If you’re planning a trip to Melbourne at any stage during your lifetime, my advice would be: Go hungry. There are just too many delicious choices to worry about being “full” at any time. I recently spent a couple of weeks eating and drinking my way through the city and despite my very best efforts (I’m talking serious, three-meals-a-day commitment), I feel like I only just scooped off the first tasty layer of Melbourne’s food scene.
It’s important to know that you need to book ahead even for a weeknight – although some places don’t allow bookings so you’ll just have to hope for the best. On weekends and public holidays, you’ll need to arrive at breakfast spots as they open if you’re hoping for a table. Also note that tipping is not required in Australia the way it is here in SA.
When you’re ready, here’s a list of the tiny taste I got of Melbourne.
1. Little Sister
A sweet little spot in the suburbs, Little Sister serves some delicious food and coffee with great service.
2. Welcome to Tornbury
A food truck park with a great vibe, delicious selection of eats and a big bar.
520 High Street, Northcote VIC, 3070
3. Lentil As Anything
Such a great concept! At “Lentils” as the locals call it, is a pay-as-you-feel vegetarian restaurant. You eat for free and offer any donation you can afford. So when you’re skint you eat for free and when you’re flush you over-pay. It helps that the food is seriously delicious.
1-3 ST Heliers Street, Abbotsford VIC 3067
4. Kong BBQ
We ended up eating here when we couldn’t get a table at Top Paddock and I’m so glad we did. The food was bursting with flavour and texture; kimchi, pork buns and more delicious Asian bites.
599 Church St, Cremorne VIC 3121
5. Top Paddock
The best breakfast we had in Melbourne. Put this right at the top of your to-eat list. I had an insane Eggs Benedict and the coffee is fantastic.
658 Church St, Richmond VIC 3121
6. 8bit Burger
My brother-in-law-to-be and local guide Nick’s favourite burger spot in Melbourne. It’s what fast food wishes it could be. This is where I nursed my post-NYE Champagne headache.
231 Swanston Street Melbourne, VIC 3000
Easy, different breakfasts and again, excellent coffee. The inside space is minimalistic and the outside space is on the sidewalk under the shade of some trees. Beautiful.
269 Coventry St, South Melbourne VIC 3205
8. N2 Extreme
The best gelato we had in Melbourne. It truly is extreme. I had a pavlova flavour where essentially all the ingredients are blended together and frozen with liquid nitrogen on the spot. What I wouldn’t give to go back there right this very second. It’s such a must-do! Check out there website for a taste of what makes this ice cream shop so special.
329 Brunswick St, Fitzroy VIC 3065
9. Farm Vigano
We had my sister’s engagement party here and it was the perfect setting for a long, relaxed, delicious lunch. The food is fresh and tasty; pizza’s for starters, roast lamb and veggies for mains and a great Australian wine list. It’s got some beautiful views too.
10 Bushmans Way, South Morang VIC 3752
10. Rice Queen
Really beautiful decor and super flavourful food. We opted for the “feed me” option, which basically means that five courses come to your table and you don’t have to make any difficult decisions. It was one of the best meals we had.
389-391 Brunswick St, Fitzroy VIC 3065
11. Rice Paper Scissors
My sister’s favourite restaurant, Rice Paper Scissors was high on my list of priorities. The restaurant is small and intimate and the food is really great quality Asian. Interesting cocktail menu and particularly good pork buns.
3000, 19 Liverpool St, Melbourne VIC 3000
12. Hammer & Tong
A tiny little restaurant with a very big reputation. The shoft shell crab burger I had here still lives in my dreams. I really want to go back and try more things on the menu.
412 Brunswick St, Fitzroy VIC 3065
Although they hate to admit it, my parents are fussy eaters. My dad doesn’t like anything too exotic or too small and my mom hates anything without flavour. A difficult combination to please. Rumi managed to please every palate in at the table, including both my parents. A unique blend of flavourful, Middle Eastern food that manages to hit every high note.
116 Lygon St, Brunswick East VIC 3057
14. Hellenic Republic
A highlight on our last night, Hellenic Republic is modern Greek. The food is bountiful and authentic and brought back delicious memories of our time in Athens and Santorini.
434 Lygon St, Brunswick East VIC 3057
1. Loop Roof
The scene of our epic NYE party, Loop Roof is the quintessential Melbourne rooftop bar. Stunning views from a beautifully decorated bar area, complete with astroturf and string lighting for evenings. If you’re going to be in the city over New Years and want to celebrate in the city, I highly recommend the party at Loop Roof. Tickets are pricey for South Africans (200AUD) but include all your drinks, food, champagne at midnight, fireworks and ample space.
3, 23 Meyers Pl, Melbourne VIC 3000
2. Campari House
A rooftop bar that makes you feel very Melbournian. Jugs of Sangria at sunset are highly recommended.
23-25 Hardware Ln, Melbourne VIC 3000
3. Naked for Satan
Don’t let the name offend your sensibilities. This bar has the best cocktails, views and vibe in Melbourne. Check out their website for the story behind the name.
285 Brunswick St, Fitzroy VIC 3065
4. Black Pearl
Small, intimate and very cool. The menu in itself is worth going for, while the cocktails are a very welcome added bonus.
304 Brunswick St, Fitzroy VIC 3065
5. Eau De Vie
This was by far one of the best cocktail bars I’ve ever visited. It has no signage on the door and a speaky theme that makes you feel like you’ve been whisked away to a time gone by. We sat in an intimate booth as liquid nitrogen was poured over our drinks at our table. It was very busy and we could only get a table after 11pm, but I’d go back again and again.
1 Malthouse Ln, Melbourne VIC 3000
A converted warehouse-turne-green-house/bar/live music venue. This is one very cool spot.
7-11 Dawson St, Brunswick VIC 3056
7. Munich Brauhaus
A German bar with a wide selection of beer, German food and warm pretzels. We went here a couple of times and the vibe was always great.
45 S Wharf Promenade, South Wharf VIC 3006
Ok, so you can’t really have a bad coffee in Melbourne. It’s an ocean of delicious caffeine goodness. But there was one coffee shop that had a particularly great energy, with particularly great coffee.
Brother Baba Budan
359 Little Bourke St, Melbourne VIC 3000