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Lauren Dinse

Lauren Dinse

Food & Drink Writer

Lauren Dinse is the food and drink writer for Time Out Melbourne. She first discovered she had a thing for food as a student, looking at her bank account in dismay after realising she’d spent almost her entire weekly budget on truffled-spiked blue cheese, wine and edible flowers from the South Melbourne Market. While her spending issues may have relaxed, Lauren’s appetite for life’s sensory pleasures has not. When she’s not hitting up the best of Melbourne’s restaurants and late-night haunts, she loves camping in nature, music festivals, cosy movie days in, and scampering around Carlton Gardens with her sister’s chihuahua. Lauren has an arts degree in English Literature and Anthropology from the University of Melbourne and has worked as a freelance writer for close to a decade.

Reach her at lauren.dinse@timeout.com or connect with her on social media.

Instagram: @lollydinse

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Articles (114)

The best Margaritas in Melbourne

The best Margaritas in Melbourne

A good Margarita is like summer in a glass – refreshing, tart and the perfect balance of sweet and sour – and with the unpredictable Melbourne weather, summer in a glass may be the only one we get. The perfect Margarita can be a simple three-ingredient classic or it can be twisted with anything from chilli to mandarin. Unsurprisingly, many of Melbourne’s best Mexican restaurants know the way around a great Marg but so do many of the city’s best cocktail bars. We have rounded up a selection of Melbourne’s finest, so get drinking!  Looking to explore more great drinking spots around town? These are the 50 best bars in Melbourne.

The best restaurants and bars in Footscray

The best restaurants and bars in Footscray

Footscray is rapidly becoming Melbourne's must-visit food destination, with new restaurants and cafés opening constantly. From American barbecue to Vietnamese food, fish and chips to fine dining, here are some of our favourite restaurants in Footscray right now.  And if you want to look further afield, here are the 50 best restaurants in Melbourne right now.

Valentine’s Day gift guide

Valentine’s Day gift guide

February 14 is nearly here – your annual opportunity to show the one you love the depth of your feelings. It’s always a good idea to demonstrate some creativity to keep the spark alive in your relationship, and that’s where Time Out can help. Our gift guide spans cosy pyjamas and pampering products to premium beverages so you can toast your love at home, plus a few left-of-field ideas you probably never considered.  Looking for romantic experiences? Check out these Valentine's Day hotel packages in Melbourne. Plus, some free and cheap date ideas.

The 17 best restaurants in Australia right now

The 17 best restaurants in Australia right now

What’s the secret recipe for crafting an exceptional dining experience? In coming up with Time Out’s list of the best restaurants in Australia we considered a mix of ingredients. Talented chefs? Stylish decor? Lively ambience? Top-notch drinks? And of course, food that you can’t stop thinking about for days, months, or even years. Luckily, Australia’s restaurant scene is sizzling with spots that check all these boxes, plus so much more. Our nation’s top restaurants are a celebration of Australia’s native ingredients too. From an intimate 40-seat dining room cut into the rolling hills of Tasmania’s countryside to a 30-year-old institution overlooking Sydney’s sparkling Bondi Beach, these are the restaurants Time Out Australia’s team, including resident foodie Melissa Woodley, recommends for your next culinary adventure. RECOMMENDED: These are the best luxury hotels to book in Australia.

The best yum cha in Melbourne

The best yum cha in Melbourne

Barbecue pork buns, xiao long bao, spring rolls, chicken feet, har gow, siu mai, salt and pepper squid, custard egg tarts and sesame balls. These are just a few of the signature dishes you can find at any good yum cha restaurant. We've rounded up our favourite trolley spots in Melbourne, so you can feast on endless steamed, fried and roasted plates, all while washing it down with plenty of tea (or wine – we don't discriminate).  Want more dumplings? Check out the best dumpling restaurants in Melbourne. After more brunch? Check out the best cafès in Melbourne. We've also rounded up our favourite spots for bubble tea that hits the spot.

These are the 15 best bagels in Melbourne

These are the 15 best bagels in Melbourne

More than just a bread roll, the bagel is the ultimate soft, chewy and versatile vessel, no matter the time of day. Whether you take yours plain or flavoured, loaded with lox and schmear, or made in Montreal or New York – Melbourne is boiling and baking bagels for everyone. Here’s a wrap on the best in Melbourne.  Looking for more? Check out the best breakfasts in Melbourne, or take things up a notch with the best bottomless brunches around town. 

The best patisseries in Melbourne

The best patisseries in Melbourne

It's amazing that pastry, at its simplest, is just flour, lots of butter, sugar and maybe an egg or two. Yet Melbourne's best patisseries have crafted a diverse range of treats from these raw ingredients, including what could be the best croissants in the world and old-school cakes you'll want to take home to your grandmother. Melbourne's speciality patisserie landscape continues to evolve and expand, and we're thankful for it.  Need a sweet treat to impress your guests? These are the best takeaway cakes in Melbourne. 

The best things to do on Valentine's Day in Melbourne

The best things to do on Valentine's Day in Melbourne

Whether you're coupled up, single or looking to spend Valentine's Day with your friends, there's something for everyone in Melbourne this February 14. From romantic dinners to bougie hotel stays, this city will be leaning into love, no matter what form it comes in. Check out our complete guide to Valentine's Day in Melbourne, where you'll find everything from Melbourne's best date night restaurants to the best places for a cheeky pash. 

