The Best Restaurants in Melbourne’s CBD

Updated 4 months ago

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There’s an enormous concentration of restaurants in Melbourne’s CBD. Many, like Reine and Gimlet, are high end, catering to business people and affluent theatregoers. But the big student population also means an abundance of more affordable places, from the late-night Butcher’s Diner to the queue-worthy Thai diner Soi 38.

Whatever your budget, occasion or preferred cuisine, this guide can help. Know this, though: it’s big. There are more than 130 restaurants listed here, which is the number we feel is necessary to do justice to the CBD’s plethora of restaurants. The next time you’re on Flinders Street with hunger pangs, hit this list of the city’s best restaurants, curated by Broadsheet’s expert food and drink editors.

Chinatown

  • At this cool laneway diner, you’ll find many Southeast Asian flavours in thoughtful, nuanced, high-definition dishes. Creations like Sydney rock oysters with tomato sambar and moringa beans add an unmistakeable local accent.

  • 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.

  • Small, lively and theatrical, this barbeque-powered Thai restaurant is a top spot to try dishes from all over the country, paired with highly complementary beers, wines and cocktails.

  • Open till very late on weekends, this swish, marble-clad bar and diner is your first port of call at the five-storey Pacific House building. Come for Mediterranean-inspired plates and tapped cocktails before hitting the rooftop.

  • 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.

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  • Florentino’s downstairs sibling is a casual, Tuscan-inspired steakhouse powered by a Josper grill. Grill dials down the formality and grandeur, yet retains the mothership’s passion for outstanding produce and Italian values.

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  • Classic, charming and welcoming are the three best words for this perennially popular bistro opposite Parliament House. Order snacks, a bottle from neighbouring City Wine Shop, and watch the city go by.

  • Cookie combines rowdy European beer hall with standout Thai food that beckons to be shared. It’s fun, versatile and subtly influential, preceding similar restaurants like Chin Chin. Bring a crew, order the banquet and plan to drink.

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  • Longrain started in Sydney in ’95 and came to Melbourne a decade later. Since then, it’s been at the forefront of contemporary Thai dining here. Order a banquet and try favourites like caramelised pork belly and som tam salad.

  • Scott Pickett’s atmospheric bar above Longrain will transport you someplace else. Enjoy sharp cocktails alongside sharp snacks like prawn toast, smoked duck breast and freshly shucked oysters.

  • A vibrant pan-Indian diner that’s proudly “unauthentic”. Sink into a plush booth for sweet-and-sour fried cauliflower, colourful thali and Tandoori-fired-pineapple cocktails before spilling out onto Chinatown after.

  • You can choose your own adventure at Bomba. Come for tapas and imported Spanish wines at the restaurant downstairs, or escape to the fifth-floor rooftop for cocktails and DJs every weekend. Either way, you can’t go wrong.

  • A three-storey Italian joint geared for good times. Head to the first floor for a woodfired pizza feast, or up again to the public bar for lambrusco and pool. The rooftop is one of the city’s best spots to drink with a view.

  • This wine-slinging laneway bar was one of Melbourne’s first. Since 1994, it’s developed a loyal following for its expansive wine list, reliable service and Euro-leaning share plates (including an off-menu Portuguese fish stew).

  • A neon-lit Thai diner serving dishes rarely seen outside the country. Order punchy betel leaf wraps, caramelly mackerel and ant larvae soup. Plus, there are lo-fi Australian wines and disposable cameras to capture your night.

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  • Bring a group and choose your adventure at this moody, red-lit Sichuan diner. Feast on all-you-can-eat hotpot cooked at your table. Or order go-to dishes like Sichuan lamb ribs, kung pao chicken and dan dan noodles.

  • A Chinese institution, West Lake has weathered the test of Chinatown's high turnover rates for decades. There’s excellent all-day yum cha, then tasty classics like scallops in XO sauce and stir-fried vegetables until well past midnight. Late-night cravings? Satisfy them here.

  • You can’t walk past the live seafood tank – one of the largest in the city – without doing a double-take. This Cantonese joint specialises in fresh seafood and seats up to 150 people. Aside from the seafood, the rest of the menu has the usual dim sum favourites. You might eat Peking duck pancakes, fried rice in an omelette pouch, and steamed buns decorated like piglets.

