Best Japanese Restaurant
Best Italian Restaurant
Best Modern Australian Restaurant
Best Mexican Restaurant
Best African Restaurant
Best South American Restaurant
Best Veggie/Vegan Restaurant
Best Middle-Eastern Restaurant
Best Pizza Restaurant
Best Thai Restaurant
Best Pub Food
Best Vietnamese Restaurant
Best Chinese Restaurant
Best American Diner
Best Indian Restaurant
Best Wine Bar
Best Korean Restaurant
Best Japanese Restaurant in Melbourne
Fine-dining sushi omakase spot Minamishima is the best Japanese restaurant in Melbourne.
Don’t be fooled by the location on a quiet residential street in the leafy suburb of Richmond – Minamishima is about as far from a casual neighbourhood eatery as you can get.
There are no menus or a la carte options here, instead a $245 intimate culinary experience is led by the chef, the produce and the seasons.
Expect your nigiri prepared tableside, using traditional culinary techniques that bring together the oceans of Japan and Australia.
Runners up: Tucked away in a basement on Bourke St, Ishizuka’s refined Kaiseki experience almost rivals Minamishima when it comes to Japanese haute cuisine. For a mid-range feed choose Kenzan Japanese Restaurant on Collins St.
You’ll find the best Italian food in Melbourne at Tipo 00 on Little Bourke St, where the small but ever-changing menu offers innovative pasta dishes and secondi plates that just work.
The simplicity of good quality ingredients underpins every dish on the menu and explains why the restaurant is named after the finest grade of flour milled in Italy for pasta making.
Prices are really quite reasonable, creating a casual dining experience born from an honest passion for Italian cuisine and beverage.
Runners up: There are so many good Italian places in Melbourne that it’s really hard to choose. Scopri in Carlton offers an almost perfect traditional Italian menu whilst Rosa’s Canteen in the city serves excellent Sicilian food.
Best Modern Australian
For a true representation of what Modern Australian cuisine is really about, you need to try O.MY in Beaconsfield.
Farmers turned restaurateurs, the team at O.MY create elevated dishes using only the fruit and vegetables from their family farm, along with meat and fish from local artisan producers.
Their farm-to-table ‘tasting menu with meaning’ comes in at $190 and changes daily, offering between 12-25 dishes based on the farm’s harvest.
Expect food like you’ve never seen before, grown less than a mile up the road with serious flavour and thought behind it.
Sadly, a fire devastated O.MY’s beautiful miners cottage restaurant in 2020 so they are now operating out of a quirky location on a strip mall beside the Princes Highway, which I think is about as Australian as you can get.
Runners up: Vue de monde in the city centre is an iconic Melbourne fine dining establishment and you’re never going to have a bad meal there. Alternatively, head to an old metalworks factory in Fitzroy for Cutler & Co’s Mod Oz offering, with a focus on upscale seafood dishes.
Best Mexican Restaurant
There’s a clear winner when it comes to Melbourne’s best Mexican food, and that’s Taquito in Carlton.
Mexico-born Alec Villareal and New Zealand-born Paul Clarke have created a truly authentic Mexican-inspired menu, bringing together Central American flavours and seasonal produce from Australia.
Every taco is made from scratch and filled with the likes of barbecued kangaroo tail, baja crispy fish and fire-roasted sweet potato.
Naturally, the margaritas are excellent, as is the huge selection of tequilas and mezcales on offer.
Runner up: Los Morales in South Melbourne is a family-run Mexican restaurant offering traditional street food dishes like beef birria, flautas, stewed pork ribs and home-made Mexican breads.
Best African Food in Melbourne
The Abyssinian Restaurant in Kensington is the best spot in Melbourne for Ethiopian & Eritrean cuisine.
On arrival you’ll enter a bright orange room where traditional Ethiopian crafts cover the walls and home-cooked dishes are served on Injera bread and shared amongst friends.
With hundreds of five star reviews, I’m pretty sure your short trip west-side to The Abyssinian will be worth every mile.
