The 21 Best Restaurants in Melbourne

From high-flying fine-diners in the CBD to tried-and-true neighbourhood haunts — these are the Melbourne restaurants we'd recommend to a friend (you, dear reader).
Andrew Zuccala, Libby Curran and Concrete Playground
Published on May 08, 2024

The 21 Best Restaurants in Melbourne

From high-flying fine-diners in the CBD to tried-and-true neighbourhood haunts — these are the Melbourne restaurants 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 absolute best restaurants in Melbourne. From special occasion fine-diners with international street cred, to late-night 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 Restaurants in Melbourne's CBD
The Best Cafes in Melbourne
The Best Bars in Melbourne
The Best Pubs in Melbourne

  • 21
    Carlton Wine ROom - one of the best restaurants in Melbourne.

    The Carlton Wine Room had quite the shake-up when it reopened in 2018 — even if it did keep the same name — with new owners, a new look and a revamped offering. Wine is certainly still the star of the show here, but the food is anything but a mere second thought.

    The menu is designed to complement the 100-strong, ever-changing wine list and leans into European bistro territory. Small bite-sized snacks and a wide variety of cheese boards kick things off, but unlike most Melbourne wine bars, the larger plates are here in spades. It can be tough to choose from all the dining options, hence why we opt for the $95 set menu every time we visit. Like with the wines, we let the team tell us what we should be eating.

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  • 20
    Flower Drum - one of the best Chinese restaurants in Melbourne.

    Internationally recognised for authentic Cantonese cuisine and exceptional service, Flower Drum’s menu emphasises fresh seafood and meats 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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  • 19
    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 have 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 just a handful of menu mainstays, backed by a lineup of Melbounre-specific dishes — with plenty of locally-sourced meat and veggies cooked over flames among the mix.

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  • 18
    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 have to go down the carbs route. Grossi Florentino is also slinging a huge range of regional Italian dishes featuring grilled meats, seafood and stacks of veg. It’s been one of the best restaurants in Melbourne for many years. And that ain’t changing anytime soon.

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  • 17
    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 perfectly mirrors the vibrant hustle and bustle of a Bangkok market. With plastic stools and brightly coloured tables, this is the kind of place you come to experience classic yet tantalising flavours with genuine Thai ambience.

    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 may not be all fine dining and glam, but it proves that it doesn’t need to be. It’s still up there with some of the best restaurants in Melbourne.

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  • 16
    Lagoon Dining - one of the best restaurants in Melbourne.

    Lygon Street and its surrounds might once have been wall-to-wall, old-school Melbourne Italian joints — and famously so. But a new wave of residents is slowly but surely shaking up the demographic. One of these is the relative newcomer, Lagoon Dining.

    The menu is grounded in traditional Chinese sensibilities, though you’ll also spy plenty of other Asian influences, as well as a few clever riffs on Chinese food concepts plucked from further abroad. Pull up a seat at the bar and snack your way through the regularly changing menu while sipping on a truly stellar drinks lineup. Expect a broad-ranging rotation of craft beers, a globally-inspired wine list and cocktails, aperitifs and spirits for days.

    Image: Nikki To.

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  • 15
    Stokehouse - one of the best restaurants in Melbourne.

    We’re calling it: you’ll struggle to find a Melbourne lunch spot with a better view. This relaxed fine-dining destination is set right on St Kilda Beach, with the option to sit inside at the restaurant (and marvel at the view through floor-to-ceiling windows) or in one of the private dining rooms.

    Wherever you sit, locally sourced seafood is the name of the game, turned into a huge range of creative and highly contemporary eats thanks to executive chef Jason Staudt (Aria, Bea Restaurant). But if you’re in the mood for carbs over seafood, head downstairs to the Stokehouse Pasta & Bar for some of the best pasta in Melbourne.

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  • 14
    Ronin Omakase in Melbourne

    There’s no way you’ve ever had omakase like that at Ronin. Most Melbourne omakase joints are all about hushed tones and sophistication. At Ronin, Chef Patrick Kwong has no interest in such formality. From the moment you sit down at the ten-seat omakase bar, the young chef will beckon you to “get lit” with him and every other guest.

    But despite Kwong’s friendly laidback attitude when it comes to service, he’s incredibly serious about his food. Classically trained in the Edo period omakase style, Kwong has fine-tuned his skills and learnt when to follow tradition and when to toss it aside. He regularly infuses his Malaysian heritage into dishes — like adding laksa butter to nigiri — while also bringing more contemporary Australian flavours to the experience. He’ll even spray glitter all over one course just for the fun of it. If you love omakase, be sure to check out this alternative version.

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  • 13
    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-wise, 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.

