It's no secret that Aussies love the mighty chicken parma. It's been a stalwart option on pub menus for centuries (slight exaggeration) and has a rep for being one of the biggest plate-able dishes of all time (truth). Whether you prefer your parma extra cheesy; with the addition of ham or bacon; sitting on the chips or alongside; there's a whole stack of parmas in this big city to sink your teeth into.
So here we go. The best parmas in Melbourne for 2021.
Are you up for the challenge? Order's up!
Okay, this one has it all: the complete package, combining all the important things; crispy chips, a garden salad you'll actually want to eat and of course the main event – a generous but not over-sized chicken parma. Note: This means you won't have to be rolled out of the restaurant and into your car, which is a definite win for us. The standout here is the Napoli sauce; it looks legit, tastes legit and doesn't get lost in the flavour of the ham. In terms of the plating, you'll find your chips under your parma, but relax, they don't get soggy because they're oh so crispy and beer battered. Mmmm. Pick up a mouth-watering chicken parma at the Prahran Hotel for $18 on Tuesdays and Wednesdays or for $25 at any other time. Prahran Hotel: You've. Nailed. It.
If you're not familiar with The Cricketer's, you should change that ASAP. They've got a range of tasty dishes at this establishment, but really, would you go past the parma? At least for your first trip. And maybe the second. And third, depending how you're feeling. Juicy free range chicken breast, a crispy crumb, oozy cheese, tasty Napoli sauce and just enough ham to add to the experience (but not overpower the hero). And of course, a side of beer battered chips, because it's all about clean eating. No? Well there's a side salad, at least. Port Melbourne, love your work.
Another contender for best parma in Melbourne (and also the biggest) can be found at The Exchange in Port Melbourne. It's a good thing these guys have massive plates, because this thing is mammoth and with a dedicated parma and trivia night combo on Wednesday’s for a spanking $19 it’s serious value. Share your parma with a friend or throw caution to the wind and give it a go yourself. Why not? You can gloat to your mates afterwards, right? For the not so adventurous (or hungry), there's the special 'Ladies' Parma, which is exactly the same in terms of ingredients, just smaller (thank goodness). Not only is this parma huge, it's delicious too and not overly thick, which means you can really taste the flavour. The Chef uses two cheeses to make this baby sing, one being mozzarella and the other, his little secret. You'll just have to try it to find out!
Skinny Dog Hotel
If size matters, then this parma's for you. Quite possibly the largest parma I've ever seen that has to arrive on its very own plate to avoid overhang. Trust us, you're going to need to be more than a little hungry to tackle this monster. Dig into a hearty serve of chips and salad that make up two yummy side dishes, completely normal in size, but small in comparison to the large slab of chicken that lays before you. If you're up for the challenge, go for the full serve, but if you want something a little more user-friendly, half serve that baby up. Skinny Dog incorporates basil into their parma mash-up of champagne ham and mozzarella cheese, and it really, REALLY works. Take advantage of the Thursday night special and snap up one of Melbourne's best parmas with a pot of beer or soft drink for only $20. Perf!
Garden State Hotel
Most people don't know that there's an excellent parma to be had at the CBD watering hole favourite Garden State Hotel. They're currently doing one of the best parmas in town, now this one will set you back $25, so it's more an anniversary parma (or some other special occasion) but it's a high return on investmestment. This Melbourne parma reflects the elegant space that it resides in with golden trimmed mozzarella and a perfectly fried schnitzel that encompasses the plate.
Located in the back streets of Richmond behind Bridge Road, you'll find the Royston, home to the popular Wednesday night trivia and also one of the best parmas in Melbourne. If you're not a chips-under-the-parma kinda kid, you'll like that the Royston put their fried delights alongside the parma to avoid any potential chip-sog that may occur during consumption. We dig that. We also dig their breadcrumbs, which they do perfectly, crispy but not too crispy and with the perfect chicken to crumb ratio. If you like ham, you're in good hands too because this parma has a strong ham flavour, but is by no means overpowering. While the salad is fairly standard, the chips are delish and salted to perfection. Mondays and Wednesdays are the nights to visit – get your parmas for just $17 a pop!
