From iconic restaurants to shiny, new places, these are the best restaurants in the Melbourne CBD that you need to try at least once.
Places To Eat Lunch In Melbourne
From authentic hole-in-the-wall restaurants and cult museums to sophisticated cuisine, no matter the setting, Melbourne takes food very seriously. And in a city that seems to have a new culinary joint opening every night (and most don’t take reservations), chances are you’ll have to wait in line for your meal if you want to taste the best. Fortunately, some things are worth the wait.
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Smorrebrod, anyone? Known for cutting-edge interior design, progressive values and next-level pop music, the Scandinavians do a lot of things right. And as it turns out, the modern diner is no exception. Freyja, a new Nordic restaurant on Collins street, showcases the superior skills of Chef Jae Bang and his team with traditional Nordic cooking techniques such as pickling, pickling, smoking and preserving. Outcome? An inventive menu with well-composed, beautifully plated dishes that celebrate Scandinavian flavors with the best local ingredients.
Tip: Freyja now offers a lunch service, perfect for those Melbourne CBD workers looking for a little extra flair in their everyday meals.
New Zealand’s first steak and seafood restaurant, Botswana Butchery, has arrived in Melbourne, and the three-storey venue is as impressive as its counterparts. The star of the show is of course premium meat. From the Butcher’s Block, it’s over four hours of slow-cooked whole roast roaring forty lamb, which is our favorite dish on the menu. Other menu highlights include O’Connor Rib-Eye, King George Whiting and Yellowfin Tuna from the raw and pickled menu. Head Sommelier Piers Haszard is providing a whopping 1000 wines to pair with your meals, carefully curated to champion the best local producers from Victoria and across the pond.
Not only is Mamasita worth the hype, but this colorful Mexican joint has managed to maintain its buzz in the decade since it opened its doors. Indeed, people still patiently queue down Collins Street for a taste of the famous fish tacos (try them) and a host of authentic, savory dishes – all washed down with a dash of mezcal. This place is the real deal.
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Opening as part of HER Melbourne, an elegant multi-storey venue in a CBD heritage building, BKK offers Bangkok street food and tropical cocktails in a natural Melbourne setting. With everything from spicy sea trout salad to skewers, roast meats and Thai curries on the menu, we recommend sharing many dishes and trying them with friends. Wines are chosen to match the flavor profile of the food, so you can be sure you’re washing down your dish with the appropriate drop. Don’t forget to head up to the stylish European-inspired rooftop for a nightcap and dancing afterwards.
An Asian-style shophouse fed with a disco twist, Gingerboy is a lively and playful eatery and bar. Known for its colorful plates and sweet treats, Gingerboy delivers dishes that celebrate seasonal ingredients, best enjoyed when shared. Look out for the “Bottomless Sunday” sessions, with endless mimosas and signature dim sum.
After a string of successful pop-ups, lobster roll-hawking Pinchy’s has finally found a permanent home in the city center Bourke Street arcade. The playful space is full of neon and pink, with velvet-covered booths and disco ball-like lights, while two separate bars beckon – one serving cocktails and craft brews, the other dedicated to bubbly whether it’s champagne, prosecco or local bubbly. . The menu is primarily seafood, starting with the star attraction Maine Lobster Roll, where thick lobster meat is dressed in a simple but lush mix of mayo, lemon, butter and chopped chives, and is complemented by snacks such as crab and avocado tacos, sardines with tomato compote and octopus with potato salad.
One of the hippest eateries in a city full of hippie eateries – it may have been on the scene for a few years now, but everyone is still raving about Supernormal. The sleek, Japanese-inspired decor matches a menu that’s equal parts adventurous and fun, offering everything from crispy pork skewers to yuzu tuna. One thing is for sure – it’s all worth the wait.
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Acclaimed Melbourne chef Alejandro Saravia has brought his vision to establish an embassy for Gippsland in the heart of the CBD. All areas of the striking three-level concept champion the true essence of Gippsland and celebrate the diversity and richness of produce from the region. You will find the restaurant on the middle floor and the food is more formal; best suited for long business lunches, formal dinners and special occasions. The open kitchen is fueled with coal and wood, bringing a sense of theater to the rustic yet elegant dining room.
