The Best Restaurants on Chapel Street

Updated 4 months ago

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Chapel Street is – and pretty much always has been – one of Melbourne’s most iconic strips. But where it was once known for shopping, these days it’s more of a nightlife hub, drawing revellers from right across the city’s south-east.

Stretching through South Yarra, Prahran, Windsor and St Kilda, the street packs dozens of restaurants, although the high-end diners around South Yarra and the masses of fun Asian fusion joints in Windsor are where most of the action is. Whether you’re looking for hawker-style Vietnamese eats or burgers in a laid-back ‘70s joint – this guide has you covered.

South Yarra

  • 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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  • 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.

  • 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 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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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  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

Prahran

  • A Thai restaurant from the chef behind Cookie and The Toff in Town. Bring a group and go for Bangkok bolognaise, fat duck noodles and souped-up curries. Play on the Nintendo 64s while you wait.

  • Run by a passionate French Australian, this 12-seat omakase restaurant is open for just two sittings a day. Book in for a simple chirashi bowl, or an 11-course lunch featuring dishes like dry-aged kingfish sashimi with roasted spring onion oil and Hokkaido scallops with burnt orange gel.

  • Enjoy elevated Shanghainese fare and sharp cocktails at this intimate, buzzing restaurant right off Chapel Street. Go for the memorable set menu, which might include Peking duck pancakes, chicken ribs with spicy mayo and white chocolate dumplings to finish it all off.

  • There's an extensive ramen menu at this bar and diner from the man behind Wabi Sabi Salon and Neko Neko, alongside a range of other classic Japanese dishes. Plus, there are plenty of sake-based cocktails and a tight line-up of rare whiskies.

  • This spacious gastropub serves honest and elevated pub food alongside sharp cocktails. Go for its excellent oysters, gooey burrata, hulking burgers and juicy steaks.

Windsor

  • This spot from the Hanoi Hannah and Tokyo Tina crew is all about spicy birds: with a Vietnamese take on duck à l’orange and charcoal chicken with burnt chilli. Plus, there’s cocktails made with charred grapefruit and burnt plums.

  • A buzzing food and beer hall inspired by Singaporean and Malaysian hawker halls. Work your way through a hit-list of hawker market dishes. Expect various dishes of noodles, rice, roti and curry (from the trusted team behind Chin Chin, Society and Baby Pizza). Plus, order lots of easy-drinking beers.

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  • A gleaming 100-litre still sits at the centre of this red-accented bar and restaurant. It’s where distiller (and chef) Carlo Tran makes the gin you’ll find in your Asian-inspired cocktails – most of which are on tap. Pair them with pan-Asian dishes such as chargrilled prawns, beef rendang, deconstructed bao and karaage chicken.

  • This is the third Farro pizzeria, and it delivers the same level of polish as its siblings. Step inside for great Italian cocktails, an extensive range of pizzas – all of which can be made gluten-free or vegan – plus pastas and antipasti.

  • Colourful, neon-lit and always a party. Go for Japanese fusion including salty edamame, crunchy karaage and the ever-popular salmon and nori taco. Plus: frozen and fruity cocktails, sake and umeshu, and a tight Japanese whisky list.

  • A sleek wine bar and restaurant serving up Middle Eastern-inspired dishes, some borrowed from its elder sibling Maha. Tuck into share plates of Armenian beef dumplings, lamb cutlets and taramasalata fried buns. There’s also a 120-strong wine list.

  • This beloved pub, around since the 1920s, lets you choose from two bars or an upscale restaurant. Pile in for elevated pub classics, such as juicy steak with chips stacked like Jenga. Plus, there’s a deck for sunnier days.

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  • Enjoy Japanese-inspired food at this moodily lit diner, from the team behind Saigon Sally and Hanoi Hannah. The stars here are crisped-up sticky eggplant, karaage chicken, miso-baked cauliflower and tender duck breast in brothy udon.

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  • Pop into this warm, retro-feel restaurant for weeknight dinners of 72-hour-fermented focaccia, handmade pasta and woodfired meats. On weekends, party in the basement with amaro cocktails and DJs spinning Italo disco.

  • Henrietta is not a “grab your chook and go” situation. If the $2.5 million fit-out doesn’t draw you in, the garlicky aroma of toum, fresh bread and fire-grilled chicken surely will.