It’s almost unfair that one suburb can have as many culinary options as Fitzroy does. The previously working-class inner-city suburb has blossomed through the renaissance of Melbourne’s cultural boom and is now home to some of the highest-rated diners in the entire city.
Before your next visit, make sure you scope the best restaurants in Fitzroy:
Part neighbourhood wine bar, part fine diner, Marion is all the things that we’ve come to love from Andrew McConnell’s restaurants. The next-door neighbour to Cutler & Co, Marion has a much more accessible and laid back feel to it. The menu is meant for sharing and consists of a range of small and large plates, kick-off with some Blackmore wagyu bresaola then dive into some mussels with Nduja with fried bread, lovage, and aioli. In terms of wine you’re spoilt for choice, the team on the floor are incredibly knowledgeable and will help you select a winner from the 20-plus page wine list that features bottles from across the world's top wine regions as well as quality Australian drops.
Taking up residency in Hotel Fitzroy, Cappo Sociale has taken over level one of the building with a 150-seat dining room, lounge, bar, private dining room and open-air terrace. The kitchen is headed by Executive Chef Maurizio Esposito—with experience in Michelin restaurants and various venues across Australia and overseas behind him, he’s created a menu with everyone’s favourite homemade Italian classics with a modern twist the menu is full of super tempting offerings from homemade pasta and traditional pizzas, to a Salumi bar and indulgent dessert list. It may be but it's a big contender for the best restaurant in Fitzroy.
Bar Liberty’s graffitied hanging sign tells you all you need to know about this irreverent diner on Johnston Street. Helmed by a team whose collective experience includes Cutler & Co, Rockwell & Sons, and Attica; this Fitzroy local has it finely dialled. The intimately spaced restaurant has a classically minimal fit out with dark stained wooden and white-washed walls and is filled with a team who well and truly know a thing a two. The menu is has a seasonal focus and will incorporate contemporary dishes with an inventive flair; from torched kingfish to wood-grilled hanger steak with sauce Robert, capers, and parsley. The drinks menu is just as much as a drawcard with an extensive but carefully curated wine list of natural, pet-nats, reds, whites, and even orange drops; or try their in-house bottled Negronis that go down far too easily
Poodle Bar & Bistro
A former pupil of Andrew McConnell and ex-head chef of Marion, Josh Fry’s Poodle Bar & Bistro is one of the most refreshing restaurants to open throughout last year. With a modern style dining menu that fuses classic French, with Australian and Asian flavours you can expect to sample dishes like whole market fish with XO sauce butter, Warrigal greens and lemon, as well as their baked Parisian gnocchi with Fioretto, Taleggio, and hazelnuts. With checkered floors and white-washed brick walls there’s laid back vibe at Poodle making it one of the best restaurants in Fitzroy for casual dining, whether you’re on the bar or seated at a table there’s plenty of atmosphere to this spot.
Naked For Satan
You all knew Naked For Satan was making the list. Where else can you take in panoramic views of the city as you knock back cocktails of house-infused Opium & Rose vodka and sit down to plates from a delicious Spanish-inspired menu? The upstairs bar and diner have created iconic dishes from their fried cheese and walnut croquettes, slow-roasted lamb shoulder; and Crema Catalana to finish things off. If the weather is not quite on, you can always take in the Pintxos downstairs, which adds to the allure of this Brunswick Street haunt.
Ichi Ni Nana Izakaya
Japanese is very big in Melbourne and Ichi Ni Nana is doing some of the best in the city.
With an extensive menu of authentic and regional Japanese dishes, there's always something different to try at Ichi. Situated on Brunswick Street, the diner has a seriously impressive and varied interior with the almost greenhouse feeling back section and the delicate wall printed inside. Across the menu, there's everything you could ask for from Gyoza to the wonderfully colourful and bountiful sashimi platters, to the perfectly grilled Yakitori.
Photographer: Annika Kafcaloudis
Miss Katie’s Crab Shack
Things will probably get messy here. Miss Katie’s Crab Shack started as a Southern-style seafood truck, run by culinary genius Katie Marron. But in 2017 she dropped anchor at a sweet little venue on Smith Street, specializing in sticky-finger, claw-cracking crab. All the food is a hit, but the star is the southern crab boil—of course; It’s juicy, it’s sticky, and it’s jam-packed with flavour. Keep an eye out for their weekly Happy Hour drink and oyster specials too. You won’t leave here looking pretty, but you will leave feeling good.
Neighbourhood Wine is one of our favourite wine bars and restaurants in Fitzroy North—combines great local wines and a fantastic seasonal menu in one of the quaintest spaces in Melbourne. The former Fitzroy club room has been transformed into a sleek space with plenty of charm with a set menu that focuses on local produce and accommodates the wine perfectly. You can expect a fusion of contemporary plates from hand-made tagliatelle with artichoke and Ricotta Salata, to flank steak with XO butter.
Cutler & Co
Another Fitzroy institution, Cutler & Co. pretty much set the scene for what Gertrude Street was gonna become (hint: the scene was classy AF). Andrew McConnell opened this place back in 2009. The idea was to celebrate local produce and execute with flair and sophistication. Think timeless classics like rock flathead with grilled leek, sorrel, Mooloolaba prawns and vermouth. It won’t be cheap, but it will be worth it. A good spot to impress a Tinder date or treat the in-laws as this is definitely one of the best restaurants Fitzroy has on offer.
Oh Mukka, the fragrant, boozy mistress of our heart. Many a cracking night has been had at this little gem. Mukka keeps the menu pretty authentic, with a focus on solid flavour. Their banana leaf fish fry is a revelation, while you can never go wrong with the traditional faves like butter chicken, chickpea and spinach curry or sweet, crunchy Jalebi. And of course, a spiked mango lassi to wash it down.
