The best Mexican restaurants in Melbourne
Mexican food used to be tough to find in Melbourne, but those days are no more – today, our city is blessed with everything from lively cantinas to late-night mezcal bars, and everything in between. If you're craving a taco (or several) and a spicy Margarita, turn up the heat with our guide to Melbourne's hottest Mexican joints. Looking for Melbourne's best Italian, too? We've also got you sorted for Japanese and Korean restaurants as well.
The best healthy lunches in Melbourne's CBD
What is it with corporate cafes in the CBD and high-calorie focaccias the size of your face that somehow still taste like nothing? To love your lunchtimes again, let's liven it up a bit. Whether you’re watching your waistline or simply searching for a light and fresh meal that won’t plonk you into an afternoon slump, this is the list to bookmark. Looking for something lighter on the wallet? Check out the 20 best lunches in the CBD for less than $15.
The 50 best restaurants in Melbourne
April 2023: that crisp autumnal chill may have returned to our city streets but Melbourne’s dining scene is only just revving up. From cosy new wine bars to tried-and-true institutions, keep an eye on this list to discover Melbourne’s hottest restaurants and tick the next one off your list. The continually evolving and expanding dining scene in Melbourne is both a blessing and a curse: how do you choose between so many incredible restaurants? Well, that's where we come in. Stop endlessly scrolling, and commit to making your way through Time Out’s list of the best restaurants in the state right now. Our always-hungry local experts and editors have curated 2023's most delicious and divine, innovative and imaginative, comforting and familiar, memorable and magical dining experiences right here at your fingertips. From old favourites and culinary institutions such as Attica and Flower Drum, to emerging standouts and instant icons such as Serai, Grill Americano, Nomad and Hope St Radio, we've got it all covered here. Get out, and get eating! You have a lot to get through! Need something to wash all that food down? These are the best bars in Melbourne. Already thinking about breakfast? These are the best cafes in the city that does breaky best.
The best banh mi in Melbourne
The best bánh mì has bread with crunch, but not so much that it scrapes the roof of your mouth. It’s fluffy and light, but not so flaky it completely disintegrates into your lap. It’s the perfect vessel for liberal amounts of pâté, a Vietnamese condiment called egg mayo butter – either egg mayo is spread on one piece of bread and butter is spread on the other, or the two are spread on top of each other – fresh cucumber, pickled carrot (and daikon if you’re lucky), generous sprigs of coriander and chilli massaged into its crevices, a dash of Maggi seasoning and the protein of your choice. The traditional bánh mì thịt nguội (bánh mì filled with cold cuts) was eaten as a control wherever we could alongside one other roll for variety, which has produced our rankings for some of Melbourne's top bánh mìs. Love things between bread? Here are the best sandwiches in Melbourne. Prefer those sandwiches toasted? These are the best toasties in Melbourne. Time Out's 100 Days of Summer calendar is here to help you plan your entire summer in Melbourne.
The best Indian restaurants in Melbourne
South Indian, North Indian, Malaysian-Indian, Indo-Chinese, Indian fusion – Melbourne has it all. Australians’ perennial favourite butter chicken can be found at a lot of these restaurants, but so can ingenious, meticulously prepared spice-forward dishes hailing from every which corner of the subcontinent. Looking for budget-friendly meals? Here are the best cheap eats in Melbourne.
The best charcoal chicken in Melbourne
The unmistakable smokiness and charry, rendered skin are the best things about charcoal chicken, and these qualities are what sets charcoal chook apart from its roasted relatives. It has to be moist and tender with concentrated flavour. But it’s not all about the chicken – no one goes to the chicken shop without ordering a few sides, whether it’s chips, salads or a potato cake. And we are here to judge it all. We've rounded up our top picks below to ensure you're getting the best crispy, smokey chook that Melbourne has to offer. Prefer your chicken with cheese and pasatta? These are Melbourne's best chicken parmas. Like your meals cheap? Here are our favourite meals on a budget.
