It’s no secret there are a couple of good restaurants in Melbourne's CBD. And by a couple, we mean we’ve lost count. We may be biased, but we’d fight anyone who challenges our claim that Melbourne has the best restaurants going 'round (okay so we’re 100% biased, but we’ve got the proof to back it up). But if you're looking for the best restaurants in Melbourne's CBD, well, you're gonna need help.
It was a tough job narrowing this list down, but we've done our best. These are the best restaurants in Melbourne's CBD.
Photography: Jenna Fahey-White
A sibling of Melbourne institution, Vue de Monde, Iki Jime is the place to go if you want the freshest seafood going 'round (and boy, do we want that). The menu is sourced from the best local produce. And the name? That's a reference to the Japanese practice of Iki-Jime, which promotes the humane farming of fish. Start your evening with some Rusty Wire oysters with lemon myrtle, and follow it with the Josper-roasted Marron with fermented roasted capsicum. Or any selection of their market fish, really, served with brown butter vinaigrette, potato dashi or clam and lemon myrtle. You can’t go wrong.
Anyone here a fan of Italian food? Actually, maybe a better question would be who isn’t a fan of suckling pig with persimmons or fresh risotto Ortiche with nettles and Baccala? There’s no shortage of top-quality Italian food around the CBD, but really, how can you go past Grossi Florentino? It's one of the city's truly great fine dining institutions. Our pick? The ravioli with yolk, ricotta, amoretti and balsamic. Pure bliss.
You didn’t think we’d stop at one Italian restaurant, did you? It's like you don't know us at all. If you’re going eat a bowl of carb-filled goodness, you might as well do it right—and that means getting yourself down to Tipo 00. The official king of Melbourne's pasta scene. For an entrée, treat yourself to kingfish, pickled cucumber and black garlic, and follow it up with the tagliatelle—cooked with a delicious concoction of braised lamb shoulder, olives and pangrattato. And don’t forget the ‘tipomisù’ for dessert, because we love a pun as much as we love pasta (and that’s a whole lot).
If you’ve ever walked down Flinders Lane and wondered what that ridonculous queue was all about, congratulations—you’ve just found Chin Chin. Still the city's most buzzing pan-Asian eatery. And trust us, it’s worth the wait. Just on the other side of that door is some seriously tasty South-East Asian cuisine, in a seriously funky setting. We’re ordering the crispy barramundi and green apple salad, with caramelised pork, peanuts, chilli and lemongrass. And then the Isaan style spicy hot BBQ chicken. And that’s just for starters...Get in early if you want to avoid the crowds.
Photography: Griffin Simm
Ceebs queuing outside Chin Chin? It's only a short stroll to Flinders Lane's other Asian masterpiece—of course, we're talking Supernormal. Andrew McConnell's crown jewel and home to the most famous lobster roll in Melbourne. The Supernormal menu is changing all the time, but it's always designed to be shared, so grab a couple of mates (or that date you’re trying to impress) and get yourselves a serve of duck bao, a whole snapper with burnt butter sauce, wild watercress and shaved kombu, some beef tartare, and whatever else you can fit in. Make sure one of those something else is the Breadtop Kewpie mayo lobster roll.
From one McConnell venture to another. This one has popped up on the Urban List time and time again, and rightly so. Cumulus Inc. is one of Melbourne's fanciest all-day eateries: part wine bar, part restaurant, part uber-packed brunch salon. There's even a little bar Upstairs (Cumulus Up) where the guys hold free wine tasting events each month. Honestly, it almost doesn't matter what you order here. It's all incredible. If you need a steer, go for the kitchen charcuterie option, followed by the slow-roasted lamb shoulder with almond and smoked paprika. Feeds a couple (or one very determined single).
