Melbourne’s thriving food scene attracts millions of visitors every year, but there’s more to the cool Aussie city than great coffee and brunches. Whether you’re seeking a Michelin-starred meal or street food to shout about, here are the must-visit restaurants in the city’s hippest areas.
Restaurant, Australian, $$$
Expect beautiful, inventive dishes at Ezard | Courtesy of Quandoo
Any Melburnian will tell you that Ezard is a must-visit restaurant. Owned by Teage Ezard, one of Australia’s most renowned chefs, the restaurant in CBD serves what many consider to be the best tasting menu in Australia. If you’d rather stick to the à la carte, confections such as the signature oyster shooter or mouthwatering pork hock are sure to impress.
One for those who don’t plan on venturing too far away from central Melbourne, David’s Hotpot serves up bubbling Sichuan broth with a variety of unusual dipping options – from tofu to ox penis. The experience of the restaurant is top notch, thanks to the kitsch atmosphere and passionate staff. Reservations are essential.
A German beerhall that seats an impressive 900 people, Munich Brauhaus is as much an event as it is a restaurant. That doesn’t mean the owners are scrimping on taste, though: the menu features suckling pig, sourced locally and then cooked over a charcoal spit before being sprinkled with cardamom and fennel salt. Plus, there’s strudel aplenty.
Neighbourhood Wine serves up simple dishes executed to perfection | Courtesy of Neighbourhood Wine
Fitzroy is undoubtedly Melbourne’s coolest neighbourhood – but among all the Instagram-worthy pop-ups are some reliable gems, including Neighbourhood Wine. The sustainable menu at the restaurant changes daily, but you can expect comforting dishes such as potato and ricotta gnocchi with goat’s cheese, or grilled octopus with fried purple potato – all served with excellent wine pairings, of course.
Meat-lovers: this one is for you. Macelleria literally translates as “butcher shop”, and customers browse the meat before selecting their cut and how they want it cooked. Owner Peter Zaidan aims to educate diners about meat, but even if you’re not up for a lesson, you can expect one of the best steaks of your life.
The ’70s decor in Gerald’s Bar adds to the homely vintage vibe of this well-loved restaurant and bar. It’s garnered such a following over the years that the owners have even expanded to the foodie paradise that is San Sebastian in Spain. The North Carlton offering, however, serves up daily seasonal dishes, or an excellent degustation menu, with drinks, for 60 Australian dollars. Book in advance.
Los Hermanos Mexican Taqueria, a tiny little restaurant in the hip suburb of Brunswick, serves up out-of-this-world tacos and delicious homemade guacamole. If you’re visiting during winter, make sure to try the truly memorable sopa de fideo (Mexican soup made with noodles). The watermelon margaritas, however, are perfect all year round.
What looks like a traditional Australian bottle-o (read: off-licence) turns out to be a treasure trove of great beer and cider in Moonee Ponds, along with some of the best pizza around. Cooked in an oven imported from Italy, Penny Young’s pizzas go down beautifully with a local bottle of ale or wine from the carefully curated list.
St Kilda is known for being the closest beach suburb to central Melbourne, but locals will tell you that Lezzet’s Anatolian Kitchen is just as good a reason to venture away from the CBD. A fragrant combination of traditional Turkish and modern Australian flavours, the banquet menus feature delicious meze, best enjoyed with one of the signature cocktails.
Modern Cambodian cuisine reigns supreme at Amok Restaurant on hip Chapel Street in Windsor. There’s a focus on local produce, with fruit and veg sourced from nearby markets and fish caught on the Australian coast. The quality shows – chef Woody Chet’s fragrant dishes such as the Cambodian duck curry won him Most Outstanding Apprentice Chef at the Australian Culinary Federation’s Fine Foods competition.