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Post updated in July 2019
I’ve eaten at a lot of Melbourne restaurants and cafes in 2.5 years! Here are my favourite places and top recommendations for the best Melbourne restaurants and cafes.
I interrupt the Canadian content to shift the spotlight to Melbourne and more importantly, my favourite Melbourne restaurants. I hope you don’t mind! Melbourne is absolute foodie heaven. There are so many restaurants and cafes in the city that you can try new food every weekend and never get bored. Although I dined out as much as possible, I know I have only scratched the surface of Melbourne’s food scene.
This list encompasses the best Melbourne restaurants, cafes and sweet stops, in my opinion. I hope you enjoy this foodie post and it helps you decide where to eat in Melbourne. I know that choosing a restaurant can be totally overwhelming.
Before we discuss the best Melbourne restaurants…
I want to quickly point out the other Melbourne-related content floating around this blog. I have published posts on the top things to do in general, the best free things to do, where to stay and what to do in Melbourne at night. For more food content, there’s this mini Melbourne food diary from my visit in early 2020 and this guide to the best places to eat in Richmond (my old neighbourhood). Okay, that just about covers it 😅.
My favourite Melbourne restaurants and cafes
Best fish and chips – Hunky Dory
I actually only discovered Hunky Dory in my last two weeks living in Melbourne, thanks to moving out of my apartment and staying with my housemate in her new place. They have different locations around the city, but we visited the Richmond location. The fish and chips were quick, cheap and delicious. We also thought the staff were extremely attentive and friendly. We decided to sit outside by the heater in winter and one staff member brought us each a cozy rug. That’s service. My friend and I split the Coupled Up, which gave us a selection of fish, potato cakes, dim sims, calamari and chips. YUM.
Best burgers – Easey’s
This place also wins the award for best restaurant design. The owners plonked three retired train carriages on a building’s roof and turned them into dining areas. Insane but awesome. Besides the unique decor, the burgers are Easey’s are also excellent. If you go on an empty stomach, attempt the Melbourne Madness: double beef patty, triple American cheddar, bacon, jalapenos, a potato cake, pickles, onion and dim sim. I stuck with Changaz Chicken Sanga and the fried chicken was cooked perfectly.
Best fancy pants – Chin Chin
Chin Chin is one of those Melbourne restaurants with a famous reputation. There are queues out the door every night to try their Feed Me menu, where the servers bring you a selection of their favourite dishes. I was dining with a couple, so they decided to go with the Feed Me option, while I just got a standalone dish. They graciously let me try a lot of the dishes, and I thought they were good but nothing blew me away. For the price, I only recommend Chin Chin for a celebration, or when you want to be a fancy pants.
Best cafe – Rudimentary
I visited Rudimentary right after their opening and their pork belly is one dish I’ve never forgotten. Combined with crispy pig’s ear, eggs and toast, it was a standout. The cafe is also unique in that it’s built from a shipping container. The extension gives the cafe a light and airy quality, so I highly recommend a visit when in Footscray.
Best vegetarian Melbourne restaurant – Lord of the Fries
Lord of the Fries is located around Melbourne, but I regularly walked past their store at Southern Cross Station. One day I decided to try the most talked-about chips ever and they blew my mind. I love my fries crispy and these guys delivered every time. Lord of the Fries (also coolest name ever) focuses on ethical vegetarian fast food, including burgers, hot dogs and my favourite fries.
Best brunch – Belle’s
Belle’s Hot Chicken was actually one of the last places I visited in Melbourne, but I’m glad I got there in the end. It was also my first time trying chicken waffles, even after my two-month trip around the United States. The serving size was very generous for Australia and the chicken was fried to perfection. I also loved the decor inside this restaurant.
Best ice cream – Gelato Messina
I have to thank my friend for introducing me to Gelato Messina and its epic flavour combinations. They also have locations around the city, but personally I’ve visited both the Fitzroy and Richmond locations. They have specials every week along with their long list of classic flavours. Good luck with choosing your scoops. Sometimes it’s the hardest choice I had to make all day!
Best cheap eats – Asian Beer Cafe
Asian Beer Cafe is located in Melbourne Central, so it’s usually pretty busy in the evenings with workers and students. I recommend sharing the tapas dishes with friends. But they also do burgers, the usual pub grub, pizzas and very cheap jugs of beer and cider.
Best restaurant – Meatball and Wine Bar
Located close to Chin Chin, I really like Meatball and Wine Bar. They have a few tables set up outside in the laneway, which was nice on a spring evening. The food is also a reasonable price and delicious. You can make your own dish and choose the meatball, sauce and “something for your balls to sit on.” However, I had the Meatball Smash, which was an open sandwich with veal and pork meatballs in a red sauce. So good.
Best Vietnamese – Banoi
I used to walk past Banoi in Docklands weekly on the way from my apartment to the supermarket. Every time I strolled by I couldn’t believe the delicious scents coming from inside. So one day I texted my friend and said we had to eat here because it smelled so good and we did. Thankfully, the Vietnamese dishes lived up to the hype. They also do lunchtime specials for the many people who work in Docklands, so it’s a good time to visit to sample the best.
Best market – Queen Vic
I also have to mention the $3 borek and $1 churros you can purchase at the Queen Victoria Markets. They’re basically the only reason I visited on a regular basis. Just kidding, the meat and produce are also ridiculously cheap. The market gets bonus points too because it hosts a winter/summer night market on Wednesdays, which features a lot of delicious local food stalls.
So there you have it! My pretty comprehensive guide to my favourite Melbourne restaurants (if I don’t say so myself 😏). I know I still have so many other great places to visit, but this is a good starting point.