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The Best Restaurants in Melbourne

From high-flying fine-diners to tried-and-true Chinatown classics — these are the eateries we'd recommend to a friend (you, dear reader).
By Libby Curran
August 15, 2023
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By Libby Curran
August 15, 2023
  shares

THE BEST RESTAURANTS IN MELBOURNE

From high-flying fine-diners to tried-and-true Chinatown classics — these are the eateries we'd recommend to a friend (you, dear reader).

When it comes to the best restaurants in Melbourne, top-tier talent abounds. This famously food-obsessed city of ours has a swag of standout offerings to suit whatever niche cravings you've got going on. But there are some Melbourne restaurants that simply reign supreme; places where the food packs a punch, the vibe is never not on point and you fall in love a little more each time you visit.

Here, we've rounded up the all-time greats — the best restaurants in Melbourne. From special occasion fine-diners with international street cred, to late-night Chinatown haunts sporting paper-topped tables; these are the city's must-visit venues for any discerning food aficionado. Feast on.

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Recommended reads:
The Best Cafes in Melbourne
The Best Bars in Melbourne
The Best Bakeries in Melbourne
The Best Pubs in Melbourne

  • 10
    diners siting by the window at Hazel - one of the best restaurants in Melbourne

    The Mulberry Group’s Hazel graces two levels of the 1920s T&G Building, with a kitchen helmed by Brianna Smith (Rockpool Bar & Grill, Spice Temple) and Oliver Edwards (The Builders Arms, Cumulus Inc), who are cooking with a woodfired grill and oven fuelled by Aussie ironbark. At Hazel, one of the best restaurants in Melbourne, there are myriad things to tempt snackers and feasters alike, from crafty small plates (pig’s head croquettes and duck pate en croute) to larger gems such as the wood-grilled seafood stew and a wood-roasted pork chop with cumquat.

    The generous wine selection has broad appeal, as do the simple, yet snappy cocktails. Meanwhile, the light-filled space is primed for lingering, with its restrained mix of elegant curves and natural linens. And for post-dinner nightcaps, see downstairs sibling bar Dessous.

    Top Image: Kate Shanasy.

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  • 9
    a table full of food at Farmers Daughter - - one of the best restaurants in Melbourne

    This ambitious Melbourne restaurant venture by chef Alejandro Saravia champions the whole of Victoria and its diverse regions. Overlooking the Yarra, it’s a tasty, multi-faceted homage to our state’s produce, people and places. Earthy-hued interiors celebrate our regional landscapes; a hand-carved, interactive ‘Ingredients Table’ displays each season’s highlight produce; and the dedicated wine library showcases over 3000 local bottles.

    The ever-evolving food offering hops right across the state, promising plenty of theatrical flair as ingredients are lovingly cooked over wood and charcoal. And alongside that fiercely seasonal a la carte lineup, a second provenance menu rotates through a different ‘region in residence’ at any one time, specifically celebrating its ingredients, winemakers and chefs.

    Images: Arianna Leggiero

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  • 8
    a plate of chicken at Supper Inn - one of the best restaurants in Melbourne

    Nestled up an unassuming Chinatown staircase, this Cantonese restaurant is a simple sort of spot with minimal frills. But it’s also a true institution — a longtime hit with off-the-clock chefs and discerning late-night diners alike. It’s one of the best restaurants in Melbourne. And it’s not hard to see why.

    The menu is a roll-call of classics done well and served without restraint. Tried-and true winners include the likes of seafood chow mein, crispy-skinned roast duck, and claypots brimming with combinations like chicken, shiitake and Chinese sausage; along with many incarnations of that age-old comfort food, congee. The specials page is usually heavy on options for seafood fans, while a BYO offering makes this one ideal for group feasts.

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  • 7
    Seafood pasta at Tip00 - one of the best restaurants in Melbourne

    No one understands the magic of a comforting bowl of quality pasta quite like the cosy, ever-buzzy Tipo 00. Named in a nod to the traditional flour used to make pizza and pasta, the beloved Melbourne restaurant is serving some of the city’s best interpretations of the classic Italian food group.

    For perfectly-executed simplicity, go with the likes of saffron cappellacci with broad beans and mint, or rigatoni in a ragu of wagyu, tomato and confit chilli. Throw in some top-notch Euro snacks and starters, a daily-changing salumi lineup and a knowledgable, Italian-leaning wine list, and prepare to be transported right back to the homeland.

    Image: Kristoffer Paulsen

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  • 6
    the empty dining room at Navi - one of the best restaurants in Melbourne

    A small, but mighty production, chef Julian Hills’ sleek 25-seat dining room has been impressing Melburnians since 2018. Here, at one of the best restaurants in Melbourne, a passion for top local produce, creative technique and unique flavour pairings is showcased via a five-course ($135) or eight-course ($170) tasting menu, celebrating an oft-changing lineup of small plates and matched sips.

