Perhaps the only thing better than St Kilda’s beachfront is the many restaurants scattered across this seaside suburb. Whether you’re in the mood for Italian, Mexican, Vietnamese, seafood or modern Australian comfort, you’ll find a restaurant in St Kilda, and the best part is that many of them come with a view.
This article was originally published by Matthew Clark in June 2015.
Cafe, Restaurant, Australian, $$$
Fitzrovia Restaurant and Cafe, Saint Kilda | Courtesy Fitzrovia
Overlooking Albert Park, Fitzrovia sits appropriately on Fitzroy Street; the name is actually a tribute to a bohemian West End neighbourhood of London where writers such as Virginia Wolf and Joe Orton once lingered. An all-day restaurant, Fitzrovia serves Italian-inspired British meals including sweet potato and caramelised onion fritters for breakfast; gnocchi with spinach, porcini and portobello mushrooms for lunch; and pan toasted local snapper fillet Puttanesca with charred eggplant and tomato fondue for dinner.
Beneath St Kilda’s iconic Prince of Wales bar is Cantina Mexican basement restaurant and watering hole. The rustic space features exposed brick, Day of the Dead skull art and moody lighting which lends itself to the authenticity of the menu. From flavour-packed tacos to Mex-Burgers, chilli beef nachos and grilled meats and all washed down with the kind of liquor that burns. Cantina is absolutely an ambient trip south of the Texan border. It also hosts $10 Taco Tuesdays and Happy Hour weeknights.
Restaurant, Restaurant with Rooms, Australian, $$$
Donovans, St Kilda | Courtesy Donovans
A home by the sea, Donovans is a relaxed beachfront restaurant where you can enjoy Mediterranean-inspired meals with views of the bay. Originally a bathing house dating back to 1920, the site was transformed into a restaurant in the mid-’90s. Twenty years on, Donovans is a much-loved eatery with a menu packed full of comfort food (courtesy of Head Chef Emma D’Alessandro); it includes gluten-free, vegetarian and celiac-friendly options. The venue can also accommodate larger functions in their private dining room, which has an adjoining terrace and views of Port Phillip Bay.
With fresh fish, live music and al fresco seating out the back, Claypots is one the best seafood bars in Melbourne. Lines often spill out of the unassuming restaurant, but the food is worth the wait. Mussels, oysters, garlic king prawns, baked John Dory, chilli crabs and Singaporean claypots are just some of the favourites on the menu. There’s also a decorative octopus which dangles from the ceiling.
Republica St Kilda Beach, Saint Kilda | Courtesy Republica
Whether you’re after a meal, a mid-week cocktail or a place to chill-out on the weekend, Republica is the perfect spot on the St Kilda foreshore. This modern Australian restaurant features an indoor dining room and outdoor terrace complete with AstroTurf and hanging chairs. There is also live music seven days a week, beach volleyball throughout the week and meal specials, including $10 pizzas from 5 p.m. on Mondays, $12 fish and chips from 5 p.m. on Tuesdays and $2 Freshly Shucked Oysters from 5 p.m. on Fridays.
Rococo Acland Street, Saint Kilda | Courtesy Rococo
Located on the bustling Acland Street, Rococo is a stylishly seductive restaurant renowned for its curated antipasti boards and traditional Italian meals. The restaurant boasts a huge dining room which incorporates intimate nooks ideal for romantic nights out as well as outdoor seating. Open for breakfast, brunch, lunch and dinner, Rococo’s menu is bursting with simple, flavour-rich dishes including four varieties of Risotto, three types of gnocchi, house-made pasta, a lengthy pizza list and decadent desserts.
Eclectic Italian restaurant Ciccolina has been an integral part of St Kilda’s foodscape since 1993, and chef Virginia Redmond has been there since the very beginning. Serving modern Italian cuisine seven days a week, the food at Ciccolina is shaped by seasonal produce, with vegetarian and gluten-free options. The restaurant is also known for its extensive wine list with over 150 local and international varieties to taste. Reservations are encouraged, because tables are difficult to come by, particularly on the weekends.
Lentil As Anything, St Kilda, Saint Kilda | Courtesy Lentil as Anything
Easily the most unusual restaurant on our list is Lentil as Anything. It goes against the norm in that there are no set prices on the menu. Instead, the customer decides what to pay. Founded by Shanaka Fernando in 2000 in St Kilda, four more locations have since opened in Melbourne. On the vegetarian menu, you’ll find a range of healthy and delicious meals, such as Mexican-spiced polenta, traditional Sri Lankan Dosa, Malaysian Laksa, Cajun Smoked Tofu and Vegetable Lasagne.
Uncle is a Vietnamese restaurant with a designer aesthetic minus the big-ticket menu. Unpretentious Vietnamese dishes are complemented by Chinese and French influences; think lime-cured hapuka with pomegranate heaped on betel leaf and pig’s ear banh mi with pickles and peanuts. Uncle also has an impressive cocktail menu which is best enjoyed on the rooftop, and the restaurant has a takeaway menu allowing time poor Melburnians to scoff down lip-smacking meals on the run.
Honoured in Herald Sun’s Top 25 of Victoria’s Best Restaurants, Circa is an well-regarded establishment located at The Prince Hotel on Acland Street. Renowned for its innovative menu, award-winning wine list and impeccable service, Circa is now a focused events space. Catering to private parties, dinners, weddings and corporate events, Circa can tailor their contemporary menu to suit the occasion.