The best bottomless brunches in Melbourne

The best bottomless brunches in Melbourne

Brunch is a beloved institution across Melbourne. It doesn't require an early wake-up call and is simultaneously on the right side of the day, so you can still have your avo on toast if you need it. But how do you improve on perfection? By adding bottomless drinks, of course. Bottomless brunches have taken our city by storm, and if you've done one, you have no doubt discussed tactics with friends: what to drink, how to pace yourself, the best way to grab the waiter's attention and if it's possible to surreptitiously double park. After all, bottomless brunches are all about getting the best value and a healthy buzz. And not dissimilar to the chicken and egg debate, are drinks or food more crucial when selecting your venue? We believe you can have the best of both. We've compiled a list of Melbourne's best bottomless brunches so that you can enjoy your chicken or eggs with a great selection of limitless bevs.  Keen to carry on the party? Check out the best rooftop bars or best beer gardens in Melbourne. Planning a big day and night? Kick on at the best late-night bars in Melbourne.

The best fish and chips in Melbourne

The best fish and chips in Melbourne

Some things just go together: Batman and Robin, death and taxes, and our personal favourite, fish and chips. It doesn't matter how you take them; we can all agree that fish and chips are the ultimate dynamic duo. With Melbourne's prime location as a coastal city, it's no wonder we're serving up some decent parcels. From old-school chippies to the more bougie newcomers, we've rounded up our top 14, so you can spend your time doing more important things – like working your way through all of them.  Need somewhere to eat your fish and chips? These are the best beaches in Melbourne. Want to take things up a notch? These are the best beachside restaurants in Melbourne. 

The best bars for first dates in Melbourne

The best bars for first dates in Melbourne

You swipe right and hit it off, but then what? Picking the right bar for a first date isn't easy, especially in a city like ours with so many options. To take the stress out of finding the perfect spot to get to know someone, we've put together a list of Melbourne's most romantic bars to ensure you have a memorable first date. And hopefully, if things go well, you can plan your next date at one of the best date night restaurants in Melbourne.  Take your next date night up a notch at one of the 50 best restaurants in Melbourne. 

The best date-night restaurants in Melbourne

The best date-night restaurants in Melbourne

"You choose the place" is a phrase that hardly anyone wants to hear when it comes to arranging the perfect date – the pressure! Your choice of spot can really make or break the evening, so let us help you with our fail-proof list of romantic spots. We've rounded up the best spots specifically for your first to eighth dates – should things go that well! Whether you're searching for a quiet spot to share snacks and get cosy over a bottle of wine, a fun and rowdy place to laugh and have a good time, or a fancy spot to try and impress, use our list below to take the hard work out of choosing and save your energy for finding the right outfit or thinking of some engaging conversation starters. Good luck out there, daters. Successful evening? Take it to the next level with our list of the best hotels in Melbourne. Or go one step further in these luxury Melbourne hotels.

Listings and reviews (182)

Art and Whisky Pop-Up Bar

Art and Whisky Pop-Up Bar

  If you love art and whisky, then boy, is there a dream combo right up your alley. As part of the 17th edition of the Melbourne Art Fair this month, Glenfiddich's whisky pop-up bar will return for its second year. Part gallery, part immersive sensory experience, it's an unmissable feature of the 2024 program. From February 22 to 25, the famous whisky brand is teaming up with the Greek-Aussie artist and designer Jordan Gogos to unveil an immersive installation at Caretaker's Cottage. A celebration of fine drams and daring art, the space will be your Art Fair pitstop for world-class signature cocktails, soundtracked by a riveting line-up of vinyl DJs. Count us in! Caretaker's Cottage was recently ranked 23rd in the World's 50 Best Bar Awards, and while the pop-up's running, its bartenders will be mixing up a dynamic menu of whisky highballs and neat serves. Interact with Gogos' colourful art and sculptural furniture (inspired by the colourways of Glenfiddich's aged whisky expressions), while you nurse your libation of choice and mingle with fellow liquor and art enthusiasts. The collab will see Gogos unveil his biggest artwork yet: an eight-by-four-metre art installation crafted from reclaimed textiles. “My collaboration with Glenfiddich for Melbourne Art Fair is a real game-changer," says Jordan Gogos. "This time, we've surpassed printed graphics and instead, created bespoke furniture art that attendees can actually interact with, becoming part of my art installation, not ju

Silks

Silks

Searching for a yum cha restaurant with a bit more pizzazz? Crown Melbourne’s upmarket Chinese restaurant has launched a weekday yum cha special. For $78, you get an all-you-can-eat dim sum feast full of classic dishes like prawn and chive dumplings, black truffle bean curd skin rolls, char siu pork puffs, chicken and century egg congee, and traditional red bean pudding. The full menu features 25 dishes, and you can enjoy as much as you like over the sitting.