    Navi’s never afraid to push the envelope, so expect dishes like a black garlic and salmon roe macaron; rabbit teamed with truffle and jerusalem artichoke; and southern rock lobster served with celeriac and burnt butter. A more recent addition is the sibling lounge bar next door — a dapper space for crafty bar snacks and native-forward cocktails.

    Images: Ed Sloane

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  • 5
    the view of a hotpot from above at David's Hotpot - one of the best restaurants in Melbourne

    If you’re after the real deal when it comes to Sichuan hot pot, you’ll find yourself in expert hands at this CBD spot — the first local outpost of a brand that originated in hot pot’s heartland of Chengdu. It’s buzzy, colourful and has the crowds flocking for big, fresh flavours and traditional Sichuan-style broths.

    The kitchen’s boldly flavoured soup bases marry classic ingredients with top-quality Australian beef tallow; options ranging from the signature spicy broth, to a laksa-style number, to a dried fish maw and chicken soup. Choose from four levels of heat, and a vast array of add-ins to pimp your pot — including beef slices, lobster balls, pork belly, braised short rib and sweet potato noodles. Plus, stacks of things to suit more adventurous diners. Round out your feast at one of the best restaurants in Melbourne with some classic snacks and a few crisp imported brews.

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  • 4
    chefs working at the open kitchen in Aru - - one of the best restaurants in Melbourne

    From the minds behind Sunda, this top Melbourne restaurant draws culinary inspiration from those early days of trade between Indonesian seafarers and northern Australia, championing the flavours of Southeast Asia, Japan and China, alongside our own native ingredients. The kitchen is guided by ancient techniques like curing and smoking, with a wood-fired hearth and an onsite dry-ageing room that turns out the likes of cured pork and Viet-style duck sausage.

    A creatively-charged menu pushes familiar flavours into innovative new directions — an Aussie barbecue staple might be reborn as a duck snag sanga with leatherwood honey and peanut hoi sin, while classic banh mi ingredients become the filling of a house-made pate en croute, and wagyu tongue is done sate-style. You could even spy a sourdough riff on the lamington finished with Vietnamese coffee.

    Image: Ari Hatzis.

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  • 3
    the long and narrow dining room at France-Soir - one of the best restaurants in Melbourne

    A true legend of the game, France-Soir has been dishing up French-accented goodness from its charming Toorak brasserie since 1986. It’s considered a go-to for timeless, expertly executed French classics; from escargots and white wine mussels, to steak frites and duck a l’orange. A study in essential Euro flavours, done well but without unnecessary fanfare.

    But it’s about more than just the food — France-Soir’s intimate, understatedly elegant atmosphere is nearly impossible to replicate, and its old-school sense of hospitality is hard to resist. Add an extensive, internationally recognised wine list featuring thousands of French labels, et voila — it’s easy to see why the loyal regulars keep coming back to this Melbourne dining destination again and again.

    Image: Brook James.

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  • 2
    a busy dining room with Japanese street signs at Robata - one of the best restaurants in Melbourne

    The team behind South American restaurants San Telmo, Pastuso, Palermo and Asado has taken a jaunt to Japan for this Tokyo-accented eatery, the playful, minimalist space sporting futuristic elements and neon lights aplenty. It’s embracing the art of charcoal grilling, with Japanese techniques and traditions at the forefront, and a custom-built robatayaki grill taking centre-stage in the kitchen.

    Robata’s izakaya-style menu is headlined by yakitori and kushiyaki skewers, cooked over charcoal, moving onto snacks like sashimi and tataki. Deeper in, further Japanese flavours are reworked with fresh twists aplenty. The unique food offerings at this Japanese dining spot help make it one of the best restaurants in Melbourne. Meanwhile, a list of top-notch drops trip happily from Japan’s craft breweries and whisky distilleries, to the vineyards of Victoria.

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  • 1
    The dining room at Gimlet in Cavendish House - one of the best restaurants in Melbourne

    Yet another hit from legendary chef Andrew McConnell (Cumulus IncCutler & CoMarion) Gimlet is a suave Melbourne restaurant and cocktail bar located in the 1920s-built Cavendish House. A dapper fitout by Acme features soaring ceilings, geometric tiles and honeycomb chandeliers, while the food and drink offering is that of a very chic French bistro.

    The menu boasts lots of European influence via plates like wood-roasted rock lobster with bisque sauce, and a gnocco fritto featuring bresaola and parmesan; deftly mixing old-world elements with a touch of modern flair. Like the space, it’s also a little bit indulgent — expect caviar, champagne and truffles aplenty. Gimlet has even scored international acclaim, taking out number 84 spot in the World’s 50 Best Restaurants awards longlist for 2022.

    Image: Sharyn Cairns

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Top Images: Aru by Ari Hatzis. Gimlet by Sharyn Cairns and Earl Carter.

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