- High-drama design, art deco grace
- Cosmopolitan St Kilda
- Sybarite's seminary
- Graceful Werribee Park grounds
- Art-shock attitude
- Fashion-forward Prahran
- Modern art, Asian heart
- Shop-filled South Yarra
- Graphic luxe
- Stylish side of the CBD
Melbourne Eating, drinking and dancing
(+61 (0)3 9415 6101)
A young Australian couple, Jess and Ness Gerner, serve some of Melbourne’s best and most authentic southern Spanish tapas in this thrumming bolthole. Try the grilled prawns and the pork ribs cooked in sherry.
197 Gertrude Street, Fitzroy, Melbourne, Victoria 3065
(+61 (0)3 9693 3888)
Come for French food with finesse in a grown-up restaurant that works for business and elegant pleasure. The terrine is always good, and platters to share include a wonderful roasted rib eye and a whole chicken.
Crown Complex, Southbank, Melbourne, Victoria 3006
(+61 (0)3 9663 7660)
This huge warehouse venue is part beer hall and part Thai diner, where the trappings are retro but the food is feisty and fresh. Fantastic salads and noodle dishes work as meals-for-one or shareable feasts. Head upstairs to The Toff in Town for live music and Euro snacks in railway carriage-style booths.
1st floor, 252 Swanston Street, Melbourne, Victoria 3000
(+61 (0)3 9650 1445)
Open all day for inspired food and drinks in a casual bar setting. The food is careful but relaxed, whether you’re eating a smashing breakfast, the best oysters in Australia or succulent lamb shoulder. The restaurant doesn’t take bookings so be prepared to drink on your feet while you wait for a perch.
45 Flinders Lane, Melbourne, Victoria 3000
(+61 (0)3 9419 4888)
Cutler & Co
Chef Andrew McConnell’s food is vibrant, exciting and thrillingly tasty, expressing all that’s great about Melbourne dining. Pop in for drinks and snacks in the bar to tap into Melbourne’s foodie buzz at his latest Gertrude Street venue.
55-57 Gertrude Street, Fitzroy, Melbourne, Victoria 3065
(+61 (0)3 9486 0345)
Feast like a sultan on Turkish-inspired bar food at this no-bookings buzz restaurant. Most seats are at shared tables or the bar making this a good place to enjoy local flavour as well as the flavours of lamb cutlets, eggplant-wrapped prawns and the like.
102 Smith Street, Collingwood, Melbourne, Victoria 3065
(+61 (0)3 9662 4200)
Asian street snacks are the inspiration for the boisterous and spicy food here, served in a glam dining room. Don’t miss the silken tofu with XO dressing and the whole baby snapper. The upstairs bar serves great snacks too.
27-29 Crossley Street, Melbourne, Victoria 3000
(+61 (0)3 9415 7575)
Come to this noisy, bustling restaurant for some of Melbourne’s best thin-crust pizza with elegantly restrained toppings, matched with food-friendly wines from near and far. The roast of the day is good cold-weather fuel.
224 Gertrude Street, Fitzroy, Melbourne, Victoria 3065
(+61 (0)3 9671 3151)
The recipe for fun here is Thai food in a converted warehouse at communal tables. The restaurant doesn’t take bookings but waiting was never so pleasant as in Longrain’s bar, where delicious betel leaf parcels and fabulous Ping Pong cocktails make it dangerously easy to settle in.
44 Little Bourke Street, Melbourne, Victoria 3000
(+61 (0)3 9663 3038)
Offering great food and a very cool vibe, MoVida is one of the city’s destination restaurants. Booking is essential, but if you can’t get in, you could always try the adjacent Movida Next Door for a more casual tapas affair.
1 Hosier Lane, Melbourne, Victoria 3000
(+61 (0)3 8648 1900)
Rockpool Bar & Grill
Most people come to Rockpool for the excellent steaks, which are aged on the premises, or the Wagyu beef burger (available at the bar), but the grilled fish is terrific too, as are retro sides like the mac and cheese. One of the city’s best wine lists.