  • Its revered xiao long bao has drawn crowds since it opened in 2008. Other favourites include spicy wonton and pan-fried dumplings. A reliable classic for no-fuss, high quality dumplings.

  • A bastion of exemplary Hakata-style ramen in the city centre. Visit for house-made noodles, 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.

  • Release your inner grill master – or leave the cooking to the pros – at this Sichuan barbeque spot. Your spread might include spicy pork ribs, squid tentacles and, for dessert, matcha tiramisu.

  • This Shanghai-style restaurant’s recipe for xiao long bao has been passed down through the family for more than a century. Get the black truffle and pork version, plus pan-fried pork buns, chicken wontons in chilli-sesame oil and more.

  • The tables at Bottega spill out onto the footpath much like they would in Rome or Florence, luring in passers-by with an energetic atmosphere. Mains usually feature produce from owner Denis Lucey’s farm, while an expertly curated wine list offers around 150 bottles from both Australia and Italy.

  • You’ll find some of the best dumplings in town in an arcade off Chinatown. Don’t let the long line deter you. The staff at this stripped back, all-day Chinese diner keep the queues moving quickly. Shandong is known for its seafood so be sure to add a plate to the order.

  • An award-winning woodfired pizza joint from one of the guys behind Movida, Rosa’s Canteen and Lee Ho Fook. The pizzas have a sourdough base that’s fermented overnight, then blasted in the custom-made furnace for peak crispiness. And its gnocchi is also worth your time.

  • This 160-seater used to be a hotpot spot, but now it's a grill-yourself Sichuan restaurant. Come for sizzling skewers, whole grilled cod and dozens of side dishes.

  • Hit up this buzzy restaurant for hip-hop, Vietnamese street food and cocktails bedecked with fairy floss or fire. Order its steaming hot curries, seafood and Vietnamese classics, before finishing with pandan-laced desserts. Or bring a group and feast with the banquet.

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  • The retro feel – complete with macramé and terracotta accents – is part of what makes this classic CBD bistro so great. But it’s the crowd-pleasing menu of pizza, pasta and secondi that keeps diners coming back for all manner of occasions.

  • This grand Thai restaurant wears a few colourful hats. It aims to bring the street food cultures of Bangkok, Phuket and Chiang Mai to one 200-seat space. Get pantry staples such as salted egg cakes and durian crisps, or grab a seat for charred pork skewers, tom yum soup, boat noodles and Thai beers.

  • Cheap, delicious and fun, as all great malatang joints should be. Fill your golden pot with meat, tofu, noodles and vegetables from the self-serve fridge, then bathe your spoils in hot-and-sour Sichuan-style broth.

  • Pepe’s is a New York-inspired Italian restaurant. The space has all the terrazzo floors, plump leather booths and dim lighting you could ask for. So grab a Martini, take a seat in one of those booths and scan the menu. Clams Casino? Veal parmigiana? A hot-fudge sundae? It’s hard to go wrong.

  • This dim, characterful basement serves a wide range of proper tacos until 3am every night of the week. Do you even need to know more? Okay: there are over 70 mezcals and 20 tequilas on the back bar.

  • Offering no-nonsense Cantonese dining in the heart of the CBD, Ling Nan has been satisfying Melbourne’s late-night cravings for around three decades. New location, same must-order XO pippies.

  • Supper Inn is a BYO Melbourne institution. Just ask Melbourne’s top chefs – especially after a closing shift. Cantonese food at its best, and least pretentious. Come for chicken congee, XO pippies with Chinese doughnuts and roasted suckling pig.

  • Shujinko is as close as you’ll get to Tokyo in Melbourne’s Chinatown. At this unpretentious noodle house, you can enjoy Tonkotsu-style ramen until late seven days a week. Some gyoza, beer and sake also come recommended.

  • The world-famous chain has been perfecting its ramen since 1985. It’s loved for its signature hakata ramen (a rich, creamy, pork bone broth with chewy noodles) while its tonkotsu akamaru shinaji ramen is made from a 25-year-old recipe.

