Melbourne Food and Drink
Celebrity chef Anthony Bourdain once famously said: “I'd rather eat in Melbourne than Paris.” The city is peppered with top-notch restaurants and cafes, tucked away in basements, down narrow alleyways, and atop sky-high buildings. With new ones popping up weekly, the only problem is trying to fit them all in.
When it comes to Melbourne’s bar scene, it's easily is one of the most eclectic in Australia. Discover atmosphere-laden drinking holes hidden down laneways, on rooftops, in basements, and up flights of stairs. From classic speak-easys, to iconic pubs, to pop-up venues, you just never know where the next great drinking spot will happen.
Named Australasia’s best restaurant in the 2014 San Pellegrino World’s 50 Best Restaurant awards, the focus here is on modern cuisine using native Australian ingredients. Sample the range with the extended tasting menu featuring dishes such as salted red kangaroo, Goolwa pippies, and wattleseed bread.
Vue de Monde
Perched on the 55th floor of the Rialto Building, with sweeping views over the city, dining here is a culinary journey against a backdrop showcasing Melbourne’s history. The degustation menu fuses age-old cooking styles with modern techniques, using organic vegetables grown on its own property.
Melbourne’s Southbank precinct has more eating establishments than can be counted, however seafood lovers won’t want to miss The Atlantic. Daily menus here are inspired by the best wild and sustainable fish; while The Oyster Bar serves up an amazing selection of oysters and shellfish.
Cumulus Inc. and its upstairs wine bar, Cumulus Up, serve up some of the finest cooking Melbourne has to offer without fuss or fanfare. Housed in old rag trade building on Flinders Lane, the atmosphere here is casual, with entertainment provided by the open kitchen.
The Waiters Club
This Italian eatery, hidden away in Meyers Place laneway, has been serving up simple home-cooked pasta dishes for more than 60 years. While it’s not fancy, tucked away up a flight of rickety wooden stairs, the food is the best Italian this side of Milan.
Explore Melbourne one culinary precinct at a time. Carlton is Little Italy; Richmond is best for Vietnamese; Brunswick for Lebanese; Fitzroy for Spanish. For authentic Chinese dim sum, Chinatown is hard to beat; while Acland Street, St Kilda, tops the list for cakes.
Melbourne’s oldest building is the Mitre Tavern, and is a must visit, not only for its famous chargrilled steaks and gourmet burgers, but for the significance it holds in the city’s history. It’s extremely popular, and the massive outdoor beer garden is the largest in the CBD.
Melbourne’s fleet of food trucks have added a new dimension to the city’s already full menu of dining options. Found through social media, the trucks set up at different sites all over town, offering everything from authentic Indian curries, to African feasts, to artisan gelato.
For deli goods
Apart from the Queen Victoria Market Deli Hall, Albert Park Deli is another Melbourne favourite, stocking a vast range of hard-to-find specialty items. Fitzroy’s family-run Casa Iberica is concerned with all things Spanish, South and Central American, supplying all the ingredients for a perfect paella.
The Esplanade Hotel
‘The Espy’ as it’s affectionately known, is a true Aussie pub overlooking the bay at St Kilda, with pool tables, and live music venues featuring local and international bands. There’s no dress code at this shabby-chic establishment, considered by many to be a national treasure.
Paris Cat Jazz Club
The speak-easy style interior of this club is like a 1930s Parisian jazz museum. Live performances each night cover the full scope of jazz, from traditional classics to the latest generation of artists. A great place for ‘hip cats’ to swing into the early hours.
City Wine Shop
At the top of Spring Street, City Wine Shop is Melbourne’s answer to a traditional Italian wine bar. Pull up a seat and sample a glass from the wide assortment of local and European wines; complemented by delicious tapas-style share plates and cheeses.
Young and Jackson
Worth stopping in for a drink, even if only to soak in a little Victorian history, and admire the famous ‘Chloe’ painting. Young and Jackson is one of Melbourne’s oldest pubs, and has more than 30 beers and ciders on tap, including imported and boutique brews.
The Crafty Squire
Home of the famous James Squire Brewhouse, The Crafty Squire is a fine example of a true ‘local’ pub, and the only working microbrewery in the Melbourne CBD. Taste unique craft beers and take a brewery tour to learn how the whole process works.
1806 was the year the word ‘cocktail’ first appeared in print, and this bar is like a history lesson in spirits. Originally a theatre, today young mixologists deliver the performances – serving blazing, fizzing and twizzled concoctions, accompanied by stories about the origin of each drink.
Eau De Vie (EDV)
Hidden down Malthouse Lane behind a rather clandestine-looking non-marked door, this relative newcomer to Melbourne’s cocktail scene boasts more than 700 types of spirits. The whisky lounge serves 200 different single malts, but the action is at the bar, with all its shaking and stirring.
This art deco cocktail bar on the edge of Chinatown, oozes vintage glamour. Pre-Prohibition cocktails are the house specialty, such as the Old Fashioned, served hot or cold and made with a choice of cognac, rum, bourbon or scotch; or avant-garde concoctions like Suzy Q.
Through the unmarked door of the Melbourne Supper Club and up the grand staircase, Siglo is something of a Melbourne institution. Top class wines and international beers, along with snacks, are served at tables on the rooftop terrace, alongside rare views of Melbourne’s old-world architecture.
Melbourne takes its coffee seriously, thanks to its European heritage, and in the CBD, great coffee is never more than a few steps away. Some local favourites are Cup of Truth, Seven Seeds, Five Senses and Brother Baba Budan, but the truth is, the coffee in Melbourne is good everywhere.