Meatstock Festival

Meatstock Festival

Are you sick of salad? Maybe you’d like to kill kale? Perhaps you hunger for something with a little more meat on its bones? Well, hunger no more! Meatstock 2024 lands in Bendigo on March 16 and 17 to satisfy all your carnivorous cravings, and it's bringing along an unmissable program of rocking music, wild attractions and nail-biting competitions this year.  "If an offset smoker and an electric guitar had a baby, it would be Meatstock," is how the festival describes itself. Sounds legit. Last year, a staggering 60,000 attendees stormed through the gates, and we reckon this year's event is gearing up to be just as riotous.  Some of the best pitmasters in the barbecue biz will be serving up food throughout the weekend including Two Smokin' Arabs, Bluebonnet, Hoy Pinoy, Smokestack BBQ, Fancy Hanks, Red Gum BBQ, Black Iron Smokers, Heat Beads Meat Wagon and more, with plenty of drinks stalls to wash it all down. Entertainment will come by way of many local artists and bands playing on the main stage, including Aussie Idol darling James Johnston, Chayce Beckham, Zac and George, The Wolfe Brothers, Amy Sheppard, Casey Barnes, This Way North, Fanny Lumsden, Lane Pittman, Southbound XO and the Buckleys.  You can head over to the expo portion of the event to pick up everything from barbecue rubs, cooking appliances, barbecues, hot sauces and heaps more, but don't stop there. Whether to spectate or take part, you're also encouraged to hit up the competitive eating zones where pale-fa

Toddy Shop

Toddy Shop

From a small hole in the wall on Smith Street, you might pick up on lively Bollywood beats or the inviting scent of spices and curry leaves. Is it some ultra-hip Indian grandmother's kitchen? No, but that's how owner and chef Mischa Tropp wants it to feel when you step inside.  “I’m hoping the space will be like you’ve walked into an extension of my house; warm and with hospitality," says Tropp. "A selection of vinyl including Indian disco records or the latest Indian electronic acts served with a great selection of booze and the best Indian drinking food you could ask for.” That's the name of the game at Toddy Shop by Marthanden Hotel, the new kid to Fitzroy's block serving up authentic South Indian and Keralan food and day party vibes. The venue's name is inspired by the traditional toddy shops and coffee bars found all over South India, and it's Tropp's tribute to everything he loves about the region. "This is a venue to make my community proud, something for people to cross town for because they miss the food of the motherland,” he says. Venture inside and you'll discover a buzzing 20-seater eatery and bar, complete with tunes on vinyl and a picture of Tropp's grandmother on the wall. The kitchen keeps it authentic, dishing up homestyle eats on steel plates and rotating the menu depending on the chef's whims and what's in season. Fun, flavourful and easy to share, dishes could include a creamy prawn moilee with coconut and turmeric, peppery fried pork or okra pachadi, a

The Clam

The Clam

Not that we needed an excuse to hit the iconic Great Ocean Road, but there’s a cruisy new seafood joint in Lorne that’s worth the trip alone. Neighbouring the newly revived Lorne Theatre, it's aptly named the Clam and locals are already flocking in like moths to a flame. Co-owners David Moyle (ex-Longsong, Rising, Laneway Festival) and George Barnes dreamt up the nostalgic space as a way to pay homage to the seaside town’s bohemian past. Only oldies might remember, but back in the day, Lorne was a known hot spot for musicians, artists, surfers and the countercultural community. “Back in the 1960s, some pretty notable Aussie bands came and played here in Lorne. Looking back at the photos from the era you get a sense of the creative spirit of the time; that Lorne was this unique place at the end of the earth where interesting things were happening,” Barnes explains. “With the Clam, we really want to evoke some of that same spirit.” Most of the action takes place on the festoon-lit outdoor deck, a space designed for rotating food vendor pop-ups (Shandong Mama recently joined the party), wines curated by Blackhearts and Sparrows, and live music performances. In summer, it’s an epic outdoor party, but in winter, there’ll be fireplaces and plenty of cosy corners to keep visitors warm.  As a youngster growing up in Port Fairy, Moyle says Lorne felt “like Los Angeles.”  “Even now, driving into town, I still get goosebumps – it’s such a special place,” says Moyle. “I spent a summer he

Melbourne Chilli Eating Championship

Melbourne Chilli Eating Championship

If you're the type who douses every meal in Sriracha, then listen up – Lygon Street burger bar B.East has partnered up with the folks at Melbourne Hot Sauce to host its ninth annual red hot chilli eating competition on Saturday, March 2. Kicking off from noon, a group of 24 fiery warriors will compete against one another, making their way up the Scoville chart. Watch as they chow down on Trididad Scorpions, Ghost Chilli, the Naga Viper and ultimately, the infamous Caroline Reaper, which comes in at a whopping 2.5 million Scoville Heat Units (SHU). The level of heat is so extreme that competitors are required to wear gloves when consuming the chillis – and St John’s Ambulance will be on standby.  If that doesn't sound terrifying enough, contestants will not be allowed access to beer or milk to take away the pain. But it's not all tears and tantrums. Winners of each round will go head-to-head until only the champion remains, with the iron-stomached freak of nature taking home plenty of cash and prizes – and everlasting fame, of course! Past competitors include Greg Barlow, who was once an amateur but is now the Southern Hemisphere's reigning chilli champion. For context, Barlow broke the record for most Carolina Reapers swallowed in one sitting when he ate almost one kilogram of the bad boys. Now, that's impressive. This year’s theme is ‘Spicy Australiana’, and there’ll be a speciality chilli-inspired food and beverage menu by the Beast, stalls, live band karaoke and the ‘Worl

