Searching for your next meal – whether in your home city or on your next interstate getaway? Broadsheet’s city editors have picked the best restaurants and bars that opened in March to help you narrow down your options. Think of us as that in-the-know friend who always understands exactly where you should be dining right now.

Melbourne

Hopper Joint

Using your hands to eat the hoppers, curries and sambals at this new Sri Lankan diner in Prahran is strongly encouraged – to the point there’s a tap in the centre of the room to wash your hands between courses. Jason Jones, who owns Hopper Joint (and French restaurant Entrecote, across the road) with partner and interior designer Brahman Perera, promises the venue will be a “party every night”. This conviviality is shared over lacy hoppers (bowl-shaped thin pancakes made from fermented rice flour batter), string hoppers (soft and pillowy discs shaped with thin strands of batter and then steamed), okra curry, mutton curry, pan rolls and a mango dessert Perera’s grandmother used to make.

Sydney

Firepop

For several years, Firepop has been roaming Sydney, popping up at markets and breweries to serve punters skewers threaded with top-tier meats. Now, owners and husband-wife duo Alina Van and Raymond Hou are settling into a permanent two-storey spot on buzzy Enmore Road. From the open-flame grill they’re dishing up what they’re calling “inner-west cuisine … because it was born in the area” – including pop-up favourites such as sourdough with house-made coconut labneh, slim lamb skewers and 9+ marble score Wagyu pops. There are also glorious corn ribs, topped with a mound of caciocavallo cheese and house-churned butter. The menu is rounded out with a strong list of local and international wines (Van trained to become a sommelier ahead of the restaurant opening), plus non-alcoholic beers and high-end French ciders.

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Sunshine Coast

Samila Gaeng

Travel around Thailand and you’ll find no shortage of family-run khao gaeng (rice with curry) shops. These home-style eateries are the inspiration behind charming new Maroochydore diner Samila Gaeng, which specialises in the northern Thai dish khao soi – noodles in a creamy coconut curry sauce with braised chicken or beef, topped with crispy, deep-fried egg noodles and customised as the diner sees fit with pickled mustard greens, red shallot, coriander, lime and chilli oil. Other menu items are inspired by southern Thailand-born co-owner Patcharin “Ying” Samila’s family recipes, including khua kling moo, a dry curry of house-minced pork shoulder with loads of lemongrass and makrut lime leaf. Samila’s husband and co-owner Adam Muscat’s experience working at well-regarded Thai restaurants in Australia and abroad, including Longrain in Sydney, Michelin-starred Bangkok restaurant Paste and EP & LP in LA also informs dishes like som tum (papaya salad), sai ua (grilled northern Thai sausage) and beef brisket massaman.

Adelaide

Aces

The DJ booth and dance floor set the tone at Aces, an Italian restaurant in Adelaide’s Chinatown. It’s the sort of spot you’d imagine Frank Sinatra and the Rat Pack hanging out at during their heyday, and though the food is Italian-focused, culinary director Tom Tilbury’s inventive menu is also influenced by the venue’s Chinatown location. The à la carte menu includes chilli-topped southern rock lobster ravioli in a rich broth; gramigna (a pasta shape from Emilia-Romagna) carbonara with black pepper, speck and yolk; spaghetti vongole a la Golden Century (a dish inspired by the Sydney Chinatown institution); and meat and fish dishes like spatchcock cacciatore, bone-in parmesan- and herb-crusted veal cotoletta and a daily market fish. Soon, the restaurant will start offering “yum ciao” lunches – complete with a tick-box menu of Italian snacks. Upstairs, the dance floor kicks off on Friday nights – shooters with names inspired by ’80s songs should give you an idea of what to expect from the DJ.

Perth

H&C Urban Winery

Want to check out the fruits of Western Australia’s wine regions, but can’t commit to winery-hopping? Swing by H&C Urban Winery, Perth’s first urban winery, which is fermenting and bottling WA grapes on-site. Half the terracotta-hued venue is dedicated to winemaking, while the other half, where you can drink and dine, is brightened up with greenery. The 59-strong wine list stars drops from H&C, as well as from other WA wineries, while there are also options from other parts of Australia and overseas. To pair with the wines, there’s a selection of snacks, including larger share plates of beef tartare, pork terrine with pickled cabbage and kimchi oil, sardines with onion jam, and herb-crumbed octopus. There are also comforting favourites like fried chicken, three-cheese toasties and a double cheeseburger.