Ultimate Melbourne Food Guide – What to eat in Melbourne, Australia

Monroe's Burgers and Beers Melbourne

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Wondering what to eat in Melbourne, Australia? Look no further…

Melbourne is highly regarded as the foodie capital of Australia.

And it’s really not difficult to see why!

During my time living in Melbourne, I managed to try my fair share of cafes, restaurants, and food stalls all across the city. And I’ll happily admit that Melbourne quickly made it high up on my list of best foodie destinations in the world.

From delicious smashed avo brunches and world-renowned pastries to the world’s best pizza and numerous delicious dumpling spots, you can find great food in Melbourne no matter what type of cuisine you’re craving.

So to narrow down my favourite dishes in Australia’s foodie capital, I’ve put together this ultimate Melbourne food guide, featuring the foods you must try in Melbourne and the best places to try them.

Hipster Brunch Heaven

Melbourne Laneways Brunch Avo on Toast

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 the city’s hipster scene, brunch has become an institution and is certainly one of the best things to do in Melbourne. You’ll find 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-Aussies) 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.

Melbourne CBD Laneways with hole-in-the-wall cafes

Jump off the metro at Flinders Street Station and head north up Degraves Street, over Flinders Lane and onto 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. You can perch on the small outdoor tables and enjoy a filling and delicious brunch while people watching and taking in the electric atmosphere of the quirky street.

Cafe Issus in Centre Place is one of my 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.

Avo Toast and Nutalla French Toast in Melbourne

Another option in the CBD is a spot that you’ll probably find on most lists of the best brunches in Melbourne; Hardware Societe. 

This popular brunch spot (which you’ll probably have to queue for) puts an extravagant twist on your more traditional brunch foods. Popular dishes include lobster benedict, poached shellfish, and 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 brunch spot of mine is Pinkie Cafe in the Eastern suburb of Ivanhoe; a modern cafe with minimalist baby pink decor.

This cute cafe is 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.

Melbourne brunch, avocado toast

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 to for a delicious Melbourne brunch. Check out the likes of Industry Beans and Archie’s All Day in Fitzroy, and Proud Mary and Terror Twilight in Collingwood. Plus many, many more.

World-Renowned Croissants

Lune Croissants Melbourne

Where do you think the New York Times believes 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 many other critics across the world ever since.

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. What more could you want from a pastry!?

As well as traditional croissants, Lune in Fitzroy has an always-changing menu of creative pastries, such as salted caramel cruffins (a mix between a croissant and muffin) and a black forest croissant cake. 

Lune’s main warehouse cafe is located in the hipster neighbourhood of Fitzroy, with a new smaller branch in the CBD (although the menu is more limited).

My opinion: If I’m being completely honest, I 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.

Mouth-Watering Burgers

Demazzi Essendon Best Burgers in Melbourne

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.

Fun fact: I once went out for burgers for both lunch and dinner on the same day. It’s safe to say that burgers are one of my absolute favourite things to eat in Melbourne!

Where to find the best burgers in Melbourne:

For a quirky Melbournian experience with some of the tastiest burgers in the city, head to Easey’s in Collingwood. This unusual spot is located 5 stories above the ground in an old refurbished Melbourne train carriage, with funky retro decor and a rooftop terrace with amazing city views.

Easey’s also serves one of the tastiest smashed beef patty burgers that I’ve ever eaten in my life. Plus the delicious Mac n Cheese sides are a must-try.

Easeys Melbourne Burger and Sides

Back down in the hipster neighbourhood of Fitzroy (which features regularly on this list), you’ll find the cool live music venue The B-EAST, another popular local spot for delicious burgers, craft beers, and alternative live bands.

Burger fan? Read my full post on Melbourne’s Best Burgers.

The Iconic Chicken Parma

Melbourne Chicken Parma, breaded chicken with tomato sauce and cheese with chips and slaw

Any Melbourne food guide would be incomplete without this famous 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. It’s 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 in Melbourne, try Universal Restaurant on Lygon Street. Despite being an Italian restaurant, Universal’s parma is a menu favourite – something you’ll surely 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.

Delicious Dumplings

Melbourne Chinatown Dumplings

Moving on from an Aussie classic over to Melbourne’s famous international food scene, no trip to the CBD is complete without a visit to Melbourne’s Chinatown. Here you can sample the local specialty of dumplings.

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. At the festival, 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.

Some of the most popular places to try dumplings in Melbourne’s CBD are Shandong MamaTim Ho WanHuTong, and Shanghai Dragon Dumpling House.

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 areas (even though the food is genuinely great!), there is another lesser-known spot for delicious and authentic dumplings and other tasty Chinese foods.

Dumplings, fried chicken and noodle soup in Box Hill Melbourne
Authentic Chinese food at a restaurant in Box Hill

The suburb of Box Hill is the real hub of the Chinese community in Melbourne. The area also is home to numerous cafes, restaurants, shops, and markets where you can 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 a range of dishes, head to Kitchen Republik, which resembles a hawker style-market with various tasty Asian dishes on offer.

Want more? Check out my full post on where to find the best dumplings in Melbourne.

The World’s Best Pizza

400 Gradi Best Pizza in World Melbourne

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 Margherita pizza was voted the best pizza in the world at the Campionato Mondiale Della Pizza in Italy. The restaurant’s owner Johnny was the first Australian to have ever won the award.

Despite the award now being a few years ago, 400 Gradi’s authentic wood-fired Neapolitan pizzas are still some of the best pizzas you’ll find in Australia – if not the world. The pizzeria was also awarded the best pizzeria in Oceania at the 50 Top Pizza Gala held in Naples in 2019.

When dining at the pizzeria, don’t narrow your order to just the pizza. 400 Gradi does a mouth-wateringly delicious selection of antipasti, pasta, mains, and desserts too. My favourite is the Pappardelle Ai Funghi, with mixed mushrooms, cream, and shaved pecorino.

400 Gradi’s main restaurant is found on Lygon Street in Brunswick, which is also known as Little Italy due to the many authentic Italian restaurants on the street. There are also offshoots in Essendon, the Crown Casino, Eastland Shopping Centre and the Yarra Valley.

Quality Ice-Cream

Melbourne Ice Cream

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 has been voted the best ice cream parlour in Melbourne on multiple occassions. An accolade which is confirmed by the large 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.

All of the gelatos ate 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. In my opinion, this is a must!

There are currently three branches of Pidapipo, located in Carlton’s Lygon Street, Windsor, and Melbourne’s CBD – hidden away in the laneways close to central Flinders Street station.

Good-Deed Veggie Food

Lentil as anything Melbourne

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 countless burgers, pizzas, ice creams and pastries, you’re probably going to want to mix things up with a few veggies 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 that 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 self-serve 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 in the evening, the cafe serves 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 four restaurants in Melbourne, located in the suburbs of St Kilda, Abbotsford, Newton, and Brunswick.

Need recommendations for after-dinner activities?

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Awesome date night ideas in Melbourne

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Emily is a born and raised London girl, starting life in the north of the capital then moving down to Fulham in the southwest. She has a master’s degree in Social and Cultural Anthropology from University College London and now works full-time running this blog and as a freelance travel writer, splitting her life between London and travelling the world as a digital nomad.

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