Top 10 restaurants, breakfast spots & rooftop bars in Melbourne

Melbourne restaurants, cafes and bars offer deliciously exciting flavour experiences, from multi-sensory fine dining and ethnic eats to edgy laneway cocktails.

Known as the food and wine capital of Australia, Melbourne has a long tradition of dining out and socialising in cafes and bars. It's all about enjoying good food, friendship and fun times as often as you possibly can. 

Generations ago, Italian, Greek and Chinese immigrants laid the foundations for a magnificent foodie lifestyle. Today the city is blessed with ethnic food zones like Lygon Street and Chinatown, restaurants that are dripping with awards, sky-high rooftop bars, and bars where the snacks are as good as the cocktails. To get you started on your journey of the senses, here are some of the best places to eat and drink in Melbourne.

1. Brunch in high style

If you love food that looks as good as it tastes, even at brunch, book a table at The Kettle Black. Located within a converted Victorian terrace house, this elegant eatery is open from early morning until late afternoon with a menu that mixes breakfast favourites with almost-fine-dining dishes. There's a delectable wine list too, as well as a commitment to perfectly crafted coffee. Provenance and traceability are important to The Kettle Black team, so they can tell you where everything came from.

2. Explore Asian flavours in Chinatown

Chinatown is the perfect place to explore the delicious diversity of authentic Asian cuisine. For divine soup dumplings, head to Din Tai Fung or HuTong. Shandong Mama specialises in cuisine from eastern China. And for high-end Cantonese dining, the Flower Drum's always a good call. Or you could nibble your way through the amazing woodfire grill menu at Longsong, an atmospheric bar-meets-restaurant in Little Bourke Street. The Thai sharing plates at Longrain and authentic Japanese street food at Fukuryu Ramen are also highly reviewed.

3. Indulge your senses at Lûmé

To see just how far contemporary Australian cuisine has come, book a table at Lûmé. Known for its unexpected (but always delicious) dishes, this restaurant will take you on a multi-sensory food journey you'll never forget. The degustation menu ranges from three to seven courses, with matched beverages as an option. There's also the option to eat at the counter, where you can watch the precision action in the kitchen.

4. Authentic Italian and more on Lygon

When it comes to top Melbourne eats, Lygon Street has a long been the go-to place for exceptional Italian cafes and restaurants. Today they're joined by highly recommended eateries serving the flavours of Greece, Israel, Japan and more. Head to 400 Gradi for pizza cooked for 90 seconds at 400 degrees. Heartattack and Vine serves divine Venetian tapas. For classic pizza, wine, pastries, sweet cakes and hot chocolate, slip into Brunetti. Hellenic Republic delivers a modern twist on Greek classics in a tavern setting. And for Israeli vegan and vegetarian delights with local craft beer, visit The Green Man's Arms.

5. A tour with a little of this and that

The Melbourne food scene is constantly evolving and there's a lot to explore. If you need some help with what to eat in Melbourne, Hidden Secrets Tours offer a highly-rated progressive degustation Melbourne walking tour that includes three tasting dishes at each of three restaurants. Every dish is matched with a wine and the restaurants have different cuisine styles. You'll not only discover some cool places to eat in Melbourne, you'll also get to meet restaurant staff to learn about the wines, food and history of each venue.

6. Shout a round from the rooftops

The best rooftop bars in Melbourne come in many flavours, but they all combine balmy summer nights with exceptional views. Join the well-preened vintage glamour at The Emerald Peacock or relax with some jazz at Transit Rooftop Bar near Federation Square. If the weather's a bit iffy, head to Loop Roof for cocktails, iced tea or a beer; it has a brilliant retractable awning system. Naked in the Sky at Naked for Satan is an informal Fitzroy favourite, offering Basque peasant food, a great drinks menu and all kinds of vodka cocktails.

7. Simply the best

To experience Australia's top restaurant, book yourself a table at Attica in Melbourne. Chef and owner, Ben Shewry offers award-winning innovative degustation menus that are celebrated around the world. Drawing on his childhood in New Zealand and adult life in Australia, he creates dishes that tantalise the senses and celebrate each ingredient’s flavour. Attica restaurant bookings open monthly for three months in advance.

8. Late-night bites

After-show and late-night appetites are well catered for at some of the late-night restaurants and top bars in Melbourne. Parisian industrial themed Bar Ampere is open until the wee hours with a non-stop kitchen serving delicious bites, gourmet burgers and more. Also open late, Arlechin is an intimate CBD bar with deliciously whimsical bar snacks and small plates, like midnight spaghetti. Other favourites include Ferdydurke, Go Go Bar, Trunk and the cheap Chinese food at Supper Inn.

9. Breakfast delights

Breakfast cafes are part of the Melbourne way of life, so it's easy to find the best brunch and breakfast spots to kick-start your day. In the city, try Hardware Societe, Higher Ground or Cumulus Inc. If your breakfasts are mainly about the coffee, you'll get the ultimate caffeine fix from Proud Mary, Seven Seeds, St Ali or Industry Beans.

10. Pellegrini's Italian tradition

Looking for dishes like traditional Italian lasagne, spaghetti bolognese and cake served with sublime espresso in an original 1950s diner setting? Welcome to Pellegrini's, one of the more unique restaurants in Melbourne and a beloved icon that has thankfully remained unchanged for more than half a century. Located on a corner in Chinatown, this is Nonna's cooking at its best - hearty, delicious, comforting, affordable and refreshingly real.

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