Purple Pit

Purple Pit

4 out of 5 stars

One daring duo, a subterranean space in the same building that houses regal Reine and La Rue, and an original vision to shake things up in Melbourne: these were Purple Pit’s trifecta of selling points when it quietly opened late last year. And they were the right ones to spark instant intrigue. The new cocktail bar is a joint project from none other than restaurateur Maurice Terzini (Sydney’s Icebergs) and drinks maverick Joe Jones (Romeo Lane). It’s their first shared venture, and as we come to find out one Thursday night, far too interesting to visit just once. There’s a whisper of Berlin about the bar’s design, better defined as a blend of brutalism and old-timey class. It’s been inspired by Europe’s great hotel bars of yore, and you can spot that influence in white tablecloths, uniformed bartenders and antique silver coasters, but everything else has been given the punk treatment. A friend and I drift downstairs to discover a lair so dark that objects appear in soft focus, loud tapestries of art strewn across the walls , and a soundtrack that grumbles, sighs and groans right across the eclectic post-punk gamut. It’s all just pretty damn cool, and in the truest sense of the word. A moody glow of reddish-purple lighting seals the deal. Our moment of reverie is short-lived, however, as we soon feel like we’re on an airstrip. The air is hot and muggy (strange, even for a Melbourne summer), and to mitigate that, a giant fan at each corner of the room blows air into the centre

Sosta Ristorante

Sosta Ristorante

For more than 16 years, this North Melbourne jewel (formerly known as Sosta Cucina) has been loyally serving locals authentic Italian fare made with love. In late 2023, elegant renovations and a switch-up in management ushered in a brand new era for the restaurant, and the glow-up is real. While holding steadfast onto a few fail-safe formulas – winning service, exceptional produce quality and authentic Italian cooking methods – Sosta Ristorante has looked beyond the horizon for new ways to reimagine and redefine Melbourne's long-standing love affair with the cuisine.  Upgrades include a clean, bright interior refresh, luxury wine cellar and sharp menu edit under the helm of co-owner and head chef Alex Tintori. The Tuscan-born chef has drawn inspiration from how regions throughout Italy locally source wild ingredients, and in turn, he's incorporated Australia's own native ingredients into his dishes to create bold new flavour profiles. The result? A characterful fusion of traditional Italian cooking techniques with Australia's diverse bounty of plants, herbs and flowers.  Chef Tintori first fell in love with food in the heart of his family's kitchen, where he developed a passion for foraging and its unique connection with his family's rich culinary heritage. This is something he brings to the fold at Sosta, frequently sourcing ingredients out in nature, with a focus on free-range, organic and sustainable. There's the occasional foray into the realm of fermentation, making the

Moon Dog Wild West

Moon Dog Wild West

Saddle up, partner. This March, Moon Dog Wild West is storming into the old Franco Cozzo building in Footscray with plans to be the biggest beer lover's venue in Melbourne's west. At an impressive twice the size of Preston's Moon Dog World, the venue will span three levels with more than 100 taps and enough space for a merry flock of up to 800 patrons. We haven't been this excited about a new beer venue since, well, the last opening from the Moon Dog crew. After all, these guys sure know how to put on a good time – and the Wild West outpost is going to be the biggest and most ambitious booze-soaked wonderland of the lot.  You can anticipate a fun Wild West theme throughout, with swinging saloon doors, a bucking bull, horseshoe booths, a games arcade, a ranch-themed kids' play area and a barrel ageing room. But that's only the first floor, with the fun continuing upstairs.  Head to the second floor and you'll discover a honky tonk bar and live music stage, with pool tables, a jukebox and a balcony lounge. There's even a secret 'pianola bar' to swill a tipple of bourbon with others in the know. In good news for those who prefer their cocktails to their beers, Moon Dog has revealed that three-time Australian Bartender of the Year, Chris Hysted-Adams has swooped in to curate a special drinks list.  To line your belly for all the liquor, there'll be a menu of American barbecue bites, plus Tex Mex on the rooftop (yes, there's a rooftop!) and Moon Dog's crowd-pleasing gastropub clas

Bahama Gold x Da Paolo Pizza Pop-Up

Bahama Gold x Da Paolo Pizza Pop-Up

Take a stroll by beloved Lygon Street wine bar Bahama Gold and you might just pick up on the tantalising aromas of pizza. That's courtesy of the sizzling slice magic from acclaimed pizzaiolo Kitisak Iacuzi's pop-up Da Paolo, which has swooped in for an in-house residency that will run indefinitely.  Alongside rivers of Bahama Gold's housemade local and imported vino and Da Paolo's cult pizza pies, the bar will be spinning vinyl sounds every Friday, Saturday and Sunday, from 5pm until 10pm.  Hailing from Italy's Liguria before moving to Melbourne more than 12 years ago to join Neighbourhood Wine, Iacuzi went on to earn his dough-making stripes at organic bakery All Are Welcome, then Gray and Gray and Pizzeria Magma. His newest venture Da Paolo is named after the pizzeria his father ran in Liguria through the '80s.  "I’m so excited to be back in the Bahama Gold kitchen serving up Da Paolo’s pizzas to Brunswick," shares Iacuzi. "The Neighbourhood Wine team has truly been family to me, taking me under their wing when I first arrived in Melbourne, not speaking a word of English, and igniting my passion in the kitchen." Pizzas on offer at the Bahama Gold pop-up currently include a marinara with yellow passata, confit cherry tomato, oregano and basil; margherita with San Marzano tomato, fior di latte, pecorino and basil; gamberi with local prawns, garlic, parsley and fermented chilli sauce; zucchini wtih stracchino (a traditional young Ligurian soft cheese), capers, marjoram and m

