Edited by Elodi Troskie
I am a big fan of the food Melbourne offers, and I think I’ve got to know pretty much all the best places to eat and drink in Melbourne! A diverse city food-wise, Melbourne is very considerate towards different dietary requirements, and staff in restaurants are generally really friendly. They genuinely want you to have the best experience possible - since tipping culture is not a thing in Melbourne, employees have no personal gain in being nice to you.
The city also caters to a whole spectrum of different budgets, so you’re sure to find something that fits your wallet. Melbourne’s best restaurants and pubs are often a bit hidden away, so to guide you, here are my recommendations for the 10 best places to eat and drink in Melbourne.
Lee Ho Fook: Best Chinese food
Hidden down a Melbourne laneway, off the iconic Flinders Lane dining precinct, you'll find Lee Ho Food, one of the best places to eat in Melbourne. Offering up Asian fusion meals and new style Chinese cuisine that showcases the best of Australian producers, growers, and winemakers.
I love meeting up with friends for a quick but delicious lunch here. The food culture in Melbourne is very diverse and accommodating towards international travelers, so you'll be able to find food from any country in the world!
The Yum Cha Brunch is a great way to experience a variety of fried dim sum, steamed dim sum, noodles, and something sweet. They're open for lunch from Thursday to Sunday and dinner from Wednesday to Saturday.
Brunetti: Shameless Italian indulging
Brunetti is an Italian place with a few stores in different locations in Melbourne, and have been in business since the 1980s, and reigned over by the Angelé-family. The branch in Carlton is the go-to spot for Italian-style coffee and a wide selection of mouth-watering cakes and other sweet treats.
Brunetti has become so popular across Melbourne that an international branch opened in Singapore in 2011. The Italian coffee aromas clearly travel far! The coffee in Melbourne is really, really good, so if you’re a bit of a coffee snob, you’ll love this city.
I’m actually not a big fan of coffee myself, so I’d usually get a chai tea or hot chocolate when I come here, and if I’m ordering a cake, I’d go for anything with chocolate or hazelnut. The best place for indulging in Italian delicacies!
Sushi Hotaru: A hidden Japanese gem
Another option for Asian cuisine on a budget is Sushi Hotaru, located in Melbourne’s Chinatown – the number one area to go if you’re trying to spend as little as possible on food.
Prepare to eat your heart out at about $3 per sushi plate. Although Sushi Hotaru is a hidden gem not many tourists know about, it is a popular spot for locals, so you might find a line at the door. Luckily service is fast, so you won’t need to wait very long for your order.
I love anything with prawn or salmon, but the grilled eel and cream cheese sushi is also a trendy choice, and veggie options are available too. Friendly staff, low prices, good service, and even better food: what more do you want?
Pidapipo: Italy’s best gelato brought to Melbourne
Pidapipo is an artisanal Italian-style gelateria in Carlton, Melbourne. Owner Lisa Valmorbida went all the way to Italy to learn from Bologna’s gelato masters before coming back to Melbourne to open Pidapipo, living by the rule that all gelato must be made on-site from scratch.
Once the temporary store was opened, it soon became a permanent establishment, and a second store in Windsor followed not long after. Only fresh seasonal fruits are used as ingredients – artificial flavoring is a no-go at Pidapipo.
To ensure the greatest possible quality, each flavor is only made in small batches at a time. My favorite is definitely the peanut butter-flavored gelato. I’d love to try all the other flavors as well! At Pidapipo, you can count on an authentic Italian gelato experience with great service from the friendly staff.
Stalactites: The best Greek food in Melbourne
You may not expect this, but Greek dining is a very ‘Melbourne thing’ to do. The only place you might find better Greek food than at Stalactites is probably in Greece itself. One of the oldest Greek restaurants in Melbourne, they’ve been under the management of the same Greek family since 1978.
Think meat platters, seafood dishes, traditional Greek soups, souvlaki, moussaka, pita bread, garden salads, homemade baklava… Is your mouth watering yet? The drinks menu includes imported Greek wine and a selection of other classic Greek beverages.