Crown Complex, Southbank, Melbourne, Victoria 3006
(+61 (0)3 9388 8255)
It’s worth heading to the northern suburbs to try the modern Middle Eastern food at Rumi. Chef Joseph Abboud honours the dishes of his Lebanese heritage while presenting everything with delicate modern flair.
116 Lygon Street, Brunswick East, Melbourne, Victoria 3057
(+ 61 (0)3 9663 6363)
A restaurant, cocktail lounge and bar over three levels, Seamstress has the funky Asian food and cool cocktail market all sewn up. Housed in an old underwear factory that later became a brothel, it has quirky, clever menus and fun décor. Try the goat curry or oysters with chive foam and, to drink, the Grapefruit Punch with Thai basil. The Sweatshop club in the basement has live DJs from Monday to Saturday.
113 Lonsdale Street, Melbourne, Victoria 3000
(+61 (0)3 9419 7411)
St Jude’s Cellars
A cool venue with a fabulous produce-driven menu designed to share. Look out for cured and preserved foods like the fabulous smoked eel. Choosing wine is fun at the in-house bottle shop. The St Jude's crew have two other funky bar/restaurants nearby: Panama Dining Room does modern bistro food and Rice Queen does cheap Asian to share (2nd and 3rd floors, 231 Smith Street, Fitzroy; +61 (0)3 9417 7663; www.thepanama.com.au).
398–391 Brunswick Street, Fitzroy, Melbourne, Victoria 3065
(+61 (0)3 9654 8808)
The signature restaurant at this stand-alone ‘pub’ has great Melbourne views. The food is creative and contemporary with an emphasis on light Asian flavours; there’s also a focus on sushi and sashimi. Upstairs, Transit cocktail lounge is clubby and cosy.
Transport Hotel, Federation Square, Corner Swanston and Flinders Streets, Melbourne, Victoria 3000
(+61 (0)3 9415 6876)
Casual and friendly with a market-driven philosophy, The Commoner is great for a nurturing weekend brunch and creative pan-European dinners. Book in for Sunday evening’s ‘feed me’ feasts.
122 Johnston Street, Fitzroy, Melbourne, Victoria 3065
+61 (0)3 9525 4488
Andrew McConnell's latest offering to the Melbourne food scene is a super-sleek set-up of white tiled walls, long marble bar and blond-wood tables and chairs. The menu is a cherry-picked selection from Andrew's time in Shanghai and Hong Kong, with his masterful modern twist. Come for the lobster rolls, steamed pork buns and the sublime sea urchin on crisp flatbread.
157 Fitzroy Street, St Kilda, Australia
+61 (0)3 9417 1117.
Beer lovers and fans of nose-to-tailing eating will find much to like at this Collingwood hotspot. Two MasterChef proteges are at the pans, dishing out miniature Scotch eggs, crumbed pig's ear, grilled lamb's tongue and other earthy delights.
98 Smith Street, Collingwood, Victoria, Australia
+61 (0)3 9417 7663.
Panama Dining Room and Bar
Linger over snappy tapas plates and a glass of wine at the bar, or settle in to the restaurant for a three-course feast of modern Mediterranean flavours.
Level 3/231 Smith Street, Collingwood, Victoria, Australia
+61 (0)3 9525 5555
Sitting pretty on the St Kilda foreshore, Stokehouse offers faultless fine-dining upstairs and a casual bar and restaurant downstairs. Nab a spot on the terrace, Negroni in hand, to watch the sun set over Port Phillip Bay. Priceless.
30 Jacka Boulevard, St Kilda, Australia
+61 (0)3 9537 1777
The Newmarket Hotel
Drawing on the fresh and fabulous flavours of Southern California, with some cool Latino accents, the menu at the Newmarket Hotel never fails to impress. Come for Paul Wilson's soft tacos with crab, prawns or pork, wood-fired meats and zippy salads. The award-winning fitout features soaring concrete arches, cheeky bespoke wallpaper and a hotly contested beer garden. Get in quick.
34 Inkerman Street, St Kilda, Australia
+61 (0)3 9691 3888
Vue de Monde
For a special night out, get on your glad rags and head to Vue de Monde for a gastronomic degustation. Its contemporary French fare is the talk of the town, and is widely regarded as one of Australia's finest dining experiences. For a taste of Vue without the palaver, try nearby Bistro Vue for high-classic French and Cafe Vue for the classiest lunchbox in town.
