It's been a long, cold winter full of virtual dinners, make-at-home meal boxes and Uber Eats meals that may or may not have arrived. But now, the time has finally come to round up your mates (probably four of them, with booking limits and all) for a night on the town—albeit checked-in and seated service only.
A grip of your favourite diners have already opened up bookings, and we'll likely see more in the coming days. Lock in your first after-lockdown meal at one of Melbourne's best below.
Nothing short of institution status, Anada is swinging its doors open so you can tuck into their tried and tested Spanish-style tapas and raciones. Bookings open for Friday 22 October and beyond here.
As the sun will rise, Arbory Afloat will return for summer. This time around, the theme is Mediterranean beach club, and you can score a table from Friday 22 October here.
Arbory Bar & Eatery
This riverside charmer will be joining its sibling venue in welcoming you back to the CBD from Friday 22 October. Make a booking here.
Richmond’s sweetheart, Baby, will be taking walk-ins for outdoor dining from Tuesday 26 October, while indoor dining will commence on or around Friday 5 November. Their books are open here.
CBD charmer Bar Margaux is reopening this weekend. They'll be taking bookings for table service here for Friday 22 October and into the future, while welcoming walk-ins at the bar—we don't need to tell you to get there early if you're aiming for the latter.
Celebrating family-style French cooking, the bistro will invite guests in for outdoor seatings on Thursday 28 October and indoor service Friday 5 November. Book here.
Whisky, Whiskey and booze of the malt variety is having a real moment in Melbourne, so it's no doubt that bookings will be hot property at Boilermaker House. Make yours from Friday 5 November here.
All you really need to know is Bomba's rooftop is back, baby. They're taking bookings here for Friday 22 October and into the future.
Scott Pickett's Chancery Lane made quite the splash when it first opened, setting a new standard for fine-dining in the city. Haven't had the pleasure yet? Make a booking right now for Friday 22 October and beyond.
A mainstay to the city, and a rite of passage to Melburnians, Chin Chin is set to reopening and taking bookings for Friday 22 October and beyond. Their boozy downstairs haunt, Go Go Bar, will of course be joining them. Book here.
Home to traditional and authentic pasta, Ciao Mama might be one of the best pasta bars in Melbourne. Head over from Tuesday 26 of October for outdoor seating and from Friday 5 November for indoor dining. Book here.
The one with the whisky lair hidden behind a bookshelf is taking bookings from Wednesday 3 November onwards. The 5-course degustation isn't to be missed, unless of course you're exploring some of the rarest whiskies found in Melbourne. Book here.
One of Melbourne’s favourites, Entrecôte, the home to French food, is reopening on Friday 5 November for 2-hour seatings. Book here.
The Scott Pickett-led Estelle is back with its fine dining menu filled with hearty steaks and the freshest quality fish. They're taking bookings for Friday 22 October and beyond, indoors and out. Book here.
Undoubtedly one of Melbourne's most revered cocktail bars, The Everleigh, will be operating on ground level outdoors as The Everleigh Square for the first weekend of reopening. And in welcome news for anyone who didn't get around to making a booking, they'll be taking walk-ins all weekend.
DOM’s Social Club
Enjoy crisp woodfired pizza on their rooftop with a set menu from Tuesday 26 October or in their indoor space from Friday 5 November. Book here.
Another beloved southside haunt from the Hanoi Hannah stable, the flame-driven Firebird is coming in hot with bookings available from Friday 5 November. Lock in a table here
From Friday 26 October Frédéric’s all-day European style dining will return to Melbourne’s food scene. Don’t forget to check out their specials like Wellington Wednesday’s and Duck and Mushroom Monday’s. Book here.
CBD, Eastland, Essendon, Brunswick, Mornington, Norwood
For woodfired pizza that has the perfect cheese-to-napoli ratio, Gradi will recommence service across their locales from Friday 22 October. Book here.
Dedicated to great pho and filled with vegan-friendly options, the Vietnamese Diner is opening doors on Friday 22 October. Book here.
Hanoi Hannah Vol. II
As always, the Hanoi Hannah brand will be bringing those big, bold and punchy Vietnamese flavours to the plate in front of you. We'll see you at the table from Tuesday 26 October—book here.
Southside stalwart, Hawker Hall, is reopening Friday 22 October. We all know the rumours about getting a seat here on a whim, and there's good reason for it. Avoid those post-locky D fomo feels and get in here.
