The Best Date Places in Melbourne

Updated 4 days ago


So you’ve swiped right and got a match. Or perhaps you’re in a long-term situation and need to dial up the romance. Now comes the tricky part – finding a place that suits the vibe of wherever the relationship is at.

Whether you’re after somewhere fun and energetic for a first encounter, or a fine diner with impressive food and knee-dropping views to match, this list of essential Melbourne date spots has you covered in a pinch. Good luck to you both.

First Dates

Early encounters require a particular kind of venue. We’re not into quiet, romantic spots – not early on, anyway. At these fun, energetic restaurants and bars there’s rarely a chance for an awkward silence.

  • 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.

  • Named after a classic Jeff Buckley song, this grungy warehouse wine bar feels like a dinner party in a New York loft apartment. Come for nostalgic dishes with a French bistro lean, music played on vinyl and plenty of interesting wine.

  • Squeeze into this tiny, 100-year-old caretaker’s quarters for what may be Victoria’s smallest pub. Behind Tassie oak bar you’ll find Guinness on tap, a short cocktail list and British pub snacks to keep you mint.

  • Right across from Prahran Market, the facade isn’t exactly attention-grabbing. But what’s inside certainly is. The stomping fried-chicken sanga and rotating pasta line-up make this communal wine bar a local’s favourite.

  • This west-side wine bar and bottle shop, run by locals, is compact but comprehensive. Grab a bottle to go, or stick around for freshly shucked oysters, local beers and approachable wines in the colourful courtyard out back.

  • A petite wine bar straddling the homey, community feel of old Footscray and the newer wave of trendy boozers. Come for easygoing, minimal-intervention wines from lesser-known producers, BYO food from Barkly Street’s best eateries and a lounge room atmosphere (including board games).

  • Two winemakers are behind this cosy wine bar, which pours natural drops from Australia and Europe. Sit in the heritage-listed building and enjoy a glass with some charcuterie, or grab a bottle and some deli snacks to go.

  • In a timber-panelled room that feels of another time, get ready for four types of Martini, a daily menu of shellfish on ice, and a stand-out crème caramel dessert.

  • This bar is a true local’s haunt. Friends, family and neighbours gather out front or up at the timber-clad bar to have a yarn, sip on a Victorian ale and order in food from nearby restaurants.

  • This stylish Clarendon Street wine bar pours top-notch Coravin drops made for pairing with fried-chicken bao, kingfish sashimi, and tempura eggplant in miso custard.

  • Named after a Tom Petty album – and rocking an appropriate soundtrack – Lulie’s Cali-inspired rooftop bar is all sun, stone and succulents. Head upstairs for zesty cocktails from a cactus-shaped dispenser and a riff on the Hungry Jack’s Whopper.

  • A rollicking good-times pizzeria from the Leonard's House of Love crew. It’s the kind of place you could accidentally spend hours in, and wake up dustier than you’d planned. It's almost always busy here (luckily you can book ahead) thanks to those standout pepperoni pies.

  • 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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  • Do all north-side first dates happen at Uncle Joe’s? It’s a fair question. You could boil it down to the simple and classic cocktails, fun vibe, and proximity to pizza from Mankoushe next door if things are going well and drinks turn into a casual dinner.

  • Melbourne’s answer to the old-school Italian wine bar. Choose a bottle to take home, or crack it open at the restaurant (with a corkage fee) and enjoy with pastas and small plates, alongside the rest of the post-theatre crowd.

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  • Skip the wine list and pluck your selection straight off the wall at this friendly suburban spot. There are more than 200 bottles to have in or take away, plus wines by-the-glass and a solid range of craft beers. A menu of cheese, antipasto, charcuterie and pizza will see you through the night.

  • A 70-seater neighbourhood wine bar in a former antiques-restoration shop. Bathe in the chandelier’s buttery glow in the front room, or head out back to get toasty by the fire. There’s a 180-strong wine wall, plus hummus swimming in chilli oil and charcuterie hampers to go.

  • A neighbourhood wine bar from the crew behind Toorak Cellars, Milton Wine Shop and the Alps. Choose from around 20 glasses (they rotate weekly) and more than 200 bottles. You can also expect woodfired pizzas, plus a blazing wood heater in the colder months.

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  • 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.

  • This neighbourhood wine bar may be small, but its award-winning wine list is mighty. Choose a glass or bottle from over 500 wines. Enjoy it with bar snacks and board games – either in the intimate indoor seating or breezy rear courtyard.

  • The crown jewel of the King and Godfree complex. A visit here comes with Italian-beach-club energy, amazing city views, Italian fare and summer-ready drinks. It’s all tied together by a soundtrack of Italo disco tunes.

  • Choose your own adventure across three bars, 12 bowling lanes, a gaming arcade, a dance floor and a massive beer garden. At this spot (which has room for 600 punters) you clearly come for the activities. But you stay for the 45 beer taps, kegged cocktails, pizzas and pub food.

