There's nothing quite like eating a satisfying meal with a killer view. Melbourne is lucky to have so many waterfront dining options (cheers to coastal living), so, we thought it was necessary to list some of our favourites to save you googling. Don't forget to dodge seagulls if you're eating outside.
By The River
FISH & CHIPPERY BY THE ATLANTIC
The spot is arguably one of the best options on the Crown Riverwalk, where the fish is always fresh and never frozen. Ready your taste buds for modern twists on your favourite classics, like the fried fish sandwich with ice burg lettuce, pickles and tartare. You won’t be disappointed by the salad offerings either, with options like the green freekeh salad with grilled Ora King salmon, greens, almonds and smoked goats curd.
Not to forget their prestigious older sibling The Atlantic just next door, for to-die-for oysters and the freshest catches of the day.
How’s the view like from the MIDDLE of the river? Experience it for yourself by heading under the Southgate footbridge to the retro-chic island café floating atop the Yarra. Named after the mythical creature that’s been said to reside deep within the river, Ponyfish Island is great for you and your mates to enjoy yummy share platters paired with a chilled beverage of choice while watching the sun dip under the skyline.
THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY
Up for a refreshing beer by the river? Look no further. It’s just a stone’s throw from the Yarra and stocked with all of the Matilda Bay Brewing Co beers on tap. Pair your beer or cocktail jug of choice with a Hopkin’s River grass-fed steak, grilled in a wood-fired Josper oven and served with shoestring fries or crushed kipfler potatoes. It’s beef and beer heaven.
ARBORY BAR & EATERY
Whether it’s breakfast, lunch, dinner or supper alfresco, Arbory’s the place to be. Open daily from 7.30am till late, the city’s longest bar is sandwiched between two of Melbourne’s greatest assets – Flinders Street Station and the Yarra River. With a focus on loaded sangas and burgers (all served with crinkle-cut chips) like the New England lobster roll, Arbory is the perfect Summer hang-out spot—especially with a jug of Pimms No.1 Cup to split between you and a friend.
Don’t forget to check out their literal on-the-water pop-up, Arbory Afloat, during Summer for more cocktail jugs, seafood share-platters and their new rooftop drinking deck.
THE MEAT & WINE CO
The Southbank branch of The Meat & Wine Co offers an amazing view in every direction. Its perfect position overlooks both the river CBD, plus, the impressive open kitchen adds a theatrical element to the dining experience. On top of that, all of their dishes are beautifully crafted with their paddock to plate philosophy.
The waterfront restaurant bar has not one, but three levels serving up succulent skewers, slow-cooked ribs and an extensive steak range paired with unique Aussie wines. Up for something smaller? Check out their sides and salads menu with options like cauliflower with roasted tahini yoghurt, and old faithful, Mac and Cheese.
If you’ve got a bottomless pit for a stomach then you’ll want to drop by Melbourne’s Langham Hotel to visit their lively riverfront buffet full of inventive fine dining from around the world. Choose from breakfast, lunch and dinner buffets to suit the special occasion and admire our wonderful city.
A brief walk from the CBD, the Wharf Hotel is perfect for post-work drinks and nibbles while overlooking the Yarra. The bar even has a cosy fireplace for snuggling on the couches when it’s chilly and trivia for some Wednesday night entertainment. With daily food specials, five dollar schooners, wines and house spirits during Happy Hour, you’re practically saving money. (Right?) If you’re in need of a good feed, then you’ll definitely want to scoff the ale-braised chicken pie served with buttered mash and baby carrots.
By The Bay
For this charming Middle Eastern canteen by the harbour, you’ll want to bring all your friends to enjoy a mouth-watering spread meant to be shared among vegetarians and carnivores alike. Right in the heart of Docklands at the end of Central Pier, we recommend eating your meal on Mama’s Terrace for the full effect. Make sure you leave room for the Baklava (trust us).
The philosophy at Black Cod is simple: Everyone who dines here will be served fresh seafood and loaded burgers (the soft shell crab burger with slaw and sweet chilli mayo is a must). Take advantage of the harbour view with a seat on the blue and white outdoor setting and kick back with a cheeky five dollar chips and drinks combo.
Mr Hobson has an unbeatable view of Station Pier and the perfect location for watching the sun set into the water. The menu here is constantly changing with casual yet equally tasty offerings like salmon fillets served with potato croquettes, braised asparagus and cauliflower puree. Our top pick goes to the classic fish and chips, served Brit-style with minted pea puree.
