Melbourne… also known as the foodie capital of Australia, and it’s not hard to see why!
During my time in Melbourne so far I have certainly managed to try my fair share of tasty food across the city, and I’m not afraid to admit that Melbourne has quickly made it pretty high up on my list of best foodie destinations in the world.
From delicious smashed avo brunches and world-renowned pastries to the worlds best pizza and numerous delicious dumpling spots, you can really find a great meal no matter what you’re craving.
What to eat in Melbourne Australia:
So to narrow down my favourite dishes in Australia’s foodie capital, here’s my ultimate Melbourne food guide, including all the foods you must try in Melbourne and the best places to try them…
Hipster Brunch Heaven
It should be illegal to visit Melbourne and not go for brunch at least once. Saying this, once you’ve been once you’re almost guaranteed to become addicted and end up going every single day – much like I did.
In keeping with Melbourne’s hipster scene, brunch has become an institution in this Australian city, with cute little cafes around every corner serving an extensive all-day brunch menu paired with delicious locally brewed coffees.
Where to find the best brunch in Melbourne:
From my own experience, it’s difficult to find a bad brunch in Melbourne, but for the sake of this article I’ve tried to narrow down a few of the best brunch spots in Melbourne:
Best Brunch in Melbourne CBD:
If you’re searching for somewhere around Melbourne’s CBD (central business district for non-Aussie’s) for a good brunch, the city’s laneways are a great place to start. These narrow lanes, which you’ll find all over central Melbourne, are just about as hipster as it comes, filled with colourful street art, boutique shops, hole-in-the-wall cafes and hip bars with plenty of outdoor seating.
Jump off the metro at Flinders Street Station and head north up Degraves Street, over Flinders Lane and on to Centre Place. Centre Place is one of the CBD’s most iconic laneways, often referred to as ‘Melbourne’s answer to Diagon Alley’.
The narrow, cobbled laneway is packed full of tiny hole-in-the-wall cafes and coffee shops where you can perch on little tables outside and enjoy a filling and delicious brunch while people watching and taking in the electric atmosphere of the quirky street.
Issues in Centre Place is one of my personal favourite brunch spots in Melbourne, with their game-changing avocado and chorizo toast and food-gasm worthy Nutella french toast with strawberries and topped with fairy floss.
Another option in the CBD is a spot which you’ll probably find on most lists of the best brunches in Melbourne is Hardware Societe. This popular brunch spot (which you’ll probably have to queue for) puts an extravagant twist on your more traditional brunch foods, with dishes including lobster benedict and poached shellfish, as well as their popular brioche French toast.
Best Brunch in Melbourne’s suburbs:
Like many cities all across the world, often the best way to discover the best food is to venture out of the more central and touristy areas and head to where to locals go, and Melbourne is certainly no exception. A visit to the city’s suburbs is an absolute must, especially for foodies on the hunt for Melbourne’s best brunches.
A personal favourite of mine is Pinkie Cafe in the Eastern suburb of Ivanhoe; a modern cafe with minimalist baby pink decor where I had one of the prettiest and tastiest smashed avocados of my life. Smashed avo is piled high with pomegranate and beetroot hummus on a bed of wheat toast, topped with large chunks of feta, sesame and herbs.
The cafe also does a whole variety of creative brunch dishes including an acai bowl, brekkie burger, tiramisu hotcakes, spicy Mediterranean eggs and a pulled pork benedict. Then finally round off your insta-worthy brunch with a colourful coffee such as the yellow coconut numeric latte or the fittingly pink hibiscus and beetroot latte.
The slightly more central suburbs of Fitzroy and Collingwood are also good areas to head for a delicious Melbourne brunch, with the likes of Industry Beans and Archie’s All Day in Fitzroy, and Proud Mary and Terror Twilight in Collingwood, plus many, many more.
Where do you think the New York Times believe you can find the best croissant in the world?
Bet you were expecting it to be somewhere in France, right?
In fact, a well-known New York Times food critic recently stated that the best croissant in the world can be found in Melbourne’s very own Lune Croissanterie. A sentiment agreed with by a number of other critics across the world ever since.
