“What good new restaurants should I try?”

Broadsheet’s editors field this question, or a variation on it, most days. While we’d just as soon recommend one of Melbourne’s straight-up best restaurants or a long-standing institution, the pull of a hot new place is hard to deny.

So here it is: our edit of the best new restaurants in Melbourne from the past 12 months, updated monthly. Some of these places are redefining the way we eat and will go on to become classics. Others will be shorter lived. Either way, these are the spots we’re enjoying eating and drinking at in March .

Related Pages:
Best New Bars in Melbourne
Best New Cafes in Melbourne
Best Restaurants in Melbourne
Best Restaurants in Melbourne’s CBD

Mary's

Over in Sydney, Mary’s Group has a reputation for opening venues that bundle great burgers with grungy vibes and quality booze. Now Melbourne has its first Mary’s. And although rock’n’roll American diners are nothing new in Melbourne, this place is so slick and confident it’s hard not to love. Throw in superb fried chicken, plentiful vegan options, killer cocktails and a fun atmosphere, and you’ve got a sure-fire hit.

167 Franklin Street, Melbourne

Faye

This adventurous new Brunswick East spot champions offal (think skewers of chicken heart and cherries); Victorian seafood; and all things charred, cured and preserved. This is food worth stepping out of your comfort zone for. The team makes its own cultured butter, ricotta and pasta, and forages as much as possible. It’s in a sparse 70-seat space with rainforest-green walls. For drinks there’s a healthy mix of local and international wines, and house-fermented sodas that are almost as funky as the eclectic vinyl selection.

Shop 1 22-30 Lygon Street, Brunswick East

Hazel

Cafe specialists Nathan Toleman and the Mulberry Group are no strangers to ambitious venue concepts, but together, Hazel (the restaurant) and Dessous (the underground bar), presents the group’s first foray into night-time trading. Hazel is all about pared-back elegance. Yes, the wine list namechecks all of the blockbuster regions but you’re welcome – encouraged, even – to pair it with something from the toast menu (which consists of charred sourdough topped with anything from fried nduja to beef tartare). It all comes in a modern dining room accented by touches of baroque and chintz.

164 Flinders Lane, Melbourne

Marameo

Marameo's voguish menu taps into current pasta obsessions such as cacio e pepe ($15 at lunchtime) and cavatelli with pan-fried pork sausage; bolstered by larger, protein-heavy mains. The wine-list has an emphasis on Australian and Italian varietals, while the easy-drinking spritzes are the name of the day over on the cocktail side of things. The best spot for those drinks is on the pretty rooftop courtyard.

6 Russell Place, Melbourne

Old Palm Liquor

Old Palm Liquor is a great spot for a quick drink (the house red, a drop from Koerner in South Australia, is better than any house red has a right to be) but it’s worth settling in for longer. Almost everything on the menu touches the charcoal-powered grill, giving every dish – from king oyster mushrooms to pork chops to rockling fillets – a delicate smokiness.

133b Lygon Street, Brunswick East

The Hardware Club

The Hardware Club sets itself apart in a crowded field of Italian restaurants thanks to its homey, comfortable feel (despite being on Hardware Lane). Childhood friends and owners Nicola Dusi and Andrea Ceriani were looking to channel the neighbourhood eateries of their hometown in northern Italy. On the menu, that means bold and robust wines from small-scale vineyards paired with simple flavours such as tinned anchovies on house-baked bread; or roast chicken with baked brussels sprouts. The trattoria feel extends to the fit-out, which pairs a warm colour palette of yellow and red against wooden accents and ecru walls and tiles.

Level 1 43 Hardware Lane, Melbourne

Frederic

Frédéric feels different to Bistro Gitan and L’Hôtel Gitan, the other two restaurants owned by siblings Antoine, Edouard and Nathalie Reymond. While their first two venues draw heavily on the family’s French roots, especially in terms of techniques and service, Frédéric steers in a different direction. The menu is broadly Mediterranean, with some Australian inflections. Dishes include a flathead ceviche with dill and ginger, and grilled octopus with black-garlic mayonnaise. There’s also a dedicated steak menu. For dessert, opt for the loukoumades with brown butter crème anglaise.