Runner up: Little Africa in West Melbourne serves seriously good African stews and curries, followed by their special Ethiopian coffee with ginger.
Best South American
You’ll find the best Latin American food in Melbourne at Pastuso.
Much like its location on the vibrant graffiti-filled AC/DC Lane, Pastuso’s head chef Samuel Rivas is bringing colour and creativity to Melburnians through innovative Peruvian dishes.
Expect the best ceviche in town along with meats spit-roast over charcoal just like they do it in the Andes.
The pisco sours are brilliant, obviously, as are the ample vegan options that signify a fresh approach to the traditionally meat-heavy Latin American dining scene.
Runner up: Neruda’s in Brunswick is so un-Melbourne in the best possible way. Chilean through and through, a double page menu offers authentic and homely dishes from thinly sliced beef steak with eggs for breakfast to veggie empanadas or charquicán stew for lunch.
Best Veggie & Vegan
Smith & Daughters in Collingwood is undoubtedly the best veggie/vegan spot in Melbourne.
Don’t expect your standard vegan cheeseburger here, because chef and founder Shannon Martinez is running this show differently.
As a meat-eater, Martinez has invented vegan dishes that actually replicate real meat, cheese and family favourites, creating some serious layers of flavour that are so often lacking in plant-based cooking.
The carbonara with egg yolk is excellent, as is the slow braised ragu, the vodka meatballs and the shredded Caesar.
Runners up: Lentil As Anything at Abbotsford Convent is a beautiful pay-as-you-feel vegetarian canteen where the community enjoys hearty meals, desserts and coffee each day. Alternatively, for veggie & vegan fine dining, definitely choose Italian-inspired Matteo’s in Fitzroy North.
Best Middle Eastern Restaurant in Melbourne
Maha on Bond St has become the number one destination for contemporary Middle Eastern dining in Melbourne.
Offering a $90 soufra menu of refined dishes from meze to mains to sweets, Maha’s dishes represent an innovative approach to Middle Eastern cuisine in an intimate sub-basement setting.
Their vegan set menu has been thought-through meticulously, featuring the likes of grilled leeks with saffron and peaches, and Turkish delight donuts with almond sorbet and rosewater maple.
Capitano is the place to go for Melbourne’s best pizza.
Found in Carlton, Melbourne’s beloved ‘Little Italy’ neighbourhood, Capitano brings together Italian-American influences to create perfect pizzas in a round pie or square deep dish depending on your preference.
If you like your gin & vermouth, the olive oil martini will blow your mind.
Runner up: Red Sparrow Pizza in Prahan/Collingwood is the only 100% vegan pizzeria in Melbourne and even as a non-vegan, I can admit it’s pretty bloody good. 48 hour fermented, wood-fired to perfection and slapped with some seriously good plant-based meat and cheese, it may just become your new pizza go-to in the city.
The internet claims you’ll get the best Thai food in Melbourne at pricey restaurants like Supernormal or Chin Chin, but for a real Thai street food experience you need to go to Sook Thai Kitchen in Collingwood.
Fresh, home-made dishes like lamb panang, prawn pad thai and tofu yellow curry will transport you back to the streets of Bangkok whilst the warm, friendly atmosphere means you’ll never want to finish your meal.
The lychee martini is also the perfect accompaniment to pretty much anything on the menu.
Runner up: Head to Jiyu Thai Hot Pot for the best Thai hot pot in Melbourne. The signature Tom Yum soup is delicious with wagyu beef, cuttlefish or tofu and veggies.
Best Pub Food in Melbourne
The Royston in Richmond does the best pub food in Melbourne.
With an interior inspired by the ’60s and an excellent centre bar lined with local craft beer taps, it’s the perfect spot for a boozy Saturday pub lunch of porterhouse steak or eggplant parmigiana.
Food at the Roy is homely and generous. They do one of the best Sunday roasts in town finished off with a rich sticky toffee pudding.