Port Phillip Mussel and Jazz Festival

Port Phillip Mussel and Jazz Festival

We hope you're hungry, because the Port Phillip Mussel and Jazz Festival is back for a celebration of music and molluscs. On March 9 and 10 from 11am to 9pm, South Melbourne Market will come alive as some of the market's best loved restaurants shell out (see what we did there?) plenty of seafood dishes showcasing mussels. Past eateries that have been involved include Claypots Evening Star, Simply Spanish, Bambu, Claw and Tail, Mike's Mussels and Gem Pier Seafood. This year, you can also feast on French pastries, porchetta rolls, German street food, cannoli and a whole lot more, with giant seagulls on the market grounds for plenty of photo opps. Cecil Street will be closed to traffic, and there'll also be free cooking demonstrations, workshops, roving performers, giveaways and fun activities for the kids.  Best of all, the festival is once again teaming up with the Nature Conservatory and supporting the 'Shuck Don't Chuck' campaign. Festival-goers are encouraged to dispose of their mussel shells in special bins so that they can be turned into habitats for baby mussels and oysters to grow on.  On the music front, it's all about the city's best jazz and soul musicians, with the full festival program listed at the website. Wanna get involved? You can apply to be a stallholder here. Starry-eyed for seafood? These are the best fish and chips in Melbourne. We've also rounded up a list of our fave sushi trains.

Wine and Cheese Fest

Wine and Cheese Fest

It's hard not to love Melbourne's annual Wine and Cheese Fest, an event that brings together all the best cheese producers, wine and cider makers and other small goods producers. And for its eleventh iteration at Timber Yard in Port Melbourne this March, it's back bigger and better than ever.  The one-day festival is set to be a 'gouda' time, with more than 50 local wineries, cheesemakers and artisan producers gathered under one roof. Learn techniques from on-stage masterclasses conducted by experienced chefs and cheesemongers and enjoy plenty of free tastings throughout the day.  This year, the likes of That's Amore Cheese, Schulz Organic Dairy, Boatshed Cheese, L'Artisan Cheese, Pizzini Wines, Rob Dolan Wine, Clarnette Wines, Pizzini Wines and John Gehrig Wines will be exhibiting their goods, among many more exciting names on the lin-up. DJS and roving artists will also be around to keep the vibes high, and your little ones can hang out in the dedicated kids' zone complete with face painting, lawn games and more. Best of all, the annual Grape Stomp Competition is back. If you're up for some fun and want to try your hand at making some wine the traditional way, sign up here. Tickets to the Wine and Cheese Fest are on sale here and start at $60, and this year attendance will be split between two sessions: one from 11.30am to 3pm and another from 3.30pm to 7pm. Tickets include free tastings, a tote bag and a festival glass.  After more fine vino? Here are the best Yarra Valley

News (36)

Melbourne's first rooftop brewery bar is about to open to the public

Melbourne's first rooftop brewery bar is about to open to the public

The footy. Bizarre but absolutely necessary op shop finds. A good chicken parma. We Melburnians love a lot of things, but if there’s anything that gets us out and about in the warmer months, it’s a shiny new rooftop bar.  Joining the spate of recent openings for sky-high tipples (Lulu Bar, Fleet, Skinny Dog Upstairs), the folks behind local craft beer brand Brewmanity are about to launch the city’s first-ever brewery rooftop bar in South Melbourne.  Anticipate a three-storey wonderland with capacity for a whopping 400 beer lovers, complete with 34 taps from head brewer Tim Miller. Here’s a man who was once Little Creatures’ brewing manager, so you know he knows his froffs. Brewmanity focuses on traditional beer styles, using natural fermentation methods without additives.  The ground floor has been designed to house an industrial-style beer hall where you’ll get to watch all the brewing magic unfold in the vats while you skull down a cold one. Upstairs on the next level, the space features what could be Victoria’s most unique brewery bar, boasting a massive terrace that offers panoramic views of the city. Try something new from a tasting paddle, or branch out from beer with a drinks list that includes local indie wines, spirits and cocktails. And if you get a bit peckish, never fear – there’s a menu of share plates and bar bites on hand, with both vegan and gluten-free options available. Finally, ascend to the top floor to check out the rooftop for more stunning views (and th

Hundreds of free banh mi are being handed out in Melbourne for one day only this month

Hundreds of free banh mi are being handed out in Melbourne for one day only this month

