The Best Restaurants in Fitzroy

Updated 2 weeks ago

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Apart from the CBD, there's no better place to take the pulse of Melbourne’s restaurant scene than in its oldest suburb. Everything fresh and exciting seems to be happening here or in adjoining Collingwood, from cheerful Japanese joints to sophisticated wine bars. Here are our favourite places to sit and have a full, leisurely meal.

Gertrude Street

  • The flagship of celebrated chef Andrew McConnell’s restaurant empire is a lesson in refined elegance. From the leather booths to the chic front bar, it’s a perfect spot for a special occasion. Experience McConnell’s renowned fine-dining experience with the degustation.

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  • Pick a bunch of shared dishes from the day’s menu on the wall. 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.

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  • This double-decker haunt is full of cosy nooks. Sink into a leather banquette or gold velvet couch and order zhooshed-up hotel classics (vol-au-vents or charcoal-grilled steaks) from a former Cumulus Inc and Marion chef.

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  • 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.

  • Go on a journey through Andalusia with charcuterie, moreish tapas and house-made paella. The southern Spanish staple has built a loyal following over the years, and its longevity in an area of ever-changing restaurants helps to explain why.

  • Under the stewardship of star chef Andrew McConnell, this classic bar and dining room in a heritage building feels as vital as ever. Throw back easy-drinking lagers and cocktails with a burger or the rotisserie of the day.

  • True to its name, this ’80s-referencing, queer-friendly, vegan-leaning American diner packs a nightclub-quality soundsystem and a mezzanine DJ booth. Drag trivia and bingo are held regularly here, alongside glitzy techno and pop parties.

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  • The colonel’s got nothing on this fiery Nashville-style fried chicken joint. Choose your cut, heat and condiments and let the good times roll. You’ll also find a fluid list of excellent wines from around the country.

  • This jazzy Fitzroy 30-seater blends Japanese izakaya, craft sake bar and record store.

Johnston Street

  • Industry experts from Rockwell and Sons and Attica joined forces for this stylish drinking den. The best way to sample the changing dishes is through the set menu (don’t skip the sourdough flatbread). Plus, an extensive wine list offers everything from buzzy pét-nats to classic chardonnays.

  • A schmick Mexican-style taqueria serving up tacos, hulking tortas (Mexican-style sandwiches), imported Mexican beers and house-made horchata. There are banquettes and high tables to sit at, or you can get your lunch to take away.

  • This is one of Melbourne’s most underrated pubs, where veteran chef Sean Donovan blends French techniques with Aussie barbeque. The historic hotel has a casual front bar, two dining rooms and an untouched wine cellar.

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  • This three-level pub – which has stood for more than 150 years – is one of Melbourne’s best. It’s an ideal spot for a feed or knock-off pint, whether you’re in the front bar, upstairs in the dining room, or soaking rays on the rooftop.

  • Formerly The Rochester Castle this place has never lost its party pub reputation. DJs own it on weekends, but the slick pub mains means it’s equally suited for a quiet midweek feed.

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Brunswick Street

  • The relaxed diner – inspired by the intimate trattorias in Italy's northwest – specialises in cuisine and wine from Piedmont. Go for vitello tonnato, steak tartare and the region's two signature pastas. Plus, choose from an encyclopaedic leather-bound wine list of barolo, dolcetto, and more.

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  • This Brunswick Street institution is one of Australia’s oldest Afghan restaurants. Adored by locals and tourists alike, the veggo- and vegan-friendly spot is one of Fitzroy’s most essential dining experiences.

  • From the team behind South Yarra’s Fratellino Pizza comes a northside counterpart. Thin-crust Neopolitan pizzas are served hot and oozing from the imported Valoriani pizza oven and can all be made gluten-free. Non-pizza options include pasta and chargrilled fish.

  • A large, colourful restaurant with a menu that touches on nearly every aspect of Japanese cuisine. Here you'll find sushi, gyoza, tempura, plus hearty bowls of ramen and don. Plus a fun drinks list that includes sakes, Japanese-influenced cocktails and craft beers from Tokyo.

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  • Traditional recipes made with topnotch ingredients make this one of the better Indian diners around. Sample ultra-thin dosa, slow-cooked biryani and all the curry favourites.

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  • Transforming the perception that meat-free is mediocre since 2015. Roll into this refurbished electrical factory and feast on chickpea panisse, crispy oyster mushrooms and bahar-braised eggplant. For extra fun, add an Aperol Dill Spritz.

  • Melbourne’s enduring mecca for nourishing vegetarian fare (including vegan, gluten-free and lactose-intolerant). Enjoy the down-to-earth vibe, infectious bonhomie and broad range of dishes with an Asian influence. Stake your claim early.

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  • A bright, buzzing diner with kitsch interiors serving a creative pan-Asian menu. Dinner might include nam jim kingfish, Sichuan eggplant or pork dumplings. Pro tip: book the karaoke room out back for a night to remember (or forget).

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  • One of the area’s classics – it’s loud, fun and good value. Visit during happy hour for well-priced pizzas, tapas and sangria jugs. It still serves vodka from an old Fitzroy distillery. Don’t forget to head up to the rooftop for inimitable city views.

  • Swing by for a bowl of the signature burnt-miso ramen at lunch, or izakaya-style snacks and cocktails after dark.

  • A night of tapas and wines at this glowing wine bar is cheaper than a ticket to Spain. Order Iberian share plates (including plenty of seafood) and Jalapeno Margaritas, while Grace Jones plays in the background.

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  • Pass under the glowing neon sign to find this vibrant North Indian diner. Go for crispy honey-chilli cauliflower, fig and pomegranate kofta, and Punjabi butter chicken that (importantly) isn’t sweet. Plus, find Indian-leaning cocktails levelled-up with ingredients like turmeric, mango and cardamom.

  • Chances are you haven’t had these in Melbourne. Deep End’s owner studied in the US and brought its pizza back here. Choose from thin New York-style; crispy-cornered Detroit-style; and hulking Chicago deep-dish pizzas.

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  • This restaurant, which started as a pop-up in Sydney, serves Nigerian staples in the inner north. It's cooking plantains, “puff puff” doughnuts and goat stew – and supporting creatives and Black-owned business along the way.

Smith Street

  • There are no ovens, just fire at this flaming restaurant from two former San Telmo chefs. Naturally, the steak is stellar. But they’re also propelling carrots from sidekick to hero status.

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  • Ascend three flights of stairs to reach this convivial loft, where arched windows offer views of Collingwood. The bar menu offers refined snacks, while the slightly quieter restaurant serves heartier, modern Australian dishes of market fish, oysters and meaty share plates.

  • For a quick bowl of comforting, home-style broth and noodles – look no further. Start with the iconic bao before moving to the tight yet complex ramen menu. Standouts include the shoyu, tantanmen and veg miso. They all go down nicely with an ice-cold beer.

  • Find classic Japanese snacks and party-friendly cocktails at this sprawling izakaya. Across two levels, go for karaage and gyoza alongside natural wines, cocktails made with Japanese whisky and Stomping Ground rice lager on tap.

  • This laid-back diner specialises in home-style south Indian food. Come for dosa stuffed with curried potatoes, caramelised pork fry and owner-chef Mischa Tropp’s fiery fish curry (best tempered with a boozy Darjeeling iced tea).