Sometimes you need something a little different to spice up your life. And if you're looking for some of the finest Middle Eastern restaurants Australia has to offer, you'll be glad to know a lot of those are actually in Melbourne.
We’ve locked down ten of Melbourne’s best purveyors of Middle Eastern dishes for those of us who desire something a bit more than a humble felafel—although they always fill a hole. Fill up with charcoal-roasted meats, preserved lemon, falafel and enough garlic to knock over your fellow diners.
Here are ten of Melbourne's best middle eastern restaurants.
Shane Delia’s brainchild Maha brings Middle Eastern staples like chickpeas, tahini, zaatar and harissa into an opulent, contemporary setting that is a delight for all of your senses.
Allow the 2, 4, 6 or 8 course set menu (with matching wines, of course) to transport you from the luxurious Bond St sub-basement into an aromatic, modern Middle Eastern dream that’s full of ancient dishes but with a truly genius contemporary spin.
Unassumingly nestled in Hardware Lane is where you can find the sixth instalment of Eyal Shani’s global collection of Isreali Pita-focussed street-food eateries.
Inspired by Melbourne’s fresh produce, Miznon takes the humble pita to a whole new level and focusses on incorporating the influences of each city into his newest creations. Think delicious pockets full of steak, egg, sour cream, tomato, onion and Lebanese cucumber or the Cheakypita; stuffed to the brim with a falafel burger, tomato steak, sour cream, chilli, onion and pickles.
Very Good Falafel
Delivering on its name—Louisa Allen and Shuki Rosenboim know how to do falafels right. Homemade twice a day, the two friends invite you into their casual restaurant to enjoy their daily selection of salads, pitas, and a bowl of hummus topped with you guessed it—falafels.
Middle South East
Middle South East brings the essence of the Middle East to the South, blending the Modern Australian cafe food native to South Yarra with a vibrant and exotic Middle Eastern flair.
Their Homage to Teta is an exciting spin on classic scrambled eggs—blended with cumin on sourdough toast with filled zucchinis, mushroom, mujadara, tomato, labneh and hummus.
Moroccan Soup Bar
If the colourful exterior isn’t enough to help you find the Moroccan Soup Bar the enormous line out the front will be.
A hot favourite among locals and a booking-free restaurant means that while you may have to wait a while, it will be truly worth it. Enjoy a glass of sweet tea while the waitress reads you the menu (spoiler: the banquet is a winner here) then enjoy the bustling and vibrant atmosphere while digging into the strictly vegetarian menu.
A cool but refined Melbourne laneway restaurant with Armenian influence is what you’ll find at Chef Garen Maskal’s second venture Sezar. The Hummus with brown butter and the New Style Baklava with walnut toffee ice cream are crowd favourites.
When heading to Rumi, book in early to avoid a wait or bide your time at the bar with a range of cocktails with a Middle Eastern spice thrown into the mix. Chef Joseph Abboud and his team have crafted a menu designed to be shared around the table. The Middle Eastern dishes are taken to the next level and laden with love and vibrancy that goes far beyond typical hummus and tabbouleh.
A1 Bakery and it’s affordable and delectable baked goods attract customers from all walks—students looking for a cheap eat, and Lebanese locals who appreciate A1’s quality among them.
After you’ve enjoyed your sub-$10 goodies wander around the Middle Eastern grocery and become inspired by all the aromas and colours to try your own hand at Lebanese baking at home.
Feast Of Merit
Inspired by the North-East Indian philosophy of sharing new-found wealth with the community, YGAP (Y-Generation Against Poverty) established Feast Of Merit as a permanent source of fundraising.
Acclaimed chef Ayhan Erkoc drew on influences from all over the Middle East when designing the seasonal menu that is best enjoyed shared.
Different from anything else on this list—Souk brings Middle Eastern food into a contemporary, underground scene that is “as far from traditional as possible” says co-owner Ergun Elmas. Probably not for the purist - dishes like ‘Armenian tacos’ and ‘Kuwaiti Fried Chicken (KFC)’ with harissa toum are a riff on classic Middle Eastern dishes.
Image credit: Souk