The city of Melbourne has become synonymous with fabulous food. It’s exciting, it’s vibrant and it is home to an immensely diverse range of restaurants that will transport you around the globe, one bite at a time. Gone are the days of uninspiring meals of meat and two veg. From the Insta-famous freakshakes, to the world’s best pizza, locals and visitors are now spoilt for choice. As naming all the noteworthy eateries in Melbourne would lead to the culinary version of Anna Karenina, we have chosen some of our very favourite haunts for you to enjoy in this local’s food guide to Melbourne, Australia’s foodie capital.
ST. CLOUD EATING HOUSE | 644 BURWOOD ROAD, HAWTHORN EAST
Situated in the foodie haven that is Melbourne’s inner east suburb of Hawthorn, St. Cloud Eating House is a far cry from the defunct bedding store that once inhabited its prime location. With Feast of Merit’s Franky Pham heading the kitchen, the menu is a veritable fusion of old and new, delivering vibrant, fresh Vietnamese fare to locals and visitors alike.
Upon first entering the two-storey establishment, it is the quintessential laid-back Melbourne styling that first strikes you. Designed by Therefore Studio and interior stylist Elle Critchley, the perfect pairings of wood, exposed brick and greenery provide the ideal backdrop to the delectable menu showcasing pork belly cooked more ways than you could ever imagine. From classic street eats to spring rolls and pho, St. Cloud offers the best of Vietnam with a classic Melbourne twist.
If trying to decide what to eat leaves you feeling more anxious than Macaulay Culkin on Christmas Eve, then look no further than the Feed Me menu. All the food. None of the stress.
SUPERNORMAL | 180 FLINDERS LANE, MELBOURNE
Melbourne has somewhat established itself as the city that makes you queue for hours upon hours for fabulous food. Right or wrong, it seems to be the way of the future. Fortunately for us, however, there are usually a plethora of bars in close vicinity to keep us occupied before it’s time to dine.
In short, Flinders Lane’s Supernormal is worth the wait. Plus, while you wait you can get comfy on one of the bar stools and catch all the action in the kitchen whilst sipping on a Prosecco cocktail.
Influenced by the restaurant scenes and cuisine of Tokyo, Shanghai, Seoul and Hong Kong, the menu is packed with modern Asian fare. Kick off the meal with the caviar, chives and dashi cracker. It is pure decadence and will leave you feeling oh-so-fancy. Since no meal is complete without dumplings, it would be wrong not to indulge in the prawn and chicken dumplings with chilli and vinegar sauce. Finally, treat yourself to the famous peanut butter parfait with salted caramel and soft chocolate. There are no words to describe just how good this dessert is…but there is peanut butter and chocolate. Enough said.
Bookings are available at lunch time so if you can sneak away from the office, or even better, are on holiday, lock in your lunch and then simply turn up.
THE MAYFAIR BAR AND RESTAURANT | 45 COLLINS STREET, MELBOURNE
If elegance and charm are what you are after, then look no further than Mayfair, Melbourne’s New York inspired supper club. Situated on one of Melbourne’s swankiest city streets, this elegant dining room and cocktail bar is the perfect place to sip on a martini and throw back some oysters. The dim lighting and warm glow of frosted lamps will make you feel like you’re somewhere between Melbourne and New York, with a little Paris thrown in for good measure.
Feast on the fanciest of fancy, like the steak tartare with smoked oil and egg yolk, or the pork shoulder sausage rolls. They will put the sausage rolls at every kids’ birthday in Australia to shame. If you’re feeling fancy but still find it hard to go past a classic toastie, Mayfair has you covered: noix de jambon and brie toastie. Convinced yet? If not, I’ll just say this: live jazz every night. Thank you and goodnight.
I LOVE DUMPLINGS | 298 BRIDGE ROAD, RICHMOND
Fact: Melburnians love their dumplings. Whether it’s fine dining or budget bargains, Melbourne has a dumpling for every diner. I Love Dumplings is somewhat of a Melbourne institution, regularly feeding the residents of Richmond, Brunswick, Flemington, St Kilda and Fitzroy. What makes this place so good? No matter how much you wine and dine, you somehow never spend more than $20.