Level 55, Rialto 525 Collins Street, Melbourne VIC 3000
(+61 (0)3 9415 8088)
Fun and just a little bit naughty, Burlesque bursts into song for Friday night’s floor show, but you can create your own debauchery anytime.
42 Johnston Street, Fitzroy, Melbourne, Victoria 3065
(+61 (0)3 9650 4488)
Situated downstairs from the New Gold Mountain, Double Happiness is another stylish ‘hole-in-the-wall’ cocktail bar. The tongue-in-cheek decor features an array of Chinese socialist propaganda posters, while the names of the cocktails are taken from infamous moments in communist history.
21 Liverpool Street, Melbourne, Victoria 3000
(+61 (0)3 9415 8262)
Gertrude Street Enoteca
The Enoteca is a friendly place to drink wine, both at the bar with a book for company, or in the modest courtyard with friends. Simple Italian food is part of the offering. It's worth checking out the rest of the street, fast becoming a hub for achingly hip independent bars, restaurants and shops.
229 Gertrude Street, Fitzroy, Melbourne, Victoria 3065
(+61 (0)3 9662 1771)
A barbecue by the Yarra is a very Melbourne activity, but it’s much easier if someone else is cooking the sausages. Luckily, the Riverland crew wield the tongs every afternoon. Head under the bridge near Federation Square to find the venue.
Vaults 1-9, Federation Wharf (under Princes Bridge), Melbourne, Victoria 3000
(+61 (0)430 291 588)
Section 8 Container Bar
Built from shipping containers and pallets, this outdoor bar reclaimed a car park to create one of the city’s most unlikely venues for no-nonsense drinking.
27-29 Tattersalls Lane (off Little Bourke Street), Melbourne, Victoria 3000
(+61 (0)3 9650 4488)
The New Gold Mountain
Dreamt up by a Melbourne architect who has really pushed the design boundaries, this space is set over two levels – one red, one green – and offers a sensual combination of texture, colour and pattern, as well as lots of intimate nooks and crannies for two or more.
21 Liverpool Street, Melbourne, Victoria 3000
(+61 (0)3 9654 6300)
The Supper Club
A great place for a drink whatever the weather. In winter you can sink into a comfy Chesterfield and sample some big Aussie reds, and in the summer head to the rooftop Siglo Bar, which has a Spanish-influenced menu and leafy views of Parliament and the neighbouring rooftops. It's easy to miss – the entrance is through a discreet doorway that leads to a flight of stairs.
First floor, 161 Spring Street, Melbourne, Victoria 3000
+61 (0)3 9662 2756
For a taste of Melbourne’s bar, cafe and dining culture in one small package, come to Von Haus. There’s DIY decor, creative Euro-inspired eats, eclectic music and, crucially, a serious approach to liquor.
1A Crossley Street, Melbourne, Victoria 3000
(+61 (0)3 8601 2720)
Blue Diamond (old)
For a dose of penthouse glamour, walk the balcony at Blue Diamond, impeccable cocktail in hand. Inside, a mature crowd bops to cool tunes from live bands: enjoy on the dance floor or from a comfortable chair.
Level 15, 123 Queen Street, Melbourne, Victoria 3000
(+61 (0)3 9662 2775)
It’s hard not to have fun at this ‘rather fancy terrace and public house’. The interior is decked out like a garden party complete with fake lawn; the exterior balcony has brilliant city views. Grab a Pimms and plunge in.
Level 3, 59-63 Bourke Street, Melbourne, Victoria 3000
(+61 (0)3 9347 2801)
This lovely café, in Melbourne’s Little Italy, offers a mouthwatering array of cakes to have with your coffee. You can dine out on the pavement, too.
194–204 Faraday Street, Carlton, Melbourne, Victoria 3053
(+61 (0)3 9529 1644)
Down the grungy end of Chapel Street, Orange is always busy for brunch, but it’s also good for casual meals later in the day. Catch the vibe at streetside tables or retreat to the shady courtyard.
