There’s not many guarantees in life, but this is one of them – there is no shortage of places to eat in Melbourne, and you could have enough options for all tastes and budgets to last a lifetime.
Melbourne is a food lovers paradise and just one of the many reasons why I love this city.
One of the great things about Melbourne is the many neighborhoods who have their own cultural focus, the vibrant markets offering fresh produce, and a bustling CBD.
It’s almost like you have too many options and don’t know where to start. So where do you eat in Melbourne?
Our visit was a combination of getting suggestions from friends, and just exploring on our own. Our focus was not on fine dining, but about value for money and family friendly locations.
Below are 17 places we enjoyed, plus further down below are some HOT TIPS from our readers.
Places to Eat in Melbourne
1. Tiamo – Lygon Street, Carlton
Lygon Street is that famous Italian area of Melbourne, and home to many popular restaurants and cafes. With so many choices it can be hard to narrow down a selection. Luckily our local friend with an Italian background new the place for us – Tiamo.
Synonymous with traditional Italian cuisine, Tiamo has a focus on pizza, but I enjoyed another Italian specialty, spaghetti marinara, and Caz said her risotto was to die for. Going there with a group, why not order a few pizzas, some pastas and risotto and share everything.
The bustling vibe is great, feels very homely and genuinely Italian. And for it being a touristy part of the city was impressed with their reasonable prices.
2. Brunetti – Lygon Street, Carlton
Speaking of Lygon street, Brunetti is a Melbourne institution.
A place to indulge in an Italian style coffee from the bar. It’s said they serve 20,000 coffees per week, and has been serving cakes, pastries, biscuits and gelati since 1985. You’ll also find excellent crepes, chocolates and savoury dishes.
We had breakfast with a friend and couldn’t believe how big and popular this place is. And the pastries are like art work…
3. The Organic Food & Wine Deli – Degraves St
We’d visited Degraves St many times for coffee but never gave this place a thought until our local friend Steve suggested we meet for lunch. Turned out a great suggestion.
The Organic Food & Wine Deli – TOFWD is the place to go for tasty organic, vegan and dietary friendly food – was perfect for Caz with her gluten intolerance. Grab a seat outside if it’s sunny and take your choice from pies, salads, sandwiches, burgers, wraps and more!
4. Little Creatures Pub – Fitzroy
I’m a big fan of the Little Creatures beer, and was excited when we got yet another tip from a local Melbourne friend to hit up this pub for lunch.
Fitzroy is a great neighbourhood to explore on foot, and we timed our visit so that we could recharge with a bite to eat (and a drink) at this pub / Melbourne Dining Hall.
The interior is open plan and inviting, kid friendly, and the quality of their beer was matched with yummy food making for a great pub lunch experience.
5. Vegie Bar, Fitzroy
If you find yourself in Fitzroy, and you should because it’s a cool neighbourhood to explore, grab a bite to eat at Vegie Bar.
We’ve been there twice now and it satisfies our health conscious mind, and our taste buds. Be prepared to wait a little in line though, as they we’re lined up out the door on both our visits.
6. Queen Victoria Night Markets
The Queen Victoria Markets are not just a place to go shopping, the Wednesday Night Market serves up a global street food extravaganza with offerings from all over the world.
It was like any night food market you’d find in Asia, buzzing with atmosphere and cheap (for Melbourne) street food. The kids tucked into a crepe, Caz had a goat curry and I demolished a kangaroo burger.
The night market runs every Wednesday from November – March.
7. Chinatown – Little Bourke St, CBD
If there’s a Chinatown in town, we’re there! Rarely are we disappointed, and our bank balance is always happy.
One place in Melbourne we kept going back to was the popular Camy Shanghai Dumpling and Noodle Restaurant – it’s not for the posh and fancy, it’s a genuine Chinese experience with below par service, but their dumplings were a highlight and cheap too!
8. Loving Hut – Victoria Street, Richmond
Just walk up and down Victoria street in Richmond and you’ll have oodles of cheap Vietnamese restaurants and cafes on offer, as well as Malaysian and Chinese.
