Fave 5 Laneway Restaurants in Melbourne

By Pip Jarvis
17th Feb 2015

When we love something we really, truly LOVE something! And that’s exactly how we feel about our new relationship! Some things just go together. Like cookies and cream, Brandon and Brenda… The Urban List and MINI! 

Our two families have collaborated to bring discerning readers and drivers a new fortnightly series – MINI Fave 5s. The must-try guide to Melbourne, celebrating the launch of the new MINI 5-door hatch! 

So, Urban Listers, clear the diary and get excited for our Fave 5s. There’s a whole year of eating, drinking and discovering to be done… 

Let’s face it, when it comes to eating out in Melbourne, getting there is part of the experience. The more obnoxious a Melbourne restaurant’s position is, the less likely we are to want to spend our hard-earned dollies there. Make us pick our way down a dodgy alleyway, past some ‘artful’ graffiti, and we’ll be yours forever. We’re a bit odd like that.

For foodies that appreciate the journey, here are our fave five Laneway restaurants in Melbourne, GPS not included.


Melbourne CBD

We hate to bandy about the word ‘institution’ but there’s no denying that’s what Frank Camorra’s MoVida has become to the Melbourne dining public. One of Melbourne’s best restaurants can be found down graffiti-strewn Hosier Lane (saa Melbourne), and is the perfect spot to take a wide-eyed out-of-towner, a gooey-eyed date, or a gaggle of let’s-get-tipsy-eyed gal pals.

Dishing up some of Melbourne’s best Spanish fare, Movida’s cosy space envelops you like a warm hug, and the menu pleases the pickiest of palates. Warm up with mouth-watering tapas, such as salt cod croquettes with sauce gribiche; get the party started with meatier raciones, such as air-dried Wagyu with poached organic egg and truffle foam; then finish on a sweet note with the world-famous MoVida churros, dipped in rich drinking chocolate. Bring yo’ appetite!


Melbourne CBD

The sister venue to another laneway Melbourne restaurant fave, Coda, Tonka is Adam D’Sylva’s modern take on Indian cuisine. Take the turn off Flinders Lane down Duckboard Place and you’ll discover a seriously sexy space and a menu that will change any preconceived ideas you have about Indian cuisine. No greasy papadums and oily Vindaloo at this Melbourne restaurant, folks!

Instead you’ll find a winning wine list (to wash down all that spicy food, or something like that), and a kickass menu of Indian-inspired goodness. Think soft shell crab pakora with pickled cucumber, lemon, chilli, and mint, Goan curry with Barramundi, Spring Bay mussels, Mooloolaba prawns, and Kasmiri chilli, and banana and jiggery parfait, chocolate, lime and coconut. Get it India, Listers.

Stokehouse City

Melbourne CBD

We cried legitimate tears when Melbourne restaurant institution, the Stokehouse, burnt to the ground early last year. Thankfully, the troopers picked up sticks (too soon?), and relocated to the Melbourne CBD. Popping up seemingly overnight on Alfred Place in the space previously occupied by Comme, Stokehouse City has since become one of our favourite Melbourne laneway restaurants and bars.  

Just off Collins Street, Stokehouse City is the go-to Melbourne restaurant for a business pow-wow, but also makes a mean dinner date, or ladies’ lunch venue. If you really want to schmooze, head upstairs to the restaurant proper, or opt for the bar area downstairs for a more chilled out affair. The restaurant menu is deal-signingly/ pants-droppingly delicious, with the infamous Bombe—white chocolate parfait, strawberry sorbet, toasted meringue—taking pride of place on the dessert menu.

Downstairs in the bar, the feasting menu is where it’s at—it’s $55 per person for groups of four plus, but we’re totally chucking in an extra tenner for the dessert-included option.


Melbourne CBD

This Peruvian grill, cevicheria and pisco bar in Melbourne takes pride of place on the awesomely-named ACDC lane. Not sure what Peruvian cuisine involves? Don't be scared, my little beef hearts! How can you go wrong with potato croquettes stuffed with tender beef brisket, or slow-cooked pork belly with pickled daikon salsa, sweet potato, and orange puree? Pastuso’s crowning glory is the out-of-control-amazing ceviche offering, most definitely best washed down with a Pisco Sour or three.

Don’t know about you guys, but we’ll be finishing up with the creamy Peruvian caramel served with port meringues. Drool.  

If you haven’t already checked it out, it’s about time you take a trip to South America at this unique Melbourne laneway restaurant. Get ready to experience Peru-love.

Mr Big Stuff

Melbourne CBD

Strut your soul-food-lovin’ stuff with a visit to Meyers Place restaurant, Mr Big Stuff. Here, you’ll find funky ‘70s tunes (there’s a DJ Thursday-Saturday), a killer meat-laden menu and a quirky fitout that nods to African-American pop culture.

At first it might appear that Mr Big Stuff ain’t got no truck with leaf eaters—the menu is bulging with southern fare like fried chicken and waffles, tongue and cheek, ox tail sliders, roasted bone marrow, and pig’s ear chips (waste not want not, and all that); but your vego friends will love the pickled okra, three-cheese mac & cheese, and kale greens with candied yams and pecan, just as much as you meatheads love your protein hits. Top pick at this meaty Melbourne restaurant? The juicy, slow and low cooked pork ribs in Bourbon BBQ sauce. Lord, have mercy!

This Melbourne laneway restaurant may not have grits, but it’s sure got soul. And this is one spot we vigorously encourage the drinking of Kool-Aid—fresh-as cold pressed juice and liquor cocktails. A tasty health hack, right there. 

We're thrilled to partner with MINI to bring you our Fave 5 series—our fortnightly guide to the best of the best in Melbourne. From food to fashion, Campari to Crossfit, each Fave 5 edition is researched and recommended by The Urban List, and driven by the new MINI 5-Door Hatch—putting the city at your fingertips and giving you the freedom to explore it!

Image Credits: Tonka - Sabine Legrand, MoVida - Michelle Jarni, Mr Big Stuff - Alex McIntyre, Pastuso - Sabine Legrand, Stokehouse City - Nick West.

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