  • A Michelin-star global dumpling chain that started as a roadside store in Taipei. Intricacy and precision undergird the specialties here (each xiao long bao is folded 18 times). Robots deliver a fast yet impressive menu that features kung pao chicken, wonton soup, noodles, bao and pan-fried seafood.

  • Like a fine Italian wine, Becco proves age is no barrier to quality. Focusing on the country as a whole rather than one specific region, the menu at this old-school eatery is a testament to the idea that – a lot of the time – simplicity is best.

  • A high-end restaurant serving contemporary Chinese fare in a Melbourne laneway. Though many of these dishes aim to elevate tradition, there’s plenty of nostalgia to be found in xiao long bao and soft-shell crab.

  • Settle in at the north side counterpart to this South Yarra institution. The Chongqing noodles are legendary. Expect elastic, chewy noodles; baby bok choy; and a chicken and chilli broth with an incredible depth of flavour and spice – both numbing and burning.

  • 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.

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  • This double-storey dumpling house is a Melbourne institution. Follow the vast red door to find its iconic pink walls and steaming hot plates of dumplings coming from the kitchen. There’s a sizeable menu of both fried and steamed dumplings, which you might order with Shanghai fried rice and Chinese broccoli drizzled in oyster sauce.

  • There are still constant queues during the dinner rush at this buzzing Thai diner. The pay-off is some of Melbourne’s best (and spiciest) Thai food, including more than a dozen kinds of papaya salad, a crowd-pleasing tom yum with instant noodles and mookata, the signature hotpot-barbeque hybrid.

  • Head down the laneway next to the GPO for Thai barbeque, towers of beer and hard-to-find bar snacks such as deep-fried duck beaks. Cocktail buckets, live music and a midnight license keep the fun vibes going all night.

  • The first Australian location for the revered global ramen chain brings its signature tori paitan soup to Melbourne's CBD. Expect lines around the block for one of its 28 seats, and be rewarded inside with six different ramen options, snacks and sake pairings.

  • A team of seasoned hospo pros, including ex-Lume and Sunda chef John Rivera, are behind this unadultered Filipino restaurant. Try elevated takes on Filipino mainstays including sisig, lechon and halo-halo.

East End

  • Andrew McConnell's signature flair is all over this grand bar and dining room, from the exacting service to the comforting European dishes. It’s named after the classic cocktail, and the calibre of drinks here speaks to that. You’ll find us at the marble bar, Gimlet in hand.

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  • Nominally it’s a wine bar, but Embla’s charms are far more profound than those two words suggest. Come here for some of the city’s best food, paired with an idiosyncratic wine list poured by staff who give a damn.

  • 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.

  • Frank Camorra’s flagship restaurant is responsible for igniting Melbourne’s love for contemporary Spanish food. The menu of tapas and raciones is designed to be shared. Order standouts such as braised beef cheek, air-dried Wagyu and anchovy with smoked tomato sorbet.

  • The little sibling to Movida aims to deliver a classic tapas experience not unlike what you’d find in Spain. Sit at the bar, have some sherry and work your way through the tapas and racion menu – without next-door’s big-room energy.

  • 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.

  • Beautifully executed Japanese (and other east Asian cuisines) by celebrated chef Andrew McConnell. Come for Melbourne's most famous lobster roll, steaming bowls of ramen at lunch, Korean-style barbequed meats and Shanghai dumplings.

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  • Venetian elegance, New York energy and Melbourne nostalgia collide at restaurateur Chris Lucas’s lavish brasserie and grill. Settle into the grand dining room for charcoal-fired bistecca, show-stopping tiramisu, quintessentially Italian cocktails and lots of tableside theatrics.

  • 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.

  • Andrew McConnell's all-day eating house combines the star chef's typically excellent food with smart interior design. While it's not his most famous venue these days, the polished service, considered wine list and inventive dishes at Cumulus Inc. are still worthy of celebration after all these years.

  • At this sprawling restaurant by Chris Lucas, there’s an experience for just about every taste. Grab a seat at the marble bar for cocktails, sit in the chandelier-lit dining room to try the luxe European menu, or book one of the striking private dining rooms.

