Medium- and high-rise towers are slowly transforming every part of inner Melbourne, but South Yarra's skyline has leapt up with particular vigour in the past decade. The block bounded by Yarra Street, Toorak Road and Chapel Street feels almost like an extension of the CBD, with the energy to match.

Elsewhere the wide, leafy streets are lined with historic mansions and terraces, including the publicly owned Como House. These quieter residential areas, such as Domain Road, are some of the most coveted and expensive in Melbourne.

Most of South Yarra’s cafes are concentrated around the new towers. During the week, they’re busy with workers from nearby advertising agencies, creative studios and the big Network 10 building.

On weekends, a similar crowd swaps the business shirts for activewear before taking to brunch. The exercise itself isn’t for everyone, but Faulkner Park and the nearby Tan track are reliably busy with walkers and runners.

Prahran Market – actually located in South Yarra – is another big drawcard in the area. With regular appearances by celebrity chefs and a growing coterie of organic traders, it’s made a name for itself as the upmarket market. This, and Chapel Street’s good mix of apparel stores, such as Gorman and LIFEwithBIRD, keep the area humming all day.

On Friday and Saturday nights, this wholesome routine of exercise, brunch and shopping feels like a distant dream. Traffic is reliably banked solid on Chapel Street with drivers doing “Chap Laps”; packs of revellers roam from bar to bar; and fast-food joints do a roaring trade.


  • At 24 storeys high, this bar and diner boasts some of the finest views of Melbourne, extending from the CBD as far as the Dandenong Ranges. The retractable glass rooftop ensures you can enjoy its Cali-cool style and al fresco dining all year round.

  • 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.

  • 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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  • 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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  • 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.

  • 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.


  • Try 10 different single-origin brews every fortnight, learn how to home-brew, or pop in for a coffee and lemon-curd almond croissant.

  • 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.

  • At this vegan-friendly bakery, you can get pillow-soft milk bread by the whole or half loaf, as a classic katsu sando, and more. It’s an extension of cafe Fuumi Fuumi, which has locations in West Melbourne and Port Melbourne.

  • This coffee shop may be small, but it has a big heart. Find coffee that’s roasted in Mornington and brewed in South Yarra for a good cause. Plus, snacks to go – from loaded bagels and cheesy jaffles to gooey almond croissants.

  • This is the flagship of the beloved bakery chain. Get lobster and prawn Benedict for breakfast and a buttermilk fried chicken burger later on (not to mention Bloody Marys all day long).

  • Cityscapes, nature and excellent food rarely coexist, unless you’re outside at The Terrace. Here, you can tuck into a scone or some Turkish-style eggs against the picturesque backdrop of Melbourne’s Royal Botanic Gardens.


  • Stop by this dimly lit dive bar for local beers and Guinness on tap, plus American-style bar food. With its neighbourly service, dog-friendly status and creative beer roster, it’ll easily become your local.

  • 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.

  • Thibaut Chuzeville takes tea very seriously. Here, he’s serving more than 40 varieties from 10 countries, all in their purest form. There’s also a show-stopping patisserie selection, sparkling wine and tea-infused cocktails.

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  • A dimly lit subterranean bar inside luxury hotel Ovolo. Visit for classic cocktails made exactingly, plus vegetarian bar snacks that lean salty and fried – just what you need with a drink.

  • Rockstar impulses and Sydney hospo sensibility collide at this bar/music venue.

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  • Nab a spot on the terrazzo-tiled terrace for grown-up Espresso Martinis and an Italian homage to the KFC Zinger burger. All from the man behind Il Bacaro, Sarti and Bar Carolina.


  • Gourmet macarons and cakes in shocking flavours.

  • Hommey’s products are designed to be felt as much as looked at. At its first retail space, peruse its lush collection of cushions, towels, robes, slides and pet beds – in dreamy hues and invitingly tactile fabrics.

  • French-born baker Quentin Berthonneau has trained at Vue de Monde and Chez Dre, and wants good bread to be as accessible as good coffee in Melbourne.

  • The Melbourne-born chocolatier's sleek flagship has a dedicated bar for hot chocolates and chilled drinks made with all-natural ingredients. But you'll also find croissants, cakes, cookies and 40-plus pralines; and a chocolate wall filled with around 700 blocks.

  • Where science meets sweetness.

  • One of Melbourne's longest-running womenswear retailers is still setting trends after almost 100 years in operation.