We reckon Melbourne is home to some of the world’s tastiest banh mi outside of Vietnam, but our luck doesn’t end there. On Wednesday, February 28, you can even get your hands on a free one! Thanks to a collaboration between Vietnam Airlines and the city’s newly opened Banh Mi Stand, hundreds of these famous, tasty sangas will be handed out at no charge to you. All you need to do is bring along your appetite to Banh Mi Stand at 10am on the dot – and a hungry friend, if you’re feeling generous enough to spread the good news. Banh Mi Stand’s bespoke Banh Mi Bonanza menu is available for one day only and will take inspiration from key destinations on Vietnam Airlines’ flight paths from Melbourne, such as Paris, London, Frankfurt and Delhi. The promotion is celebrating the airline’s Transit Tours of Vietnam, which are optional free tours of special destinations around Vietnam, available for passengers flying via Vietnam to Germany, France, England, Japan, Hong Kong, Taiwan and South Korea.  “The Transit Tours are completely free for eligible passengers,” says Vietnam Airlines Australia General Manager Mr Nguyen Huu Tung. “So yes, there is such a thing as a free banh mi lunch. And free transit tours, too!” Photograph: Supplied / Vietnam Airlines x Banh Mi Stand Here’s what’s on the menu: the French-inspired banh mi comes filled with duck confit and orange plum sauce; the German-inspired banh mi combines the magic of pork sausage and salted cabbage with crunchy chilli; and London’

Sky-high glamour: Flinders Street's tallest rooftop bar, Fleet, will welcome visitors this April

Sky-high glamour: Flinders Street's tallest rooftop bar, Fleet, will welcome visitors this April

A swanky new Melbourne rooftop is in the works, set to be Flinders Street's tallest bar with epic views of the Yarra, Southbank and surrounds. Perched 68 metres high on Vibe Hotel's 22nd floor, Fleet will serve up nostalgic old-world cocktails and snack plates in a space designed by some of Australia's leading creative talents.  Paul Kelly Design (Black Star, Crown Casino) is heading up the interior architecture of the bar, while international food and beverage consultant, Grant Collins, has curated an impressive drinks list. Expect nostalgic classics that nod to the past made from Fleet's signature blends, such as the seafarers' Hurricane with gold rum, navy rum, pineapple, orange, lime and passionfruit, or a Manhattan with barrel-aged tequila, sweet vermouth, bitters and maraschino. We can already imagine nursing one of these belly-warming potions on a crisp Autumn evening.  To round out the offerings of local and international wines, beer and spirits, a menu of bar snacks showcasing fresh Victorian produce will also be available for share-friendly nibbles or a light meal.  Photograph: Supplied / Vibe Hotel A fun little history fact about the Hurricane: the drink traces its roots back to a New Orleans speakeasy in the 1940s, which you could only enter if you said the magic password, "storm’s brewin'." It was one of the most popular drinks of seamen, now beloved by cocktail enthusiasts all over the globe. Vibe Hotel itself has a rather interesting past (the building's or

Just in: one of the world's most famous crab restaurants is coming to Melbourne for one month only

Just in: one of the world's most famous crab restaurants is coming to Melbourne for one month only

Ministry of Crab is an award-winning seafood restaurant from Sri Lanka, a consecutive A-lister on the almighty Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants list, and an unmissable experience for seafood lovers. With permanent locations in Bangkok, Mumbai, Shanghai, Chengdu and the Maldives, you'd typically have to book exxy flights to make a reservation at this red-hot shellfish joint. But not this year. After a smash-hit residency in Melbourne in 2022, we’ve just heard word the Ministry is scuttling back to our shores for a pop-up at Crown’s luxe Evergreen space from March 28 to April 27. So if you missed out on all the fun last time, you better book in, bib up and nab a table!  Photograph: Aaron Francis Sustainably sourced northern Australian mud crabs are renowned for their sweet, juicy flesh, and they'll be flown in live and prepared in a range of sauced-up flavour bombs. Led by the acclaimed chef and TV personality Dharshan Munidasa, who has both Sri Lankan and Japanese heritage and is a master in the art of crab and prawn preparation, the indulgent five-course set menu covers the whole Ministry gamut: pepper crab, fiery garlic chilli crab, a chef's tasting platter, refreshing crab avocado salad and coconut creme brûlée for dessert – all prepared in the restaurant's world-famous signature style, of course. The expanded menu will also feature Mooloolaba king prawns and fresh Pacific oysters with aged soy sauce and bloody shiraz gin caviar, marrying Asian flavours with fresh Aussie seaf

Just in: Melbourne's cherished American Doughnut Kitchen is opening a new shop in Prahran Market

Just in: Melbourne's cherished American Doughnut Kitchen is opening a new shop in Prahran Market

If aliens were to beam down to our city to pick up some Melbourne artefacts, no doubt they'd swing by the American Doughnut Kitchen van at Queen Victoria Market. These sugar-dusted hot jam doughnuts have been giving Melburnians their sweet-and-fried fix since 1950, and we've even crowned them as one of the top things to try in Melbourne in your lifetime.  But this week marks a new and exciting chapter for the beloved vintage van, which has just announced it's opening a new bricks-and-mortar store at Prahran Market. Yippee! For the first time, you'll be able to pair your doughnut with a delicious cup of coffee for the ultimate market breakfast. And don't just expect another van. The new shop will feature a fitout that pays homage to the truck, with the same open work station so you can watch all that glorious doughnut magic take place – from the cutting and cooking, to the royal jam and sugar treatment. It'll be an immersive in-store experience guaranteed to enthral old-timers, little ones and kids at heart alike.  Photograph: Supplied / American Doughnut Kitchen As for the celebrity-status doughnuts, not much needs to be said if you've tried them. They've got the perfect Goldilocks level of oily crunch and they're piped with a sweet red dollop of classic raspberry plum jam (that's well worth getting your hands sticky for), then dusted in a generous snow of sugar. It's the taste of childhood in a single bite. American Doughnut Kitchen managing director Belinda Donaghey says

