Restaurants

Here Are The Best Spots to Grab Lunch In Melbourne’s CBD

By Sami Jenkins
6th Apr 2019

Does anyone remember a time before brunch became a thing? Don’t get us wrong—brunch culture is Melbourne is insanely good. But we definitely miss the good old days when we would get lunch with a friend, instead of, something sitting in between breakfast and lunch.

To pay homage to the OG eating hour, here are some of our personal picks for the best lunch spots in Melbourne. And by lunch, we are not talking about dainty spoonfuls of creme fraiche dolloped on a plate, or hotcakes adorned with edible flowers or another bircher muesli with a poached pear. What we’re talking about is just a good feed that will surely cure those insatiable cravings of yours.

Rice Paper Scissors

Starting off our list is Rice Paper Scissors. Now you’re going to have to queue up for this one, but we assure you it’s worth the wait.

Rice Paper Scissors was born out of two guys’ love of South-East Asian street food culture. This place has great service that runs like clockwork, and the dining experience is always memorable. Hands down some of our faves include the BBQ lamb ribs in mekhong whiskey marinade and special sauce, the dragon fruit and lemongrass granita with coconut ice-cream, and the compressed watermelon with caramelised pork, prawn and pork crackling.

Humble Rays

Humble Rays is the perfect harmony of interior design, natural light and good food. The dining experience is such a pleasant one, and we contribute a lot of this to the beautiful space this place inhabits.

The food is also delightful. Try the Chicken Hot Sauce Burger in a charcoal bun, or the perfectly grilled Super Salmon Salad. Finish it all off with a creamy Thai Tea Bingsu.

Chin Chin

Chin Chin is one of those restaurants that blew up overnight. These guys make the experience so much more than the food itself. Listen to curated tracks from Melbourne best DJ’s, view the ever-changing artwork featured on their walls, and be taken care of by the Chin Chin crew.

Some of our recommendations include the Massaman Curry with coconut braised beef and the Caramelised Sticky Pork Salad.

Hardware Societe

Hardware Societe brings together luxuriousness of Parisian cuisine with the no-frills breakfast and lunch culture that runs strong through Melbourne.

The Hardware Societe exemplifies almost a fine dining approach to its dishes, while still feeling approachable. By far, they have the best baked eggs in town. ‘Un’ will delight you with smoked pumpkin and zucchini, basil, pistou, chevre and pinenuts - all paired with a thick slice of sourdough for perfect egg dipping. ‘Deux’ has chorizo, potato, piquillo peppers, queso mahon, toasted almonds and aioli.  

Calia

Calia celebrates the talents of culinary experts from all walks of life, while exemplifying top of the line products from a range of suppliers, including Robbins Island Wagyu Beef,  Stonebarn Truffles, Moet Hennessy Australia, Red Hill Truffles, Yarra Valley Caviar as well as pastries and bread by Penny For Pound and sweet treats by Bibelot.

Whether you’re snacking on the seaweed dressed french fries or something more substantial like the Ochazuke Salmon Rice Bowl with light dashi tea broth, you are surely in for an unforgettable experience.

Mamasita

Ascend a dark and ominous looking stairwell, to surprisingly find Mamasita. The team has been bringing us Mexican inspired flavours for almost a decade now, and they’re not stopping anytime soon. At Mamasita you can expect a holistic experience, including great food, live music by talented Melbourne DJ’s and a charming wooden interior that instantly makes you feel at home.

Aunty Franklee

For Malaysians and Singaporeans out there, you might already know this one. Aunty Franklee has become the establishment to eat ‘Bak Kut Teh’ in the city.

For those who aren’t acquainted with the dish, this is a traditional pork rib soup that has been slow-cooked in a herbal broth and is usually eaten with rice. At Aunty Franklee you can create your own Bak Kut Teh with a range of high-quality ingredients such as Pork Belly, Pork Ribs, Enoki Mushrooms and Choy Sum. As the colder seasons are upon us, warm your soul with a piping hot bowl of Aunty Franklee’s Bak Kut Teh.

Don Don

We’re sure you’ve heard of Don Don—I mean you must have. Don Don is dominated by students, people in suits and city go-ers everywhere.

Expect piping hot Japanese rice bowls and udon that will be served to before you can blink and at an insanely reasonable price that we still cannot get over. The menu is rather small, but once you’ve found your favourite dish it’s all you’ll be ordering. We recommend the classic Chicken Curry Don. And don’t forget a touch of Japanese chilli powder.

Krimper Cafe  

Tucked down Guildford Lane, Krimper found a home in a stunning warehouse space. Excellent coffee is the order of the day and we can guarantee that you'll find something both interesting and delicious on the menu—give into the Shakshuka Baked Eggs or try any of their ever-rotating specials.

Makan

You can easily walk past Makan and miss it—it’s the only resident at the very end of a Collins St laneway. There is also a second entrance to Makan, through 360 Collins St, which means that anyone working in that area in the CBD has now a great Indonesian lunch spot right on their doorstep. You’ll want to start with the white fish gohu with spicy coriander dressing, cucumber, avocado mousse, and delicate rice crackers. Once you've had this baby, you'll definitely want to work your way through the entire menu.

Tetsujin

Tetsujin offers fantastic sushi train and high-quality Japanese BBQ located in Emporium. The sushi offerings here are wonderfully fresh, allowing you to pick and choose from the passing train, or order a-la-carte style to your table. The wide selection of sashimi, fresh seafood, vegetarian options, and fantastically fatty grilled meats will keep you on your toes throughout the whole meal.

Tetsujin also offers a range of dazzling cocktails, including their Sakura cocktail, Kanagawa Tsunami, Might Atom and Final Fantasy.  

CJ Lunch Bar

CJ Lunch Bar is loud, proud and spilling with hungry people. This is one of those little gems that is the perfect addition to Little Lonsdale Street. CJ Lunch Bar is truly the definition of a no-frills eatery, but don’t knock it ‘til you try it.

Feast your eyes on their bubbling cheesy Chicken Bulgogi on a hot plate, or, the quintessential Koran classic, the Boodae Jjigae with instant noodles, ham, sausage, baked beans, vegetables in a fiery broth.

Din Tai Fung

Internationally acclaimed Din Tai Fung celebrates the Shanghainese ‘Xiao Long Bao’. In other words, the soup dumpling. Each soup dumpling has exactly 18 folds, which delicately holds the decadent meat and broth inside. When you dine at Din Tai Fung, you absolutely have to try the Pork Xiao Long Bao and the Crab meat and Roe Xiao Long Bao. If you’re feeling really ambitious, try the Black truffle soup dumpling for an out of this world experience. The menu also includes a plethora of other signature dishes, including crispy pot-stickers, spicy and silky wontons and hot and sour soup.

Still just keen on brunch? https://www.theurbanlist.com/melbourne/a-list/melbournes-best-brunch-in-the-cbdHere are the best brunch spots in the CBD.

Image credit: Annika Kafcaloudis

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