What makes a great restaurant? At Broadsheet, we’re interested in how well a place lives up to its own ambitions, regardless of its age, price point or cuisine.

Maybe it’s good value for money and a reliable source of fun. Maybe it pioneered a trend, and remains the most vital example of it. Or maybe, after several decades in operation, it still feels as fresh and relevant as ever.

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.

Related pages:
Quiet Restaurants in Melbourne
Best Restaurants in Fitzroy
Best Special Occasion Restaurants in Melbourne
Best Date Places in Melbourne

Attica

Life experiences told through native ingredients. Ben Shewry's approach is unusual, world-recognised and utterly captivating. We're blessed to have a restaurant of its calibre in Melbourne.

74 Glen Eira Road, Ripponlea

Ides

Peter Gunn, Ben Shewry's former sous chef, has well and truly stepped out of Attica's immense shadow to leave his own stamp on the city's dining scene. His multi-course tasting menus are always changing, surprising his kitchen staff almost as much as his guests.

92 Smith Street, Collingwood
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Minamishima

There are a lot of noisy dining rooms on this list. Minamishima's hushed, reverent atmosphere is better suited to owner-chef Koichi Minamishima's awe-inspiring knife skills. He works with both local seafood and fish flown direct from Tsukiji Fish Market in Tokyo to produce his peerless sushi.

4 Lord Street, Richmond

Matilda

It hasn't been open long, but it's already clear that Scott Pickett's smoke-focused fine diner at the base of the United Places hotel is a winner. “Modern Australian cuisine” has always been a vague, hard-to-define term, but this is the most lucid articulation we've yet seen in Melbourne. Take a seat at the bar and enjoy the show.

159 Domain Road, South Yarra
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Cutler & Co.

Cutler and Co. gets more energy and attention from the boss than any of Andrew McConnell's restaurants. Consequently, it's also the priciest. But add in gun sommelier Liam O'Brien and a March 2017 renovation, and you have a flagship well worth splurging on.

55-57 Gertrude Street, Fitzroy
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Sunda

This restaurant in Melbourne’s CBD takes the flavours and spices of Asia’s Sunda region – a catch-all that includes Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore and other nations attached to the tectonic plate of the same name – and remixes them as thoughtful, nuanced, high-definition dishes. Melbourne is noticeably short on Southeast Asian restaurants cooking and plating dishes in the way that Sunda does.

18 Punch Lane, Melbourne
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Navi

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.

83B Gamon Street, Yarraville

Stokehouse

After burning down in 2014, this seaside institution is back and better than ever. Head chef Ollie Hansford is doing magical things with seafood; sommelier Gavin Cremming has the whites and light reds to match; and that view is still magnificent. We can think of no better spot for a long lunch.

Upstairs 30 Jacka Boulevard, St Kilda
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Lesa

Embla’s upstairs companion is quieter and slower, which is exactly what we love about it. After almost a decade of restaurants constantly pushing the volume up, it’s a novelty to once again have a quiet, thoughtful conversation with your table. Take your nearest and dearest and settle in with Verheul’s beautiful set menu.

Level 1 122 Russell Street, Melbourne

Embla

Forget sous-vide baths or Pacojets. Dave Verheul does extraordinary things with his ferocious redgum-fired oven. Especially so when it comes to vegetables. His talent is complemented by a team of genuine wine-lovers, who'll guide through the list with wit and sensitivity.

122 Russell Street, Melbourne

Tipo 00

Opening any good-quality restaurant in Melbourne is hard. But opening an exciting Italian restaurant in 2014? That's a feat indeed. Several years on and Tipo is still beset by queues of people keen to get a taste of its simple yet meticulously assembled pastas. Best arrive early.

361 Little Bourke Street, Melbourne

Osteria Ilaria

The follow-up to Tipo 00 stretches beyond the pasta-bar concept to deliver meat and seafood dishes that are merely Italian-ish. But like Tipo, its subtle culinary innovations and familiar yet attentive service push the experience beyond expectations.

367 Little Bourke Street, Melbourne

Marion

Look up at the wall and pick a bunch of shared dishes from the day's menu. Order some wine with help from the switched-on staff. The format's simple, but as we've come to expect from Andrew McConnell's restaurants, everything is just right.

53 Gertrude Street, Fitzroy
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Bar Liberty

Quiet, efficient and attentive. That's what you get with Manu Potoi and ex-Attica managers Banjo Harris Plane and Michael Bascetta. Paired with a modish wine list and chef Casey Wall's deceptively simple food, they're a force indeed.

234 Johnston Street, Fitzroy
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Anchovy

Fusion's not a dirty word. Not here, anyway. Chef and co-owner Thi Le spent several years working across Andrew McConnell's restaurants. She draws on that experience and her south-east Asian upbringing to create clever, surprising dishes (tempura vegemite, anyone?). The front-of-house team gets it, too.

338 Bridge Road, Richmond
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Cumulus Inc.

Remember when we didn't share every dish on the table? Cumulus was one of the first to show us how good communal meals can be. It's still one of the best at it, whether you visit for a boozy brunch or a late-night snack.

45 Flinders Lane, Melbourne
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Chin Chin

If imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, Chin Chin has a lot of admirers. But its raucous atmosphere and Benjamin Cooper's fresh, vibrant take on Thai aren't so easy to copy. There's a reason it's had nightly queues since 2011.

125 Flinders Lane, Melbourne

Dinner by Heston

Heston Blumenthal spends most of his time in the UK, but his bold, experimental talent shines through protege Ashley Palmer-Watts, who heads the kitchen here.

Level 3 8 Whiteman Street, Southbank
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Ezard

Amid all Melbourne's naked tables and shared plates, Ezard sticks quietly to its sizeable guns. It's been doing the subdued, white tablecloth thing since 1999. After a 2017 revamp and some menu tweaks, its sweet/sour/salty/spicy fare feels as vital as ever.

187 Flinders Lane, Melbourne
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Bar Lourinhã

It may be a decade old but Matt McConnell's top-of-the-city bolthole hasn't been forgotten by Melbourne diners. Describing it as "tapas focussed" doesn't do justice to the delicacy and thoughtfulness of what appears on either the short regular menu, the expansive list of specials, or what's poured by the bar's excellent staff.

37 Little Collins Street, Melbourne
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Florentino

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. Like Cafe di Stasio, Florentino's commitment to old-world hospitality and classic Italian dishes is timeless.

80 Bourke Street, Melbourne
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Tonka

Drawing on their Indian heritage, executive chef Adam D’Sylva and head chef Hendri Budiman give Tonka a flavour that's far too uncommon at this level of dining. The wine list is a cracker, but we're more partial to the smart cocktail menu and its wealth of refreshing, south Asian-inspired mixes.

20 Duckboard Place, Melbourne
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Di Stasio Citta

When Ronnie 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, schnitzel sandwiches and big plates of pasta, and impeccable service throughout.

35 Spring Street, Melbourne