  • Everyone (and their dog) is welcome at this bar, inspired by a short-lived Italian micronation from the ’60s. BYO food, enjoy Victorian brewers on tap, have a glass of natural wine and hang out with the locals.

  • The prolific publicans behind some of Melbourne's most popular venues are pouring minimal-intervention wine and classic cocktails at this handsome suburban spot. To eat it's cheese boards and woodfired pies from the pizzeria next-door.

  • From live music to a weekly book club, this neighbourhood wine bar is all about community. Visit for a Victorian-heavy wine list, a rotating snack menu and dog-friendly courtyard.

  • Housed within a traditional terrace, Milton Wine Shop is the kind of place where lo-fi and classic drops hold equal footing on the evolving wine list. When hunger strikes, there's a short list of seasonal snacks that pairs beautifully with whatever's pouring at the bar.

  • One of the city’s most prolific bar owners is behind this pint-sized bar and bottle-o. Like a mini wine library, Bijou invites you to grab a table, peruse its floor-to-ceiling wine shelves and settle in to watch the world go by.

  • Shane Delia’s cocktail bar, right next to his flagship Maha restaurant. Enter for classic cocktails turned on their head by a world-class bartender and a cracking bar menu of beefy borek buns, taramasalata tarts and a saucy lamb sanga.

  • It feels like a real holiday on warm afternoons, when locals spill onto the street outside. Inside, a long bar houses a vinyl collection and old-school decks, and offers wines and Italian-leaning plates.

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  • Settle in at the car-park-turned-rooftop-bar for Greek-inspired cocktails or unwind in a booth downstairs. Wines are mostly Greek and Aussie, and share plates include saganaki croquettes and taramasalata with caviar.

Date Night

These casual restaurants and bars all have excellent food and drinks, but it’s the atmosphere and service that really shine – letting you focus all your energy on having a great night out with your partner. The tempos are a bit more relaxed, the music is softer and there’s more of an emphasis on food.

  • Nominally it’s a wine bar, but Embla’s charms are far more profound than those two words suggest. Come here for some of the city’s best food, paired with an idiosyncratic wine list poured by staff who give a damn.

  • This swish bar – decked out in emerald marble and plush velvet – was once a Bakers Delight. Now, it's a buzzy bistro and wine bar from a former Fitzroy Town Hall head chef and the owner of nearby wine bar Barkley Johnson. Visit for a caramelised-onion baguette, whole fish swimming in miso butter and a peachy aperitif cocktail.

  • Gerald Diffey and Mario Di Ienno’s storied neighbourhood bar brims with nostalgia. Vintage books, yesteryear’s wine bottles and a glimmering disco ball decorate the space – but the thing you’ll notice most is warm, old-school hospitality. The menus turn on a dime, so you’ll always have reasons to keep coming back.

  • Everything is made from scratch at this wine bar from a young owner-chef with experience at Michelin star restaurants. The menu changes each week (but retains a nostalgic, familiar slant) and the walls are covered with Australian art.

  • Walk down the nondescript staircase and let your eyes adjust. There’s no natural light at this New York-inspired French bistro – that’s why it’s so easy to lose track of time here. It's also home to one of Melbourne's most famous late-night burgers.

  • 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.

  • A homey neighbourhood wine bar set in a Victorian-era building. Find filled-to-the-brim bagels and Reubens by day, and fancy bar snacks and wines that punch above their weight by night.

  • 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 warmly lit bolthole, by Amaru's Clinton McIver, is all about fun fine-diner snacks – sans the degustation price tag and cutlery So, raise a spanner-crab doughnut in one hand, and a glass of champagne in the other.

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  • Can’t get a booking at the Yarraville fine diner? Want an alternative to the stellar tasting menu? Go next door for salt-and-vinegar fish skins and “ducklava”, or small-batch aperitivi poured by their maker.

  • 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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  • 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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  • This fun Italian joint, from Bar Liberty’s crew, takes plenty of cues from North America – with deep-dish pizza “squares” and rich, fermented base “rounds”. While the US gets a big look-in, the wine list is almost entirely Italian.

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  • Moving from Collingwood to the city has only taken this energetic Chinese restaurant to greater heights. Find the discreet entrance off Flinders Lane, then settle in for elegant, big-flavoured dishes drawing influence from all corners of China.

  • The pretty Victorian building in the heart of Carlton is a modern eatery with a European-influenced menu and wine list.

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  • This neighbourhood spot has an all-day cafe, diner, gallery space and courtyard with views of the Abbotsford Convent. It’ll take you right through your day, from your morning coffee to your late-night share plates and local lo-fi wines. As for food? Expect hearty veggie soups, charcuterie plates, mussels steeped in chilli and tomato sauce, and more.

  • 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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  • A tribute to the owner’s Calabrian-born father, Umberto plates up cucina casalinga homestyle cooking and classic Italian aperitivi in a former shoe shop. It’s also home to Gigi, a rooftop bar where you can sip a Negroni with one-of-a-kind views.

