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Where to Eat Outside in Melbourne When You Need Some Vitamin D

After being holed up all week in the office, get out and soak up some sun.
By Hudson Brown
April 11, 2018

Where to Eat Outside in Melbourne When You Need Some Vitamin D

After being holed up all week in the office, get out and soak up some sun.
By Hudson Brown
April 11, 2018


in partnership with

After being holed up all week in the office, get out and soak up some sun.

There's no doubt many of Melbourne's favourite restaurants have some of the best interior design around, but there's just something extra special about having a great meal in the sun. When the city's weather turns it on, there's nowhere we'd rather be, and we're fortunate enough to have a plethora of choice when it comes to hanging out under the clear blue skies.

From Parisian-style street dining to rooftop decks, beachfront eateries and some modern takes on the beer garden, there's a place in Melbourne where the food, drinks and sunlight will have you in heaven. To help find the ideal place for you even easier, we've dug deep into our directory and handpicked some top restaurants and bars where you can also kick-back in the sun.

Whether it's by yourself, with your mates or a significant other, we've got a venue for you. Teaming up with our friends at American Express, we've chosen some of our favourite places that'll accept your Amex Card and keep you tanned — but not necessarily trim — from all across town.

Got yourself in another dining situation and need some guidance? Whatever it is, we know a place. Visit The Shortlist and we'll sort you out.

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    From the decor to the drinks to the service, leafy courtyard and, of course, the food, Trunk Bar & Restaurant is where the smallest of details come together to complete a rousing experience. A versatile space that is suitable for a special occasion or simply a few casual drinks, this massive CBD courtyard is a glorious place to spend a sunny afternoon.

    The former 19th-century synagogue is a generous space, distinguished by high ceilings and complemented by steel beams, marble surfaces and dark wood finishes. Modern Mediterranean is the cuisine showcased here, with the lamb shoulder a favourite and the wood-fired pizzas a hit as well. Get your mates, grab a seat in the vast outdoor area and soak in the sun.  

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    Just about the closest you can get to experiencing the delights of Tuscany within touching distance of Melbourne, Meletos is the place to be for modern European cuisine and panoramic sights of Victoria’s wine region. Drive down the long dirt path, make your way past the 23-room boutique guesthouse and the restaurant awaits.

    Located in the heart of the Yarra Valley, the grounds invite you to take a stroll around the vast area. When that’s all done, enjoy a glass of your favourite drop on the communal tables or take a seat in the weathered steel-framed glasshouse. For food, you can go down the road of sharing or going solo — either should be satisfying. The menu is made up of an appetisers section, salumi, seven mains, knockout wood-fired pizza, a few sides and, of course, dessert. This being wine-country, there’s most of the region’s highlights, plus some fine bottles from Australia, New Zealand and some top wine regions of Europe.

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    Once simply known as Toko — one of Prahran’s most-loved Japanese restaurants — this eatery reopened as Tokosan in late-2017 with the spot becoming a little bit more casual than its predecessor. Expect neon umbrellas hanging from the ceiling and colourful lighting decorating the walls in homage to the venue’s Japanese inspiration.

    A place to bring your friends and partners, outside you’ll find an extensive lounge-garden that seats 60 people and is pretty lovely rain or shine. Food-wise, the menu is slightly more geared towards drinks rather than food but there’s still Japanese pub-style food like katsu, sticky grilled pork ribs with a jacket potato and popcorn shrimp to enjoy.  Staying true to its Japanese roots, there’s also karaoke on-site, so don’t miss your chance to belt out your favourite J-pop tunes.

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    One of the oldest continuous restaurants in Melbourne, Florentino dates back as far back as 1928. When the Grossi family bought up the space in 1999, turning it into Grossi Florentino, ownership of the building had already changed hands many times over the years but the outcome has always remained much the same: the restaurant is about classic authentic Italian dining and great wine.

    Split into three distinct settings of the Cellar Bar, Grill and Upstairs, each area presents a slightly different atmosphere and cuisine. It might have some of the best Italian food in town, but the footpath dining section of Grossi Florentino prompts a more Parisian feel than anything else. Either way, catching some post-work sun or relaxing on the weekends is an elegant, delicious affair here.

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    It was an incredibly sad day when iconic St Kilda venue Stokehouse burned down in 2014. But rising from the ashes, and forming part of a precinct of new restaurants, Pontoon has become one of the foreshore’s most popular eateries with its casual menu and location that’s pretty much in the sand dunes itself.