  • Set inside Chris Lucas’s fine diner, Society, this European-inspired brasserie retains the strong seafood focus of its sibling, but offers it in a more casual space primed for long lunches and late-night cocktails. Pull up at the bar for signature drinks and exceptional drops from Society’s peerless wine cellar.

  • Enter the cyberpunk facade to find Chris Lucas’s two-level Japanese diner. Watch chefs turn skewered meat over jumping flames, slurp your noodles and call it good manners (it is in Japan), and sip cocktails named after Tokyo’s neighbourhoods.

  • It’s tricky to pin down Coda’s flavour-punching dishes. Modern Asian? Euro-Vietnamese fusion? Pop in pre-theatre for some scallops and a glass of wine, or do your next special occasion here. Coda is supremely versatile, and one of Melbourne’s best.

  • Indian flavours are far too uncommon at the top-end of dining, an issue Tonka has been smartly redressing for years. 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.

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  • 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.

  • Matt McConnell, brother of Andrew, is behind this top-of-the-city bolthole. Calling it a tapas bar wouldn't do justice to the delicacy and thoughtfulness of what appears on either the short regular menu, the expansive specials list, or what's poured by the bar's excellent staff.

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  • Moving from Collingwood to the city has only taken this energetic Chinese restaurant to greater heights. Find the discreet entrance off Flinders Lane, then settle in for elegant, big-flavoured dishes drawing influence from all corners of China.

  • There were Mexican restaurants before Mamasita, but it was the first one to bring a faithful representation to Melbourne. The “hot babe” has been around since 2010, but its grilled corn and flavoursome tacos still attract queues.

  • This lively cantina is all about home-style Mexican. Expect beef tacos exactly how they’re served in Mexico, prawn-and-chorizo tamales and a jiggly chocolate flan. Plus: eight different Margaritas and hard-to-find agave spirits.

  • At this elegant 16-seat Japanese fine diner, which is inside a giant paper lantern in a Bourke Street basement, you'll find one of the best kaiseki – a traditional degustation-style multi-course meal – experiences in town.

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  • This pared-back eatery from the Higher Ground, Top Paddock and Liminal team specialises in woodfired dishes that are unfussy, yet easily live up to the gold standard set by their other Melbourne venues.

  • Victorian-bred steaks fired over Japanese coals. A rotisserie chicken so good it’s never left the menu. And a wine list that eschews quantity for quality. Chef-owner Philippe Mouchel’s signature is all over this basement bistro in more ways than one.

  • Luxury and tradition collide at Cecconi’s, where Venetian food is the star of the show. The kitchen grows its own herbs, fruit and vegetables to use across the board, be it a seasonal risotto or garlicky seafood linguine.

  • The CBD sequel to restaurateur Rinaldo Di Stasio's St Kilda institution goes just as heavy on the hand-made pastas. But it also throws high art into the mix, with video installations and dramatic artworks lining the walls of the restaurant’s brutalist, contemporary interior.

  • Sitting behind a Victorian terrace frontage, this intimate Sri Lankan and South Indian restaurant employs old family recipes, but the menu isn’t strictly traditional. Find hoppers with goat’s curd and pomegranate pearls, dosas with bacon jam, and chai-infused Old Fashioned cocktails.

  • This three-storey love letter to Gippsland and its produce is by Alejandro Saravia, the chef behind CBD classic Pastuso. There's a deli with house-made pastrami rolls; a suave restaurant with a focus on cooking with flames; and a greenhouse-like rooftop oasis.

  • A neon-lit Thai joint serving fun, modern twists on the country’s cuisine. Whether you’re here for bottomless brunch or a late-night snack, there are plenty of versatile spaces to drink and dine in. The mezzanine hosts DJs most nights of the week.

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  • Empty stomachs are a prerequisite at this upscale American barbeque joint. Go for the signature share platter, which might include hearty beef brisket, pork shoulder or pulled mushrooms. Pair it with the beer tasting of Australian and American lagers.

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  • An Italian eatery tapping into pasta obsessions such as cacio e pepe and seafood linguine, plus protein-heavy mains. It’s designed to feel like an Italian dinner party – so gather your crew and make for the all-seasons rooftop courtyard.

