foodies guide to Melbourne

A Foodies Guide To Melbourne, Australia

This Foodies Guide to Melbourne is brought to us by Kate Rae, the founder of Not A Tourist, which provides alternative and unique travel tips for Australia.

Introduction: Foodies Guide To Melbourne, Australia

Food is synonymous with Melbourne, and travelers visiting the buzzing city for the first time should research the best places to eat in Melbourne, Australia before they arrive.

Melbourne provides a unique array of cuisines from all over the world, from Italian coffee shops to Vietnamese pho cafés. Melbourne also has a plethora of top-tier restaurants, ranging from Michelin-starred dining experiences to informal and creative cafes.

The local restaurant culture is mostly focused on sustainability, with several farm-to-table restaurants and programs to prevent food waste. The thriving coffee culture features hundreds of independent cafes providing skilfully crafted coffee any way you wish.

Melburnians like rooftop bars and late-night eating.  They also take breakfast as seriously as supper (many cafés offer full table service). Locals frequently refer to “the city” or “the CBD,” which refers to the Central Business District and City of Melbourne. However, you could spend days traveling further afield to sample the Vietnamese and Ethiopian cuisine in Footscray, or the Cantonese and Korean cuisine in Box Hill.

The two most popular meals in Melbourne CBD are without a doubt, brunch and dinner.  From the exceptional list to choose from, here I have listed some of my go-to places when visiting Melbourne CBD.

Foodies Guide To Melbourne

Melbourne Brunch

There are hundreds of places to eat brunch in Melbourne.  Head down almost any laneway in the CBD and you will stumble upon a coffee shop or café. 

Here are some of my top Melbourne Brunch places:

Higher Ground
Incredibly delicious brunch and lunch options set within a beautiful, historic building, a stone’s throw from Southern Cross station.

Situated in the famous Degraves laneway, which runs between Flinders Street and Flinders Lane is ‘Degraves Espresso’, amongst dozens of outdoor/indoor cafes buzzing with atmosphere, competitive prices, and remarkable dishes.

Mr Tulk
Modern dining hall set against the historic 19th-century elegance of the State Library of Victoria, offering high-quality coffee and seasonal produce. Mr Tulk is named after Augustus Henry Tulk, the Library’s first Chief Librarian who contributed to the library’s significant collection.

Melbourne Dinner

There are also tonnes of dinner options in Melbourne, and pretty much all cuisines are available.  Here are 3 of my go-to restaurants when in Melbourne.

Red Pepper
Excellent Indian food served in a split-level setting with good lighting, lovely prints on the walls, and polished wood floors.

Hardware Lane
Hardware Lane, located between Little Lonsdale and Bourke Streets in Melbourne’s CBD, is one of the city’s most popular restaurant and cafe streets. You’ll also find great pubs, cafes, and cake stores along here, serving a mix of modern Australian, Mexican, Thai, Italian, and Greek cuisine.

A modern, busy setting with murals on the walls, Cookie offers a wide selection of beers, cocktails, and top-quality Thai food.

Indigenous History and Food

Big Esso is a restaurant located in Fed Square in Melbourne, where the dishes are made with indigenous ingredients and flavors that have supported the First Nations for more than 60,000 years.

Even while Melbourne has long been proud of its international eateries serving more than 70 different cuisines, up until recently, indigenous ingredients and cooking methods were mostly disregarded in the restaurant business.

Big Esso was the first restaurant in the city serving purely native cuisine when Torres Strait Islander Nornie Bero opened in Fed Square in 2021.  Meals like emu liver pâté and fried crocodile are flavored with seasonal native spices, plants, cereals, and fruits. 

Bero had already established a modest but successful indigenous food business named Mabu Mabu, which translates to “help yourself” in the language of the Meriam people of Bero’s native Mer Island. Bero is dedicated to educating Australian and international palates about the oldest food culture in their neighborhood. 

Italian Influence

Australia saw a rise in Italian immigration during the 1850s gold rushes. Around 4,000 Italian immigrants were drawn to the country by the promise of wealth and fortune.

Many Italian immigrants showed themselves to be exceedingly entrepreneurial during the interwar years between World Wars I and II, despite not being welcomed by the larger population. They started opening businesses in their own neighborhoods.

Some of the best places in Melbourne to experience Italian food are located in the Melbourne CBD and Lygon Street Carlton.

Conclusion: Foodies Guide To Melbourne

Why is Melbourne such a great place to eat?

The restaurant and food culture in Melbourne reflects the city’s ever-changing and diverse population. This city caters to every palette with a mix of old and new, east and west. It’s no surprise that Melbourne has become famous for exceptional food and drinks, given its unique blend of cuisines.

Explore Melbourne’s many eateries, cafes, bistros, and bars to learn more about its multiculturalism. Melbourne’s diversified eating scene offers a remarkable variety of the world’s great cuisines, from well-known favorites to the really ground-breaking. Whether you’re after modern, traditional, exotic, or homestyle dishes.

You may also wish to break out of the CBD and explore the city’s specialty dining locations, like Richmond for Vietnamese, Fitzroy for Spanish, and Brunswick for Lebanese. Or simply have a drink while munching on high-end tapas in a laneway café.

Either way, Melbourne is a terrific place to be currently eating, no matter where you wind up.

About the Author:

Kate Rae is the founder of Not A Tourist, providing alternative and unique travel tips for Australia.  Not A Tourist is the go-to place for Australian travel secrets, written by a local.  Connect with Kate on Pinterest, Facebook and Instagram.

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