With the main warehouse cafe located in the hipster neighbourhood of Fitzroy, as well as a new smaller branch in the CBD (although the menu is more limited), Lune was opened by Melbourian local Kate Reid, who used her past career as a Formula One aerodynamicist to create the scientifically perfect croissant.
The croissants are believed to be the perfect balance between salty and sweet, buttery and crispy.
As well as the more traditional croissants, Lune in Fitzroy also sells a changing menu of creative pastries, such as salted caramel cruffins (a mix between a croissant and muffin) and a black forest croissant cake.
My opinion: If I’m being completely honest, I personally didn’t think that the plain croissant was the best I’ve ever had (might just be personal preference or a bad day), however, the ham and Gruyere croissant from Lune CBD did make it extremely high up on my list – be sure to give this one a try if you’re a fan of savoury croissants.
Another Mebournian staple has to be its burgers, and Melbourne is undoubtedly home to some of the best burgers in the world. Both the CBD and suburbs are full of cool and quirky burger joints which are almost always full of hungry locals of all ages enjoying one of the city’s favourite foods.
Where to find the best burgers in Melbourne:
For a cool Melbournian experience with some of tastiest burgers in the city, head to Easey’s in Collingwood. This popular spot is located 5 stories above the ground in an old refurbished Melbourne train carriage with funky retro decor and a rooftop terrace boasting city views. It also serves some of my favourite smashed beef patty burgers in the world, plus delicious Mac N Cheese sides.
Back down in the hipster neighbourhood of Fitzroy (which features regularly on this list), you’ll find cool live music venue The B-EAST which is another popular local spot for delicious burgers, craft beers and alternative live bands.
For some of the most OTT and insta-worthy burgers in the city, try Monroe’s Burgers and Beers in St Kilda, home to the extravagant ‘Ron Burgundy’ which comes with a whole deep-fried wheel of brie inside. Cheese lovers heaven! Just make sure you turn up very hungry.
Burger fan? Read my full post on ‘Melbourne’s Best Burgers’.
The Iconic Chicken Parma
Any Melbourne food guide would be incomplete without this iconic Aussie classic.
What is a chicken parma?
Chicken parma (or parmi), which is short for chicken parmigiana, is not an Italian dish as the name might suggest, but rather is one of the most popular pub food dishes in Australia.
The dish consists of a flattened breaded chicken breast topped with Napolitana tomato sauce and melted mozzarella cheese, and most commonly served with a side of fries and salad. You’ll find the dish on the menu in the majority of Australian pubs and casual restaurants.
Where to find the best chicken parma in Melbourne:
For one of the tastiest, biggest and best value for money chicken parma’s in Melbourne, try Universal Restaurant on Lygon Street. Despite being an Italian restaurant, Universal’s parma is a menu favourite, something you’ll definitely notice looking around at the other tables.
Watch the combination of shock and pleasure on everyone’s faces as the waiter places the absolutely humungous dish down on each table, made up of one of the largest parma’s you’ll find in Melbourne, a side of fries and Italian slaw.
And what’s even better? This huge dish, which can quite easily serve 2 people, costs just a measly $14.
Moving on from Aussie classics over to Melbourne’s famous international food scene, no trip to the CBD is complete without a visit to Melbourne’s Chinatown where you can sample the local speciality of dumplings.
In fact, Melbourne is so well known for its tasty dumplings that each year the famous Queen Victoria Market close to Chinatown hosts an International Dumpling Festival, which you can try a huge selection of dumplings from Chinese bao and Japanese gyozas to Polish pierogi and Italian ravioli.
Where to find the best dumplings in Melbourne CBD:
If you’re not in the city for the dumpling festival not to worry! There are many restaurants across Chinatown and the rest of Melbourne for you to try these tasty little treats, with some of the most popular being Shandong Mama, Shanghai Dragon Dumpling House, Tim Ho Wan and HuTong.