The best Lygon Street restaurants
Most commonly associated with tourist traps and waiters that stand on footpaths in hopes of luring diners in, Lygon Street stretches so much further than this relatively small strip, encompassing the suburbs of Carlton and Brunswick East and dotted with the city’s best Italian eateries, and so much more besides. Take your pick from the restaurants below. While you're at it, check out these local's guides to Carlton and Brunswick.
The best late-night eats in Melbourne
Like in all the best global cities, you can find a plethora of food options in Melbourne past midnight, if only you know where to look. Wander down laneways for pizza by the slice, unearth hidden cocktail bars for fancy cheeseburgers, and let the steam of piping hot bowls of noodles warm you when the temperature outside has plummeted. These are the best late-night eats in Melbourne to sate your hunger after a big night out. For more late-night antics, peruse our guides to Melbourne's best late night bars, nightclubs and bars for dancing.
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If 3 Idiots is an exercise in fusion, Burger Shurger in Elsternwick and Williamstown turns the dial right up. Started up by couple Payal Bisht and Prasuk Jain who moved from New Delhi to Melbourne in 2008, Burger Shurger was conceived out of a desire to feed their parents a burger they would actually eat – enter Indian burgers. Choose from patties such as paneer tossed in a buttery sauce and topped with raita and mint chutney in the Say Cheese Burger to curried mashed potato in a tamarind sauce in the Vada Pav Burger. Entrees are equally inventive with the chicken Chettinad bao, butter chicken fries and lamb keema bolognese complemented by cocktails that have an Indian twist, like the Masala Chai Whisky Sour and the Aam Panna (raw mango) Margarita. Colourful murals of Indian gods and goddesses are the backdrop to the diners’ voyage through the experimental menu. So you like great food on a tight budget? Us too! Here's our list of the best cheap eats Melbourne has on offer.
Earlier in 2022, Bar Americano shuttered to give way to Bar Sabbatico – less a new venue, more a new concept from founder Matt Bax and bartender Matty Packham where the ability to order individual cocktails was passed over in favour of experimental, reservations-only cocktail tastings ranging from $95 for three courses to $165 for five. (To be clear, these are strictly alcohol-only courses – there are snacks included, but not enough to be fed.) Bax, who’s behind the bar when we visit and fields our many cocktail-related questions with utmost patience, lets us know Bar Sabbatico is winding up. In a few weeks, the space will be reverting to Bar Americano where you can, once again, order a standalone Negroni instead of having to opt in for a tasting. The tastings will remain but will only run three to four times a month instead of all the time. We’re lucky to get in for a three-course tasting when we do. Starting out as a standing room-only cocktail bar, Bar Americano now has stools shunted along a copper bar top and a small outdoor area for seating. The bar from which Bax concocts his delicious creations looks like an alchemist’s lab, complete with new-fangled contraptions and an impressive selection of different alcohols. Dark timber panelling and a black-and-white chequered floor brightened by white tiled walls are part of the bar’s old-world charm. Compounding this feeling of being in another time is a ‘do not spit’ sign emblazoned on the wall – mimicking Flinders Street Sta
Despite visiting on a wintery day with torrential downpour, Florian is packed to the rafters. Crowds spill out of its tiny entrance on both sides, customers waiting for a table are indistinguishable from locals ordering takeaway coffee, outdoor tables are shunted towards the shelter of the footpath. Making headlines in recent weeks for the consternation it’s attracted from nearby residents doesn’t seem to have affected trade for Florian in the slightest, only made it more popular if anything. Everyone is respectful and careful to steer clear from crowding the adjacent Rathdowne Street Café and nearby houses. One only has to look at Florian’s immediate surroundings to understand its immense appeal. Occupying the space formerly inhabited by similarly popular café Small Victories, Florian’s Allpress beans and expertly curated, European-inspired menu sets it apart from the nearby mom-and-pop cafes with menus scarcely larger than a few select pastries and stock standard favourites. Fenton, Tanaka’s new fresh produce-forward venture, is perhaps the most similar operation in the vicinity but it lies a kilometre away. Which is not to say Florian is a slick, soulless venture. Waitstaff are warm, friendly and accommodating despite having to deal with rain-soaked outdoor tables and customers jostling for space – testament to the community-minded, local favourite childhood friends Dom Gattermayr and Rose Richards have built in the beautiful building they inherited from hospitality ventur
