The best cafes, restaurants, bars, shops and events in the Melbourne CBD.

Restaurants

Cumulus Inc.

Restaurant

Andrew McConnell's all-day eating house combines excellent food with interior design.

Mr Ramen San

Restaurant

A bastion of exemplary Hakata-style ramen in the city centre. Visit for house-made noodles (with free top-ups), consistently excellent broths and a creation known simply as the “cocktail draft beer”. If you drink too many, do as the shop prescribes: keep calm, eat ramen.

Mabu Mabu Big Esso

Restaurant

Big Esso is the bigger CBD follow-up to Yarraville's beloved Torres Strait Islander cafe Mabu Mabu. Expect dishes from chef-owner Nornie Bero’s childhood, such as tamarind pipies, buckets of chargrilled prawns, and fried crocodile with saltbush and pepperberry. There's also a retail section stocked with pantry fillers to take away.

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Aru

Restaurant

This sultry sibling to Sunda is every bit as stellar. At Aru, chef Khanh Nguyen is effortlessly blending Southeast Asian flavours, native Australian ingredients and ancient techniques. And while there are unexpectedly playful riffs on classics – like banh mi, Peking duck and mi goreng – they never feel gimmicky, just modernised and expertly refined.

Thai Tide

Restaurant

This CBD eatery offers traditional Thai and has an extended takeaway service that infuses Australian seafood with the flavours of Thailand.

Lulu's Char Koay Teow

Restaurant

A cafe-style restaurant on Hardware Lane inspired by – and using the special sauce from – the owner’s mother-in-law and her hawker stall in Malaysia.

Cafes

First Love Coffee

Cafe

A slick specialty coffee bar by the Rustica Team. Pop by for a smooth locally roasted brew and a grab-and-go egg-and-bacon roll, then take in the peach-terracotta terrazzo and striking green marble of the pretty room.

Pellegrini's

Cafe

A Melbourne institution with a diverse crowd of regulars.

Le Shoppe

Cafe

This cross between a daytime bistro and a New York Deli is the casual sibling adjoined to Scott Pickett's Chancery Lane. Slide into a booth for charcuterie and crepes suzette, or grab curried-egg sandwiches and roast-pork rolls (with crackling) to go.

Bench Coffee Co

Cafe

At Bench Coffee's CBD flagship, stop in for an espresso at the sleek standing bar or grab a latte and rich, bite-sized dacquoise (in flavours such as matcha, black sesame and vanilla-sea salt) to go. It's by the same team as nearby katsu sando bar Saint Dreux.

Pope Joan

Cafe

A clubby and convivial space with an all-day, British-leaning brunch menu. And yes, the famous Reuben has survived the move from Brunswick East.

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Nico's Sandwich Deli

Cafe

This sandwich spot from a trio of experienced hospo players was supposed to open in March 2020. One pandemic and a long Fitzroy pop-up later, Nico's has made its way back to its original home in the CBD. Come for jazzed-up Italo-Japanese-leaning sangas, strong coffees and sweet shakes.

Bars

Curious

Bar

Descend a dark spiral staircase into this basement cocktail bar wrapped in a cocoon of timber, where you’ll find theatrical drinks with smoke, bubbles and art.

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The LuWow

Bar

Zombie cocktails, leopard print and tikis everywhere (obviously). Check your everyday life at the door – it’s pure fantasy here.

Bar Lourinhã

Bar

Spanish food served with genuine flair.

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Cookie

Bar

A beer hall, cocktail bar and modern Thai restaurant all in one.

Byrdi

Bar

Drinks here include a boozy smoked-pear soda, and gin with jasmine and plum. Get yours alongside hibachi-grilled seafood.

Beneath Driver Lane

Bar

Moody blues and dark spirits at this cavernous, below-ground bar.

Shops

Moncler Collins St

Shop

The CBD outpost for this luxury Italian sportswear brand stocks its full range of coats, jackets, knits and more. That includes pieces from Moncler’s Genius collections – one-off monthly collaborations with the world’s best designers.

Laguna

Shop

This supermarket in QV has an extensive range of Asian produce, ingredients and snacks. So it's a handy option if you want to stock up on all of staples in one place.

Tang The Asian Food Emporium

Shop

Tang (formerly known as Great Eastern Foods) has been stocking Asian groceries at its Russell Street residence for over 35 years. Come here for noodles, dim-sims, sambal, soy and sake.

Hometown Asian Supermarket

Shop

Come here for Japanese and Malaysian cuisine including hand rolled udon noodles, Kurbata Pork and umeshu (plum wine). Hometown has a large range of sweets from across the Asia.

KT Mart

Shop

This is one of two Korea Marts on Elizabeth Street. Visit for an unsurpassed array of kimchis, gochujangs and other Korean specialties. There are also plenty of frozen dumplings to take home and one of Melbourne's best line-ups of specialty rices.

búl

Shop

Classical tailored pieces from city to sea by local designer Virginia Martin.