The Top 10 Restaurants In South Melbourne, Australia

Authentic Mexican Tacos | Courtesy of Taco Y Lola
Authentic Mexican Tacos | Courtesy of Taco Y Lola
Photo of Priscilla Eng
9 February 2017

Planning lunch or dinner out with friends? Why not head to South Melbourne, one of the oldest suburbs in Melbourne? It’s home not only to one of the most famous markets in Melbourne but also to a number of restaurants offering almost every cuisine you could wish for.

Interior | © Tristan Kenney/Flickr

Claypots Evening Star

Restaurant, Seafood, $$$
Located at the corner of South Melbourne Market, Claypots Evening Star is difficult to miss. The vibe is lively, thanks to the live music, and the seafood is fresh, flavorful, and beautifully cooked. The place isn’t large, with mostly bar seating and a couple of tables outside. The menu consists of tapas-style dishes; top picks include the grilled king prawn with coriander sambal, scallops, stingray pintxo, and the cuttlefish with chilli squid ink. There’s also a blackboard announcing the daily specials, as well as the option of choosing your own seafood to watch it be cooked right in front of you. Grab a stool and a cold beer and you’re all set.

Hercules Morse Kitchen + Bar

Restaurant, Australian, $$$
Upon stepping through the doors of Hercules Morse Kitchen + Bar, you’ll find an intimate restaurant-bar, decked out in black and timber. The space is perfect for almost every occasion, from date nights and after-work drinks to long lazy meals. The menu is designed for sharing and is broken up into three sections: snack, graze, and indulge. Popular items include the Morse Chip Butty, Bacorn, cheese & chilli bickies, cauliflower & cheese balls, and the beef cheek cigars. Save some space for dessert, as we hear the salted peanut brittle parfait is delightful.


If you’re after a dining experience like no other, head to Lûmé, where fine dining meets the weird and the wonderful. The chefs have put together a creative 15-course degustation menu that will wow you from start to finish. Each course is beautifully presented; expect the unexpected with combinations that may be confusing but delicious on a whole. There’s also an a la carte menu that changes seasonally; you can allow the chef decide on the menu or select your own entrees and main courses.

Lûmé, 226 Coventry St, South Melbourne VIC, Australia, +61 3 9690 0185

Paella Valenciana | © Charles Haynes/Flickr

Paella Valenciana | © Charles Haynes/Flickr

Simply Spanish

Restaurant, Spanish, $$$
If you’ve got a craving for authentic Spanish food, Simply Spanish is where you’ll be able to find it. It’s one of the most popular food joints at the South Melbourne market, and for good reason. What’s that, you ask? The scrumptious Paella Valenciana (Big Pan Paella) of course! On market days, you’ll find giant pans of paella cooking away outside the restaurant, chock full of perfectly cooked seafood and chicken. Not feeling paella? Don’t worry; they also do traditional Spanish tapas and a range of cooked-to-order gourmet paellas. Service can be a little hit or miss at times, but the food is excellent.


Restaurant, Turkish
Rib-eye steak
Rib-eye steak | © Tristan Kenney/Flickr
When you think of Turkish food, you think of böreks and kebabs, right? Well, you’ll be pleased to know that at Köy, you’ll soon discover a whole new side to Turkish cuisine. If you’re after a quick meal for lunch on market days, head to the gölzeme station, where you can take your pick from four different types of gölzeme. They also offer a la carte menus for lunch and dinner. Choice picks include the Sigara Böregi (Turkish spring rolls), the chargrilled octopus, and the made in-house baklava. On the last Wednesday of each month, they host a 7-course banquet, which is worth making time for.

Wayside Inn

Bar, Restaurant, Australian, Pub Grub, $$$
Pork Belly Tacos
Pork Belly Tacos | Image courtesy of Paco Y Lola
Sister to the famous Station Hotel in Fitzroy, Wayside Inn is a great addition to the Southbank/South Melbourne area. The space is bright and tastefully designed, with separate areas for the bar and the restaurant. There’s also a courtyard perfect for chilling out and soaking up some sun. Food-wise, they offer gastropub-style dishes, and while most items cater to meat-eaters, there’s enough on the menu to satisfy vegetarians. The steaks are crowd-pleasers, as are the chorizo & Gruyére croquetas and the Wayside burger. There’s also a daily rotisserie, as well as a great range of beers on tap.

Paco Y Lola

Restaurant, Mexican
Mixed vegetable tempura
Mixed vegetable tempura | © irrational_cat/Flickr
If you love Mexican food, Paco Y Lola is a winner. The food is as authentic as it gets, delivering both spice and flavor in a well-balanced punch. The menu lists a good variety of Mexican street food, so you’ll find tostadas, tacos, quesadillas, and burritos, along with smaller and bigger plates to share. The breakfast burritos are a great option, whether you’re hung-over or simply hungry. Other must-tries include the ceviche, the soft-shell crab tacos, and the slow-cooked beef cheeks. In a hurry? No problem, grab a chicken burrito from the grill outside and be on your way!

Tempura Hajime

Tempura Hajime has clearly taken exclusive to a whole new level. Upon entering the simple wooden door, you’ll find yourself in a dim corridor that soon opens up into a dining area that only seats 12. For lunch, there are a handful of classic Japanese set meals, such as Unajyu (grilled eel), a sushi & sashimi combination platter, and of course, a tempura set. Dinner focuses solely on tempura, with a choice of a tempura set or a tempura & sushi set. The tempura is exceptional; the batter is light and crispy and the items cooked to perfection. Once you try the tempura prawn here, you’ll never want to eat it anywhere else. Come here if you want a taste of Japan without getting on a plane.

Tempura Hajime, 60 Park St, South Melbourne VIC, Australia, +61 3 9696 0051


Bar, Wine Bar, Wine, $$$
Gyoza | © Tristan Kenney/Flickr
If you love great wine and good food, you need to visit Bellota. Not only do they stock over 4000 bottles of wine from all over the world, but the wine list also changes with the seasons, which is great for pleasing even the fussiest of wine-lovers. Moving onto the food, the menu is distinctly European; there’s an oyster bar, a wide selection of charcuterie, bar snacks, small and large plates for sharing, as well as a good variety of cheeses. Sit down, order a glass of wine or two, and you’re all set for a lazy afternoon.

Peko Peko

This quirky little café is one of those places where you know you’ll get a good feed without breaking the bank. It’s also one of the few Taiwanese restaurants around town offering traditional Taiwanese food alongside Japanese and Chinese-influenced dishes. Most of the items on the menu are pretty good, but they’re famous for the Pop Chicken. They also offer appetizers, bento boxes, and noodle soups. For dessert, try the Japanese cotton cheesecake or the black sesame ice cream. This place does crowded quickly though, so it’s probably best to make a reservation beforehand.

Peko Peko, 190 Wells St., South Melbourne VIC, Australia, +61 3 9686 1109

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