Not knowing which one to try, a local tip we got was the vegetarian-friendly Loving Hut, which turned out to be a good recommendation with not only cheap and tasty food, but that family friendly service.
Trams travel along Victoria Street from the city, or jump on the train to the North Richmond station.
9. Dim Sims at South Melbourne Market
I was told the Dim Sims at the South Melbourne Market were famous, and judging by the lunchtime crowd they were worth a try. And they were not wrong, so good in fact I went back for seconds.
Well priced and quick service added to the positive experience. Open Wed, Fri, Sat and Sunday. For transport options click here.
10. Riverland Bar & Cafe – Yarra River
On a sunny day in the city a great place for lunch, and a beer, is the Riverland Bar & Cafe on the banks of the Yarra River.
With prime position overlooking the river, the Princess Bridge and the many rowers doing their thing, it felt like we were back in London in the summer.
They have a kids menu and room for kids to move with its open beer garden configuration. And located right above Riverland Bar is the happening Federation Square.
11. Transport Hotel – Federation Square
Speaking of Federation Square, another of our pub favourites is the Transport Hotel.
With a beer garden that overlooks Fed Square and the live music stage – this place quickly became a fave of ours with the Sunday $12 carafes of white sangria and jugs of cider, not to mention the $5 pints of James Boags and the yummy nachos!
12. High Tea at the Langham Hotel
This was actually more of a treat for our kids, as the High Tea theme at the time of our visit to the Langham Hotel was based around the newly released Disney movie FROZEN.
But I must say, I’m a fan of all things cakes and old English favourites – as well as tea and coffee – and thoroughly enjoyed this as a family treat.
The Langham Hotel is known for its signature high tea with three different offers.
13. Jimmi Janz, Elwood
Out the back is a great little courtyard / beer garden complete with kids playground making this a hit with us as a family eatery. Not to mention the cheap and delicious pizzas on offering ($7).
We came here twice, once for dinner and another time for breaky with friends – it’s a locals favourite! Can’t make it to Elwood, they also have a location in East Brunswick.
14. St Kilda Beach and Acland Street Cake Shops
Who knew Melbourne could offer a spectacular sunset?
St Kilda is its most famous beach and one of our favourite experiences was simply grabbing a takeaway pizza from Mr Natural Pizza Place, a bottle of wine, and sitting on the beach watching the sun go down. A cheap and family friendly dinning experience you can’t beat!
Acland Street is the place to go in St Kilda for cafes and restaurants, but also for the famous cake shops. I dare you to walk past without the temptation of indulging!!
15. South Bank
Southbank is a pretty location along the Yarra River with great views back over the city, and what seems like endless dining and bar options. We walked this location many times as we were staying at the nearby Mantra Apartments, but never actually ate here.
But a local tip we got was to try the Blue Train cafe for a cheap eat with views of the city.
16. Picnic in a Park
Looking for a cheap eat? Why not grab some fresh produce from Queen Victoria Markets and head to either Fitzroy Gardens or Carlton Gardens for a picnic.
Or, how about take the family for a picnic in the Botanic Gardens or sit on the banks of the Yarra and watch the world go by.
17. North East China Family House – CBD
Not all that appealing from the outside, and don’t come here for the service – they actually forgot to bring out one of our meals – but in terms of flavour and quantity the food here is delicious and cheap.
The dumplings are their specialty, and the noodles were a hit with Kalyra. Casual and kid friendly, North East China Family House is located at 302 Flinders Lane in the city.
Below are some hot tips from our readers. You can’t beat local advice:
Steve Davidson says:
- Lucky Coq (Chapel Street, Prahran) and Bimbo Deluxe (Fitzroy) offer very cheap pizzas, and I am a huge fan.
- Don Dons on Swanston Street near Melbourne Central offers very affordable and tasty Japanese fare and lightning fast service.