BONUS: Even if dumplings aren’t your thing, Melbourne is renowned for its Asian food scene, with plenty of authentic and tasty Chinese eateries in Chinatown, as well as some great Thai and Vietnamese restaurants around the CBD.
Where to find the best dumplings in Melbourne Suburbs:
While Chinatown could be said to be one of Melbourne’s more touristy area (even though the food is genuinely great!), there is another lesser-known spot for delicious and authentic dumplings and other tasty Chinese foods.
The suburb of Box Hill is the real hub of the Chinese community in Melbourne, meaning the area is also home to numerous authentic cafes, restaurants, shops and markets where you’ll be able to find some of the best and most authentic Chinese food in Melbourne.
Plus, the food in Box Hill is always incredibly affordable and great value for money!
For amazing dumplings try Dumpling King, while for more of a range of different dishes, head to Kitchen Republik which resembles a hawker style-market with various tasty Asian dishes on offer.
The World’s Best Pizza
Much like the best croissant in the world at Lune, this one took me seriously by surprise too.
In 2014, Melbourne’s very own Italian restaurant 400 Gradi’s Margarita pizza was voted the best pizza in the world at the Campionato Mondiale Della Pizza in Italy, making the restaurant’s owner Johnny the first Australian to have ever won.
Despite the award now being a few years ago now, 400 Gradi’s authentic wood-fired Neapolitan pizzas are still some of the best pizzas you’ll find in Australia, if not the whole world. In fact, the pizzeria was also awarded the best pizzeria in Oceania at the 50 Top Pizza Gala held in Naples in 2019.
But when dining at the pizzeria, don’t narrow your order to just the pizzas, as 400 Gradi also does a mouth-wateringly delicious selection of antipasti, pasta, mains and desserts. My personal favourite has to be the pasta dish of Pappardelle Ai Funghi with mixed mushrooms, cream and shaved pecorino.
400 Gradi’s primary restaurant can be found on Melbourne’s Lygon Street in Brunswick, which is also known as Little Italy due to the abundance of authentic Italian restaurants on the street, however, there are also offshoots located in Essendon, the Crown Casino, Eastland Shopping Centre and the Yarra Valley.
After filling yourself with pizza and pasta on Lygon Street, it’s time to hunt out some of the best ice creams in Melbourne for dessert.
Where to find the best ice cream in Melbourne:
Pidapipo is often voted as the best ice cream parlour in Melbourne, something which is confirmed by the queue you’ll find of an evening or on a sunny day. But the wait is definitely worth it (the queue goes quickly) for the best ice cream in Melbourne.
Pidapipo has a whole selection of flavours, from the traditional to the more unusual such as ricotta, cannoli and Nutella or rose and honey nought, all served from closed steel tanks – the sign of a high-quality Italian Gelateria. You can also get hot melted Nutella drizzled into your ice cream and in my opinion, this is a must!
You will also find a branch of Pidapipo in Melbourne’s CBD, hidden away in the laneways close to central Flinders Street station.
Good-Deed Veggie Food
You’ll probably have noticed by now that this ultimate Melbourne food guide doesn’t feature an abundance of healthy options. And after eating your way through all of these burgers, pizzas, ice-creams and pastries, you’re probably going to be wanting to mix things up with a few vegetables every now and again.
So how about combining doing something good for your body with also doing something good for other people?
Lentil As Anything is a vegetarian restaurant which operates a pay-as-you-feel model, leaving customers to pay what they want, or simply what they can afford.
It is also a not-for-profit charity organisation, run by volunteers, which aims to celebrate Melbourne’s multiculturalism by developing the local community and providing support and training to young migrants and refugees.
During the day you’ll find a serve yourself all-you-can-eat buffet with plenty of delicious veggie dishes (and that’s coming from a meat eater) including pasta, beans, legumes and vegetables, while of an evening they serve an à la carte menu. Just walk in, enjoy your meal, and at the end simply put a donation into the box.
Lentil As Anything now has three restaurants in Melbourne, located in the suburbs of St Kilda, Abbotsford and Thornbury.