9-11 Cremorne Street, Cremorne

The Happy Mexican

The Happy Mexican is an improbable oasis of calm amid the chaos of Hoddle Street. The fare on offer here is an undiluted, down-home interpretation of Mexican cuisine. We enjoyed the generously stacked tacos (especially on Tuesdays, when they’re half price). Other highlights include the California-style burritos and the Mexico City tortas (sandwiches). The team here is small, and they’ve yet to iron out a couple of kinks, but be patient and give them a chance. It’ll be worth it.

106 Hoddle Street, Abbotsford

Omnia

Omnia isn’t technically new. Its first life, as a Toorak Road pop-up, kicked off back in early 2019. Now that it’s moved into its permanent digs underneath the impressive Capitol Grand development, it’s brought enough fresh things in tow to warrant a re-entry to this list. Executive chef Stephen Nairn has refined his menu, which elevates standard European bistro fare thanks to a focus on local produce and fine dining flourishes. Try the 14-day dry-aged whole duck for two, and order the ratatouille and the crisp potatoes for sides. Then, if you have the room, opt for the crème brulee – it’s one of the best renditions on the classic French dessert in town.

625 Chapel Street, South Yarra

Gaea

Gaea is a degustation-only restaurant with an intense focus on local ingredients, expressed through eccentric riffs on classic European techniques. You could find anything from cured wallaby to brined and charred dandelion flowers served with a pumpkin puree made from fermented pumpkin juice. One dessert dish involves roast-hay ice-cream served with a charcoal-infused milk-cream sauce.

1/166 Gertrude Street, Fitzroy

The Alphington Social

A neighbourhood Italian diner in an old bank building with a cheese fridge that takes up an entire wall. Before you get to that cheese though, you might want to look at the pizza or the mains menu. The osso buco is not to be missed, and the standout pizza is the broccolini and pork sausage. The dining room itself is relaxed yet polished. And there’s a small courtyard perfect for a grazing, wine-sipping afternoon.

7 Rowe Street, Alphington

Di Stasio Citta

This refined new eatery from restaurateur Rinaldo Di Stasio (Cafe Di Stasio) is all about old-school Italian hospitality. There’s a real minimalism to the menu, with dishes such as angel-hair pasta with briny hunks of crab and grilled radicchio served fanned out on the plate, dressed simply with lemon and oil.

35 Spring Street, Melbourne

Agostino

Wine bar Agostino is modelled on a classic Italian enoteca. Here, the compact menu will always include some salumi (such as Wagyu bresaola or culatella, a punchy Italian ham served with thinly sliced salted persimmon), and a handful of house-made pastas. It's all set in a moody ground-floor space in the heritage-listed King & Godfree building.

297 Lygon Street, Carlton

Bar Margaux

From the folks who gave us The Everleigh and Heartbreaker, Bar Margaux goes well beyond just being a bar. It's a subterranean late-night bistro with a substantial, unapologetically French menu. And with its red leather banquettes, subway tiles and forgiving lighting, it's the kind of place you could lose a whole night in.

Basement 111 Lonsdale Street, Melbourne

Le Lee

At this new Macedonian restaurant in Northcote, everything is designed for sharing. Start with some meze (share plates) and rakia (a traditional fruit brandy) to sip with the dishes to come. Repeat until very happy and full. Try the shopska salad (tomato, cucumber and onion covered with feta), vegetarian moussaka and clay pots filled slow-cooked meats. For something sweet at the end of your meal, go for the sour cherry and walnut baklava. Oh, and order another rakia – there are 18 different kinds to choose from.

