The 34 Best Restaurants in the Melbourne CBD

Whether you're after fine-diners or cheap eats, you're truly spoilt for choice when looking for places to eat in Melbourne's CBD.
Andrew Zuccala and Concrete Playground
February 28, 2024

The 34 Best Restaurants in the Melbourne CBD

Whether you're after fine-diners or cheap eats, you're truly spoilt for choice when looking for places to eat in Melbourne's CBD.

The best restaurants in the Melbourne CBD don't just include the city's many fine diners. Sure, the more luxurious spots serve up some of the most impressive food in the country, with wine lists that are legitimately world-class. But that's just one slice of the city's famous dining scene. Melbourne's CBD is also home to small, affordable diners that serve outstanding fare to uni students and business folk alike.

We've included them all in our handy guide to the best restaurants — appearing in no particular order. Depending on what cuisine or price point you're at, we guarantee a few places on this list will hit the spot. So, read on and find out where you'll be dining out next in the city streets.

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Recommended reads:
The Best Restaurants in Melbourne
The Best Bars in Melbourne's CBD
The Best Bars in Melbourne
The Best Coffee Shops in Melbourne's CBD

  • 34
    Longrain - one of the best Melbourne CBD restaurants. One of the best Thai restaurants in Melbourne.

    Owned by renowned restaurateur Scott Pickett (founder of EstelleMatilda and Pastore), Longrain is a vibrant modern Thai restaurant set in an impeccably restored horse stable, featuring a relaxed and communal eating experience. Head here for the impressive banquet menu or go a la carte, trying a series of inventive sharing dishes.

    Longrain, one of the best Thai restaurants in Melbourne, also has a prolific list of wines by the glass — both local and international. After you dine, head upstairs to Longsong — a buzzing bar with Thai-inspired cocktails and local wines aplenty — to keep the good times (and good Thai) rolling.

    Image: Eugene Hyland.

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  • 33
    Bar Lourinha - home to one of the best private dining rooms in Melbourne.

    When people are queuing for a table on a Wednesday night, you know there’s got to be something damn good about Melbourne’s Bar Lourinha. Seasoned regulars know that it’s got a combination of the three all-important aspects of any great venue: food, wine and service. It also helps that it feels like a tiny slice of Spain right here in Melbourne’s CBD.

    The wine list is heavily focused on European offerings; Spain, France and Italy are the main contenders here. As for the Iberian food menu, start the evening with smoked chilli and corn croquettes before moving onto the Portuguese prawn rice with turmeric butter or the grilled skirt steak. You can take your time at this beloved restaurant in Melbourne CBD, ordering food and drinks as you go.

    Image: Jo Gamvros

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  • 32
    Movida - one of the best Melbourne CBD Restaurants

    MoVida is the name of Frank Camorra’s still-brilliant tapas joint in Melbourne CBD. Tucked away in stencil-drenched Hosier Lane, MoVida offers a grazing extravaganza in an enchanting room akin to what you’d actually get in downtown Barcelona.

    With a grand choice of aperitivo snacks, tapas, raciones (plates to share amongst two or more), and daily specials, Camorra’s inner city hideaway is a well-packaged empire of Spanish goodness catering to both locals and out-of-towners. Just be warned that you’d best make a booking, because the place packs out. And fast.

    Image: Visit Victoria.

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  • 31
    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 Melbourne CBD restaurant — 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 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 luxurious dried fish maw and chicken soup. Choose from four levels of heat, and a vast array of add-ins to pimp your pot — including lobster balls, pork belly and braised short rib. Round out your feast with some classic fried snacks and a few cold Chinese lagers and you’ve got a bloody good meal.

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  • 30
    TOnka - one of the best Melbourne CBD restaurants.

    There are few restaurants in Melbourne’s CBD that instantly make you feel special. Tonka (formally Honky Tonks) is one of them. The moment you walk in, you know this place is different. The staff are warm yet professional, and the dining room is beautiful, accented by a twirling white installation hanging from the roof.

    Follow the flashing neon sign to the very end of Duckboard Place off Flinders Lane and you’ll find your way. Contemporary Indian eats are championed here, matched by a gutsy wine list made to complement the vibrant dishes. Cocktails also get an Indian twist and can easily be sampled on their own at the bar out front.

    Images: Brook James. 