Runner up: Popular Fitzroy pub Marquis of Lorne offers posh pub grub alongside a great wine menu. From ocean trout pastrami for starters to confit dug leg with potato gratin for your main, expect top quality eats and a lively atmosphere.
Saigon Sen Vietnamese Street Food in Albert Park is by far the best Vietnamese restaurant in Melbourne.
Freshly made pho and South-East Asian style crispy fried chicken are firm favourites on the menu, whilst their tofu stir frys are considered the best in town amongst veggie diners.
Runner up: Anchovy in Richmond is doing Vietnamese a little differently, bringing traditional South-East Asian cooking into Melbourne’s contemporary dining landscape.
Melbourne institution Flower Drum is the best Chinese restaurant in the city.
Probably the longest running restaurant on this list, Gilbert Lau opened Flower Drum in 1975 and it’s been a strong player in the tough Australian food market ever since.
You’ll have seen the dishes on Flower Drum’s menu a hundred times before, but here traditional Cantonese cuisine is executed to an impeccably high standard and the team just get it right every time.
Runner up: Ruyi Modern Chinese breaks away from the traditional Chinese eatery experience, offering communal dining in a minimalist setting.
Best American Food
A trip to Butchers Diner is your opportunity to get some high quality American diner food in Melbourne.
Here you’ll find all of the good stuff you’d expect to see on an American diner menu (burgers, wings, steak & eggs), except the place doesn’t smell like deep fat fryers and the ingredients are locally sourced and delicious.
Runner up: Bluebonnet in Brunswick East brings authentic Texas Barbecue to Melbourne using their 100% wood fired Ole Hickory Pit smoker.
Best Indian Restaurant in Melbourne
If you want to try truly authentic Indian food in Melbourne, you need to go to Spice Mix Restaurant in Brunswick East.
You’ll be sat on a cheap chair at a cheap table, and you’ll feel a million miles from the sleek interiors of Indian restaurants in town like Tonka and Daughter In Law, but the food at Spice Mix is just better and that’s the truth.
From sizzling meats freshly prepared in the tandoor to rich, velvety curries and sides of pani puri, the dishes at Spice Mix are homely, comforting and very reasonable priced.
Runner up: Contemporary Indian restaurant Atta in Albert Park is doing South Asian food differently, combining traditional recipes with native Australian ingredients to create a new sensory experience for curry lovers.
Best Wine Bar
It was voted the best wine bar in Australia in 2020, and if that won’t persuade you to visit Carlton Wine Room I don’t know what will.
Serving food that works with wine, the bistro-style menu is intended to compliment the expertly curated wine list.
Think oysters with lime vinaigrette, scallops with yuzu and stracciatella with chive oil.
Runners up: With wine regions across Victoria it’s no surprise that Melbourne is full of excellent wine bars. Marion in Fitzroy pairs local wines with a European menu, whilst the team at Embla in the CBD prides themselves on their ‘slightly weird’ food offering.
You’ll find Melbourne’s best steaks at Marbl Steakhouse in Prahran.
Set in a Victorian-era cottage with exposed brick and embellished ceilings, both the atmosphere and the wine list ooze cosy French bistro vibes and Melburnians are here for it.
Char grilled, lightly basted and served with french fries, all eight of the different steaks on the menu are perfectly executed to your preference.
Runner up: If you’re after some serious meat sweats, head to B’Churrasco Brazilian BBQ Restaurant for unlimited cuts from the charcoal grill along with salads and sides.
Choose Subi Q in South Yarra for the best Korean BBQ in Melbourne, which conveniently also offers BYO wine.
Choose your protein and cook it table side along with sides of kimchi stew, takoyaki, veggies and steamed rice.
It’s not all about the meat at Subi Q thanks to the ample selection of veggie and vegan options like tofu japchae and veggie pancakes.
Runner up: If bbq isn’t your thing, head to Jang go mama in the city for home-cooked authentic Korean dishes in a small, family run restaurant.
I hope you enjoyed my guide to the best restaurants in Melbourne, don’t miss my blog post about all the unmissable photos you have to capture in Melbourne.