The Local Taphouse
St Kilda East
Head Chef at The Local Taphouse, Wayne Seberry describes the chicken parma as a simple dish that needs to have every component done right for it to be a success. Makes perfect sense doesn't it? Which is why The Local Taphouse serves up one of Melbourne's best parmas. Place your parma order to find a mouth-watering free range chicken breast, topped with wood-smoked ham for a slightly different flavour and a generous finish of good ol' fashioned cheese. While it's not as big as some of the aforementioned parmas, it definitely ticks all the other parma boxes, and is one of our top picks.
St Kilda East
There's two ways you can go at The Newmarket Hotel. The 'Little Fella' parma (with beer battered fries and salad), which is basically a vegetable. Or the 'BIG Fella' parma, which is way more speed. You get a parma that basically hangs over the plate, plus a hefty whack of chips and side-salad, all for a cool $26. We've done the legwork, and can confirm this chicken breast is substantially juicier and crispier than your average, and they don't skimp on the cheese either. Keep an eye out for their legendary parma + pot nights.
Great Northern Hotel
This classic pub situated in the depths of the northside easily joins the ranks as one of Melbourne’s best parma’s, it’s reliability and no frills approach to the crumbed cuisine makes it a menu staple to the many eclectic folk that regularly frequent ‘The Northern’. A pinnacle location for its range of top-notch craft beers and communal vibe, the $19 parma night on a Monday which also includes the options of an eggplant parma and plain schnitzel can help take out the sting of the working week ahead. In case that wasn’t enticing enough there’s also a strict doggos welcomed policy which adds to the experience of waiting for your parma.
Right in the thick of it on the corner of Smith and Johnson Street Collingwood, The Birmingham’s unassuming exterior hides one of Melbourne’s best parma. There’s a fair amount of clout on this one, ranking at #1 by the parma enthusiast Parma Daze, The Birmingham’s parma has taken out the prize of Melbourne's best parma since 2016. This classic parma steeped in award and adulation well and truly lives up to expectations with an eloquently layered parmigiana with each layer dancing into the spotlight as you plough through. With six different parma variations there’s something for everyone and the typically overlooked and underappreciated accompaniments to the main event also stand tall with crispy chips that add a delightful texture to the experience and a salad that freshens the palate with each bite.
Wolf and I
If you’re looking for one of Melbourne’s best parma then take a stroll down to the Windsor end of Chapel Street. Set amongst the iconic strip of new and old shop fronts Wolf and I is perched right on a corner amongst the action. This parma is a staple of this modern eatery’s menu, with a vegan option available it’s fun for all walks of dietary requirements. Their Wednesday nights play host to parma night where a cool $18 will get you a plate filled of golden crunched goodness, cheese melted to that perfect point between ooze and crust.
It’s hard to create Melbourne's best parma guide without chucking in this city favourite. Perfect for the CBD dwelling crowd to tuck into on a lunch break or a post-work debrief coupled with some pints. The Imperial brings that low fuss approach to it’s parma which can be enjoyed inside or on the rooftop. Now down to business, this parma’s popularity comes with its reliability and innovation in the salad department opting for a cabbage slaw in lieu of the typical ‘side salad’. Whether you're in the city daily or just passing through this is the spot if you’re hankering for a parma.
The Notting Hill
No it’s not a venue dedicated to the 1998 romantic comedy but a sturdy contender for Melbourne’s best parma. Affectionately dubbed ‘The Nott’, this pub located out in the suburbs boasts one of the biggest and best parmas with a golden crunch to the cheese and schnitzel that stakes its claim as a top contender. Their fusing of a house made napoli, smoked ham, and stringy mozzarella that tears with every dig of the fork has put it on the radar of best parmas for 2021.
Tired of the old parma? Check out Melbourne's best pub meals over here.
Image credit: Newmarket Hotel | Griffin Simm