The Best Restaurants on Lygon Street

Updated 1 month ago


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 Queensberry and Elgin streets – has its fair share of tourist traps, but there are plenty of great Italian restaurants (like DOC) hidden among the chequered tablecloths.

The street’s northern end, in Brunswick East, is much less famous but is today home to some of the city’s most exciting contemporary restaurants, including Old Palm Liquor and Etta. So Lygon is something of a dining powerhouse, regardless of which particular stretch we’re talking about.


  • 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.

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  • Take a seat at the black granite bar for hot and sour shredded potato, charcoal-roasted char siu and cured pork belly with rolled rice noodles in XO.

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  • In 2018, this Euro-Japanese fine diner moved from its home in Daylesford to Carlton. We're glad it's made the move to the city. The dishes here, delivered thoughtfully across several multi-course options, are a compelling argument for fusion done the right way.

  • A cosy wine bar with quality pasta, hard-to-find wines and waiters clad head-to-toe in white Japanese denim. Set within an iconic heritage building, this place is a Melbourne interpretation of a classic Italian enoteca.

  • 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.

  • A food emporium with a history of bringing Italian food to Australians since 1884.

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

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

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  • 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.

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

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

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  • When veteran restaurateur Rinaldo Di Stasio started serving pizza for the first time, people duly took notice. Come for classic Margheritas and luxurious lobster pies in a colourful, artwork-filled space.

  • 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.

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

  • Kahaani, which means “story” in Hindi, showcases deep cuts from India’s diverse regional cuisines. Try the refined reshmi kebab, or the family-recipe goat curry that predates Partition.

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Brunswick East

  • The sibling of Neighbourhood Wine is cool and comfortable. Take a seat at the bar, or in front of an open fire, and enjoy the rotating share plates and easy-drinking wines.

  • Left-of-centre pizzas are the draw at this big, industrial-chic room from the Tipo 00 and Osteria Ilaria crew. Post up at the central bar for snacks and natural wines, or share bistecca and nebbiolo at a bistro-style table.

  • The DIY spirit is alive at this Southern-barbeque specialist.

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  • Expect woodfired pide, Moroccan chicken, and candied pumpkin with tahini at this father-son operation. Don’t feel like going out? The kitchen also runs a delivery-only kebab store.

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  • Tucked beneath an apartment block, an ex-Kisume and Nobu chef perfects the Japanese art of robatayaki using a charcoal-powered parrilla grill. Take a seat at the bar overlooking the small but efficient kitchen for yakitori served every way and a diverse selection of sake by the glass.

  • Blending elements of Melbourne cafe, European wine bar and Tokyo-style “listening bar”, this buzzing spot hosts vinyl-only DJs five nights a week, with no cover charges. It’s one of the best places in town to hear recorded music.

  • If you forget to book at this cosy neighbourhood restaurant, grab a seat at the bar, order a spritz and picture yourself in the streets of Palermo as you wait for a table. You’re in for home-style Sicilian fare, nostalgic Italian desserts and a welcoming vibe.

  • A romantic Italian joint with valentine-red booths and a beautiful oak bar. The owners pay homage to their predecessors with the venue’s original woodfired oven, and signature pizza – topped with passata, fior di latte and basil.

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  • Since 2006, Joseph Abboud’s Middle Eastern diner has reached institution status. Come for his signature cheese cigars and advieh-marinated lamb shoulder. Plus, a 200-strong mostly Middle Eastern wine list and fiery charcoal grill.

  • A red neon arrow beckons you inside for a choose-your-own-chicken adventure. Just decide what cut, heat and sauce you want – then add on silky mash with 48-hour gravy and some wads of garlic-butter brioche.

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  • Twin brothers Antoine and Bechara Taouk serve up Lebanese soul food, just like their grandma did at home.

  • A wine-focused bar-restaurant by La Luna’s Adrian Richardson.

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  • There are over 80 sakes at this slick Japanese bar and eatery, which is housed in a former bank. Unlike many izakaya – which can get quite dark – Kumo's space is light, open and airy.

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  • Family favourites from a Lebanese home cook.

  • A small Lebanese bakery with a local home delivery service.

  • A Naples inspired Italian restaurant with some of the best pizza in town.

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  • Burgers, booze and bands – that’s been the brief at The Beast since day dot. Years on, it still delivers with hefty two-handers (including respectable plant-based options), cheeky and creative cocktails, and plenty of local music.

  • A hyperactive restaurant that serves mammoth-sized, affordable Thai food.

  • This casual Italian joint has a fit-out reminiscent of the all-you-can-eat pizza joints of the ’90s. While it's not a classic buffet, the pizzas are worth your pennies – from classic capricciosa to a burrata-laden pie.

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