Grab a free Margarita this February at one of 38 bars across Sydney

Grab a free Margarita this February at one of 38 bars across Sydney

With the cozzie livs in Sydney reaching dire straits, more and more bars around town are starting to sling special offers and happy hours to help Sydneysiders save some pennies. And though a $6 schooner is unquestionably a steal, you can't push prices down lower than free – which is why serious Marg devotees are in for a treat, with a mega 20,000-Margarita giveaway from the good folks at Altos Tequila. In what can only be described as the booziest Mexican wave in Australia right now, the award-winning liquor brand has teamed up with more than 100 bars and pubs around the nation to shout you the drink from Thursday, February 1 to Thursday, February 29. The great Margarita giveaway is a celebratory nod to World Margarita Day – which is set to whip Sydney drinkers into a thirsty frenzy on February 22.  Luckily for us Sydneysiders, 38 bars and pubs across NSW will be taking part. Is there a catch? Nope  – although before you ask, you only get one free cocktail throughout the giveaway so don't start planning any cheeky bar crawls. All you have to do is sign up at the website, fill out your deets and you'll be sent a voucher to redeem for a free Margarita at any of the participating venues. As a bonus, you'll also go in the draw to win a free trip to Mexico – with the likelihood of winning a visit to the Margarita motherland boosted every time you share the Mexican Wave with a friend.  Just a few of the Sydney venues willing to mix a fresh, free Marg for you this month include: Th

The results are in: Aussies have voted the best craft beers in Australia

The results are in: Aussies have voted the best craft beers in Australia

While millions of Aussie music fans tuned into the Triple J’s Hottest 100 over the weekend, beer connoisseurs kept their eyes peeled for the results of another countdown altogether: the GABS Hottest 100 Craft Beer vote. GABS stands for 'Great Australasian Beer SpecTAPular' – and if you’ve tasted a fair few funky froffs at the organisation’s epic annual beer festival over the years, you’ll know these folks are serious about celebrating great breweries. Back for its seventeenth year, the Hottest 100 Craft Beer poll calls on drinkers to vote for their fave Aussie tinnie, and the results are in. So did your go-to pour make the list?  For the second year in a row, first place has gone to Mountain Culture Beer Co’s much loved Status Quo Pale Ale, which outranked 1,877 different beers. For the 2024 edition, tens of thousands of Australians voted for their favourite five craft beers from 436 breweries across the country, with the Blue Mountains-based brewery’s Status Quo Pale Ale coming out as a clear winner. Second place this year went to Balter Brewing’s XPA, and third place was awarded to Canberra’s much-loved BentSpoke Crankshaft IPA. Bridge Road Brewers was the highest-ranked Victorian brewery to make the list, coming in at fifth place with its pale ale, while several other local breweries such as Fixation Brewing, Moon Dog, Stomping Ground and Bright Brewery also ranked in the Hottest 100. All up, 22 of the 63 breweries were Victorian, with New South Wales-based breweries taki

Grab a free Margarita this February at one of 39 bars across Melbourne

Grab a free Margarita this February at one of 39 bars across Melbourne

With World Margarita Day set to whip Melbourne drinkers into a thirsty frenzy on February 22, more and more bars around town are starting to sling special offers and happy hours in celebration of everyone's fave summery cocktail. But you can't push prices down lower than free and that's why serious Marg devotees are in for a treat, with a mega 20,000-Margarita giveaway from the good folks at Altos Tequila. In what can only be described as the booziest Mexican wave in Australia right now, the award-winning liquor brand has teamed up with over 100 bars and pubs around the nation to shout you the drink from Thursday, February 1 to Thursday, February 29.  Luckily for us Melburnians, 39 bars and pubs across Victoria will be taking part. Is there a catch? Nope  – although before you ask, you only get one free cocktail throughout the giveaway so don't start planning any cheeky bar crawls. But all you have to do is sign up at the website, fill out your deets and you'll be sent a voucher to redeem for a free Margarita at any of the participating venues. As a bonus, you'll also go in the draw to win a free trip to Mexico. Score! Just a few of the venues willing to mix a fresh, free Marg for you this month include: Loch and Key Hello Jose Botswana Butchery Public House Bangpop Fathers Office Asian Beer Cafe Yum Sing House Henry and the Fox Swan Hotel Katuk Fable Dreaming of a frosty Margarita summer sesh (and a potential trip to Mexico)? Sign up here. See you at the bar!  RECOMMENDED:

Would you send someone this heart-crushing 'Break-up Box' for Valentine's Day?

Would you send someone this heart-crushing 'Break-up Box' for Valentine's Day?