236 High Street, Northcote

Pepe's Italian & Liquor

After 10 years operating as Trunk Bar and Restaurant, its owner Nick Kutcher felt ready for a refresh. Now we have Pepe's, a New York-inspired Italian restaurant. The space was overhauled and given all the terrazzo floors, plump leather booths and dim lighting you could ask for. So grab a Martini, take a seat in one of those booths and scan the menu. Clams Casino? Veal parmigiana? A hot-fudge sundae? It’s hard to go wrong.

275 Exhibition Street, Melbourne

Bodriggy Brewing Co

This mammoth new brewery in Abbotsford is also the best new spot in Melbourne for Mexican cuisine (with some Peruvian influences). Order one of the cocktails on tap, then settle in for dishes such as jalapenos stuffed with smoked swordfish or anticuchos – a sort of Peruvian satay or shish kebab, which combines beef heart and grilled potato.

245 Johnston Street, Abbotsford

Eazy Peazy

Chef Dan Chan, formerly of Hong Kong's Yardbird, heads up Eazy Peazy's kitchen. His yakitori menu offers wings with salty yuzu spice, and tender thigh skewers complemented by juicy charred leek. Eazy Peazy's owners also own Toji Sake, and the Japanese spirit is available here by the glass or bottle. It also shows up in cocktails such as the MSG: matcha, sake and gin.

108 Swan Street, Richmond

Daughter In Law

A vibrant rose-coloured and peacock-feather-blue Indian restaurant from chef Jessi Singh. Order the yoghurt kebab – a slightly sour yoghurt patty coated in salted breadcrumbs and fried, served on a sweet beetroot sauce. Another essential is Colonel Tso's Cauliflower, a mound of fried sweet-and-sour cauliflower.

37 Little Bourke Street, Melbourne

Lagotto

This all-day Italian restaurant and cafe from the team behind Congress is striking: lipstick-red leather couches, marble counters and burnished timber tables practically beg to host long lunches, and that's what they've been doing. It's worth trying while the weather's still miserable, because as soon as Melbourne starts warming up, getting a table here will be difficult.

1 York Street, Fitzroy North

Bia Hoi

Jerry Mai is one of Melbourne’s most accomplished chefs and exponents of Vietnamese cuisine. Her restaurants Annam and Pho Nom are two classics, but they’re both in the CBD. So when she announced that her latest project would be in Glen Waverley, there was palpable excitement for those in the east. Although Bia Hoi is in an unassuming location (attached to The Glen shopping centre), the beer hall and barbeque spot more than lives up to its promise of bringing Mai’s patented brand of fun, family-friendly dining to a venue outside the CBD.

235 Springvale Road, Glen Waverley

Pretty Little

At this diner, every guest sits around a single 20-seat communal table. At the far end of this table, head chef Josep Espuga presides over a little robata grill. The menu changes each night, but expect dishes with a modern Australian mantle, flecked with hints of Spain and France.

296 Carlisle Street, Balaclava

Prince Dining Room

Steered by head chef Dan Cooper, Prince Dining Room's menu is broad strokes Mediterranean, with a heavy emphasis on seafood and vegetables. Just as confident and relaxed is the design, which revels in the space it's afforded. Tables are generously spaced apart, walls and floors are light and bright, and art-deco lines throughout make everything feel smart-casual.

2 Acland Street, St Kilda

Leo's by the Slice

Chef Nick Stanton's love letter to New York slice shops combines classic pizza toppings with quality ingredients and produce. The slices here come out thin, crisp, piping hot and, most importantly, foldable – just like the paper plates they're served on. Leo's serves the Chapel Street late-night set well – slices are available until 3am on Friday and Saturday nights.

363 Chapel Street, South Yarra

Citrus

This new Sri-Lankan restaurant is all owned and run by one family. There’s an a-la-carte menu here, but the star attraction is the all-you-can-eat buffet: a nightly carnival of 15 or so dishes from across Sri Lanka. It changes daily, so you might find anything from yellow-lentil curry, devilled chicken and fried soy beans to spicy coconut sambol. Mixing and stirring everything together is encouraged. The buffet is $15 every night except for Saturday, when it’s $19.90.

252 St Georges Road, Fitzroy North
false