The fiery Southeast Asian diner Melburnians and tourists have been queuing for since 2011. So why's it still such a hit after all these years? The service remains fast and efficient; the energy is always high; and Benjamin Cooper's food continues to nail that sweet spot between flavour, tradition and fun.
This bar and restaurant inside Curtin House is all about agave-based spirits – but the food's no afterthought. Baja-style rockling tacos, achiote chicken quesadillas and Mexican doughnuts with salted espresso dulce de leche all go dangerously well with a margarita or the spicy riff on a pina colada.
This is one of Melbourne's best Japanese restaurants. It's certainly its most ambitious. There's a New York-style sushi bar at street level, a pumping izakaya-style basement and an upstairs private dining room – Kuro – for intimate kaiseki-style meals.
There aren’t many Melbourne restaurants left where they’ll open the door for you, pull out your chair and fold a napkin on your lap. Impeccable service is a fine backdrop to a three-course meal of traditional Italian decadence.
Starting in the 1940s as a place for migrant waiters to unwind after a shift, this Melbourne icon still serves reliably good pastas and desserts. There’s nothing fancy here – just good wine in glass tumblers, humble family-run hospitality, and a chalkboard menu of hearty Italian classics.
First-time operators draw on “mindful hospitality” to create a calm and minimalist spot in the former Rustica space. Come for slow-cooked Japanese curry and a strawberry shortcake with a “cloud-like” cream.
Look for the rabbits to find this small bakery, which nods to Korea’s many self-service cafes. Head in for dramatic pastries and theatrical drinks. Think “lava” pandoros, matcha-chocolate canelés and purple sweet potato lattes.
Legend has it Pellegrini’s was the recipient of Melbourne’s first espresso machine in ’54. Now a Bourke Street icon, its appeal is evident in the diverse clientele: office workers, theatregoers, students and tourists all chasing hearty pastas and watermelon granita.
This casual Korean eatery serves up lesser-known dishes like yukhoe bibimbap and mandu-guk. The menu runs the full gamut of flavours and textures, from fermented and fiery to crisp, cool and refreshing.
The rooftop bar at the Quincy Hotel on Flinders Street offers 360-degree views of Melbourne CBD, all the way to the Yarra River and Port Phillip Bay. Come for cocktails and small plates inspired by the punchy flavours of Southeast Asia.
Melbourne’s favourite floating bar is back, drawing inspiration from the vibrant colours of Mexico. Float by for tacos and tortillas, Margaritas every way, a pool area with double day beds, and plenty of open-air dancing.
This wine bar and music hub, in a heritage-listed theatre, feels like a hidden cave. Come for its lo-fi wines, DJs and fun vibes. The best part? The vintage Altec Landing sound system that once graced the Sydney Opera House.
Find Filipino flavours at this playful dessert spot in Chinatown. Its menu is projected onto the curved, sky-blue ceiling. And it has flavours like ube (purple yam), mango float and champorado (rice pudding) – in scoops, tubs or pillowy bread buns.
Around since 2010, this high-end shop sells some of the world’s most exclusive trainers and streetwear. The dramatic and futuristic space pushes the boundaries of retail design, and is complete with an in-house cafe.
Anthony Bourdain called the original in Sydney “the most beautiful butcher shop in the world”. Its Melbourne outpost has all the same opulence: dark-green marble floors, a wall of solid pink Himalayan salt blocks and vintage 1930s slicers.
Set inside the iconic Nicholas Building, this is one of Melbourne's most famous vintage shopping destinations. It's a treasure trove that calls for a good hour to hunt through its racks of mostly ’80s and ’90s denim, tees, dresses, overalls and more.