Gone are the days when vegetarian restaurants are explicitly labelled as much. As everyone collectively reduces their meat consumption in a bid to improve our physical and planetary health, meat-free restaurants occupy less of a niche position and more as all-round destinations no matter where you sit on the carnivore–omnivore–herbivore scale. Taking occupancy in a 1920s two-storied Art Deco building off a secluded roundabout on the periphery of the city, Patsy’s vibe differs dramatically on both floors. Upstairs, it has an old-world charm with stained glass archways, wood panelling, blue-green wallpaper with hand-painted geometric shapes and vintage sideboards. Downstairs, it’s Mediterranean beach bar vibes with a glass-framed bar and terrazzo tables. If your dinner booking’s for 6pm, show up ten minutes early to capitalise on half-priced happy hour cocktails with monikers ranging from ‘My Vegan Friend’ to ‘Gwyneth’s Daughter’ or avail yourself of a local or international wine – most of them vegan, all of them from regeneratively farmed vineyards. If you’re unfamiliar with regional European fare, Patsy’s menu may require some googling and tentative finger pointing when your waitstaff comes along. With a menu delineated into ‘snacks’, ‘entrées’ and ‘mains’, our waiter recommends 3-4 dishes from each section for our group of five. Each dish crafted by chef Dallas Reilly is inspired by a drop from northern Mediterranean wine regions, in a list carefully put together by wine dir
Kirk's Wine Bar
When Kirk’s sprung up in a historic corner building flanking Hardware Lane and Little Bourke in 2014, the likes of Miznon, Pho Thin, Hardware Club, Rice Paper Scissors and Hawker Boys were nowhere to be seen. There was zero-waste sustainable café Silo By Joost, which shuttered just as Kirk’s took flight due to onerous council regulations. New York-inspired late-night eatery Nieuw Amsterdam took over a former hardware factory in the same street to rave reviews in the same year, only to close a few years later. In the fluctuating mix of cafés and restaurants that have periodically occupied one end of Hardware Lane to the other end of Hardware Street, Kirk’s has remained a constant. And it’s still hard to get a table, some eight years later. The pandemic hasn’t prompted Kirk’s to switch to a bookings system as it has so many others – it’s still walk-in only, and you’ll struggle to get a table even on a wintery Tuesday night. Rugged-up patrons aren’t deterred by the lack of indoor seating – a heater radiates onto them as they sit shoulder-to-shoulder in a Parisian-style terrace seating. But if you successfully manage to jostle for a table inside, savour it – the curved timber bar and 1950s charm are a perfect backdrop for a leisurely, luxuriant meal. The specials are reeled off and they’re as expansive as the written menu – pan-fried Murray cod with pickled fennel, braised beef cheeks, goat’s cheese souffle with Jerusalem artichoke, pork and leek terrine. The freshly shucked oy
Rosella Dining Room and Bar
Occupying the space formerly home to upmarket wine bar Gertrude Street Enoteca, Rosella is bringing old-school Italian dining to the much-frequented thoroughfare – a marked change from the quiet backstreets of Collingwood where it used to sit. If you didn’t know any better, you’d think it’d been there for years. Greeting you from the outset are raucous sounds of merriment bouncing off its stucco concrete walls – so very different from the hushed atmosphere of its predecessor – and an impressive glass cabinet deli papered over with a black-and-white splashback of an Italian family in a restaurant from the 1950s. The photographs ground Rosella in the nostalgic feel of unhurried meals enjoyed with loved ones on sun-kissed alfresco decks. Rosella takes its responsibility of feeding patrons in a lavish and unrushed manner seriously. You won’t find multiple sittings here – no dessert orders taken with only five minutes of your reservation to spare, the next group waiting impatiently in the wings. If you dine at Rosella, prepare to settle in for the night. Service – particularly if you get co-owner Rocco Esposito – is cheeky and irreverent, and your requests for parmesan will only be tolerated once you sample the pastas without it. Taking a leaf from the restaurant’s interiors, the wine list is a traditional, carefully curated selection of regional Victorian and Italian producers, owing to Esposito’s previous gig as Vue de Monde’s wine director – you won’t find any of your funky