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  • 29
    Mamasita - one of the best Melbourne CBD restaurants

    An oldie but a goodie, Mamasita is one of the OG players in Melbourne’s Mexican wave, first opening its doors back in 2010. That famous front staircase has seen many a lengthy queue as people scramble to get their food fix amid an atmosphere of a perpetual party.

    The menu at arguably the best Mexican restaurant in Melbourne is a broad-ranging one, with snacks like tostadas, ceviche and terrific tacos, plus a handful of heartier shared dishes of meat to stuff in Mamasita’s stretchy hand-pressed tortillas. What’s more, the obsession with agave spirits here is clear with just one glance at the drinks list, loaded with tequila, mezcal and tasting flights.

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  • 28
    Supernormal - one of the best restaurants in Melbourne CBD — Japanese cuisine.

    A pop-up turned perennial favourite, Supernormal first opened the doors to its current Flinders Lane digs in early 2014 and has been earning fans ever since for its crafty fusion fare — including the famous signature New England lobster roll.

    It’s also where you can have one of the most fun private dining experiences in Melbourne. Kick it off with a long lunch or dinner for up to 40 guests and follow it up with karaoke in the very same room. The team has a huge screen and all the gear required to keep the dancing and singing going til late. Otherwise, the main dining room is always busy with people taking over seats at the bar and down in the booths. A vibe.

    Image: Nikki To.

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  • 27
    interior of Aru - one of the best restaurants in Melbourne

    From the minds behind Sunda, this top Melbourne CBD 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 native Australian ingredients.

    The kitchen is guided by ancient techniques like curing and smoking, with a woodfired hearth and an on-site 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. You might even spy a sourdough riff on the lamington finished with Vietnamese coffee.

    Image: Ari Hatzis.

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  • 26
    DoDee - one of the best restaurants in Melbourne CBD

    Hidden in a basement just off Little Collins street, Dodee Paidang is a vibrant eatery bursting with aromatic fragrances and bustling conversation which perfectly captures the energy of a Bangkok diner. Opened in 2017 by Somporn Phosri, who grew up working in his mother’s kitchen, this Melbourne Thai restaurant now has seven locations. But this one is the original and, fair to say, the best.

    The menu is vast and can be daunting. Thankfully, it features photos of every dish so you won’t be ordering blind. This is extra important as you’ll purchase all your food and drinks through the website (no personalised recommendations for you, you’ve got to trust in your choices!), then your order is delivered to the table by a robot.

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  • 25
    Kisume - home to one of the best private dining rooms in Melbourne.

    The simplest way to describe Kisumé may be this: three storeys of considered grandeur. This is true for its design, food and eye-wateringly impressive drinks program. You can go a la carte but it’s hard to turn down The Chef’s Table multi-course dining experience. For this, you’ll be guided away from the restaurant and into the 12-seat private dining room.

    Here, guests can either book out the whole room themselves or dine with a few strangers, watching on as the omakase chef creates an elaborate multi-course seafood feast — although wagyu and duck often feature as well. No matter what menu you order from, you’ll be in for a memorable dining experience at one of the very best restaurants in Melbourne CBD.

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  • 24
    Kenzan Japanese restaurant in the CBD - home to some of the best sushi in Melbourne.

    Kenzan is a proper Melbourne dining institution. For over 35 years, it has led the local Japanese restaurant scene, training up some of the best Japanese chefs in the country who have gone on to work at spots like Usami, Matsu and Minamishima.

    Traditional Japanese cooking skills are on full show at Kenzan. It serves up a whole host of Japanese eats, but it has a reputation as one of the best sushi spots in Melbourne. Great attention is given to preparing the seafood and getting the rice just right. The menu of sushi rolls, sashimi and nigiri is extensive, with a huge variety of platters up for grabs during lunch and dinner service.

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  • 23
    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 fit-out 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 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, the menu is also incredibly indulgent — expect caviar bumps, champagne and truffles aplenty. Gimlet has even scored international acclaim, taking out #84 in the World’s 50 Best Restaurants awards in 2022.

    Image: Earl Carter

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  • 22
    Yulongfu- one of the best BYO restaurants in Melbourne CBD

    The husband and wife duo behind Yulongfu take their dumplings very seriously. Located on Bourke Street, this Shanghainese-style dumpling shop is a celebration of tradition and craft, executed through a menu full of signature dim sum morsels handmade to long-held family recipes, some dating back as far as 1904.

