Geelong since the Cats won the flag in ’07, ’09 and ’11 combined – hell, throw in Jimmy Bartel’s Brownlow for good measure. And it’s only an hour’s drive from Melbourne. So, what are you waiting for?

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Geelong
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Best Cheap Eat: Mukka

This Indian newcomer is providing a good reason to head back to Brunswick Street, a strip that has been resting on its laurels for way too long while gabbing incessantly about its 1980s heyday.

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Fitzroy

Best Café: Second Home

It may be a hike out east to visit this shining jewel in Melbourne’s café crown, but no one ever said all the good things had to be in the middle.

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Eltham
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Drinks Service Award: Lûmé

The bar at Lûmé, and its manager Nick Tesar, are among the very best in Australia, full stop. The level of creativity, the use of incredible techniques and left-field ingredients, the beautiful presentations and above all the imminently enjoyable flavours are second to none.

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South Melbourne
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People's Choice Best Takeaway Coffee: St Ali

Led by award-winning head barista Matt Perger, the St Ali baristas have played an active role in introducing Melburnians to a considered appreciation of their daily caffeine hit, from the house-roasted beans to the precise latte art.

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South Melbourne
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Restaurant of the Year: Kappo

At Kappo, committed Japanophile Simon Denton and partners Miyuki Nakahara and Takasi Omi have presented Melbourne with the Platonic ideal of the Japanese restaurant.

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Melbourne

Best Casual Dining Restaurant: Tipo 00

It takes some guts to break the news to Melbourne that it needs another pasta-lovin’ Italian joint performing a nostalgic simulation of a 1950s Roman backstreet osteria where Sophia Loren might wander by at any minute. Thankfully, the owners of Tipo 00 are made of hardy stuff. They ignored the naysayers and proceeded to open the pasta bar of our dreams.

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Melbourne
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Best New Restaurant: Lûmé

A degustation-only restaurant serving a set 18-course menu? Not exactly the thing you expect from a couple of rising star chefs finally getting the keys to their own place. But Shaun Quade and John Paul Fiechtner at Lûmé aren’t particularly concerned that everyone else is piling down the path marked casual, fried and fast.

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South Melbourne

People's Choice: HuTong Dumpling Bar

Three words: People’s Choice Award. That’s right, folks: the citizens of Time Out have spoken in the 2015 Food Awards and decreed this buzzing dumpling house their favourite spot to nosh. It’s a heavy burden, but one we reckon HuTong can handle.

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Melbourne
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Best Fine Dining Restaurant: Minamishima

It’s a long way from dishwasher to sushi master. Over the course of his working life Koichi Minamishima battled through the ranks to become head chef at the highly esteemed Kenzan. And then he surprised everyone by pulling a disappearing act and bobbing up at his own fully realised restaurant with the wow factor utterly sewn up.

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Richmond

Best Bang for Buck: Hakata Gensuke

Tonkotsu broth. That’s the Hakata Gensuke calling card. A rich, cloudy, fragrant noodle-bath of long-simmered pork bones, cooked and cooked and cooked some more in massive vats to release all that tasty, milky collagen. Gosh, it’s good. It’s the bedrock upon which Hakata Gensuke’s deserved reputation rests and it’s a mere $13 bucks for your baseline bowl of Japanese penicillin.

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Melbourne
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Best Café: Burnham Bakery and Piggery Café

The cafés. Oh, the cafés. They’re taking over Melbourne. By the time you finish reading this, another five will have opened within a one-kilometre radius of your home. In a market so over-supplied it takes a pretty big effort to stand out from the crowd. But that’s precisely what Shannon Bennett’s Piggery Café does without even raising a sweat. 

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Sassafras

Hot Talent Award: O.My

It takes a special kind of guy to decide to open a tiny, forward-thinking, degustation-only restaurant in Beaconsfield serving produce plucked from their own allotments. In fact, it takes three of them. Ladies and gentlemen, introducing the Bertoncello brothers, a trio of industry true believers who’ll make even the most rusted-on cynic shed a fuzzy tear.

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Beaconsfield
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Chef of the Year: Scott Pickett

Scott Pickett’s picture now appears in the dictionary under the entry for “busy”. True dinks. The affable Aussie bloke from the tiny SA town of Kangarilla has been putting the pedal to the metal over the past 12 months since St Crispin, the Smith Street restaurant he co-owns with Joe Grbac, took out the 2014 Time Out Food Award for Best New Restaurant.

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Northcote

Legend Award: Hana Assafiri

Seventeen years on and the Moroccan Soup Bar remains blissfully unchanged. The menu is still purely verbal; meat and alcohol remain banished; and one diner each evening is given a free meal. Hana Assafiri does things her own way.

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Fitzroy North
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Best Bang for Buck: Jimmy Grants

George Calombaris’ fancy souvlaki shop is no late-night greasepit. It’s a bar, diner and takeaway in one where you can get ouzo for a fiver, hammer huge fresh salads full of almonds, barley and citrusy handfuls of rough cut parsley, or get a baggie of slow roasted lamb to go.

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Fitzroy
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Legend Award: Flower Drum

A decade is a long time in restaurant years – especially in Melbourne, land of the fickle diner. So what is it about this high-end Cantonese restaurant that’s kept it kicking strong through 38 years, two recessions, the digital age and a plague of screechers decreeing the death of fine dining?

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Melbourne
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See our latest Food Award winners

Restaurant of the Year: Attica

Attica is the little restaurant that could, in the little suburb that you wouldn’t expect, headed up by one Ben Shewry – the New Zealand chef famed for surfing, foraging and crying, to whom tricks and gimmicks are anathema and sustainability is innate philosophy.

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Ripponlea

Best Casual Diner: Ombra

Guy Grossi came kicking and punching into 2013 with this salumi bar – a modern proposition that encapsulates everything great about Melbourne dining.

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Melbourne
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Best Bang for Buck: ShanDong MaMa

If this isn’t the best little hole-in-the-wall dumpling den in Melbourne, we’ll eat the menu. Just watch us. The space is no more than a plain canteen, and it’s located in a Bourke Street arcade. But what they lack in décor and ten point precision pinches on the rustic dumplings, they make up for in crazy freshness and flavour.

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Melbourne

Hot Talent Award: Piqueos

South American restaurants are generally better known for meat, smoke and fun than precision cooking. But there's an extra element of sizzle to the food being dished up by head chef Blair Williams and his Peruvian sous Daniel Salcedo.

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Carlton North
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Legend Award: Rosa Mitchell

4 out of 5 stars

Until she was 40, Rosa Mitchell was trimming locks as a hairdresser. Now she's the owner of Rosa's Kitchen and Rosa's Canteen, two of Melbourne's finest Italian restaurants.

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Melbourne
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See our latest Food Award winners

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