From steamed to fried, meat to vegetarian, dumplings abound at this charismatically chaotic venue. If, however, dumplings aren’t enough to satisfy you, there are rice dishes, noodles, pancakes and the best pork buns this side of the river.
This is also the kind of restaurant where you don’t have to ask for your wine glass to be filled to the rim. No judgement here my friends.
TONKA | 20 DUCKBOARD PLACE, MELBOURNE
To enter Tonka is to realise that Melbourne’s alleyways are hiding some of the city’s best dining destinations. A largely unassuming entryway in a laneway brought to life with colourful graffiti art, Tonka is moody from the outset. As you make your way through the restaurant, past the bustling kitchen, don’t forget to look up. The art installation adorning the ceiling is designed by Melbourne artist Naomi Troski and is a large amorphous work shaped by the space, transforming by the shifts in light and colour over the course of a day. It may also offer a welcome distraction should your Tinder date not bear any resemblance to their profile pictures…
If you’re after the quintessential Melbourne laneway experience, take a seat in the casual entrance Thali Bar, with a vast cocktail list dedicated to the colourful world of Indian spice. The bar offers a limited selection of Tonka’s modern Indian dishes, but I strongly recommend venturing further into the dining area. There awaits pani puri parcels with aromatic water, blue swimmer crab puttu betel leaf and hand dived scallop, to name a few. The dishes are packed with punchy flavours and truly capture the vibrancy of the subcontinent.
SAINT CRISPIN | 300 SMITH STREET, COLLINGWOOD
Melbourne has a thing for converting old spaces and Collingwood’s Saint Crispin is no exception. Formerly a cobbler’s workshop built in 1865, the space is now home to yet another Scott Pickett success story. Pickett is also the man behind two-hatted ESP, Estelle Bistro and the Queen Victoria Market’s Pickett’s Deli & Rotisserie.
With its palette of dark woods and navy blues, Saint Crispin is certainly keeping up with the Joneses when it comes to Melbourne’s design scene. The stylish interiors make everyone feel welcome; from families on a night out to friends and dates, to birthday celebrations where you might just score a free dessert decked out with sparklers. Maybe.
The ever-helpful staff will likely steer you towards the famous Snap Crackle Pop; the flavourful pork crackling that is not to be missed. If inventiveness is your jam, Saint Crispin fits the bill, with dishes like the asparagus with mushroom ketchup, shimeji and hazelnut. The winner, however, is undoubtedly the Humpty Doo barramundi. I challenge you to find a dish with a better name.
HAWKER HALL | 98 CHAPEL STREET, WINDSOR
Hawker Hall in Windsor brings the best of Southeast Asia’s hawker centres to inner city Melbourne. Famed the world over for their variety, delicious fare at bargain prices and unique dining experience, Hawker Hall seeks to bring the best of Singapore and Malaysia to one convenient location.
This horse stable-cum-food and beer hall is a veritable haven for food lovers. Beer food, satay, noodles, rice, roti, dumplings, curries, stir fry and sweets, most of which will set you back less than $20! Your table will quickly be overflowing with options, possibly making you regret those skinny jeans.
It’s all about sharing and caring at Hawker Hall, so just say “feed me” to the helpful staff and then wait for the adventure to begin.
FEAST OF MERIT | 117 SWAN STREET, RICHMOND
If you can summon the strength to walk in the opposite direction to Melbourne’s famed MCG, you’ll soon stumble upon one of Richmond’s foodie favourites. Opened in 2014, Feast of Merit showcases locally sourced, sustainable and seasonal produce. Most importantly, 100% of the profits directly support local impact entrepreneurs who have launched ventures to improve the lives of those living in poverty.
