Best Date Places in Melbourne

Updated 5 months 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.

Related pages:
Best Restaurants in Melbourne
Best Wine Bars in Melbourne
Best Cocktail Bars in Melbourne
Best Neighbourhood Bars in Melbourne

First Dates

First dates 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • Despite the modern refurb, this charming all-day boozer feels like it’s been around forever. Park yourself in the sunny, plant-filled atrium or nab a spot out front for pub-style breakfasts and upmarket parmas. The knockout-style pool competitions here are a midweek spectacle.

  • 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.

  • 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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  • This spot just off St Kilda Beach is one of Melbourne's original Mexican restaurants, and it's still one of its best. That's thanks to an uncompromising commitment to quality ingredients. The drinks list, which includes a handful of Margaritas, complements the fun, shareable food.

  • Visit this no-fuss Euro wine bar, where you can choose from over 3,500 wines right from the neighbouring Prince Wine Store. A large marble bar shows the daily seafood special, which you can enjoy alongside simple yet elevated pasta and moreish charcuterie.

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  • Venue number two from the Mamasita crew introduces a careful element of kitsch but loses none of the attention to detail that made its older sibling such a hit. Take a seat at the bar, order a frosty Michelada and snack on some *huitalacoche* (corn fungus) tacos. Even if you've been to Mexico, you won't find the experience lacking.

  • 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.

  • This cocktail bar's eye for detail is second to none – it even has an in-house ice company to ensure every drink gets the perfect block.

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  • This suave cocktail bar is consistently recognised in global polls, and for good reason. There's no drink the staff here can't make to perfection.

  • Henry Sugar is the kind of wine bar every neighbourhood should have. It’s intimate yet communal; sophisticated yet relaxed. The mix of contemporary Australian fare, sharp cocktails and easy-drinking natural wines are a sure-fire bet your first time here won’t be the last.

  • 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.

  • 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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  • 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.

  • Head up the ridiculously colourful stairwell at this good-time bar (by a co-founder of the Moon and Milton Wine Shop) for a very drinkable "mistake" rosé; frozen Margs and passionfruit sours. For snacks, try one of the Reubens or a spicy Sichuan eggplant sanga.

  • An inclusive, accessible home for the music scene in the west. Grab a reasonably priced jug, see a gig, then plonk yourself down in the colourful beer garden.

  • After years delivering lasagne around town in a ’91 Holden Barina, owner Joey Kellock moved into a former pizza shop and started serving up the goods to his legion of followers. Now you can order a side of salumi and a spritz to go with his famous, saucy slabs.

  • 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 Greek neighbourhood bar inspired by yiayia’s house. Go for comforting home-style plates, including pickled calamari and gooey vegan moussaka, backed by a tight list of Greek beers and wines; stay for the retro setting and vibrant vibes.

  • Danish minimalism meets Italian wine bar. With a cinema.

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  • From the food to the decor, everything at this day-to-night cafe is simple and community-minded. By day, find pastries from Ovens Street bakery, comforting breakfasts, and rotating soups and salads. By night, expect DJs and good drinks.

  • 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.

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.

  • This neighbourhood restaurant keeps going from strength to strength. Its latest incarnation, guided by the steady hands of owner Hannah Green and head chef Rosheen Kaul, is one of Melbourne's essential dining experiences.

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  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • After all these years, moody Tipo 00 still attracts queues of people hoping for a taste of its simple yet meticulously assembled pastas. A couple of secondi and dolci also grace the menu, alongside salumi best enjoyed at the marble bar, spritz in hand. Make sure you arrive early – very early – if you don’t have a booking.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • A neighbourhood favourite that isn’t hampered by its small kitchen. Instead, this buzzing wine bar sends out Mediterranean-inspired bar snacks, larger seafood share plates and complementary sides. Squeeze in a cocktail during happy hour – every day until 7pm.

  • 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.

  • 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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  • 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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  • 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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  • From the team behind Congress and Future Future, this Italian-leaning wine bar serves remixed pastas and classic Italian dishes in a room full of mid-century design flourishes. There's also an on-site bottle shop stocked with Australian and imported Italian booze to take away.

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  • 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.

  • In an iconic southside building, this alluring bistro does old Chinese favourites in new ways – like reimagined prawn toast and a Hainanese chicken club sandwich that took 30 attempts to perfect.

  • 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.

  • 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 with a warm, local feel. It’s also home to Gigi, a tiny rooftop bar where you can sip a Negroni with one-of-a-kind views across Thornbury and Coburg.

  • 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.

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, six-metre ceilings and glowing gold accents set the mood at this high-end Japanese restaurant in a basement. Take the glass-walled lift underground for top-of-the-line Wagyu cooked over charcoal, 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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  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • At this singular Korean restaurant, chef Jung Eun Chae cooks, cleans and serves for just six guests at a time – in the living room of her home. If you can score a hotly contested booking, expect a serene, wholesome meal underpinned by homemade ferments, including booze.

  • 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.

  • The follow-up to older sibling Tipo 00 stretches beyond the pasta bar concept with meat and seafood dishes you might find at a modern osteria in Italy. An enormous cellar beneath the restaurant stocks Italian necessities such as 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.

  • Anthony Bourdain called the original in Sydney “the most beautiful butcher shop in the world”. Its Melbourne outpost has all the same opulence: dark-green marble floors, a wall of solid pink Himalayan salt blocks and vintage 1930s slicers.

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