Melbourne is brimming with amazing dining spots, from the cheap and cheerful to the prix fixe fine dining destinations and everything in between.
The dining scene in Melbourne is great for two main reasons:
1. The city is a cultural melting pot, meaning the restaurant options reflect these cultures and
2. We take our food very seriously, meaning you can go just about anywhere and expect a meal that not just tastes great but is also well-presented.
Narrowing down this list to just _ restaurants was tough; as a restaurant reviewer, there were so many places I wanted to include. But of course, a tourist to this fine city wouldn’t ever have time to try them all, so I’ve selected a few of the best and most iconic spots to prioritise while you’re here.
- Friends of the Earth – Collingwood
Friends of the Earth is Melbourne’s longest-running food co-op, started all the way back in the 70’s (that’s pretty old by Australian standards). It also functions as a cafe, serving up wholesome vegan fare at affordable prices. Every day, they make a different dish based on what’s available. You can always expect a grain, salad and protein of some sort, served from noon until supplies run out. If you arrive too early or too late for lunch, snack on a vegan pie or sausage roll with house-made chutney, a slice of pizza, or a baked good courtesy of Crumbs bakehouse (with a tea or coffee, of course).
- Handsome Her – Brunswick
This cafe got lots of press when they opened as Melbourne’s first feminist cafe. They are known for serving up delicious and innovative vegan dishes, all named after famous women. You can expect options such as a vegan cheese and bacon bagel called Frida Kahlo or a breakfast board named after Hana Assafiri, owner of Moroccan Soup Bar (another must-visit, vegan-friendly Melbourne restaurant). Drink options range from superfood lattes to tea elixirs to specialty cocktails and mocktails.
- Lune Croissant – CBD/Fitzroy
This pastry shop always has a line out the door, but it’s well worth the wait. They serve up what’s arguably Melbourne’s best croissant, in all it’s flaky, buttery glory. The options are simple, including just traditional, chocolate, ham and cheese, lemon curd or almond variations. But the beauty lies in this simplicity. It allows the bakers’ skill to shine through. Prices are a bit steep at $6+, but you never hear anyone complain about the cost because the taste is just too good.
- Shandong Mama – CBD
Melbourne has a lot of dumpling spots. Some great, some terrible, some traditional, some experimental. And amongst them all, Shandong Mama is the best. They have a few outlets, but if you visit any, make sure it’s the one off of iconic Degraves Street in the CBD. It may look like a hole in the wall but it serves spectacular dumplings, rectangular in shape and fried to perfection. (They serve steamed as well, but fried are the way to go). There are fillings to suit all palates, from vegetable to pork Aussie lamb (!) to their specialty, seafood in all varieties.
- 400 Gradi – Brunswick
The Italians were some of the first settlers to Australia, hence the abundance of Italian restaurants in Melbourne. It’s easy to get overwhelmed by the options, so here’s a hot tip: Get to 400 Gradi. They’ve won the World Pizza Championships, so you know they’re a good choice. Their wood-fired pies are renowned, with chewy crusts and premium toppings. Again, they have several outlets, but the original on Lygon Street is the best (and their gelato shop Zero Gradi is just up the road!)
- Easey’s – Collingwood
Melbourne is the city of trams, so what better way to commemorate your visit than by eating in one? While the historic tramcar dinner around the CBD is one option, a trip to Easey’s is cheaper and (in our opinion) much cooler. Kick back with a beer and a burger as you look out of the window of a rooftop tramcar. But please note that this place fills up fast, so bookings are recommended.
- Shinjuku – CBD
If you’re after some late-night sustenance, this is the place to go. Shinjuku is one of Melbourne’s most famous ramen joints, serving up bowls of savoury noodle soup 24 hours a day. There are several options of ramen to choose from, although vegetarian ramen is only available during the day. However, there are several other vego and vegan options to choose from, plus a list of sakes if you’re after a nightcap.
Bonus – Brother Baba Budan – CBD
I couldn’t finish this list without including at least one great coffee shop. Melburnians are serious about our coffee, and we know where to find the very best in town. While there are so many to choose from, Brother Baba Budan is a favourite of mine and many others.
Which of these famous Melbourne restaurants will you try first?