Thanks to its blend of cultures and cuisines, Melbourne has not only perfected but also bested some of the globe’s greatest dishes, resulting in cult followings for the crafts of its patissiers, baristas, bartenders and chefs. The dining scene is constantly evolving, and Melburnians could discuss for days their favourite restaurants and cafes. Ahead is a taste of the some of the best eats in the Victorian capital, so locate your stretchy pants and start booking those flights to Melbourne. It’s time to dig in.
The Best Coffee in Melbourne
You won’t be hard up for a good flat white in Melbourne, but there are a few places in particular that have taken the humble cup of joe and turned it into an art. There’s a high concentration of bearded baristas in the inner northern suburb of Collingwood, and the house-roasted blend at Proud Mary is one highlight – it’s had so much success, in fact, that in recent years they’ve opened a dedicated roastery nearby called Auntie Peg’s. Up the road in Fitzroy, Industry Beans is another haunt that takes its coffee seriously, with a 15-page menu of styles available to peruse. Further north in Brunswick, Wide Open Road has long seen people travel for its brews, and now they don’t have to, as the popular cafe is delivering its beans to homes and cafes around the city. In the south, Market Lane is a major player on the caffeine scene, but don’t expect an activated-almond latte, as they only offer good-old fashioned milk (and that doesn’t stop people from visiting in droves).
The Best Bakeries in Melbourne
To go with all that coffee are, of course, excellent pastries. The melt-in-your-mouth, cloud-like crescents of Lune Croissanterie for one have attracted plenty of attention. A trip to Paris kicked off ex-engineer Kate Reid’s obsession with the craft, and her creations now hold an international reputation as some of the best. The Collingwood location draws quite a crowd, so arrive early, or else there’s a city outpost that caters to Monday to Friday cravings. Alternatively, head up the hill from Collingwood to Northcote, where newcomer All Are Welcome gives Lune a run for its money. Rustica is another with reliably tasty pastries, and if you luck out with the lines at Lune (or just couldn’t be bothered waiting), it’s a few hundred metres away on Brunswick Street in Fitzroy. In the south, Tivoli Road Bakery has a satisfying selection of doughnuts, danishes and galettes.
Honourable mention: Beatrix in North Melbourne.
The Best Cafes in Melbourne
Choosing the best brunch spots in Melbourne is a mind-exploding exercise, as the city is teeming with designer spaces serving smashed avo in various ways. If you’re staying in the city, you can’t go past all-day classic Cumulus Inc., with one standout dish the bomb house-made crumpets with whipped ricotta, lemon cheek and Rooftop Honey from nearby hives. The huge hotcake at Higher Ground is Instagram famous, but the scrambled eggs dish with crispy curry leaves is another top pick. Tucked away among the Vietnamese restaurants of Victoria Street in Abbotsford, Little Big Sugar Salt has a menu offering just that (sweet or savoury, for appetites small or large). Not far from there, the Farm Cafe by the Collingwood Children’s Farm appeals for its ability to be combined with a visit to the Convent and a wander along Merri Creek. Barry in Northcote is another local favourite, and it has a sister venue in the south called Pillar of Salt.
The Best Food Markets in Melbourne
The Prahran Market is one of the south-east’s favourite food destinations, and the mushroom burgers (which you can order along with your coffee at Market Lane) are worth seeking out if you’re visiting on the weekend – the stall runs on Saturdays and Sundays until 2pm, but the burgers are in such high demand that they often sell out before close. For a hangover classic, go for a grilled cheese from Maker & Monger. The display at Q le Baker is another that’s hard to walk by without opening your wallet, and its sticky kouign-amann is a must-try. In the CBD, Queen Victoria Market is a Melbourne icon, and it often features events, food trucks and live music. If the food truck part appeals, head to Welcome to Thornbury in the north. This converted car factory sees around 80 vans pull in each month, with seven or so at any one time, and the breezy beer garden atmosphere makes it a fun time.
Honourable mention: The South Melbourne Market.
The Best Wining and Dining in Melbourne
There is no shortage of places for a memorable night out in Melbourne. At the top of the book-ahead roll call is Attica in low-key Ripponlea, dishing up native Australian ingredients in inventive ways that have landed it on the World’s 50 Best Restaurants list. In the city, the hand-spun pasta of Tipo 00 and secondi of sister restaurant Osteria Ilaria are favourite destinations. For a smart selection of vino, the City Wine Shop is a Melbourne institution, and Kirk’s Wine Bar at the other end of town is by the same crew. Carlton Wine Room (in the same stable as the Coda, Tonka, Cumulus Inc. and Cutler & Co. restaurants) has food and drink that are equally outstanding, as does Congress in Collingwood, which has been racking up awards (including a nod from Nigella Lawson) for its share plates and well-considered list.
The Best Desserts in Melbourne
A palate-cleansing gelato is a great way to top off any meal in Melbourne. Lisa Valmorbida graduated from gelato university in Italy and has brought her hipster take home to much acclaim – so much so, she’s expanded from her original Pidapipo store in Carlton to open one in the city and another in the south-east suburb of Windsor. Whichever you visit, be sure to accompany your scoop with a drizzle from the Nutella fountain. For another seasonal selection of gelati, check out the Spring Street Grocer, which has creative flavours like cardamom, turmeric and pistachio, and other enticing treats in its store (including in the cheese cellar downstairs) to take away.
Hungry to experience the tastes of these Melbourne cafes and restaurants for yourself? Book flights to Melbourne with Webjet – plus find Melbourne hotels, holiday packages or car hire – and get ready to dive into the city’s incredible food culture.
Feature image: Maddi Bazzocco on Unsplash