Vue de Monde
If you wanna talk iconic Melbourne restaurants, you really can't go past Vue de Monde. The brainchild of Masterchef hero and all 'round good guy, Shannon Bennett, you're guaranteed to leave feeling satisfied after indulging in some of the city's best classical fine dining, paired with carefully selected wines by the team's sommeliers. It certainly won't be cheap, but we all deserve to treat ourselves every now and then, right?
What is ‘Australian freestyle cuisine?’ you ask? Head down to Ezard and find out. You'll find it tucked down on Flinders Ln (along with pretty much everything worth eating in the CBD). Our picks? Steamed scallop dumplings with aged hon mirin dressing, smoked enoki and fragrant oil, Chinese style duck with black rice, roasted chilli and Japanese turnip and spring onion. Teage Ezard has been rocking this place since 1999 (before Melbourne knew there was food beyond the humble focaccia). It's perfect for dates (but uh, not budget ones). Don’t miss the dessert either.
If you’re still rolling with that big budget but have a hankering for some of the best Japanese food Melbourne has to offer, boy have we got the restaurant for you. Ishizuka screams indulgence (you know, with an understated elegance), with the menu changing seasonally—and daily. And we’re talking a revolving nightly set menu of 11 unbeatable dishes. And here's the kicker: it only serves 16 lucky diners each evening. Book ahead for this one. It fills up like weeks in advance.
We’re switching things up here, throwing a wine bar into the mix. Embla do some top-notch food too though, so we’re fairly secure in our decision. The menu at Embla changes weekly to keep things fresh, and be sure to book before you stroll up for an unforgettable lunch, with perfectly paired wines. Expect delicate dishes like charred octopus tentacles with borlotti beans, turnip and walnuts, or veal carpaccio, dusted with oregano, capers and tonnato.
Another Melbourne institution, Movida is the place to go when you’re hankering for some Spanish tapas (us, always). We're talking spinach and manchego croquetas, hand-filleted Cantabrian Artisan anchovies with smoked tomato sorbet, charcoal grilled King prawns with Padron peppers and piquillo sauce—we could go on. Plus, the best damn fresh churros in Melbourne. You know what to do.
Photography: Griffin Simm
Osteria brings all the glory of Tipo00...without the pasta. Let us clarify. Co-owner and chef Andreas Papadakis was all about bringing Tipo’s soul to this new venture, but wanted to make it glorious in its own right (Tipo is like the high achieving sibling every child dreads). And that they have, with some of the best modern Italian food going 'round. We’ll have the charcoal gnocchi with carrot and taleggio cheese, please. And not just because that rhymed.
Feeling a bit of spice? Tonka fits the bill. It's modern, contemporary, fiery Indian cuisine, served on white tablecloths (no pressure). For saucy, spicy, succulent curries, punchy tandoor, and everything in between—you’re going to want to get down to Tonka, stat (it's hidden down Duckboard Place). We suggest booking in advance, because missing out on that lamb curry with roasted coconut, black cardamom and white poppy seeds would truly be a tragedy.
A Hereford Beefstouw
We're taking you all around the world with this list—Melbourne. Next stop: Scandinavia. Specifically the meaty, beefy part of Scandinavia. A Hereford Beefstouw brings you all the best of Danish cuisine, mostly in the form of steak (vegans, this one might not be for you). Don't expect plate-sized hangers though: think tender eye fillets, dry-aged rumps and a Marble Score 4+ grass-fed 400g Sirloin that'll knock your socks off. Don't forget the salad bar either.
Photography: Annika Kafcaloudis
How do you feel about Peruvian streetfood? We’re guessing pretty good, particularly after you’ve eaten at Pastuso. It's Melbourne CBD's favourite Peruvian grill, cevicheria and pisco bar, tucked down the famous ACDC lane. Order the Pulpo Al Olivo—West Australian grilled octopus, served with roasted peppers, eshallots and olive sauce, or the spicy fried chicken with lima bean and aji Amarillo dressing, salsa criolla and Asian celery. Or be bold, and try the alpaca croquettes. Both? Both is good.
