Melbourne is a foodie’s dream city, and Melbourne restaurants provide an array of options when it comes to cuisine. Here, if you wish, you can eat something drastically different, three times a day, seven days a week.
You might go for Indonesian specialties on one day and mouthwatering Spanish tapas on another. Or maybe you’re looking to learn what exactly authentic Australian food is. Whatever you’re in the mood for, the best Melbourne restaurants serve up the finest fusion cooking. There is even an exciting cafe scene for coffee and cake lovers visiting the city.
As a bonus, Melbourne offers a Chinatown, food markets, food trucks and pop up restaurants; no matter where you are, you can expect countless opportunities to indulge in world-class cuisine at the best places to eat in Melbourne. If you enjoy Asian food, the city will certainly not disappoint—there’s even an Asian food festival! Innovation is the name of the game here, so if you like the idea of trying out dishes you’ve never even heard of, come to Melbourne.
To help you decide in this city of so much choice, we’ve put together a little guide to help you find where to eat in Melbourne.
What to Eat in Melbourne, Australia
Dumplings at ShanDong MaMa
Mid City, 7/200 Bourke St. // +61 3 9650 3818
Dumpling fans flock to ShanDong Mama on a daily basis because they know something you don’t (yet): this place serves some of the best dumplings in the world. Choose from firm favourites like pork and chives or black fungus (which taste a lot better than they might sound!), high-quality prawn dumplings and unforgettable fish mackerel boiled dumplings.
Rest assured that Mama knows what she’s doing—after all, she comes from the coastal city of Yan Thai in the Shandong Province, where excellent seafood is standard.
Hotcakes at Top Paddock
658 Church St., Richmond // +61 3 9429 4332
If the aesthetics of your food are as important to you as the taste, head to Top Paddock. This place understands presentation, and the chef will go the extra mile to have you marveling at your dish in every way. You shouldn’t miss out on the blueberry and ricotta hotcake—but be warned, it looks so good you might feel guilty eating it! At the very least, we wouldn’t mind betting it ends up on your Instagram.
Brunches are the order of the day here, so pop in when you fancy a fluffy hotcake with a dose of health for good measure: this dish includes fruits and berries, crunchy seeds, organic maple syrup and some seriously delicious cream. Yum.
45 Flinders Ln. // +61 3 9650 1445
Cumulus Inc., situated on Flinders Lane, is one of Melbourne’s top hipster joints—and the food is the real deal. Grab a seat at the bar counter to watch the kitchen team doing their thing. The establishment is vegetarian-friendly with a few vegan options too, so the menu should suit whatever your prefer.
Cumulus is famous for intense flavors and unusual, innovative dishes like the buffalo ricotta gnocchi with sugar snaps and brown butter, or rabbit, pork cheek and sour cherry terrine. If undecided, you can’t lose with their daily chef’s selection menu. This restaurant is pretty busy most of the time (as you might expect) so come early, prepare to wait a little, or book ahead. You can always order a fabulous Bloody Mary while you wait.
Boat Noodles at Jinda Thai
1-7 Ferguson St. //+61 3 9419 5899
Thai is another cuisine you shouldn’t miss out on while in Melbourne. If you’ve ever been to Thailand, you’ll probably agree that they know how to cook noodles! If you haven’t, now is your chance to try out boat noodles.
These are traditionally sold from boats on Thailand’s canals, and they come in various forms. At Jinda Thai, the boat noodles are some of the best you’ll find anywhere in the world; two popular choices are beef or pork crackling. Both come with a thick, dark broth and flavorsome herbs and spices.
Baller Bucket at Belle’s Hot Chicken
Chicken wings might be your thing—after all, they’re popular around the world. Not all chicken wings are cooked up equally though. But, when in Melbourne you can rely on Belle’s Hot Chicken. They’re dotted around Melbourne with joints in three places, so you’ll never be too far from a quality wing or two.
In terms of volume, you can go all out with the Baller Bucket. That comes with a whopping 16 fried chicken wings, as well as four sides and sauces. It’s probably best to take a friend along!
You don’t have to settle for chicken wings though…they also serve fantastic mac and cheese, Old Bay fries, and a healthy option: the roast yam salad. Whatever you get, order a beer to go with it.
Coconut Yogurt at The Kettle Black
50 Albert Rd. // +61 3 9088 0721
Kettle Black has you covered if you fancy doing something a little different for breakfast. Their homemade coconut yoghurt is likely to have you coming back for more, especially if you’re vegan and not prepared to compromise on taste! This yoghurt contains vegan culture, coconut cream and agave syrup. The ingredients are all good, and the flavor is even better. It comes topped off with a handful of healthy nuts, seeds, grains, seasonal fruits and even a little citrus powder. That should keep you going for the day!
Saganaki at Hellenic Republic
When you go Greek down at Hellenic Republic, you might forget you’re in Australia for a while. Obviously that’s not the goal, but it is a testament to the authenticity of their traditional Greek cuisine! Just to spice things up a bit, every dish has a modern twist.
The Saganaki is highly recommended; this fried kefalograviera cheese is golden on the outside with a soft and stringy center. They serve it covered with peppered figs and delicious syrup—a taste sensation you’ll be grateful for!
Melbourne is peppered with food trucks serving up all kinds of tasty delights. At these you’ll find some of the best Asian street food. A top choice among locals and visitors alike is White Guy Cooks Thai.
One way to sample a myriad of different cuisines at once is a visit to the city’s many food markets. At the markets your cup will literally overflow with flavors from every corner of the world. From local organic produce to specialty dishes, the markets have it all. They offer a diverse experience in terms of sights, smells and sounds too.
Gather up a selection of ingredients and create your own picnic in a city park. Sip the finest coffees and wines and munch on an array of pastries, desserts and more. You might appreciate South Melbourne Market or Brunswick’s for its lovely Lebanese dishes, Italian cheeses, handmade pasta and sweets.
For the best Asian food, add a trip to Chinatown to your agenda. This thriving district began back in the 1860s and today is more popular than ever. It consists of everything from family-run dim sum bars to world-class restaurants. The district even hosts an Asian food festival for an entire month every year.
Tea, Coffee and Wine
Most who visit Melbourne will want a tea, coffee or glass of wine during their trip. For a delicious coffee, head to Little Italy, where they serve up an amazing espresso. Countless venues around Melbourne also serve high tea and exotic coffees. Affectionately named ‘coffee palaces’, you don’t have to look far to find one…just follow your nose.
For wine, know that there are five wine producing regions around the city. The Yarra Valley is responsible for much of Victoria’s wine production, and you can find some of their finest creations in the halls of DeBortoli, Fergusson and Yering Station. You might also want to pop into an independent winery like Punt Road or Mandala Wines.
Cal Bailey runs Mountain Leon – a travel blog he started after two years on backpacking around the world. If you want to learn more about life on the road or his blogging, you can read his latest blog posts.