124 Chapel Street, Windsor, Melbourne, Victoria 3181
(+61 (0)3 9417 1377)
Whether it’s breakfast at the communal table, mid-afternoon munchies in a booth or a late-night snack at the bar, Cavallero does modern Mediterranean food with casual style. Interiors are poised yet pared down to match, with a jaunty stag's head on the wall.
300 Smith Street, Collingwood, Melbourne, Victoria 3065
(+61 (0)3 9654 1245)
Degraves Espresso Bar
Before laneway cafes were all the rage, Degraves was tucked away in this cobbled alley pumping out espressos. It’s still the business, whether you’re in for poached eggs at daybreak or tapas for early dinner.
23 Degraves Street, Melbourne, Victoria 3000
(+61 (0)3 9654 0811)
From early morning to well after midnight, this long-established restaurant is a safe choice for a superb breakfast, a brasserie lunch or an indulgent dinner. The weekend brunch is a Melbourne classic.
161 Spring Street, Melbourne, Victoria 3000
(+61 (0)3 9417 2274)
Do as the locals do and duck off Brunswick Street to find this bluestone breakfast hotspot. Classic breakfasts and light lunches are impeccable with a creative twist, while outdoor tables are ideal for brunching in the sun on lazy weekends.
359 Napier Street, Fitzroy, Melbourne, Victoria 3065
(+61 (0)3 9650 4399)
Pick up a magazine and a perch at a communal table at this arty cafe, where a pot of tea and a glass of wine are equally appropriate. The light meals are good, too, but if you’re here for weekday lunch, head to mezzanine-level Journal Canteen for authentic Italian food.
253 Flinders Lane, Melbourne, Victoria 3000
(+61 (0)3 9826 1114)
If you’re shopping on Chapel Street, you’ll need to refuel at ‘Pound’, where the coffee is fortifying and the toasted sandwiches set you up for the next fashion quest.
Shop 5, 566 Chapel Street (enter from Oxford Street), South Yarra, Melbourne, Victoria 3141
(+61 (0)3 9417 0400)
The baked eggs are beautiful and the coffee is excellent at this sophisticated alternative to Brunswick Street's boltholes, which has a romantic old-fashioned European feel and tables outside on the pavement for sunnier days. Beyond breakfast, think modern European bistro fare.
231 Brunswick Street, Fitzroy, Melbourne, Victoria 3065
(+61 (0)3 9417 3343)
This intimate Fitzroy institution with an alternative vibe is the ideal place for breakfast (it also serves mouth-watering pasta later iin the day).
303 Brunswick Street, Fitzroy, Melbourne, Victoria 3065
(+61 (0)3 9415 7337)
Eat – and caffeinate – with the locals at this cute, lo-fi ‘Social Club’ with a small menu of simple tastes, from avocado on toast to blueberry bagels. If it’s not coffee time, think about tea: the team here takes its brews seriously.
180 Brunswick Street, Fitzroy, Melbourne, Victoria 3065
(+61 (0)3 9662 1885)
Melbournians love their coffee and there certainly is no shortage of places to get a good one, but this, the first-ever espresso bar to open in Melbourne, is still one of the best.
66 Bourke Street, Melbourne, Victoria 3000
(+61 (0)3 9593 8280)
Wall Two 80
Even real coffee snobs swear by a daily fix at Wall. In fine weather, join local moochers, kids and dogs at pavement perches. Otherwise, head inside for toasted pide or hearty soup at a dinky table.
280 Carlisle Street, Balaclava, Melbourne, Victoria 3183
+61 (0)3 9537 0001
This light and bright cafe at the northern end of Fitzroy Street scores points for its locally sourced produce and naughty/nice menu options – start the day with a detox juice and bircher muesli, or come later for carbonara arancini and a glass of Champagne. At any time of day, the St Ali coffee rocks.
155 Fitzroy Street, St Kilda, Australia
+61 (0)3 9009 5462
This hole-in-the-wall coffee haunt is a favourite for city workers, who stop by the window to snap up expertly made espresso and tasty panini.
136 Exhibition Street, Melbourne, Victoria, 3000