D’Lish Fish provides exactly what you feel like on those long summer days when it’s too hot to cook—a classic fish and chips spread. We’re talking batter blue grenadier, salt and pepper calamari, monstrous burgers and a hefty serve of chips on the side. If you want to balance the salty with the sweet their sinful deep-fried Nutella balls are the way to go. Choose to have your meal by the harbor or trot on down with your takeaway haul to Port Melbourne beach and take in the ocean view (and dodge seagulls).
THE CERBERUS BEACH HOUSE
Half Moon Bay
This place is almost worth the trip to Black Rock along. Tucked away in the peace and quiet of Half Moon Bay, Cerberus is a relaxing spot to enjoy their modern-Australian menu. With stunning views of the Red Bluff cliffs and overlooking the historic shipwreck of HMVS Cerberus, It’s the perfect spot to hang-out with friends over a glass of wine and some small plates. Our top picks go to the pickled scallops with crisp pork and seaweed, and the tuna ceviche with apple, celery, lettuce and crispy quinoa.
Blessed with spectacular views of Port Philip Bay, Tenpin serves up some of the best South East Asian dishes with an eclectic wine list and 10/10 cocktails (Elderflower Spritz with fresh mint and lime anyone?). For a starter, you can’t go past the Gado Gado peanut dip served with cassava crackers. Seats fill up fast though, so we suggest booking in early.
You’ll want to grab everyone you know to share this fine dining restaurant’s biggest dish – The Strand Tower. Pace yourself and dig into Morton Bay Bug, tiger prawns, natural Pacific oysters, citrus cured salmon, flying fish roe with crème fraiche, crisp whitebait, Tassie scallops, tempura batter soft shell crab…you get the idea. Snag a sun-soaked seat on the side deck to catch one of the best views of Melbourne’s CBD and Port Phillip Bay.
The Stokehouse Precinct provides the ultimate views of St Kilda beach with a window-filled dining area (it’s like eating on the beach minus sand getting everywhere). Come for lunch or dinner to enjoy casual, yet refined dishes like saltwater ceviche with fermented chilli, desert lime and succulents or King prawn tacos with avocado and kale. Yes please.
ST KILDA PIER KIOSK AND LITTLE BLUE RESTAURANT
It’s that charming yellow house you might have noticed on your way to watch the penguins emerge after sunset. Open for breakfast and lunch, both menus offer up modern-Australian dishes and of course plenty of seafood to match the waterfront location. Our eyes are on the Aussie Bouncer burger, made with kangaroo, beetroot relish, smashed avocado, camambert and radish slaw. Sorry, not sorry, Skippy.
At the newly renovated Captain Baxter there are windows spanning around the whole venue and a fully retractable roof. It’s like you’re literally dining on the beach. The new menu is just what you want when you’re dining by the shore—relaxed, fresh and delicious of course. Most of the dishes here have an Asian influence like the ‘KFC’ Korean Fried Chicken, with kimchi spice, and the cured cobia served with native lime and seaweed. Don’t mind if we do.
THE BATHS MIDDLE BRIGHTON
The Middle Brighton Baths are a little art-deco slice of primo beach real estate, with good food to boot. The breakfast and lunch menus are just what you want on a sunny day with modern Australian dishes to help fuel your beach bathing. For breaky, try the quinoa bircher with apple, cranberries, almonds, pineapple ceviche and berry yoghurt, or tuck into a Thai smoked trout salad with cashews, shallows and coriander for lunch.
On The Coast
CHRIS’S BEACON POINT
If you’re going on a trip to the Great Ocean Road you’ll want to make a pit-stop here. Located high in the Otways and overlooking Bass Strait, perch yourself on the ocean-side balcony of the restaurant. Their kitchen turns out stellar Southern-European and Middle-Eastern influenced dishes with a rotating seasonal menu. Hot tip: Stay for sunset, as the lights of Apollo Bay come on and illuminate the manna gums where koalas often feed.
THE GEELONG BOAT HOUSE
Fish and chips on the rooftop? Yes please. Positioned at the western end of the Geelong waterfront, this is where locals flock to for classic fish and chips by the water. Doesn’t get much better than that.
By The Lake
THE COVE HOTEL
Located on the marina, this bistro is a perfect venue for casual dining or events with a gorgeous view of the lake close by. If the cosy and plant-filled interior doesn’t hook you then dishes like the crispy skin, free-range pork belly with pea puree, chestnut and cauliflower definitely will.
Albert Park Lake
Hidden Jade is where East meets West. At Hidden Jade, they’ve combined Australian ingredients with authentic Sichuan flavours to create more-ish dishes like air-dry beef slices with sesame and chilli oil, and black truffle pork dumplings. Try and snag a round table at the back of the restaurant for the best views of the water.
Image credit: Captain Baxter