Middle Eastern cuisine could probably be renamed The Best Things In Life and there would be little to no uproar. The cooking that brought us eggplant and hummus dip is taking off in Melbourne, and for good reason—we can’t get enough of these fresh, herby dishes!
Expect signature ingredients like olives, haloumi, chickpeas, lentils and a hefty helping of nuts, seeds, parsley and mint to make an appearance at Melbourne’s best new Middle Eastern eateries.
If you’d fancy a swing at Middle Eastern cooking, you can find all the essentials at this Brunswick East café-grocery-hybrid. Basics include freshly roasted nuts (like, all the nuts), homemade dips and spices like za’atar and Melbourne favourite dukkah. Moroccan Soup Bar’s sibling spawn, Deli-cacy sells a simple Moroccan menu boasting breakfast, wraps and fresh salads. The interior is shamelessly bright—from eclectic table patterns to red walls. Get shopping, people.
Don’t let the pie-faced men inside Mankoushe distract you. As soon as you sink your teeth into their Lebanese-style pies, they’re all you’ll think about for the next week. Options include stringy haloumi pie, or marinated chicken with green olives, minted yoghurt, almond, roquette and Moroccan tomato sauce. This is simple, traditional food done extremely well.
From the communal benches to the open kitchen; shallow auburn bowls and neutral coloured interior, everything about Tahina is modest and bloody delicious. A Middle Eastern home away from home, Tahina’s vego street food includes a flavoursome, deep red Israeli Shakshuka, freshly made salads and one of the best Falafel pita pockets in Melbourne. For vegetarians Tahina is a must-do. For everyone else, it’s time to embrace vegetarianism.
Who knew one million dollars could give a restaurant one hell of a facelift. Previously a dark (and slightly damp but not literally) interior, Maha’s renovation last year transformed the restaurant into an elegant space featuring cool teal couches, smart timber trussing and open concrete floors. Although the share-style, set menus remains, Maha’s new dishes are stripped back, refined and bursting with flavour. Expect 12-hour roasted lamb shoulder and fresh Fattoush from tomato, mint, roast garlic and baked bread.
Feast of Merit
The Melbourne restaurant that keeps on giving, Feast of Merit’s newly unveiled rooftop bar features a small, curated drinks list and Middle Eastern snacks perfect for a post-work tipple. If you can’t resist a pre-drinks meal (who can these days), gather the crew for a share-style dinner boasting options like Heirloom carrots and honeyed tahini, soft egg and dukkah spices. Get eating for a good cause.
It doesn’t get more traditional than South Melbourne’s Köy Restaurant. Serving diners from breakfast until dinner, dishes include the Mantar Dolmasi, a dish of oven baked field mushrooms filled with haloumi cheese, spring onion, parsley and spices. Specials including mid-week lunches (because the Köy team have your back), Turkish Thursdays and an incredibly well priced once-a-month banquet night.
A Turkish breakfast might not sound awfully appealing at first, but Lezzet’s Sofra Breakfast with Turkish sucuk sausage, haloumi cheese, olives, scrambled eggs, onion jam, fetta, spinach gozleme and toasty Turkish bread is leaps and bounds above eggs on toast. It’s also a lot more interesting than your third avo fetta of the week. Head to Elwood for some of Melbourne’s most authentic Turkish food!
If you're after more Middle Eastern eats, check out our Directory and search "Middle Eastern".
Image credit: Feast Of Merit