    It’s run by some of the most friendly front-of-house staff in the city. They’ll pop your BYO beer and chilled wines in the fridge and talk you through the long menus. We are obsessed with their oysters cooked in XO sauce, the xiaolongbao and clay pot beef. Just be warned that the separate spicy menu is no joke. Even the spiced-down version will have you reaching for your beers after every bite. Consider yourselves warned.

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  • 21
    Victoria by Famrer's Daughter - one of the very 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 multi-faceted homage to our state’s produce, people and places. 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 at any one time, specifically celebrating its ingredients, winemakers and chefs.

    Images: Arianna Leggiero

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  • 20
    Di Stasio Citta - one of the very best Italian restaurants in Melbourne.

    While food is king here, it’s hard to talk about Di Stasio Citta without mentioning its grand modernist design. It feels more like a contemporary gallery than a restaurant, with high concrete-clad walls and white videos projected onto the walls. At the same time, Italian music from the 60s plays in the background. It’s a brilliant backdrop for feasting on some of Melbourne’s best Italian food.

    Expect to choose from about ten different pasta options each time you visit, and always struggle to make a choice (why stop at just one?). The rest of the menu is stacked with classic Italian dishes executed perfectly each and every time. It’s the kind of place where first-time diners immediately become regulars. A true classic.

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  • 19
    hazel - one of the best restaurants in Melbourne CBD

    The Mulberry Group’s Hazel graces two levels of the T&G Building where the team is cooking with a woodfired grill and oven fuelled by Aussie ironbark. At Hazel there are myriad things to tempt snackers and feasters alike, from crafty small plates to larger gems such as the wood-roasted pork belly with charred leaks and wild garlic.

    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.

    Image: Kate Shanasy.

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  • 18
    Hu Tong - one of the best BYO restaurants in Melbourne.

    At the high-end of Chinatown’s dumpling bar district, HuTong is a buzzing CBD eatery that shouldn’t be missed. Book in advance, because the restaurant’s three levels of seating are consistently occupied with diners.

    Don’t bother with anything else on the menu — just come for the hand-assembled dumplings served fried or steamed or spurting with hot soup, xiaolongbao-style. Despite being a little more upmarket than the usual dumpling canteen, the traditional suburban Chinese restaurant BYO format is still honoured.

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  • 17
    A busy bar full of people at Embla - one of the best wine bars in Melbourne - CBD

    Brought to you by those clever folks behind the Town Mouse (which sadly closed back in 2018), this Russell Street wine bar is instantly inviting with a slick yet warm European charm. The cosy confines mark it as perfect date night material, while stools lining the bar and open kitchen lend themselves perfectly to sophisticated solo dining.

    A considered pouring list plays to both the curious and the more conservative. Technique-driven, but not pretentiously so, the food at Embla is as great as you’d expect from this team; the menu proves a winning blend of comforting flavours and chef flair. All of this combines to make one of the very best restaurants in Melbourne CBD.

    Image: Thomas E. Graham

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  • 16

    The Waiters Restaurant (formerly The Waiters Club) has been around since 1947 and still resembles an old canteen from the ’70s, but it remains a city stalwart. Originally a members-only after work venue for Melbourne’s waiters, the restaurant now hosts a cross-generational legion of foodie fans.

    Tuck into a welcoming bowl of pasta or a generous slice of tiramisu. Fine dining it ain’t, but it’s homely and dependable. And while its no-frills service has remained, the Melbourne CBD restaurant has been given a fresh coat of paint and a new set of tables and chairs. But worry not, that’s about all that has changed at The Waiters Restaurant, still home to some of the best pasta in Melbourne.

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  • 15
    Akaiito - home to some of the best omakase in Melbourne.

    Tucked away in Flinders Lane is one of the most striking dining rooms in all of Melbourne. Black granite, dim lighting, sleek leather furniture and a dazzling, illuminated red ribbon streaking through the room from the ceiling. Here, diners can go a la carte with inventive Japanese eats or dive into one of the best Melbourne omakases.

    Unlike some other Melbourne omakase joints, Akaiito’s experience includes a more modest five to seven courses of local seafood and top-grade wagyu. But while there are fewer options, the portions are larger. Plus, it’s one of the only Melbourne omakase restaurants that has an entirely vegetarian option — a big win for those dining with meat-free mates.