The late-night institution that is Heartbreaker is opening Friday and Saturday night, and we can't wait to get back in there. And the best part, they'll be taking walk-ins.
Hemingway's Wine Room
East Melbourne's charming vino haunt is opening up bookings from Friday 5 November and beyond. You can't go wrong with the entire menu, but someone really needs to find out who their oyster supplier is, because damn... book in here.
Ishizuka is Japanese at its finest—it's led by Michelin Star Chef Masahiko Yomoda after all—and you can book here, though you'll be lucky to get a seat before November is out at this point.
Melbourne has been quietly falling in love with the charming Ines Wine Bar. It might be for the considered wine list, or perhaps it's the gorgeous Italian classics on the plate in front of you. Either way, bookings are open for Friday 22 October onwards here.
Johnny's Green Room
Rooftop with a view? You got it. Johnny's Green Room is keeping it casual taking walk-ins only from Friday 22 October. They open at 12:30pm on the day for those very necessary post-lockdown pints.
Japanese cuisine in Melbourne doesn’t get much better, delivered or when dining in, though we’d be lying if we weren’t hankering for the latter. Kisumé will be opening from Friday 22 October. Walk-ins welcome, bookings recommended.
Renowned for serving up some of the best Laksa in Melbourne, this Malaysian restaurant will open up from Friday 5 November. Book here.
Vegans, this one is for you. For an entirely plant-based kitchen head over to Lona Misa for scrumptious eats from Friday 5 November. Book here.
From Friday 22 October you can return to Longrain and devour some of their bespoke asian-inspired dishes. Book here for a table indoors or out.
Dedicated to french cuisine and perfectly pairing wines to their charcuterie boards, L’Hôtel Gitan will reopen outdoor seatings on Tuesday 26 October and indoor service Friday 5 November. Book here.
If you miss Scott Picket’s relaxed-style cooking featured at Matilda, they'll reopen on Friday 29 October. Book here.
The two-level Norse-leaning Mjolner is something every Melburnian should experience, and if you missed out in the before time, now's your chance to book in for an evening of pure escapism. Tables can be reserved now from Wednesday 3 November here.
For classic woodfired pizza and a cosy environment, Neighbourhood Pizza will open doors to Melburnians from Friday 5 November. Book here.
Hanoi Hannah's refined South East Asian sibling venue, New Quarter, is arguably one of Swan Street's crown jewels, and you can bet your bottom dollar bookings will be snapped up damn quick throughout November and beyond. Lock in a table here from Friday 5 November.
Nick & Nora's
CBD charmer Nick & Nora's is opening up their books so that you can open up one of the city's most considered cocktail lists come Wednesday 3 November. Lock it in here.
For Turkish food that is simply tasty and provides hearty portions, Nicosia will open doors from Friday 5 November. Book here.
Pietro Gallus Estate
For a dining experience with flavours and views reminiscent of the Italian countryside head over to Pietro Gallus. They will be reopening doors on Friday 5 November. Book here.
Poodle was open for a total of maybe six minutes before lockdown round one, but in between, they've managed to charm their way into the hearts of Melburnians with a stunning menu and a venue to match. The odd pop-up over the past 18 months has also proved a success—Book in for a table at Melbourne's northside obsession from Saturday 30 October here. The team will also be opening up their courtyard from Tuesday 26 October if you need your fix a few days earlier.
For authentic Spanish tapas and live music on Friday and Saturdays south of the river, you can head straight to Remy’s from Friday 22 October. Book here.
A well-known local favourite for authentic Japanese food. Try their eggplant nigiri to be mind blown. Reservations are open from Friday 5 November. Book here.
If you're only going to have one souvlaki in Melbourne, you know exactly where you should be going. Walk-ins only at Stalactites from Friday 22 November.
We all know it, we all love it, and now we can return to one of St Kilda's most adored venues. There are a few routes to take here; a semi-private dining experience on the terrace which can be booked here, as well indoor dining here. It's all happening from Friday 22 October.
Another southside faithful is opening their books for Tuesday 26 October and beyond, and we're as keen for their cocktails as we are for that beef rib bun—get in here.
Up In Smoke
For flaming a BBQ joint that serves the best ribs and hot chips, head to Up In Smoke. The restaurant will open outdoor seating from Tuesday 26 of October and indoor dining from Friday 5 November. Book here.
Check out more movements happening around the grounds of Melbourne's hospo scene here.
Image credit: Derek Swalwell