From ceremonial sushi in Richmond to enticing entrecote in Fitzroy – the flavours of Australia's culinary capital ooze well beyond the city grid.
In a city like Melbourne that receives so much acclaim for its renowned CBD dining scene, the genius fare of the inner suburbs is often overlooked.
From the seafood delicacies of Minamishima and viral subversive Japanese at Mr Miyagi to laid-back Mexican delights at Hotel Jesus and jaw-dropping city panoramas with a side of booze at Naked For Satan – you’re spoiled for choice just steps from the city centre. Uncover beauty beyond the centre on this gourmet food trail through the best restaurants near Melbourne; full of tempting dishes, boozy cocktails and incredible atmospheres.
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1. Minimashima, Richmond
Seating just 40 patrons, renowned Japanese sushi master Koichi Minamishima slices with meticulous precision at his namesake restaurant, serving up unadulterated bites of exquisite nigiri. Perfect for sushi purists, Minimashima specialises in raw slices of the finest Australian fish, often served on a small bed of seasoned rice, as well as Hokkaido king crab and wagyu, flown in specially from Japan. Hand rolls, sticky sweet sauces and miso are notably absent. Savour seafood-centric samplings with premium sake, hand-picked by a dedicated in-house sommelier. Cause for kanpai (cheers).
2. Jeow, Richmond
A luscious condiment or velvety jus will elevate just about any dish, at least that’s the philosophy behind Richmond’s exciting Laos-inspired eatery: Jeow. Translating as ‘sauce’ in Laotian, Jeow is the reincarnated love child of chef Thi Le and partner Jia-Yen Lee’s former modern-Vietnamese restaurant: Anchovy. Formerly serving a set menu of refined Viet flavours, now the pair focuses on a more casual approach to bright and unique Southeast Asian specialities. Taste spiced peanuts and anchovies, vegan sakoo yat sai or oysters with a Laotian spicy and sour dipping sauce.
3. New Quarter, Richmond
Capturing the essence of Saigon on the corner of Richmond’s buzzing Swan Street, New Quarter brings an element of luxury to Vietnamese favourites. The sophisticated sibling of south-side staples Tokyo Tina and Firebird, this elevated-Asian institution is known for serving up unique takes on classics like banh mi fingers with whipped chicken liver pate and decadent pho-infused beef tartar. Try the revolutionary nuoc mam ‘caviar’, small spheres resembling fish eggs filled with Viet-style fish sauce that burst with salty splendour.
4. Noir, Richmond
Bringing the beauty of Southern French bistros to Melbourne’s inner suburbs, Noir celebrates vibrant culinary pairings and vividly colourful flavours – despite the name’s traditionally dark connotations. Lovingly crafted by Irish chef Peter Roddy, expect elevated French dining through a modern Australian lens. The enticing menu spans the likes of premium Pacific oysters with champagne granita and chicken liver pate, to perfectly cooked Black Angus steak with French fries and tasty sauce au poivre. Paired immaculately with over 100 wine varieties, a curated selection of French spirits and frothy craft brews – Noir’s European approach to dining will have you feeling like a Parisian from the first course.
5. Marion Wine Bar, Fitzroy
If wine is the beating heart of Marion, then gastronomy is the metaphoric soul. Boasting one of the city’s most impressive wine lists – from major grape varieties to minimal-intervention drops – the Mediterranean-meets-Australian menu manages to rival its liquid counterpart in sheer deliciousness and shareability. Claiming prime real estate across two non-descript shopfronts along Fitzroy’s darling Gertrude Street, watch the world wander by from inside this uniquely warm yet industrial space with bottle-lined walls and touches of rich dark wood. Pop in for a glass, settle in for a bottle with a dozen mignonette oysters and stay for the entrecote-style sliced steak and fries – c’est fantastique.
6. Tavlin, Balaclava
Kosher or not – no one can deny a flavour-packed Middle Eastern feed that’s been made with love. This is the case at Tavlin: Balaclava’s prized purveyor of mouth-watering Israeli cuisine. Drawing from traditional family recipes brought home from Damascus, Tripoli and Tel Aviv, sample classic bowls, pitas and salads – sure to satiate every taste bud. Chomp into fresh crunchy slaw and pickled cucumber bursting with tart vinegary goodness balanced with impossibly creamy house-made hummus, pillowy falafel and roasted cauliflower florets adorned in secret spices. A gem worth travelling out of the city for and only a short drive from The Prince Hotel.
7. Hotel Jesus, Collingwood
Adorned with religious deities and pop-culture logos, find refuge in this funky Mexican church-styled haven on Collingwood’s famous Smith Street. Find God at the bottom of a spicy margarita with a booze-fuelled feast inspired by the original taquerias of Mexico. Experience some of the city’s crunchiest hand-fried tortilla chips, freshest melt-in-your-mouth ceviche and most flavourful tacos dripping in spices while sampling rare mezcal and tequila varieties. Just a short drive from the cosy Pentridge in Coburg, leave your manners at the door of this no-frills reimagined Mexican market turned Northside jewel.
8. Naked For Satan, Fitzroy
Sitting pretty along Fitzroy’s iconic Brunswick Street, Naked For Satan promises breathtaking rooftop views of the glittering skyline and indulgence fit for the devil himself. The Fitzroy staple gained its quirky name after a Russian immigrant named Leon Satanovich, who was historically known for distilling vodka and creating the original pub culture within the same building. So dedicated to his craft, Satanovich would work close to naked during the summer months in an attempt to beat the soaring heat, committed to providing ‘Satan’s Vodka’ to whoever wanted it. Wander through Carlton Gardens from Zagame’s House to this booze and history-soaked site that remains one of the best rooftop spots to drink a cocktail, enjoy a snack and take in the beauty of Melbourne.
9. Le Bon Ton, Collingwood
An ode to the raucous fun and scrumptious eats of New Orleans, Collingwood’s Le Bon Ton invites guests to raise their drinks, fill their bellies and, most importantly, let the good times roll. Specialising in succulent smoked meats cooked over the wood of fruit and nut-bearing trees for up to 12 hours, this unassuming tavern-style establishment puts classic Southern flavours at the forefront of its culinary offerings. From crispy fried chicken to levelled up mac ‘n’ cheese, take inspiration from the fun-loving occupants of Bourbon Street and enjoy delicious home-cooked eats with a mug of frothy beer, a glass of smoky whiskey or, if you’re feeling brave, an invigorating shot of absinthe.
10. Mr Miyagi, Windsor
Take everything you know about traditional Japanese dining and watch it flip on its head with a thrilling gastronomic experience at Mr Miyagi. Set along the iconic dining stretch of Chapel Street, visit this Southside cult favourite for the viral sushi tacos and stay for moreish noodles, soft dumplings, premium cuts of wagyu and daily seasonal hand rolls. Bathed in colourful hues from bright neon lights, take your tastebuds on an excursion through vibrant flavours, delightful textures and subverted Asian dishes paired with a creative menu of cocktails containing everything from yuzu to tangerine sake. Only a short drive from Hotel Chadstone Melbourne MGallery, spend a night at one of the best restaurants near Melbourne city full of guaranteed fun, playful service and Instagram-worthy meals.
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