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  • 14
    Soi 38 one of the best restaurants in Melbourne CBD.

    Soi 38 is an authentic Thai street food restaurant in the CBD with an atmosphere that echoes the vibrant hustle and bustle of a Bangkok market. With plastic stools and bright plastic tables, this is the kind of place you come to experience terrific Thai flavours with zero pretensions.

    The menu here, at one of the best Thai restaurants in Melbourne, never seems to end, staying true to the inventiveness of the country’s street food scene. The spot is low on frills but it proves that it doesn’t need them if a great feed is what you’re after. It’s still up there with some of the best restaurants in Melbourne’s CBD when cheap and cheerful is the order of the day.

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  • 13
    Chancery Lane - one of the best restaurants in Melbourne CBD

    Scott Pickett’s Chancery Lane resides in the historic Normanby Chambers site at 430 Little Collins Street. The space is kitted out with moodily lit dining zones, curved banquettes and arched windows framed in dapper black steel, while the Euro-accented bistro serves up fare that’s at once timeless and unafraid of modern technique.

    The expansive seafood selection features a range of caviar served by the gram or the tin, alongside bites like prawn cocktails with apple and cantaloupe. A grand, globe-trotting wine cellar rounds out the fun at one of Melbourne’s best French restaurants, including a pick of top-shelf wines displayed artfully in a former safe within one of the dining room walls.

    Image: Tania Bahr Vollrath

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  • 12
    Tipo00 - one of the best Italian 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 restaurant serves some of the city’s best interpretations of the classic Italian food group.

    For perfectly executed simplicity, go with the likes of squid ink tagliolini, spaghetti with Moreton Bay Bug and tomato butter, 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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  • 11
    Miznon - one of the best restaurants in melbourne cbd

    Melburnians rejoiced when Miznon, the world-famous Israeli street food eatery run by celebrity Israeli chef Eyal Shani, landed on Hardware Lane in 2017. From the outside, the Melbourne CBD restaurant might look small, but the whole space weaves around three narrow floors.

    Here, the menu is made for sharing. Grab a bunch of mezzes, a couple of kebabs stuffed with meat and falafels and the famed roasted cauliflower. And while you’re at it, order a few bags of house-made pita, mopping up all the leftover sauces and oils. You won’t want to leave a drop behind.

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  • 10
    Nomad - one of the best restaurants in Melbourne.

    Filling the shoes of now-closed CBD institution Ezard, is the first Melbourne outpost of Sydney’s much-loved Mediterranean restaurant Nomad. Owners Rebecca and Al Yazbek transformed the Adelphi Hotel’s lower ground floor into Nomad’s 100-seat southern iteration, replicating the ethos of the original while championing a whole new menu.

    Celebrated Executive Chef Jacqui Challinor works closely with Nomad Melbourne’s Head Chef Josh Moroney to develop the eatery’s signature offering, centred around house-made cheese and charcuterie and the kitchen’s prized woodfired oven. Fans will find a handful of menu mainstays backed by a lineup of Melbourne-specific dishes, with plenty of locally-sourced meat and veggies cooked over flames among the mix.

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  • 9
    Mamak melbourne - Malaysian hawker food - BYO

    One word: roti. Mamak is famous for a good reason, and that reason is flaky, buttery, delicious and dipped in curry. The Melbourne branch of the Malaysian restaurant sits in the middle of the CBD on Lonsdale Street.

    Obviously, you’ll hit up the roti menu but don’t bypass the satay options — they’re just as good. There’s also dessert roti FYI, so make sure to try and exercise a minute amount of self-control and leave space. And on top of all that greatness, Mamak is BYO at $4 per person.

    Image: Alana Dimou.

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  • 8
    booths at Bar Margaux - one of the best bars in Melbourne

    The team behind The Everleigh and Heartbreaker created this chic yet relaxed underground French bar and restaurant. At Bar Margaux, the fun kicks on till midnight on weekdays and 3am on Fridays and Saturdays (a rarity with venues of this sort in the CBD), with a substantial supper menu of classic French fare on offer right through to close.

    So, if your late-night munchies tend to sway closer to crème brûlée than kebabs, this is the place to go. Order some champagne or cocktails and pair it all with some oysters, ratatouille and pomme frites. It’s for those feeling fancy after midnight in Melbourne CBD.