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  • A neon-lit Thai diner serving dishes rarely seen outside the country. Order punchy betel leaf wraps, caramelly mackerel and ant larvae soup. Plus, there are lo-fi Australian wines and disposable cameras to capture your night.

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  • This dim basement is a cross between a barbeque joint and steakhouse. From the former genre, there’s 20-hour Rangers Valley brisket smoked over ironbark. From the latter, steaks from O’Connor Beef and Rangers Valley dry-aged in-house.

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  • This Vietnamese restaurants has large fold-out windows that open to the leafy, treetop view of Collins Street. Settle in with plates of pig’s ear banh mi, grilled corn and steaming bowls of pho.

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  • Argentina loves beef like no other country on earth. Get a taste of its culture here, with help from O’Connor Beef fired on a custom Parrilla charcoal grill. There are usually a handful of steaks on the menu, alongside chicken, lamb, fish and creative sides.

  • Dine on the best of Bangkok, Taipei and Shanghai in the glow of red neon. Order a banquet menu of snapper sashimi, poached prawn salad and barramundi with star anise broth.

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  • Choose your own adventure at this cosy underground institution. If you fancy casual Italian dining, pull up a table in the cafeteria opposite the bar. For a more refined atmosphere, make your way to the dimly lit trattoria lined with bottles of vino.

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  • At this CBD stalwart, you'll find old-school service, a lengthy wine list and plenty of classic Italian charm. Dishes here have a Venetian focus, and include a zucchini risotto plus a signature Moreton Bay bug spaghettini. For drinks, opt for a classic Bellini or a parmesan-infused Martini.

  • Some of the city’s finest sushi and sashimi is served at Kenzan’s intimate 12-seat counter. And in the main and private dining rooms, à la carte Japanese standards ranging from sukiyaki to shabu-shabu. A Melbourne institution since 1981.

  • The Next Hotel's in-house diner is run by former Saigon Sally, Tokyo Tina and Neptune chefs. The menu skews Italian – with stracciatella-stuffed oxheart tomatoes, crisp chicken-wing parmigiana and Campari-glazed roasted duck. There’s also an intimate barrel room producing aged Negronis and Martinis, and a grandiose cheese-and-charcuterie cabinet.

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  • The vibes are high as this African-inspired beer and barbeque joint. Go for its fried chicken ribs with turmeric sour cream and curried goat with pomegranate. Plus, plenty of refreshing lagers.

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  • A reliable drinking den for many years. Located in the iconic Georges’ Collins Street building, this spacious New York-style basement restaurant is all leather and velvet booths and classic cocktails served on an old school granite bar.

  • Grossi Florentino’s adjoining bar is dedicated to the craft of aging and preserving fine meats. Order platters of salumi and cheese, before a round of pizzas and Italian wine.

  • 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.

  • A contemporary take on a less-familiar cuisine – Armenian. Order share-friendly lamb shoulder, spanner crab manti (handmade dumplings) and triple-cooked chips.

  • Pastuso brings Peruvian flair with a menu of ceviche, grilled meat and plenty of pisco. The dining room is a riot of colour, but we say grab a seat at the marble-clad bar and take in all the action, Pisco Sour in hand.

  • Lively cocktails and refined snacks are on the cards at this dark and daring basement bar. But it’s really the wine list you come here for – it’s an adventure in unfamiliar regions and varietals, and focuses on biodynamic and sustainable drops.

  • Two hospitality veterans are behind this small but mighty Greek diner. Order hard-to-find classics like sweetbreads and slow-cooked lamb. Plus, ultra-thick traditional Greek coffee, carafes of wines and beer.

  • The Isan street-food-inspired canteen attracts queues for its spicy and sour boat noodles, made from a 30-year-old family recipe, sweet pok pok noodles and traditional desserts.

West End

  • An upmarket New Nordic restaurant occupying two levels of Collins Street’s Gothic 1880s Olderfleet building. Stop by when the sun is up for various smorrebrod, or Scandi open sandwiches. Later on, you’ll find standout savoury waffles, not-your-average beef tartare and other dishes where simplicity tempers innovation.

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  • 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.

