Best Restaurants in South Yarra

Updated 1 month ago

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South Yarra is one of Melbourne’s most exciting and diverse dining areas. High-end restaurants are thriving thanks to the gold-plated addresses in and around Domain Road, but at the same time, a raft of new apartments and the club-heavy nightlife in adjacent Prahran mean there are plenty of burger joints, casual Italian eateries and other affordable places, too. Regardless of your taste or budget, there’s a restaurant on our list to suit you. Here’s where to find them.

  • A bold, contemporary diner dedicated to cooking with fire and smoke, from the owner-chef of Estelle and Saint Crispin.

  • Rough-hewn stone walls, high ceilings and golden accents set the mood at this subterranean Japanese diner. Take the glass lift underground for charcoal-cooked Wagyu, delicate sashimi and exciting detours into Chinese cuisine.

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  • Practice has made perfect at this Melbourne institution. It’s been serving exquisite fish since the year 2000, paired with attentive old-school service and a wide-ranging wine list filled with interesting bottles.

  • Open since 1986, France Soir is one of Melbourne’s pre-eminent restaurants – attracting the likes of Bruce Springsteen and Mick Jagger. Find classic French staples from steak tartare to margret de canard (duck breast) for mains, to crème brûlée for dessert.

  • This creative smokehouse breaks tradition by adding smoke to largely Cantonese- and Japanese-inspired dishes. Come for favourites including smoked chicken katsu with house-made barbeque sauce, braised winter melon with smoked almond cream, and an otherworldly coconut ice cream.

  • An elegant, produce-driven menu by a former Vue de Monde and Eleven Madison Park chef is the draw at this soaring European bistro on the ground floor of the Capitol Grand building. Plus, there’s a 200-bottle wine list and botanical-heavy cocktails from a former World Class Bartender of the Year.

  • Ambitious young owner-chef Charlie Carrington changes the cuisine every four months.

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  • Perch at a dedicated yakitori table for succulent chicken skewers, or retreat to the private dining room for an omakase experience where high-end Kobe beef is the star. It’s from the Wagyu Ya and Niku Ou team.

  • A trio of hospitality lifers is behind this smart wine bar, which is equally good for snacking as a full, sit-down dinner.

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  • Shannon Martinez’s all-vegan, all-day diner inside the luxury Ovolo hotel is a symbol of the group’s commitment to plant-based eating. Alongside celebrated chef Ian Curley, Martinez is serving Josper-fired peri-peri cauliflower, steamy tamales and “blood” sausage plus spicy Latin American inspired cocktails.

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  • An intimate, 12-seat omakase bar, where no two meals are the same. Experience 20 or more individualised courses while being entertained by the chefs' playful banter. Expect top-quality seafood that might be squid, sea urchin, salmon roe, King George whiting or bluefin tuna.

  • Intimate and communal, like a real Italian restaurant should be.

  • It’s a tiny spot, but the romantic, elbow-to-elbow ambience at Thirty Eight Chairs increases the chances of getting to know your neighbours – and maybe even sharing a bottle of wine with them. Pastas pay homage to all the family classics and are made from scratch.

  • An Italian mega-venue sprawling across four storeys of a late-1800s building. Get your golden-hour cocktail fix on the rooftop, then head downstairs to the golden-lit trattoria for pizza made from a family recipe. Or a barrel-aged Negroni in the cocktail bar.

  • This all-day Italian cafe embraces la cucina povera (“poor man’s cooking”) – or making do with what you have. The result is an ever-changing menu of seafood, salads, paninis and pizzas. Order a plate and settle in at one of the communal tables, or in the sunny courtyard.

  • Experience a variety of (mostly French) tastes and textures at Bistro Gitan, the Reymond family restaurant.

  • Local and Japanese Wagyu steaks are the focus at this New York-style steakhouse, ranging from $80 up to $500. For mains, see the roving Wagyu trolley or scour the list of more than 30 steaks to choose by producer, cut and score.

  • Inside a former ice-cream store, this little slice of Venice is big on protein – woodfired in a Josper oven imported from Spain. But if you’re feeling pastas, varieties such as tagliolini and pappardelle are rolled in-house. It’s all served in a terrazzo-and-timber space that’s casual and contemporary at once.

  • If you’re really into burgers, tick Leonard’s off the list. This ’70s log cabin-themed burger bar serves some of Melbourne’s best. Expect American-style burger combos centred around beef, chicken, mushroom and vegan pattys. It’s also dog-friendly, so your furry friend might be begging tableside for a bite.

  • A lush fig tree takes pride of place in this light-filled dining room. The all-day diner takes you from blue swimmer crab crumpets for breakfast, to slow-cooked beef cheek and Australian wines for dinner.

  • Not much has changed at this Chapel Street institution since it opened in 1988. Truth be told, not much needs to. There’s always a reliably good meat or fish of the day, plus pastas and risotto. And though it’s small, there’s a bustling energy to the place that’s all part of the appeal.

  • Neon signage and dissolving fairy-floss Martinis. Instagram, here we come.

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  • It’s been around for years, but this sprawling pub still pulls a crowd with its post-Tan brunches, upscale pub fare and footy season steak nights. It serves top-tier steaks (including Wagyu), which are dry-aged in house.

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  • If you usually discard the pizza crust, A25 will convert you. Remo Nicolini’s pizzas have soft and blistery bases that let the ingredients shine. Plus, there are pastas such as Wagyu beef lasagne and pappardelle with porcini. Mopping up the sauce with your pizza crust is recommended.

  • A day-to-night eatery with a refined, European feel.

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  • Since 2007, Nahji Chu’s hawker-style tuckshops have served fast and down-to-earth Vietnamese. Menu standouts include scallop and prawn dumplings, refreshing rice paper rolls and flavourful curries.

  • A favourite pizza joint among the South Yarra locals.

  • Australian and Mediterranean influences are combined with flair at the Olsen Hotel’s in-house restaurant. Start your day with its breakfast classics such as smashed avocado; or round it out with dinner stars such as chargrilled prawns, juicy steak and sharp cocktails.

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  • Named for its dough’s 48-hour rise time (and recognised as one of Oceania’s best pizzerias), the menu here runs the gamut of classic and modern pies with notable vegan alternatives. The eponymous gnocchi comes “della nonna” style.

  • A tiny, 16-seater coffee and sandwich window by day and petite wine bar by night. Stop by for oysters with hibiscus mignonette, buttery pastries, cocktails, and a 50-bottle wine list.

  • This compact 20-seater showcases southern Thai dishes with flair. Try its hot, zesty dry red curry with pork, garlicky stir-fried malindjo greens, or a deeply umami sour fish curry. Add on Thai milk tea or rosy pink milk.

  • Choose-your-own-pasta adventure at this fast-casual Italian spot. Pick your sauce (be it creamy carbonara or hearty ragu) and marry it with your favourite pasta shape, before adding toppings like anchovies, prawns and kalamata olives.