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  • 7
    Flower Drum - one of the best Chinese restaurants in Melbourne.

    Internationally recognised for outstanding Cantonese cuisine and exceptional service, Flower Drum’s menu emphasises fresh seafood and meat with a creative modern twist. You’ll find all the Cantonese classics at this lavish restaurant, from silky duck wontons and steamed tofu to delicate pieces of crab and tender Peking duck.

    We also highly recommend you try the Flower Drum lunch banquet, with delicate seafood rice paper rolls, sang choi bao, Peking duck pancakes, wok-fried barramundi fillet and stir-fried eye fillet with mushrooms and soy. It’s a no-brainer for those wanting classic Chinese fare in old-school fine-dining surrounds.

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  • 6
    Bodega Underground - one of the best CBD restaurants in Melbourne

    Tucked away in a cosy basement space on Little Bourke Street lies this late-night mezcal bar and taqueria slinging good times and ripper tacos right through until 1am. The menu’s entirely gluten-free and boasts vegan options aplenty — kick off your fiesta with the likes of prawn ceviche or some chilli and lime salted fried chicken before moving onto tacos loaded with combinations like spicy chorizo and braised pork.

    Also a fitting match to late-night visits is the sprawling collection of agave, with curated flights for those looking to explore. And for a daytime Mexican fix, try Bodega’s bottomless brunch, offering five lively courses and 90 minutes of free-flowing cocktails every Saturday and Sunday.

    Image: Jean-Louis Carvalho

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  • 5
    a busy dining room with Japanese street signs at Robata - one of the best restaurants in Melbourne with one of the best set menus in Melbourne.

    The team behind South American restaurants San TelmoPastusoPalermo and Asado has taken a jaunt to Japan for this Tokyo-accented eatery set within a 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. 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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  • 4
    Grossi Florentino exterior with people eating outside on the street - home to some of the best pasta in Melbourne

    Although the Grossi family hasn’t always owned it, Florentino has stood at the 80 Bourke Street site since 1928. In that time, it’s changed ownership quite a bit, but the sentiment has remained the same: Florentino has always been about authentic Italian fine dining and great wine.

    Expect the menu of classic Italian eats to change regularly, but we hope you catch its sopressini al ragu made with wild boar meat, oranges and pecorino. It might just be the very best ragu we’ve ever had in Melbourne. That being said, you don’t necessarily have to go down the carbs route at Grossi Florentino, there are ample options. It’s been one of the best restaurants in Melbourne for many years, and that ain’t changing anytime soon.

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  • 3
    Supper Inn - one of the best BYO restaurants in melbourne CBD.

    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. 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 like crispy-skinned roast duck, along with many incarnations of that age-old comfort food, congee. The BYO offering makes this one ideal for group feasts and cheap eats.

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  • 2
    Freyja - one of the very best restaurants in Melbourne CBD.

    Freyja provides Melbourne with a sophisticated taste of contemporary Nordic cuisine thanks to executive chef Jae Bang, who’s worked at several global award-winning restaurants — most notably, Norway’s Michelin-starred Re-naa.

    Food-wide, traditional practices like pickling, smoking and curing are given a reawakening, heroed alongside native ingredients and a touch of contemporary flair. Meanwhile, the Melbourne restaurant boasts an impressive global wine program that’s heavy on ​​organic and biodynamic drops. Top craft brews and a steady rotation of inventive cocktails also make a prominent feature. Freyja makes sure to tick all the boxes.

    Image: Parker Blain.

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  • 1
    Society Dining Room Melbourne - one of the best restaurants in Melbourne CBD.

    Three years after Society was first announced, the much-anticipated venture from Chris Lucas finally made its home within the 80 Collins dining precinct in 2021. It’s sporting a timeless (and dramatic) aesthetic fusing elements of Art Deco, mid-century, Art Nouveau and brutalist sensibilities across its two restaurants — Society Dining Room and Lillian Brasserie, plus the upmarket Society Lounge bar.

    The fine-dining restaurants serve up creative and lavish dishes, taking inspiration from Japan and Europe. You’ll be spending big here, and find yourself surrounded by a lot of suits, but don’t let this put you off. You’ll find some extraordinary food and wine here at what is inarguably one of the best restaurants in Melbourne’s CBD.

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Top images: Bodega Underground

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