Photography: Michelle Jarni
The Rochester Hotel
You might think you know The Rochey, but you don’t know it with Mischa Tropp running the pass. He’s spiced up The Rochey’s food offering with a unique southern Indian menu. We’re talking a tantalizing beef curry with Thoran, curd, pickled long melon, rose mata rice and a side serve of papadums. There are also incredibly flavour-filled creations like the Ghee- roasted chicken with tamarind and Kashmiri chilli. The former sticky floor pub is now one of the best restaurants in Fitzroy and is doing a good job reimagining the possibilities for pub food.
Pizza, It’s hard to mess up too badly. But the guys at Bontempo take it to a whole new level. You might know these guys from their sister restaurant, the cult-hit Fratellino in South Yarra. Bontempo is pretty much more of the same: the bases are rested for a full 48 hours, resulting in an airy, fluffy bottom that crisps to perfection when it hits that beast of a wood-fired pizza oven. Our go-to is the 'Volcaneno' with Bocconcini, hot salami, gorgonzola, feta, olives, anchovies, and chilli, it's an absolute 10/10.
Yong Green Food
Playing in the incredibly masterful space of modern plant-based food, Yong's have a sturdy selection of flavoursome dishes from Korean-style pancakes with a sticky tamarind sauce, chilli bean nachos, kimchi dragon bowls, and more. The food looks as good as it tastes, too. It's definitely a good choice for nabbing some gram candy with the colourful diner space. Also If it’s cold outside, order up a bowl of their vegan udon and a hot sake. A Melbourne winter warmer like no other.
Marquis of Lorne
This ain’t your ordinary pub. Proudly perching on the corner of Kerr and George Street, the pub classic-filled menu and bar has a lot to offer. A special nod to dishes like the now-iconic rockling burger, a complete game-changer with a dill-infused aioli, shallots cos lettuce and a hearty serving of chips as well as the humble chicken schnitzel, truly one of the best in town. Plus, Marquis of Lorne has a cute rooftop bar. Quintessential Melbourne right there.
Have you even been to Fitzroy if you haven’t been to Vegie Bar? The answer is no, no you haven’t. Smack bang on Brunswick Street, they serve all the veggie meals, including veggie-packed noodle dishes, warm buddha bowls and pizza (which even includes vegan cheese). If you’re feeling a lighter meal, they have samosas, “fish” tacos and even a Sung Choi Bao inspired dish. Don’t go past their sister store next door, Girls & Boys, which serves vegan ice cream and sweet treats. It's plant-based but it's still up there as one of the best restaurants in Fitzroy.
Panama Dining Room
You could walk down Smith Street your whole life and miss this place. It’s perched up high, a New York-style loft space with views over Melbourne. Panama Dining Room is pretty much a Fitzroy institution. With a worldly menu featuring dishes like gnocchi with pumpkin, olive and feta, or pork scotch fillet with mushrooms and polenta, be prepared for a hearty feast. If you want to go all out, sign up for Chef Ayhan Erkoc’s signature three-course set menu. Best $79 we’ve ever spent.
Hell Of The North
Now, this is what we call a perfect date spot. With exposed brick walls and a carefully curated menu to match, Hell of the North is really bringing wholesome food to Fitzroy, with tasty creations like pork and gruyere doughnuts, potato and celeriac terrine and Milawa duck breast with braised cabbage. Don’t go past the wine list either which is seriously extensive with a mixture of local and imported drops. Save room for dessert too: they’re rocking a pretty gnarly Crème Brûlée.
You can’t miss this place, with the glowing neon sign out front and a line out the door. Shop Ramen is serving up piping bowls of tonkatsu broth. Vegetarians won’t miss out either. There’s a veggie (cashew milk) broth on the menu, stuffed with enoki mushrooms and carrots. The staple choice here is definitely grass-fed pork ramen with a soft boiled egg with a perfectly cloudy and salted ramen. If you need to line the stomach first, the pork belly steamed buns are a good way to start.
Rice, Paper, Scissors
Rice Paper Scissors is a red-hot destination in Fitzroy, the Asian-fusion diner has some of the best rice-paper rolls and southern Asian share plates in town. They opened a swish new sister restaurant in the CBD in 2017, but this is definitely still home base. Definitely order up the Thai fried chicken, cripsy barramundi and steamed pork buns. Even better, there’s a shared menu for $45 which includes five dishes for two people. Dessert wise, it’s gotta be the Terrarium; Vietnamese coffee mousse with peanut and chocolate soil.
Many will argue this is the best vegetarian in Melbourne, what's not up for debate though is that it is easily one of the best restaurants in Fitzroy. Owned by the Team of Vegie Bar, Transformer focuses on innovative plant-based dining, with treats like slow-roasted tomato tartrate or sweet corn fritter fries with chipotle mayonnaise. If you’re looking for something a bit bigger, try out the fried halloumi with prickly box honey and black olives.
Evie’s Disco Diner
Evie’s which opened up back in 2018 is a vegan disco diner on Gertrude Street. It's quite the establishment; we’re talking a dance floor, a fast-food menu and a whole slew of 80s references. Expect a killer cocktail list, fermented wine and sodas as well as spiked thick shakes. The menu is fifty per cent vegan, with a good late-night feed in order. They also run semi-regular disco karaoke nights and queer-friendly Eurovision dance parties.
Photography: Annika Kafcaloudis
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Image credit: Poodle (Annika Kafcaloudis)