While most lovers will be spending their moolah on flowers, teddy bears and exxy restaurant bills this Valentine's Day, some may choose to gift their partner this straight-to-the-point 'Break-up Box' instead. Ouch. We'd hate to be on the receiving end of that cruel surprise. But hey – at least, it's honest! The cheeky folks behind Aussie gin distillery Never Never Co are relaunching the heartbreaker pressie after a surprising amount of sales during Cupid's season in 2023.  “Last year's Break-up Box was so successful we’ve brought it back in a brand new way,” confirms Never Never co-founder and brand director Sean Baxter. “And this year, you get to have gin as well as break up with your partner.”So how does it work? You order the Never Never Break-up Box and you get a full bottle of the distillery's highly awarded Triple Juniper Gin, gin magnets and a Martini recipe sent to your address. What does your partner get? An empty bottle of the same gin sent to their address, along with a personal message revealing that they're... well, officially dumped. Think lovely little notes like: "This bottle is full of all the oxygen you keep stealing" and the somewhat more direct, "Welcome to Dumpsville, population, you".  Baxter takes a hilariously less gentle approach, of course. “Imagine their initial joy at receiving the gift box, expecting a delicious bottle of Never Never Gin, only for that joy to soon dissipate after receiving a bottle of air and a cheeky send-off,” he says. “You get

A new vintage tram café in Melbourne is supporting the next generation of hospo talent

A new vintage tram café in Melbourne is supporting the next generation of hospo talent

Next time you find yourself wandering down La Trobe Street in desperate need of a caffeine fix, follow your nose to the delicious coffee aromas drifting from William Angliss Institute. The leading hospo school has just opened a charming tram café – and you can get a seriously good, freshly brewed regular latte for just $3.50. Ahh, the good ol' days of reasonable coffee prices. You'll spot the nostalgic green and gold Melbourne tram in the courtyard at 555 La Trobe Street, which the school has refurbished as a training café for William Angliss students to flex their hospo skills and get on-the-job experience in a real-life venue. Meanwhile, diners will get the unique experience of enjoying a cuppa inside a real heritage 1930s tram (you can even ding the bell!). The restored SW5 class carriage includes seating for sixteen, and the staff will be serving up coffee, tea and a rotating selection of baked delights from 8am to 3pm every Monday to Friday. Photograph: Supplied / William Angliss “As tourism experts, we’re delighted to have such an iconic piece of Melbourne on campus, and to bring it to new life as a hospitality venue benefiting students and visitors,” said William Angliss Institute CEO Nicholas Hunt. “We are known for working closely with industry to deliver the best foods, tourism, hospitality and events graduates, and with this unique training space students will be exposed to new challenges and opportunities preparing them for their future careers.” It's the first-

Mangia, mangia! Birra Moretti has launched a 'Deliver-a-Nonna' home dining service

Mangia, mangia! Birra Moretti has launched a 'Deliver-a-Nonna' home dining service

It sounds too cute to be true, but Italian beer brand Birra Moretti is actually for real with this one. If you buy a six-pack of their cold ones, you've got the chance to invite a real nonna into your home for an unforgettable home-style dining experience.  Until Sunday, February 11, the 'Deliver-a-Nonna' pop-up service will see Italian grandmothers roving Melbourne's streets in classic Fiat 500s, ready to whip up a three-course Italian feast for you and four friends – right in your very own kitchen! Over a crisp Birra Moretti beer, you can chat with your wise nonna about food, cooking tips and how to truly live la bella vita. If this isn't amore, we don't know what is. Photograph: Josh Robenstone Be sure to have your apron at the ready, because each nonna is a true expert in her culinary craft. If you're an aspiring home chef, it's an unmissable opportunity to get the scoop on all her kitchen secrets (plus a few nuggets of nonna's no-nonsense life advice, too.)  “A shared meal at the table is at the heart of Italian culture and I’m excited to share this with the rest of Melbourne," says Anna Pascuzzo (and real-life nonna) from Rosa's Traditional Italian Cooking and Classes. "In every recipe enjoyed throughout the Birra Moretti experience, you'll find not just ingredients, but a legacy of love and family tradition passed down through generations, and a taste of what it’s like to live authentically Italian.” To go in the running for this dream dinner party, all you need to d

Australia's largest lolly shop has opened in Melbourne and smashed a world record

Australia's largest lolly shop has opened in Melbourne and smashed a world record

Come with me, and you’ll be… in a woooorld of pure imagination! No, you don’t need to teleport to the set of the beloved 1971 classic Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory – you just need to hop in the car and head to Tom’s Confectionery Warehouse at Highpoint Shopping Centre. In November 2023, Australia’s largest-ever lolly shop opened its doors in an attempt to smash the Guinness World Record with the world’s biggest pick ‘n’ mix selection of candies. And guess what, it did! On January 13, Guinness World Record adjudicator Pete Fairbairn declared Tom's has broken the record for the largest pick ‘n’ mix aisle in the world, with 947 lolly varieties to choose from. How lucky are we?! Sorry not sorry, family dentist. The renowned lolly purveyors have designed this new megastore with all the whimsy and wonder you’d expect: an M&M’s-inspired speckled walkway and even a giant human claw that’s able to drop both children and adults into a sea of lollies, chocolates and other treats. Strap yourself in, grab as many as you can and then take your loot home with you (as well as some hilarious snaps for the ‘gram.)  Photography: Supplied Head in to discover a carnival-like universe of wild and wacky characters such as a life-sized dinosaur that moves and roars, plus a candy throne, a Simpsons character chair, and of course, lollies. Tons of them, in fact – Tom’s houses more than 30,000 sweet treats from across the globe, including the US, UK, South Africa, Netherlands, Turkey and beyo