Feast of Merit’s name hails from the traditions of the far northeast Indian state of Nagaland. It is said that when a member of the Naga community comes into wealth, they host a feast for the entire village. The feast continues until the host has shared their wealth, which can last for several weeks, to celebrate the sharing of wealth and the joy it brings. Upon completion of the feast, the host resumes life as normal; with just the cloak on their shoulders. This cloak signifies the highest social prestige in Nagaland: hosting a Feast of Merit.
Open for brunch, lunch and dinner, there are ample opportunities to feast on everything from the shakshuka baked eggs to the Batata harra. Trust me when I say this is the dish for all potato lovers. It’s a simple philosophy at Feast of Merit: farm to fork and served to share.
THE BLACK TORO | 79 KINGSWAY, GLEN WAVERLEY
Glen Waverley is one of Melbourne’s latest foodie hotspots, with top notch restaurants and cafes popping up all around the suburb. When the restaurant opened its doors in 2012, Glen Waverley locals Garen Maskal, Aret Arzadian and Sasoon Arzadian were looking to bring the colour of Latin America to Melbourne’s south-east.
Head Chef Garen Maskal’s creations present the best of Hispanic cuisine with a modern Australian twist, with a menu that evolves throughout the seasons to take full advantage of every ingredient available.
Nestled in the bustling Kingsway, The Black Toro has a tapas menu that will tantalise your tastebuds. Chargrilled corn with chipotle mayo, queso fresco and fresh lime? Or maybe a croquette with jalapeno and cheese, espelette pepper and crema? You will be hard pressed to limit your choices to an “acceptable” number, so consider the Feed Me menu and let the knowledgeable staff keep you from popping a button.
MAMA MANOUSH | 175-177 LYGON STREET, BRUNSWICK EAST
Halloumi chips. I probably don’t need to say any more than that, but I will. One of the newest players on the Melbourne foodie scene, Mama Manoush opened its doors mid-November to welcome in lovers of Lebanese fair.
Mama throws open her doors six nights a week to the restaurant located at the front of the establishment, if you’re feeling a bit fancy. If, however, you are after a more casual night, the Mama Garden has your name on it, plus a shawarma to boot. With Melbourne’s notoriously temperamental weather, the indoor/outdoor garden is the answer to our frizzy-hair fears. The gorgeous greenery and calming water features provide the perfect backdrop to the authentic, traditional meals on offer. Oh, and did I mention they have popcorn ice cream?
OM NOM KITCHEN | 187 Flinders Lane, Melbourne
No food guide Melbourne style would be complete without some mouthwatering after dinner treats. Housed inside Melbourne’s iconic Adelphi Hotel lies a luxurious, sumptuously decorated bar. Om Nom’s executive pastry chef Jo Ward’s creative flair has been likened to culinary genius Heston Blumenthal. Enough said. If you’re not sold, however, I’ll just mention the Chocnut Bomb 2.0 with peanut butter parfait, peanut butter powder, chocolate coated rice bubbles, raspberry fluid gel and dehydrated chocolate mousse. Or maybe it’s the White Peach Injection made with white peach sorbet, raspberry and rose curd, peach nitro and toasted marshmallow milk granita that will make your mouth water. Either way, your eyes are in for as big a treat as your tastebuds.
MÖRK CHOCOLATE BREW HOUSE | 150 Errol Street, North Melbourne
Trying to infiltrate Melbourne’s famous coffee scene is no easy task. Yet, the team from Mörk Chocolate are more than up to the challenge, making it their mission to bring specialty hot chocolate to the city that loves to fill their cups with the best. If you haven’t seen their insta-famous Campfire Hot Chocolate, a true foodie experience, then do yourself a favour and get yourself to North Melbourne quick sticks. If it’s a little warm for a hot choc, dive into their summer menu, which currently features crunchy Mörk cereal over vanilla bean ice cream with chilled dark chocolate milk. If you’re still here, you have more willpower than I do…
Krish is the quintessential Melburnian with an insatiable passion for travel, books and fabulous food. Her blog, The Bucket List Diaries, is all about helping people make the most of this one wild and precious life.