Be sure to try the lamb souvlaki with pita bread on the side, of course. For the full Greek dining experience, ask your waiter to recommend one of the imported Greek wines. Reservations can be made online.
#Burgerlove: Hashtag best burgers in Melbourne
#Burgerlove is one of Melbourne’s best kept secrets, located in Fitzroy Street, Southbank. Getting to this burger joint is quite the challenge: you’ll have to walk since it’s not directly accessible by tram or train, and then you’ll be faced with somewhat of a maze of tiny lanes and streets before hopefully finding this hidden gem.
It’s definitely worth scouting for – you’re unlikely to find better burgers in Melbourne! The portions are big, and the meals are very filling. For gourmet-style burgers, the prices are relatively reasonable. The menu also includes a generous variety of vegan and vegetarian options. #Burgerlove is open every day from 11AM until 9PM.
Holy Bowly: Superfoods galore
Holy Bowly is a health food café in Bayside selling fast food that’s good for you. Vegetable bowls, smoothies, cold-pressed juices, salads, stews, curries, soups, organic teas, and raw treats – Holy Bowly makes healthy living delicious.
The kitchen uses only fresh and organic seasonal produce, serving food in its unprocessed and unrefined state to give you all the antioxidants and nutrients your body needs. The menu varies depending on the time of year and available fresh produce in season. In summer, you can feast on a cooler menu, including smoothies and juices, and indulge in hearty, warm meals like soups and curries in winter.
Agathé Pâtisserie: feeling French with pastries and croissants
Located in the South Melbourne Market, a popular indoor market with cafes and shops selling meat, seafood, and other fresh produce, Agathé Pâtisserie is a Paris-inspired bakery gracing Melbourne with fresh French pastries baked in-house.
You won’t find better croissants anywhere in Melbourne. Founder and head pastry chef, Agathé Kerr, was born and raised in Paris and wanted to bring the authenticity of French baking to Melbourne. She’s built up a reputation as Melbourne’s “croissant queen”, and when you hear all the unusual variations and infusions she comes up with, you’ll understand why!
Try the matcha, the café au lait infused croissants, the peanut caramel muffins, and the chocolate chip milk-bread baguettes. Among all the sweet baked goods, you’ll also find the beloved French baguettes and ficelles.
Emerald Hill Café: Make yourself at home
This is one a real hidden gem in Melbourne. Missing home? This is where you want to go. Emerald Hill Café is a family owned café in South Melbourne serving home cooked style food that’ll truly make you feel like you’re having a meal at home with your family.
The menu changes up every day and when you walk in, the owner will talk you through the menu of the day. This is one of my favourite places to eat in Melbourne – with the friendly staff and warm, cosy vibe of the café, you’re guaranteed a homey and personal eating experience you’ll definitely want to come back for.
At about $13 for a generous and very filling meal cooked with care from good quality ingredients, a lunch at Emerald Hill Café won’t break the bank.
Naked in the Sky: Killer cocktails with a view
Naked in the Sky is one of the best bars in Melbourne’s CBD, with a beautiful view of the city’s skyline. In Melbourne, rooftop bars are the go-to if you’re looking for places to drink, especially during summer.
Apart from the wide range of cocktails, mocktails, and craft beers, you can order from the bar, you can also get some light bar foods like oysters, sliders, salads and fries to snack on while enjoying your sundowners. There’s an adjoining restaurant on the floor below, operating under the same management as the bar. With cocktails ranging from $18-22 and mains anything from $10-35, prices are a bit higher, so you might want to save an evening at Naked in the Sky for special occasions.
The bar and restaurant is open from 12:00 until 01:00 or later every day except Mondays. Reservations for the restaurant can be made online. I’m not big on clubbing or going out at night very often, but all things considered, this is one of Melbourne’s best bars for having a few cold drinks. If you want to go out after, there are a lot of nightclubs in the surrounding area.
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