  • Scott Pickett's take on a mod-French brasserie brings old-world European elegance to a heritage-listed CBD building. There's ritzy deep-green marble, dramatic arched windows and candelabras throughout. Start with black truffle and foie gras toasties, then move onto French-style gnocchi, and finish with a gin-and-raspberry baba.

  • This sultry sibling to Sunda is every bit as stellar. The menu effortlessly blends Southeast Asian flavours, native Australian ingredients and ancient techniques.

  • The flavours at celebrity chef Shane Delia’s opulent Maha are familiar, but they’re assembled with more finesse than your average Middle Eastern restaurant. Vibrant mezze, a must-have lamb shoulder and an affordable wine list make this a winner for group dining.

  • Vue de Monde translates to “worldview” in French – and that’s just what you’ll get at this celebrated fine diner. Perched 55 floors above the city on the Rialto Building’s former observation deck, it boasts an impressive 360-degree vista from Docklands to the Dandenongs.

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  • Descend to the sprawling and busy basement for a menu that honours classic Thai street food. Bring a group and enjoy the share-plate menu that includes pad thai, whole fish soup, seafood platters, papaya salads and plates of barbequed meat. And enjoy the novelty of cat-faced robots serving your food.

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  • Quincy Melbourne’s fun Southeast Asian diner is helmed by a former Chin Chin chef. Come for playful takes on traditional curries, stir fries and dim sum, served in a sleek dining room overlooking Flinders Lane.

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  • A charming bar from the City Wine Shop team. There are few places in town that manage to balance new-world informality with old-world sophistication, but Kirk’s pulls it off with aplomb. Like the wine list, the European-influenced menu has something for everyone.

  • A swish restaurant inside the Mövenpick Hotel exploring the future of Asian-Australian dining. Led by a former Longrain chef, it's serving Vegemite-glazed kangaroo skewers and Sri Lankan custard with native sorrel. And at the bar, Pandan Coladas and a rotating selection of street snacks.

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  • Taking cues from the trattorias of northern Italy, Emilia has you covered for all occasions. Do a casual lunch of tagliatelle alla bolognaise, or come later for a degustation featuring main dishes inspired by Italy’s Emilia-Romagna region. It all comes together in a rustic, timber-clad space.

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  • Sit at the omakase bar for robata-grilled marron with kombu butter; clam and miso soup; and fried rice amplified with Wagyu, shiitake and cod roe. All in a heritage-listed building full of original bluestone features and brooding black marble.

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  • Tasia and Gracia Seger might be reality TV stars, but their Indonesian restaurant proves their talent is definitely not just for show.

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  • At the W Melbourne’s in-house restaurant, Coda chef Adam D’Sylva draws on his Italian-Indian heritage. His globe-trotting menu includes luxed-up lasagna, pasta-less cacio e pepe (a surprising triumph), and spicy duck curry. Plus, an excellent roster of theatrical cocktails.

  • A Taiwanese eatery specialising in soup dumplings. The menu lists plenty of traditional Taiwanese foods (noodle soups, stir-fries and rice dishes), but the famous handmade xiao long bao (soup dumplings) are the signature dish.

  • There’s nothing quite like sipping a beer amid a menagerie of taxidermied creatures at Natural History Bar. If you’re sticking around, the late-night diner also has steaks, oysters, natural wines and fruity cocktails.

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  • This casual, colourful laneway diner transports you to the streets of India. Step inside for street food like pani puri and samosa chaat, against a backdrop of Bollywood posters.

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  • Hearty ramen for all tastes – from the traditional to the adventurous. Enjoy a classic tonkotsu or spicy ramen, or customise your bowl to an equally impressive vegan or vegetarian option. Chase it all down with a frosty Sapporo.

  • The team behind Kettle Black and Top Paddock go beyond cafes with this spacious all-day spot, set in a former power station. Order fluffy ricotta hotcakes in the morning and roasted barramundi around lunch. Plus, hot coffee and sharp cocktails.

  • Led by a former Vue de Monde chef, the Ritz-Carlton Hotel’s glamorous 80th-storey restaurant eschews a set menu for the flexibility of à la carte. Come for vegetables cooked with love, a focused wine list, sharp cocktails and, of course, the views.