    Pontoon is the kind of place where you eat standing up with a cold drink in one hand and some delicious food in the other. The four-metre grill gets a good work out with seafood, wood-fired pizzas and wood-roasted beef brisket toasties being just some of the must-haves here. Meanwhile, the 18-metre long bar is home to a strong wine list, 18 beer taps and a range of refreshing cocktails. You won’t find too many beach days like this.

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    Dating back to 1868, The Flying Duck is one of the oldest pubs in Melbourne. Little surprise then that it holds such a special place in the hearts of the community — a community that rallied when the Duck was threatened with demolition in 2014 to make way for a six-storey apartment building. Now that it’s back in full flight, the historic spot has set about offering some of the best pub grub you can get anywhere in Melbourne.

    The Duck’s a comfortable place to relax over a pint and rustic chow, with the glass conservatory rich with ferns, palm trees and other plant life making it the ideal spot to spend some lazy afternoons. Chef Javier Perez Gonzalez helms the kitchen, offering a menu that reflects the traditions of the pub while showcasing some of his stunning takes on Mediterranean-Australian fusion.

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    Enjoying sunny days is why Melburnians go to the Arbory, placed smack-bang in the middle of Melbourne CBD. Overlooking the Yarra River and the Southbank Promenade, the place is named after the neighbouring leafy canopies and is pretty hard to miss, running for 150 metres down the full length of the old Platform 13 at Flinders Street Station.

    A pocket of green goodness in the midst of the bustling city, it’s a great place to lay back and have a quiet drink. Catching the early morning rays from 7.30am for breakfast, and from 11.30am till close, you can check out a pretty hearty menu, featuring a range of burgers and American-style hot dogs served with bacon, onion, cheese and pickles. For those after something a little bit fancier, there’s also a menu of mains like roast spatchcock, steamed mussels, wild mushroom risotto and grilled sirloin.

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    Attached to the Rose Street Artists’ Market, Young Bloods puts forth a creative interpretation of the diner setting, with a relaxed air that helps it easily slot into the artistic space. Impressively designed, Young Bloods is essentially spread across three different dining areas, yet remains intimate and connected.

    Catching the sun’s rays was clearly a key factor in Young Bloods’ design with the outside courtyard and rooftop set right in the thick of the market. Enclosed but with the possibility of being opened up in the right weather conditions, the space is well put-together. Light and breezy — and constructed as an upper level to the main dining room below — the rooftop has space to seat about 50 diners and coffee-goers, as well as those just wanting an afternoon drink.

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    Located among industrial buildings on Burwood Road, it’s hard to ignore St Cloud Eating House with its pink neon graffiti wall. This is where you’ll find some of the best contemporary Vietnamese food in Melbourne’s east. Inside is a mix of old-school rustic dark timber, raw concrete, plants and low-hanging lightbulbs, making for a charming setting. Head outside onto the rooftop garden where a plethora of greenery and summery seating helps you sink into the space.  

    The menu at the Eating House is split between lightning fast lunch meals and share-style dinner plates. A selection of bright and bold dishes make up much of the menu — highlights include the banh khot, or mini Vietnamese pancakes, which are a biting combination of turmeric and coconut with spring onion oil, herbs and nuoc mam. For something heartier, St Cloud’s caramel pork belly with soft egg, pickled chilli, spring onion, black pepper and crackling is a sure-fire stomach satisfier.

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    An institution on Fitzroy Street, Café Di Stasio has been wowing food lovers for 26 years. One of those restaurants of old where the walls seem to hold stories from past eras, there’s white-jacketed waitstaff and food that has all the attributes of nonna and pop being in the kitchen. As the sun beats down on the street-side eating area, with the St Kilda foreshore just around the corner, this authentic Italian experience could almost be a part of the Amalfi Coastline.

    Here, the lunches are long, the wine is excellent (if not a bit expensive) and the atmosphere is right on point. The menu features traditional Italian fare, with the homemade pastas, polenta and roast duckling as some of the much-loved favourites. For the best value, opt for the $40 lunch special which includes two courses, a glass of wine and a coffee. Of Melbourne’s surviving historic restaurants, Café Di Stasio is a standout. If there’s a place for old-school, classy dining — this is it.


As you drink and dine with your American Express, reap all the sweet rewards of being a Card Member. Explore the many ways American Express has your back here.

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