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  • 12
    Best bars melbourne - libean empty bar with wine bottles lined above - bar liberty - one of the best wine bars in melbourne

    This standout Melbourne wine bar and restaurant is a destination for flavour lovers who aren’t afraid to try a few new things. Sure, you could stick with your favourite rosé and a spread of charcuterie and leave (very) happy, but creativity reigns supreme on both the menu and drinks list, so it’s well worth digging a little deeper.

    The sommelier will wheel around an old-school globe bar trolley to tempt you with the evening’s pouring wines — that change on the daily. The food is a must here, too. Order some of the inventive sharing plates that might include the likes of grilled lamb tongue skewers drenched in a sweet and sour apple and garum glaze and the cured venison with beets and bone marrow. Expect the wonderfully unexpected at Bar Liberty, one of the best restaurants in Melbourne.

    Image: Brook James

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  • 11
    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 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 ‘Provenance Menu’ at any one time, specifically celebrating its ingredients, winemakers and chefs.

    Images: Arianna Leggiero

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  • 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, where the team is cooking with a woodfired grill and oven fuelled by Aussie ironbark. At Hazel, one of the best restaurants in Melbourne, there are a myriad of things to tempt snackers and feasters alike, from crafty small plates to larger gems such as the wood-grilled seafood stew and a 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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  • 9
    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 Japanese restaurant scene in Melbourne, training up some of the best Japanese chefs in the country — who have gone on to work at spots like Usami and Minamishima.

    Traditional Japanese cooking skills are on full show here, used to create both simple and inventive dishes. It serves up a whole host of Japanese eats, but it is really well known for being one of the best sushi spots in Melbourne. Great attention is given to preparing the seafood and getting the rice just right — one of the most important components of sushi is the rice. The menu of sushi rolls, sashimi and nigiri is extensive, with a huge variety of platters up for grabs during lunch and dinner service. You’re truly spoilt for choice at Kenzan, one of the very best restaurants in Melbourne.

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  • 8
    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. 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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  • 7
    Attica - one of the best restaurants in Melbourne.

    The brainchild of New Zealand chef Ben Shewry, Attica lays claim to being one of Melbourne’s best-known and most celebrated fine diners. And the buzz is certainly not unwarranted. Located behind an unassuming shopfront on Glen Eira Road, the restaurant has been a regular among the annual World’s 50 Best Restaurants list, taking out the 33rd position in 2016, landing 32 in 2017 and named 20th in 2018.

    Nowadays, it may have dropped off the list of such global awards, but it really hasn’t lost its shine. The food lineup changes regularly, though what sticks firm is Shewry and his team’s commitment to celebrating unique native ingredients wherever possible. It’s still one of the best restaurants in Melbourne, just prepare to pay handsomely when trying it out.

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  • 6
    Etta wine bar and restaurant - one of the best restaurants in Melbourne. And one of the best bars in Melbourne.

    Opening in 2017, Brunswick East’s Etta was an instant hit among both local food and wine lovers. Hannah Green (Rosetta) runs the show, and is supported by Rosheen Kaul in the kitchen and Ashley Boburka in the wine cellar. The trio champions all things local, fresh and seasonal (with a strong focus on small producers), meaning change is a big part of everything here.

    Kaul’s Kashmiri, Peranakan, Chinese and Filipino heritage inspires the food menu, while wine is a mostly Australian affair. Boburka has curated a lengthy list of Victorian and Australian winemakers alongside plenty of European drops — focusing on producers that approach intervention with light hands. These are the kinds of vinos the best wine bars in Melbourne are showcasing these days, and Etta is right up there with them.

    Image: Annika Kafcaloudis.

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  • 5
    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 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, 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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  • 4
    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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  • 3
    A chef walking past the main dining table at Minamishima - seafood sushi omakase restaurant in Richmond, Melbourne

    When Minamishima first opened in 2016, it didn’t take long for people to notice. After 15 years at the CBD’s Kenzan, sushi master Koichi Minamishima decided to go out on his own, and he almost immediately started making waves in the world of sushi.

    Let’s be clear — this Melbourne omakase experience is not cheap. The two dining options (they differ if you sit at the bar or in the dining room) cost $295 each, with matching sake or wine for another bump of cash. But it is sushi as you rarely experience it outside Japan. At Minamishima, standards are high, and perfection is desired — it is Melbourne’s greatest showcase of Japanese cuisine and one of the very best restaurants in Melbourne.

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  • 2
    a busy dining room full of guests and staff at Gimlet at Cavandish 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, the menu is also incredibly indulgent — expect caviar bumps, champagne and truffles aplenty. Gimlet has even scored international acclaim, taking out the number 84 spot in the World’s 50 Best Restaurants awards longlist for 2022.

    Image: Earl Carter

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  • 1
    Amaro Tasting Flights at Navi - Lounge

    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 multi-course tasting menu ($185), 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.

    Image: Ed Sloane

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Top images: Lagoon Dining by Nikki To.

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