Lygon is one of Melbourne’s best-known streets, but it cops a lot of unfair flack. It’s true that the Italian restaurant precinct – which roughly occupies the blocks between Carlton’s Queensbury and Elgin streets – has its fair share of tourist traps, but there are plenty of great restaurants hidden among the chequered tablecloths.

Carlton is in the middle of a restaurant renaissance, and that’s starting to show on its most famous strip. There are plenty of places to choose from now, just don’t expect your options to stray too far from Italian cuisine.

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Best Restaurants in Carlton

Carlton Wine Room

The latest incarnation of Carlton Wine Room is also its best. Chef John Paul Twomey is one of the most exciting in Melbourne, and his inventive tweaking of classic European dishes make this restaurant well worth a visit.

172-174 Faraday Street, Carlton

Leonardo’s Pizza Palace

This place throws together classic Italian-American and Italian-Australian dishes, high quality ingredients, loud music, killer drinks and bizarre pizza toppings (like the Chinese bolognaise). It all works. Really well. And it's a lot of fun.

29 Grattan Street, Carlton

Capitano

Approachable, unfussy American-Italian food with fine-dining pedigree.

421 Rathdowne Street, Carlton

DOC

A busy, tightly packed pizzeria, like something straight out of the boot-shaped country.

295 Drummond Street, Carlton

DOC Espresso

A great option for all-day dining, sitting alfresco is one of the best vantage points for taking in Lygon Street's atmosphere.

326 Lygon Street, Carlton

Tiamo Coffee

There's just something about this 40-year-old institution that keeps you coming back. This is the perfect venue for anything from a quick espresso at the bar to a long multi-course meal.

303 Lygon Street, Carlton

Tiamo 2

The other side of the Tiamo coin is slightly more pizza focused, but still has a full menu of pan-Italian favourites.

305 Lygon Street, Carlton

Jimmy Watson’s

One of Melbourne's oldest wine bars is also one of its best – the food menu here is a crowdpleaser, too.

333 Lygon Street, Carlton

Heartattack and Vine

This one isn't great for groups – seating is tight and Heartattack is always packed. If it's just the two of you, though, there are few better places on Lygon Street for casual dining. Whether that's for sandwiches like the much-loved porchetta roll during the day, or for cichetti (Venetian-style tapas) in the evenings.

329 Lygon Street, Carlton

The Green Man’s Arms

One of the few places on Lygon offering great non-Italian food, this Israeli-influenced pub is all vegetarian or vegan.

418 Lygon St, Carlton

Mr Pietro

home-style Southern-Italian food, just off Lygon Street.

50 Grattan Street, Carlton