Far from being a flash in the pan, iconic Asian eatery Chin Chin has become even more popular since its debut in 2011. A local institution turned tourist attraction – there’s a reason you can expect to wait up to two hours for a table. Namely because the food is so damn good. From sticky, gooey pork to sizzling jungle curry – grab a seat at the bar and enjoy the wait.
Chancery Lane, a European bistro by Scott Pickett welcomes diners to the historic Normanby Chambers building. Suitable for all occasions, from a glass and a bite at the bar to a private dinner, you can expect classic European dishes with a twist. The 100-seat bistro is encased in a rich palette of dark green, checkered tiles and dark timbers, emulating the old-fashioned charm and elegance of La Belle Epoque. Antique brass and textured gold details are throughout.
A true Melbourne institution, sleek and stylish Coda is widely agreed to be one of the best in the city. Always buzzing with its own special energy, not only is this the place to see on a Friday night (or any other night) – but you’re guaranteed a great meal in the process. Trust us, the yellowfin tuna alone is worth the wait.
Higher Ground Melbourne
To find a high-end kaiseki restaurant in Melbourne, you need to visit acclaimed chef Tomotaka Ishizuka’s ultra-exclusive, hidden basement restaurant. Seating just 16, all guests are treated to an 11-course tasting menu where luxurious ingredients, unique techniques and art gallery finishes shine in complex yet restrained dishes. Come here for a masterclass in Japanese perfectionism.
A bright, contemporary eatery serving award-winning cuisine, Cumulus Inc. is popular in Melbourne’s dining scene. Acclaimed chef Andrew McConnell is a stunner, serving deceptively simple breakfasts and sophisticated yet healthy lunches and dinners. Make sure you wander up to sister bar Cumulus Up. for one of their signature cocktails.
Located on Little Bourke Street within a small but sophisticated laneway, Tipo 00 serves as a nice little reminder that eating spaghetti cooked al dente is good for the soul. Named after the finely ground flour used to make pizzas and pastas, this place takes a no-nonsense approach with clean, simple elements. Try one of the restaurant’s bestsellers, including tagliolini with squid ink or gnocchi with mushrooms and roast duck.
Expectations will be as high as the 55 floors above ground that this Melbourne institution sits, but it more than lives up to its name. With Executive Chef Hugh Allen at the helm of this Shannon Bennett establishment, you’ll be treated to the Chef’s Tasting Menu, which consists of 10 tastings. The Tasmanian sea urchin pot with caviar is a standout, while the dry-cured duck with leatherwood honey is an experience in itself. Pair your fine dining adventure with 360-degree views of the city and you’ll have a night to remember.
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There’s something about Gimlet at Cavendish House that makes you want to sit back and sip cocktails (gimlet’s of course) until the wee hours of the morning. Bringing vintage charisma to this iconic 1920s Chicago-style building could only be the brainchild of renowned restaurateur Andrew McConnell (Marion, Cumulus Inc, Cutler & Co, Supernormal) and Sydney firm Acme & Co. Contrary to what the name suggests, the food is kept on par with their award-winning Gimlet which can be paired with fresh rock oysters, premium wood-fired meats and seafood. If you’re looking to really step things up, the caviar service is always going too.
Cozy and casual yet effortlessly sophisticated, Osteria Ilaria instantly signals good taste and serious intentions. Modern Italian dishes like paccheri pasta with Crystal Bay shrimp and sorrel, and rhubarb semifreddo with rye and coffee will make you sigh with pleasure, while the list of European wines will buy you more of a date after the last course is cleared.
Grab your gear for fresh, contemporary Italian food served from the glitzy surroundings of what used to be a social club for members of the hardware industry. With a cozy neighborhood feel, the intimate trattoria serves antipasti, handmade pasta and pizza during the day, before turning out for sharing plates at night. The wine list
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