Rocco's Bologna Discoteca
Rocco's was reviewed in March 2022, some menu items may have changed since. Rocco’s emerged in the thick of Melbourne’s 2020 lockdowns when everything else was shuttering – first as a pop-up sandwich bar out of the space now occupied by sister restaurant Poodle and then flitting from venue to venue around Melbourne over the course of the next two years. Its cult following is such the Rocco’s crew decided to set up permanent digs on the quieter end of Gertrude Street. Cosy is the first word that comes to mind when you step into Rocco’s two-storey, 60s-inspired interiors – brown woods are accentuated by mustard orange accents and diners can choose to perch by the bustling open kitchen, crowd around self-contained booths or sit in a fairy-light decked courtyard tucked away to the side. The drinks menu has housemade limoncello, amaro and grappa infused with native ingredients like finger lime, green almond and wild fennel. I’m upsold Silvio Carta Bomba Carta – a liqueur with a rare, herbaceous honey nectar – in place of vermouth in my negroni, but apart from a deep floral aroma that accompanies each sip, I’m unsure it’s worth the extra $8. We move on from cocktails to wine, which you can conveniently order either in a one-litre carafe or a 500ml one. Rocco’s excels in specials of the day – the crudo, salumi and fish differ from day to day, so there’s a certain level of anticipation when our jovial waitstaff pops by to reel off what they are. When we visit the house salumi plate i
Ascot Food & Wine
Ascot Food Store was already a popular brunch destination, but now the neighbourhood favourite has undergone a late-night makeover with a new 10.30pm closing time. “Ascot Food + Wine stands today as the bistro we’d always envisioned. I have a love affair with the 80s and 90s bistro food I grew up with, so I really enjoy cooking some of these dishes,” says chef David Stewart. Stewart and his co-owner Shawn Hampton are no strangers to reinvention. Ascot Food Store was once an old Spanish delicatessen, which they spent nine months converting into an contemporary space – and eight years later, the latest iteration has a new fit-out with plush booths, custom lighting and an all-day menu. Stewart says the transition was a steep learning curve, compounded by the challenges of lockdowns. “Opening during the evening involves a whole different sequence of service, flow and creates an entirely different energy throughout the venue.” The menu is seasonally changing, with a focus on fresh local produce. But some of Stewart’s current favourite dishes are the kingfish carpaccio with tonnato dressing, Adelaide tomatoes with garlic vinegar, heirloom burnt carrots with smoked eggplant, and iceberg lettuce with green goddess dressing, a soft egg and Ortiz anchovies. Stewart loves seeing the reaction customers have to his food. “We are hoping to connect with the locals and become their go-to bistro – a place that can deliver great atmosphere, food, wine, cocktails and a place where everyone is w
Move over the Toff in Town – there’s a new multiple-floor hospitality venue in Melbourne and Her Rooftop is its crowning glory, boasting city skyline views rivalling the likes of Rooftop Bar, Goldilocks and Loop. Brought to you by the same people behind Arbory, the venue has a one-in-one-out policy so expect to wait in a line that snakes around Drewery Lane on to Lonsdale Street on Friday and Saturday nights. It’s fast moving due to the many frequented parts of the building, though the rooftop is evidently the most popular destination on a balmy summer’s night. Cocktails ranging from your classic Negroni and Manhattan to the more unusual Strawberry and Rhubarb Mezcal Sour are mostly dispensed from pre-made bottles or available on tap – though the speed of their preparation alone will have you relieved to skimp on the typical ten-minute wait in a bustling bar where people jostle shoulder-to-shoulder for bartenders’ attention. If you’re not in the mood for a fruity tipple, there’s a decent selection of tap beer, canned beer and natural wines as well as three mocktails for the non-drinkers. Curly frilled mustard yellow retractable awning, Parisian pleated skirt stools and colourful tile mosaics set the scene for the festive open-air bar. Food is available from Thai-inspired restaurant BKK on level three, where the perfect drinking snacks of tom yum fried peanuts, fried chicken wings and barbecue pork skewers mean you’ll never have any reason to leave the building.
