The Best Restaurants in Melbourne

Updated 3 months ago

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What makes a great restaurant? At Broadsheet we’re interested in how well a place lives up to its own ambitions, regardless of age, price point or cuisine. Maybe it’s good value for money and a reliable source of fun, like Soi 38. Maybe it pioneered a style of dining and remains the most vital example of it (hello Attica). Or maybe, after several decades in operation, it still feels as fresh and relevant as ever (looking at you, Stokehouse).

All are equally valid answers when it comes to determining the best restaurants in Melbourne. That’s why our list includes lively wine bars and other dressed-down eateries alongside the usual fine diners. The remit may be wide, but if you’re looking for restaurants that both define and capture our city’s culinary spirit, stop right here. These are Melbourne’s absolute best.

  • Ben Shewry, who grew up in New Zealand, wasn’t the first non-Aboriginal chef to grasp the potential of native ingredients. What’s set him apart is his sensitivity in sourcing and using this produce, which he employs to both to connect guests with this country and share moments from his own life. Attica's degustations are unusual, world-recognised and utterly captivating. We’re blessed to have a restaurant of this calibre in Melbourne.

  • This is one of the most splendid dining rooms in the city – one you could swear has married grandeur and comfort for decades, not since 2020. And this being an Andrew McConnell venture, the food, cocktails and service are more than a match. Order the namesake Gimlet, then go large on the European á la carte menu, a study in restraint.

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  • There are a lot of noisy dining rooms on this list. Minamishima's hushed, reverent atmosphere is better suited to the awe-inspiring knife skills of owner-chef Koichi Minamishima and a few trusted offsiders. They work with both local seafood and fish flown direct from Tsukiji Fish Market in Tokyo to produce peerless sushi, sashimi and more. Each meal is omakase-only.

  • Is it a wine bar or a restaurant? No one has ever been able to answer this satisfactorily. What we can say is that this industry favourite is equally good for pre-dinner drinks, big special occasion dinners and spontaneous nightcaps. Chef and co-owner Dave Verheul does extraordinary things with his ferocious redgum-fired oven. And the wine-loving floor staff, including business partner Christian McCabe, will guide you through the list with wit and sensitivity.

  • This sequel to one of Sydney’s top restaurants has the same magic, but with the distinctly Victorian spin. Descend into the smart basement for fire-driven European cuisine, plus a renowned charcuterie program.

  • Hidden in a city carpark, this Thai street-food spot has become a cult Melbourne favourite. Brave the queues for aromatic boat noodles, spicy papaya salads, crying tiger (slow-cooked and grilled beef brisket), mixed Thai hotpot and more. Plus, BYO wines from the natural wine shop next door.

  • Chef and restaurateur Andrew McConnell is behind several of Melbourne’s leading restaurants. Gimlet notwithstanding, this is the group’s flagship. Visit the dimly-lit, luxurious dining room for a three- or four-course set menu that showcases some of Victoria’s very best produce treated more simply than you might expect. If you can't afford the full experience, get a taste in the front bar, which is open to walk-ins.

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  • Just 20 diners a night are admitted to this inimitable Indian restaurant, where owner-chef Helly Raichura cooks vibrant banquets faithful to regional Indian cuisines using top-quality local produce and native ingredients.

  • Restaurants don't get any more personal than this 25-seater from chef Julian Hills, who created all the plates himself. On top of them, he combines rigorous European technique with native ingredients and Eastern philosophy for dishes such as smoked blue mackerel marinated in honey and white soy, then aged for a week in beeswax. Experience it all over four, five or eight courses, with optional pre-drinks at the drop-in Navi Lounge.

  • Gothic vaulted ceilings, stained windows and solid granite columns define this grand brasserie, in the former Melbourne Stock Exchange. Order freshly-shucked oysters from the raw bar, top-grade beef and cheese from the roving trolley.

  • New York’s steakhouses have a look and taste, yes, but they’re also a feeling – a certain swagger, and celebration of culinary excess. Grill Americano has it nailed like nowhere in else in town. Grab a seat at the colossal 14-metre marble bar, let the white-jacketed staff bring you a signature highball Americano (with a segment of chocolate-coated mandarin), then tear into a Josper-grilled T-bone the size of a Frisbee. The handmade pastas and sides are equally superb.

  • Italian is Melbourne's most widespread and essential cuisine. It's not at all fancy, but Tipo nonetheless manages to stand out from the enormous pack. Years down the track, it's still beset by queues of people keen to get a taste of its simple yet meticulously assembled pastas. Arrive early – very early – if you don't have a booking.

  • Running a multi-course degustation menu requires a lot of long-term planning and refinement – unless you're Ides' chef-owner Pete Gunn. While certain dishes, such as his famous Black Box dessert, do recur, he likes to be spontaneous. You never know what you’re going to get, which is part of what makes this intimate room such a thrilling place to eat.

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  • This seaside institution, founded in 1989, has never lost its shine. Current executive chef Jason Staudt continues to do magical things with blindingly fresh seafood; sommelier Wil Martin has the crisp whites and perfumed light reds to match; the tablecloths are resolutely starchy; and that sparkling view is as magnificent as ever. We can think of no better spot for a long lunch.

  • Look up at the wall and pick a bunch of shared dishes from the day's changeable menu. Order some wine with help from the switched-on, career-hospo-type staff. The format's simple, but as we've come to expect from Andrew McConnell's restaurants, everything is just right. And like Embla, it blurs the line between restaurant and wine bar in a highly useful way.

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  • If you’re after the gold standard for Cantonese cuisine in the city, look no further. Flower Drum’s been serving it since 1975. Its low-lit, seductive ambience and consistently impeccable service are reasons to visit alone.

  • There aren’t so many restaurants left in Melbourne where they’ll open the door for you, hang your jacket, pull out your chair and fold your napkin across your lap. Florentino's commitment to old-world hospitality and classic Italian dishes is timeless. And the room is one-of-a-kind, filled with beautiful Tuscan murals originally painted in the 1930s.

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  • When Rinaldo di Stasio’s first restaurant Rosati opened in 1985, it took eating standards in the CBD to a new level. Arriving 34 years later, Di Stasio Citta marked a fittingly blockbuster return to the city centre. Beyond the colourful mural and sleek grey brutalist facade is a restaurant that bears all of the Di Stasio hallmarks. There’s contemporary art, cotoletta sandwiches, big plates of pasta and impeccable service.

  • Gaea is a degustation-only restaurant with room for just 16 guests. There's an intense focus on local ingredients, expressed through eccentric riffs on classic European techniques. You might find anything from cured wallaby to brined and charred dandelion flowers served with a pumpkin puree made from fermented pumpkin juice.