One of Melbourne’s best restaurants is on a sleepy, mostly residential street in Yarraville. Chef and owner Julian Hills opened Navi in 2018, combining European cooking techniques with native Australian ingredients.

But a booking at the fine diner isn’t easy to come by. Luckily, you can increase your chances of getting in via Navi Bar – the more casual 18-seat bar adjoining Navi’s dining room. Walk-ins are encouraged from Wednesday to Friday, while the more coveted Saturday spots call for a booking.

You can’t order the restaurant’s set menus in the bar area. Instead, there’s a rotating selection of small snacks with Hills’ same focus on technique, flavour, detail and indigenous ingredients. You might get salt-and-vinegar fish skins or “ducklava” with tamarillo. The restaurant’s signature savoury black-garlic macarons and house-made sourdough also make appearances.

Behind the bar, cocktails are made with lacto-ferments, infusions, shrubs and bitters. The drinks program continues Hills’s long-time philosophy of minimising waste, with the kitchen and bar sharing ingredients and produce. Take a seat at the dark timber bar and watch the team at work, or slide into the leather banquette and enjoy snacks on moody marble tables.

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Updated: November 16th, 2023

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