Joining the raft of businesses like Mali Bakes, Jaen Jumah and Al Dente Enoteca that popped up during Melbourne’s series of lockdowns, Tarts Anon was conceived when Gareth Whitton, former head pastry chef of Dinner by Heston Blumenthal, found himself without a job after the restaurant shuttered at the start of 2020. Drawing on his 15 years’ experience and newfound free time, he established Tarts Anon with the encouragement of his life and business partner Catherine Way. With a customer base initially built off a flyer drop in the couple’s apartment building, Tarts Anon now has a kitchen and pick-up only storefront in Cremorne, where tarts that sell out within a matter of minutes are collected by adoring fans every week. Way says Tarts Anon’s focus has always been on simple and familiar flavours executed with technique and precision. “The majority of the tarts have come about because it’s what we’d like to eat ourselves. We love the classic ones like the signature pear tart but have fallen in love with some of the newer tarts on the menu like the tiramisu tart and the carrot cake tart. “People always gravitate towards the chocolate and caramel tart, which is easily our most popular tart, but we also receive amazing feedback about the smoked pecan and maple tart and pumpkin and spiced caramel tart.” The two-person operation, with Whitton baking and Way responsible for everything else, is steadily expanding with more staff coming onboard as Tarts Anon expands its Cremorne site
Building on the success of Chef Masahiko Yomoda’s lockdown takeaway offerings, Ishizuka’s fan favourites are now available on its newly launched online bakeshop. Venue manager Louise Naimo says reopening for service late last year didn’t stop the restaurant from receiving regular requests for their bento boxes and baked goods to be made available for takeaway again. At this stage, there are four items on the online bakeshop’s menu, but the plan is to “gauge how the current menu is received and move from there”. Think an upmarket $90 picnic bento box, suitable for two to four people, with daily rotating dishes ranging from miso chicken to beef katsu and the perennial mainstay of fresh bread accompanied by a nori garlic butter. Suitable for the same number of people, the $55 matcha tarte tatin departs from its French apple namesake with matcha crème and pastry flaked with Japanese gold leaf. The $85 A5 Kagoshima wagyu, foie gras and black truffle pie is as indulgent as it sounds, so it’s lucky it serves two people. Naimo’s favourite offering, however, is the $25 Ishizuka kasutera, otherwise known as a castella, a special type of wagashi (Japanese traditional confectionery). “It has this incredible cloud-like fluffiness and is sweet without being cake-sweet. It’s sort of like a moist, silky, fluffy, light cheesecake…but it doesn’t taste cheesy or cakey. It’s really difficult to describe without trying it!” To enjoy the four offerings of Ishizuka Bakeshop, make your delivery o
Jolly Good Sandwiches
Sandwiches are by no means a new invention, but Melbourne’s obsession with them has intensified in the last few years. Hector’s Deli in Richmond has developed into a cult favourite since opening in 2017, so much so it’s expanded with a second shop in South Melbourne, while Fitzroy pop-up Nico’s Sandwich Deli stands in addition to its permanent storefront in the city. Numerous others, from Kelso’s Sandwich Shoppe and Wild Like Bakery to Smith & Deli, have paved the way for this sandwich explosion. Enter Jolly Good Sandwiches, a former pandemic pop-up sandwich bar now with permanent premises nestled within cornerside craft beer bar Near & Far. If you’re struggling to find it, look out for Fitzroy’s divisive giant banana sculpture on the corner of Rose and Brunswick streets – an unofficial mascot for Jolly Good Sandwiches, which overlooks it. For those sick of resting their toosh on the ground after the year we’ve just had, Jolly Good Sandwiches helpfully has a row of tables that snake around the corner. Manned by former Gimlet chef Raphael Exton Perry who’s exchanged fine dining with more unassuming fare, the setup is modest and no-frills. When we visit, a hunk of roast beef is warming up on a sandwich press, with baguettes toasted in a separate toaster grill. Plates are eschewed in favour of serving the baguettes in branded paper with an optional jar of corn chips and house pickles. The benefit of ordering a sandwich in a craft beer bar is the wide range of alcoholic or non-al