  • At this homely restaurant, find popular Thai dishes alongside lesser-known Phuket delicacies. Bring a group and order comforting dishes like pad thai and tom yum as well as specialties including snail coconut southern curry.

  • This 25-seat restaurant is run by a husband-and-wife duo who met while working at Nobu. Order the signature hamburger curry udon, hibachi-grilled yakitori and salmon tartare alongside yuzu cocktails and sake.

Legal District

  • After all these years, moody Tipo 00 still attracts queues of people hoping for a taste of its simple yet meticulously assembled pastas. A couple of secondi and dolci also grace the menu, alongside salumi best enjoyed at the marble bar, spritz in hand. Make sure you arrive early – very early – if you don’t have a booking.

  • Tipo 00’s younger sibling stretches beyond the pasta bar concept with meat and seafood dishes straight out of a modern Italian osteria. An enormous cellar below stocks Italian necessities like wine and house-cured charcuterie.

  • Two childhood friends are behind this breezy upstairs Italian spot, which pays homage to the neighbourhood eateries of their hometown with textbook pastas, cacio e pepe toasties and a daily dessert that’s best paired with house-made amaro.

  • This offshoot of CBD favourite Movida is just as noteworthy, with share-friendly Spanish plates and views out over Bourke Street. Come for refined tapas and paella alongside Spanish wines and cocktails.

  • The prefix for an international call to Italy is a fitting name for this tiny pizzeria (with big European energy). There’s enough pizza variety to satisfy any aficionado and an extensive antipasti selection, if you’re so inclined.

  • An Italian-influenced Argentinian spot from the team behind San Telmo and Pastuso. Expect meat and fish cooked over the asado firepit – a specialty here. The layout is a nod to a classic steakhouse, plus there are private rooms for special occasions.

  • Eyal Shani’s Israeli pita haven came to Melbourne, via Paris and Vienna. Miznon is all about Israeli fare, much of it crammed into fluffy pita and best served with a cold beer.

  • Owner Chee Wong quickly made his mother-in-law’s char kway teow (and the special sauce) a hot commodity. Choose one of the seven options of the popular Malaysian hawker dish (including original with prawns, and vegetarian) for a sumptuous midweek meal. No booking? No worries.

  • Situated on Hardware Lane is this outstanding player in the city’s vegan dining scene. The owner-chef riffs on nostalgic Sicilian dishes using plant-based ingredients, served in a converted 19th-century warehouse full of old-world charm.

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  • Rosa Mitchell’s menu is a masterclass in simple and supremely effective Italian cooking. Forget luxe imported ingredients – her unpretentious eatery in the heart of the legal district is all about making local produce sing.

  • This is the first Melbourne location for one of Hanoi’s most famous pho spots. Its signature is the “stir-fried up” rare beef, with lots of garlic in a steaming bowl of broth. There’s also beef brisket, poached chicken and a red-wine pho.

  • This day-to-night spot, in a former 1900s wine shop, is the most modest of Guy Grossi’s city restaurants. Come by for the energetic breakfast rush, boisterous lunch hour, late afternoon espressos, or romantic dinner sittings at nightfall.

  • Once an alleyway restaurant specialising in Malaysian-Indian street food, and now a multi-city chain famed for its roti. The Mamak restaurants are still some of the only places to go for roti that’s cooked for every order. Order that plus a few curries and some sambal – it’s all you need.

Fed Square

  • While sibling restaurant Farmer’s Daughters is all about Gippsland, this sophisticated eatery brings the best of the entire state’s produce to Melbourne’s epicentre. Find an interactive ingredients table, a 3000-bottle “wine library” and a terrace with river views.

  • Indigenous ingredients and cuisine take centre table here – particularly those from Mer Island in the Torres Strait. Enjoy the share plates, which are inspired by chef-owner Nornie Bero’s childhood. Expect buckets of chargrilled prawns, fried crocodile and juicy charred emu. There are also impressive pantry fillers – including spices, sauces and teas – to take home.

  • Asian-inspired small and large share plates (dumplings, bug tails, sashimi) with an almost 360-degree city view make for an impressive pit stop, no matter the time of day.

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