10 Must-Have Melbourne Eating and Drinking Experiences

Fri, 15/02/2019 - 4:44pm
Read Time: 4.9 mins

With exciting restaurants practically everywhere you turn and a bar scene that's truly world-class, Melbourne is the ideal destination for a short break devoted to food and drink. But where to start? Every Melbourne fan has their own don't-miss experiences – here's ours.

1. Embla

122 Russell St, central city

It's a hard heart that won't swell with patriotic pride at Embla, the extremely successful bar/restaurant from Christian McCabe and Dave Verheul, respectively the former co-owner and chef at Wellington's Matterhorn. There's a lot the two outfits have in common: like the much-missed Matterhorn, Embla is cool but unintimidating, open all day, and known for great food and an eclectic wine list. Upstairs is a proper restaurant, Lesa, serving more sophisticated fare in a similarly informal atmosphere.

Embla, Melbourne CBD. Photo: supplied

2. Noisy Ritual

249 Lygon St, East Brunswick

In 2014, Cam Nichol found an old concrete wine fermenter under his house and decided to give wine-making a go. Five years later that experiment has grown into East Brunswick's Noisy Ritual Urban Winery, where the focus is on demystifying wine and the wine-making process. All the wine, from the Heathcote Shiraz to the Sunbury Pinot Noir, is made on the premises, and the staff all have the rare ability to talk you through a tasting while never sounding pretentious.

3. Supernormal Canteen

180 Flinders Lane, central city

This big and buzzy eatery at the bottom of Flinders Lane serves up a menu that's mostly Asian and almost always delicious. You won't come here for the décor – sparse to the point of non-existent – but instead, for the food. There are so many must-eats that it’s hard to pick the highlights, but don’t go past the slow-cooked Xinjiang lamb with sesame seed flatbread, the Szechuan chicken salad, or the justly famous New England lobster roll, one of the handful of non-Asian dishes.

Supernormal Canteen, Melbourne CBD. Photo: supplied

4. Naked for Satan / Naked in the Sky

285 Brunswick St, Fitzroy

Go bar-hopping on Fitzroy's Brunswick Street and it can be hard to know where to start, such is the proliferation of drinking holes on this young and vibrant inner-suburb strip. Wherever the night takes you, your itinerary should absolutely include Naked for Satan and its rooftop sister Naked in the Sky. Don't be put off by the names: both staff and clientele are friendly, welcoming, and always fully clothed. Go downstairs for vodka cocktails and gourmet sliders; head to the roof for great drinks and some of Melbourne's best views.

Naked in the Sky, Fitzroy. Photo: Amanda Fordyce / supplied

5. Lune Croissanterie

19 Rose St, Fitzroy

Yes, you'll have to queue on weekends. Yes, they really do only sell croissants (and 'cruffins', a croissant-muffin hybrid). And yes, they're easily the best croissants in Melbourne – probably in all of Australia. Opened by a former aerodynamic engineer turned baker, the cavernous Lune Croissanterie factory-shop in Fitzroy is a high-tech temple to buttery, flaky deliciousness.

6. Grub Fitzroy

87-89 Moor St, Fitzroy

Looking for a single eating experience that sums up creative, bohemian Fitzroy? It's got to be Grub, the all-day cafe/restaurant where the happily quirky design – including a silver Airstream van, a fairy-light festooned garden and a plant-filled greenhouse eating hall – belies the quality of the cooking, courtesy of New Zealand chef Scott Blomfield.

Grub Fitzroy. Photo: Catherine McGregor

7. Victoria Markets

Queen St, central city

Every food-loving Melbournian goes to Queen Vic Market. Not just on the weekends, when it can seem like half the city has descended on the 140-year-old marketplace, but on weekdays too, for fresh produce and quick bites: Turkish borek, German bratwurst, none-more-Australian fish and chips, and so much more. If you're an oyster lover, be sure to stop at the Seafood and Oyster Depot for a half-dozen freshly-shucked Sydney Rocks (from NSW) or Pacifics (from South Australia or Tasmania).

8. Brunetti Carlton

380 Lygon Street, Carlton

Since its earliest gold rush days, Melbourne has been home to a large and proud Italian community and today it's not uncommon to hear Italian spoken on the street, especially on Lygon Street in the inner-city suburb of Carlton. Here in Melbourne's Little Italy, the grand marble-and-chrome Brunetti is where locals stop for a quick espresso and a pastry, an excellent wood-fired pizza, or a scoop of housemade gelato.

Brunetti Carlton. Photo: supplied

9. Carlton Wine Room

172 – 174 Faraday Street, Carlton

Since you're in Carlton anyway, why not stick around for dinner at the current Time Out Restaurant of the Year? A bar/bistro with a menu full of simple dishes you want to eat right this minute, Carlton Wine Room is a place you can comfortably rock up to in jeans and sneakers and leave feeling like you've had a truly memorable dining experience.

Carlton Wine Room. Photo: supplied

10. Eau de Vie

1 Malthouse Lane, central city

With a cocktail scene that's the envy of other Australian cities, it's far easier to list 20 great places to drink in Melbourne than to whittle your options down to just one. But if you only have time for a single cocktail bar, make it this cosy prohibition-themed bar hidden down an alleyway in the CBD. Whether you're a serious cocktail aficionado or just want something quirky and fun, you'll find the tipple of your dreams at Eau de Vie. The food's excellent too.

Eau de Vie, Melbourne CBD. Photo: supplied

Catherine McGregor

Catherine McGregor is the deputy editor of The Spinoff and a travel writer with a too-long travel wish list including Jordan, Mexico, Croatia and Taiwan.