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, guys. The best parmas in Melbourne. 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 $14 on Tuesdays and Wednesdays or for $21 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. 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!
Okay I know it says Pizzeria. Stick with us. It's a Parma Pizza. That's right, SPQR Pizzeria have combined two of our loves, and it works. Boy, does it work. The crispy, light crust of a woodfired pizza meets San Marzano tomatoes, buffalo mozzarella, parma ham, rocket and parmesan. Now that's nothing to scoff at (but absolutely to scoff down). If you've grown tired of the Melbourne parma scene, consider this one your food-fusion shot in the arm.
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 pot of beer or soft drink for only $20. Perf!
Garden State Hotel
Most people don't know that there's an excellent up-market bistro at the back of the Garden State Hotel (we dunno about you guys, but we're usually too busy getting happily pizzled in the central courtyard to notice). Well there is, and it's called The Garden Grill, and they're doing one of the best parmas in town. Now this one will set you back $29, so it's more an anniversary parma (or some other special occasion). Don't be tempted by the veal schnitzel (although that is excellent too)—the parma is the way to go New York-style with leaves or fries (obvs fries). Make sure you grab a side of the BBQ summer greens while you're there.
Foresters Pub & Dining
Leave the pineapples at home—we just found Melbourne's cheapest parma. We're talking golden chicken breast, with a side of chips and salad FOR THE PRICE OF A 1998 LUNCH ORDER. You can get $5 parmas at The Foresters every single evening between 4pm – 10pm. That's less than a frozen Ingham's schnitzel from Coles, people. We don't know how The Forester's is turning a profit, or what kind of Soviet lab they're using to grow their juicy, cheap chickens, but who the hell cares. The only catch is you have to buy a drink with your parma. But you were gonna do that anyway, right?
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.
Union Club Hotel
When you go to the Union Club Hotel you've got options. Most places have one parma variety on their menu but Union has two, the classic and the Mexican Chicken. Order the standard for all the usuals including a clever mix of mozzarella and tasty cheese; or up the anti with the Mex to feast on chilli bean Napoli, jalapenos, Virginian leg ham, parmesan and tasty cheese. Both parmas are big, thick and tasty with extra crispy breadcrumbs and come alongside a decent salad and some pretty damn good chips, too. There aren't huge lashings of cheese, but there's plenty of ham if that's your thang. Visit on a Tuesday night and pack a parma for just $15.
Tired of the old parma? Check out Melbourne's best pub meals over here.
Image credit: Newmarket Hotel | Griffin Simm