- For stylish, I’d recommend Eureka 89 and Vue De Monde mainly because I love a good view from high above the city. For stylish yet casual, I’d recommend anywhere on Little Collins Street from Swanston Street, up to Spring Street.
- Terra Rosa is a personal favourite of mine along this strip.
Kim Bibby says:
- Sake which is located in Southbank under the arts centre & alongside the Yarra River. Modern & Classic Japanese cuisine. Lovely atmosphere and I find the food/service superior to the famous Nobu at a much more reasonable price.
- Chiba in Moonee Ponds is fantastic – excellent Japanese, atmosphere & service. We often start with a drink at the Valley Cellar Door across the road. Actually, the Valley Cellar Door is awesome as well….great selection of wines to buy AND you can BYO food or take away!
- I enjoy Gingerboy, has a nice modern atmosphere and excellent hawker style Asian Food.
- Also Chin Chin, fresh modern SE Asian fusian – the Thai Basil Cocktails are AMAZING!!
- Red Spice Road whips up some amazing flavours, presentation and atmosphere. The Lamb Shank main is to die for.
- Meat & Wine Co for a good steak.
- Donovans at St Kilda. I enjoy eating there on a winters afternoon for lunch with a bottle of red….love the atmosphere & views.
- I absolutely LOVE this Italian restaurant in South Yarra, Cafe Cucina, rich history, very cosy, and great traditional food.
- Mamasitas (city) is supposed to be fabulous mexican tapas style. Haven’t been yet but everyone I know that has been absolutely RAVES about it! (although lets be honest, do many Mexican places down under really out do the ones in the US?!)
- There is a little French restaurant, Bistrot d’Orsay on Collins Street that I go to every year with a friend before the ST Pauls Carols with the Melbourne Philharmonic & Choir…We start with a glass of champagne (french of course) with the AMAZING pate to start. We have the Duck for mains washed down with a beautiful red. Same routine every year…it is awesome!
- Number 8 at Southbank! Amazing AND on Sundays they have a 3 course lunch with unlimited Moet & Chandon for about $120 pp…you can imagine the state I arrived home in at 10.30pm!
- I have heard numerous times that Fransoir in South Yarra is amazing but not as steep a price tag or over the top as others…it is on my list!
- Pope Joan does and amazing brunch (brunswick Northcote).
- Jim Wong over in Footscray does good catonese and cheap. One of the chefs used to work at flowerdrum.
- OMG I forgot Pure South in South Bank. Menu features only Tasmanian Produce. AMAZING…Actually that is THE best steak we have had.
- My all time favourite cafe is called Seven Seeds in Carlton.
- In South Wharf there is a great waterfront bar and cafe (with kids playground!) called the Boatbuilders Yard.
- Hardware Lane has lots of great Italian.
- Royal Arcade is old and very beautiful (great chocolate shop too).
- It is no secret but HuTong dumpling is amazing, classy and cheap.
- There are plenty of cafes to visit in Richmond…Pillar of Salt, Friends of Mine and (my favourite) Three Bags Full (in Abbotsford) just to name a few.
- Chin Chin is a must visit restaurant…drop in for lunch to avoid the line up for dinner.
- I think you guys would love CERES in the northern suburbs…it’s like a little bit of the country in the city, and nice for a change of pace. Fab organic cafe with a great outdoor play area for the kids.
- There are a couple of great cafes in St Kilda with the kids. West Beach Cafe, right on the sand, where the kids can play while you enjoy a coffee.
- Also Jerrys Milkbar, which is a converted milkbar with a little playground out the back and awesome banana bread. You should check out Carlisle St in St Kilda East, easy walk from Acland St. Less touristy, a bit grimey, but lots of character and great cafes.
- Las Chicas, near Balaclava Station is as good as it gets in Melbourne with 50 tasty breakfast and lunch options.
- Albert Park is great for a walk around, with a cafe nearby called Mart130 one of my favourites.
- Lord of the Fries (all vegetarian, all delisch) near Melbourne Central.
- Chinatown, Victoria street Richmond for Vietnamese, Footscray for some great african.
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