While there’s no shortage of eateries in Melbourne, time after time locals return to a select few establishments. From 400 Gradi to Lentil as Anything, Chin Chin and Top Paddock these are the places every true Melbournian has eaten at.
Lentil as Anything
Lentil as Anything goes against the grain in that there are no set prices on the menu. Instead, the customer decides what to pay. The arrangement has caught on, and now Lentil has four stores in Melbourne and has since expanded into other states. On the vegetarian menu, you’ll find traditional Sri Lankan dosa, cajun smoked tofu, vegetable lasagne and Malaysian laksa served up with a hearty dose of community spirit.
Courtesy Lentil as Anything
Delivering a slice of Naples to Melbourne is 400 Gradi, an acclaimed Italian restaurant that balances tradition with modern sophistication. 400 Gradi is also home to Johnny Di Francesco’s Margherita pizza which was named the world’s best at the 2014 World Pizza Championships. Cooked in a wood fire over at 400 degrees for 90 seconds, the pizzas take centre stage, but the whole menu from seafood to pasta sings in a voice so authentic you’ll believe, for just a moment, that you’re living la vita bella
Ice Cream Parlour, Ice Cream
With 40 freshly churned flavours to try, it’s no wonder the crowds continue to swarm at the award-winning Gelato Messina. Not only are there 35 permanent flavours, including a selection of vegan and dairy-free sorbet, but each week five limited addition flavours are written up on the specials board. Past favourites include Mr Potato Head, hot cross bun, Jon Snow, and Black Forest bae. You can even take your affinity for ice cream to the next level with a gelato appreciation class.
Regarded as one of the best restaurants in Australia, Ben Shewry’s Attica is an award winner with an ecofriendly conscience. The evocative menu takes inspiration from New Zealand’s Taranaki region as well as native Australian cuisine making for a surprising culinary experience. Each dish is aesthetically curious and will leave you wondering ‘how do I eat that?’ From the emu egg sabayon to the grilled marron with desert lime and Gazza’s vegemite pie, your palette is in for a treat.
Restaurant, Asian, Australian, Thai, Vietnamese, $$$
Just like a ride at Disneyland, standing in line at Chin Chin’s is a part of the experience. Located in Flinders’ Lane, this South East Asian eatery is renowned for its ‘feed me’ share platters, but don’t stop there as the Chin Chin pork ‘roll ups,’ and massamun curry of coconut braised beef are absolute must-try meals. After you’ve eaten head down to Chin Chin’s mistress GoGo Bar and explore the cocktail menu.
Pellegrini's Espresso Bar
Tenaciously authentic, Pellegrini’s Espresso Bar has been a fixture in Melbourne since 1954. From the original menu to their six decade loyalty to Vittoria Brazil Rex coffee, Pellegrini’s is a place for comfort food. On Fridays, regulars drop by for gnocchi, while during the week nothing beats a generous serving of spaghetti bolognese or lasagne. To cleanse the palette ask for the iconic watermelon granita.
Restaurant, Indian, $$$
Down the gritty Duckboard Place you’ll find Tonka, a contemporary Indian restaurant which celebrates Executive Chef Adam D’Sylva’s paternal heritage. Dine beneath Naomi Troski’s ceiling installation Drift
on reimagined classics from the tandoor,
including spicy Goan pork tikka and and Petuna ocean trout. For dessert, the pretty guava and green apple bombe Alaska is a meticulously prepared spring sweet. Those just looking for a drink can also pull up a stool at the informal Thali Bar.
This buzzing loft in Curtin House is one part eclectic cocktail bar and one part modern Thai dining hall. The lunch and dinner menu is divided between small, medium and large dishes and features drunken noodles with minced pork, tomato and green chilies, fish dumplings with cucumber pickle and the Penang lamb curry. Cookie also has an impressive Spritz menu with 15 choices and an 88-page wine list.
Possibly the best brunch spot in Melbourne, Top Paddock boasts an organic all–day menu teeming with flavour. Among the most picturesque Insta-worthy meals are the ricotta hotcakes topped with a bouquet of seasonal fruit and floral petals, the pan fried king salmon, and the rhubarb & apple oat porridge with coconut and toasted almonds. Top Paddock also has gluten-free and vegan options.
Restaurant, Fast Food
This list wouldn’t be complete without acknowledging Melbourne’s food truck craze, and one of the best is Mr Burger. Since first pulling up on the kerb in 2012 Mr Burger has expanded the convoy with six trucks and five permanent stores. Try the classic Mr Burger, the Mr Hot stuffed with jalapenos and chili mayo or the Mr Veg with a crispy falafel pattie. On the side, order the legendary Trucker Chips and wash it all down with the ginger-caramel cookie milkshake.
Courtesy Mr Burger