  • A Euro-inspired wine bar, wine shop and deli set beneath The Prince Hotel. Enjoy classic Australian and European wines; cheese, charcuterie and small snacking plates from the deli; and descend to one of Melbourne’s most impressive wine cellars.

  • This intimate wine bar and diner is helping to put Mauritian food on Melbourne’s culinary map. Try quintessential Mauritian dishes (which go hard on okra, pickled produce and seafood) with curated natural wines.

  • With vintage prints on the walls and Miles Davis on the record player, Bar Thyme has an old-school charm about it. Stop by for French-influenced dishes by an ex-Movida chef, a casual glass from the lo-fi wine list, or both.

  • 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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  • A neighbourhood wine bar serving a mix of Australian and European drops alongside small grazing plates. Go for a jamon plate, build-your-own cheeseboard, or order woodfired pizzas delivered from the nearby Il Caminetto. Enjoy wines by the glass or take your pick from more than 250 bottles next door.

  • From morning to night, this laid-back spot is plating a new wave of Chinese-Australian dishes. Come early for coffee and congee, or later for beef sandos and a Chinese spin on spaghetti and meatballs.

  • 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.

Special Occasions

If you’re celebrating a milestone, one of these restaurants will do the trick. The staff at these restaurants are happy to accommodate special requests – from something as simple as arranging an off-menu birthday cake to helping you orchestrate a perfect proposal.

  • This sultry sibling to Sunda is every bit as stellar. The menu effortlessly blends Southeast Asian flavours, native Australian ingredients and ancient techniques.

  • 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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  • There aren’t many Melbourne restaurants left where they’ll open the door for you, pull out your chair and fold a napkin on your lap. Impeccable service is a fine backdrop to a three-course meal of traditional Italian decadence.

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  • Vue de Monde translates to “worldview” in French – and that’s just what you’ll get at this celebrated fine diner. Perched 55 floors above the city on the Rialto Building’s former observation deck, it boasts an impressive 360-degree vista from Docklands to the Dandenongs.

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  • 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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  • Just 20 diners a night are admitted to this inimitable Indian restaurant, where owner-chef Helly Raichura cooks vibrant banquets faithful to regional Indian cuisines using top-quality local produce and native ingredients.

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

  • Venetian elegance, New York energy and Melbourne nostalgia collide at restaurateur Chris Lucas’s lavish brasserie and grill. Settle into the grand dining room for charcoal-fired bistecca, show-stopping tiramisu, quintessentially Italian cocktails and lots of tableside theatrics.

  • Gothic vaulted ceilings, stained windows and solid granite columns define this grand brasserie, in the former Melbourne Stock Exchange. Order freshly-shucked oysters from the raw bar, top-grade beef and cheese from the roving trolley.

  • The CBD sequel to restaurateur Rinaldo Di Stasio's St Kilda institution goes just as heavy on the hand-made pastas. But it also throws high art into the mix, with video installations and dramatic artworks lining the walls of the restaurant’s brutalist, contemporary interior.

  • The hushed, reverent atmosphere here is well suited to owner-chef Koichi Minamishima's awe-inspiring knife skills. He works with both local seafood and fish flown direct from Toyosu Fish Market in Tokyo to produce his peerless sushi. This is the best Japanese restaurant in Melbourne.

  • There’s nothing quite like eating seafood by the ocean, and Stokehouse is one of the best places in Melbourne to do it. The dining room is wrapped in floor-to-ceiling windows, so there’ll be uninterrupted (or knee-dropping) views no matter where you sit.

  • Andrew McConnell's signature flair is all over this grand bar and dining room, from the exacting service to the comforting European dishes. It’s named after the classic cocktail, and the calibre of drinks here speaks to that. You’ll find us at the marble bar, Gimlet in hand.

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  • This restaurant celebrating nature, native Australian ingredients and craftsmanship hides on a quiet residential street.

  • 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.

  • Tipo 00’s younger sibling stretches beyond the pasta bar concept with meat and seafood dishes straight out of a modern Italian osteria. An enormous cellar below stocks Italian necessities like wine and house-cured charcuterie.

  • An upmarket New Nordic restaurant occupying two levels of Collins Street’s Gothic 1880s Olderfleet building. Stop by when the sun is up for various smorrebrod, or Scandi open sandwiches. Later on, you’ll find standout savoury waffles, not-your-average beef tartare and other dishes where simplicity tempers innovation.

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  • Acclaimed chef Scott Pickett returns to his roots at this swish bistro. With its caviar service, playful spins on Gallic staples and a dining room that recalls Paris in the 1930s, this place is a spirited entry to the genre.

  • Settle into one of Melbourne's best farm-to-table fine diners just 45 minutes from the CBD. Wildly inventive degustations featuring produce from the restaurant's own Cardinia farm take place in a moody and sleek dining room. And out the front is a bottle shop where you can buy a bottle from its list of Victorian wines.

  • Take one of 34 seats and put yourself in the hands of Clinton McIver and his degustation-only menu.

  • 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.

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