Craving some Vietnamese fusion, but wanting something a little more...high end? Coda may just be the place for you. Their French-Vietnamese fusion menu is all about innovation and carefully balanced flavours. Nab the crispy tapioca and prawn betel leaf with kaffir lime and green chilli for starters, and chase it down with Beijing crispy aromatic chicken with plum salt. The rum-roasted pineapple and Thai basil sorbet with whipped mascarpone cream and Sablé Breton is also absolutely insane. Check it out on (you guessed it) Flinders Ln.
This barbeque joint is about twenty steps up rom your usual snags on the barbie, but it’s worth hanging up the tongs one Sunday arvo and getting down to Fancy Hank's for the smoked brisket sandwich, served with Hanks’ barbeque sauce, cheese, pickles and slaw. What a guy. Stay for dinner to scarf down whole racks of pork spare ribs, cooked to perfection in custom-built smokers and traditional wood-fired barbeques. Honestly, the smell of this place when you're climbing the stairs...half the fun's in the anticipation.
Photography: Annika Kafcaloudis
A little side hustle from the guys behind Pastuso and San Telmo. Well, we say side hustle: Palermo has staked out its own spot on the Melbourne CBD dining scene. In the true spirit of Argentinan culture, Palermo is all about bringing wine, food and people together. And with dishes as good as beef, roasted garlic and prune empanadas, grilled octopus with radicchio, red grapes, lima bean roast garlic and salsa verde and pasture-fed lamb rump with coriander and chipotle, why wouldn’t you want to bring everyone you know here? Don't miss the empanadas or the asado grilled meats.
An oldie, but a very very goodie. Their tagline is "Serving up happy times. for 10 years and counting!” So if you're still searching for that hit of Spanish food in the CBD, look no further than Bar Lourinhã. They’ve got wine, they’ve got tapas, they’ve got queso, they’ve got Raciones. Basically, they’ve got everything you could want. Get the yellowtail Kingfish ‘panchetta’ with lemon oil, and thank us later.
When the craving for Argentine food strikes, Melbournians head to San Telmo. Accept no substitutes, guys. We’re talking empanadas, chargrilled sardines, house-made pork and beef sausages, and of course, big hunks of meat. Lamb rump, flank steak, beef sirloin, ribs, eye fillet—you name it, they’ve got it and it’s cooked damn well (or medium rare, if that’s how you prefer). A lovely mid-week date night option.
Photography: Griffin Simm
There’s a reason the deep fried ice cream from Annam made our list of 50 dishes You Should Have Eaten By Now If You Live In Melbourne. And that’s only the start of what this modern Vietnamese hot-spot can do. Start with the lamb ribs in a tamarind caramel, before getting stuck into some braised pork belly with bamboo shoots and rice. Head chef and owner Jerry Mai is an absolute genius (if you want something way more grab-and-go, check out her CBD banh mi paradise, Pho Nom).
We’d be remiss not to mention Flower Drum, one of Melbourne’s most iconic restaurants. As it should be—with the ultra-high standard of Chinese dishes being served up daily. A dim sum selection to die for, quail san choi bow, crispy pork ribs with a crunchy garlic crumble, whole fish, flavour-packed hot and sour soup—you can see why we get excited about this one. A lot of Melbournians wait for a special occasion to check out Flower Drum, but it's really good any time you're hungry. Worth the splurge.
Let’s round this out with one more Asian restaurant, because Melbourne's CBD does Asian food better than almost anywhere. We mentioned the queues on Flinders Lane for Chin Chin, but we forget to mention the lines going the other way to get into Kisume, for Japanese food so good you’ll want to kiss(ume) anyone standing nearby. Awkward if that’s your boss on your lunch break. Whatever, the crispy wagyu truffles with miso are worth it. You could spend an entire evening exploring this split level Japanese restaurant and sake temple. Don't expect a cheap feed though—this is as fancy as Melbourne gets.
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Image credit: Jenna Fahey-White