The 19 Best Restaurants In Melbourne CBD
— 27 October 2023

The 19 Best Restaurants In Melbourne CBD

— 27 October 2023
Nick Kenyon
WORDS BY
Nick Kenyon

Melbourne is known around the world for the quality of its restaurants, with both for the near-peerless breadth and depth of cuisines on offer in the Victorian capital. But what are the best restaurants in the CBD of Melbourne?

The heart of the city is home to some of the finest restaurants Melbourne has to offer, catering to legions of travellers, hungry office workers, and locals looking to mark a special occasion. I’ve rounded up the top picks so you’re only dialling in the best and avoiding the rest.

Let’s get into it.

Note that this list is not ranked.



The Best Restaurants In Melbourne’s CBD

1. Reine & La Rue

Best Restaurants Melbourne CBD

One of the most highly anticipated restaurant openings of 2023, Reine & La Rue enjoys a spectacular setting in the former stock exchange on Collins Street and has assembled a stellar team to manage the 140-seat venue. Serving French cuisine with a classically Melbourne approach, mains you can’t miss include any of the six woodfired grill-cooked steak cuts, half duck, or one of the whole fish options.

With more than 2,000 bottles on the wine list, you’ll want to be thirsty before you walk through those dramatic double doors.


2. Flower Drum

Best Restaurants Melbourne CBD

A true Melbourne institution, Flower Drum is a family-run restaurant that has been serving some of the best Chinese food in the city for nearly five decades. Drenched in 80s grandeur — the restaurant has remained something of a time capsule, in the best possible way — you can expect all of the classics within the Cantonese cuisine canon, but don’t skip the Peking Duck: it’s incredible.


3. Grossi Florentino

Best Restaurants Melbourne CBD

As one of Melbourne’s best-known chefs, Guy Grossi is not going to sit on his hands when it comes to reliably serving up some of the best food in Melbourne. Grossi Florentino, with its seamless Tuscan style flourishes and focus on wood-fired cooking, is the quintessential Italian dining experience in Melbourne. And it’s not just the pasta we’re talking about.

The kitchen takes Bistecca very seriously here, which is why they source top-quality, grass-fed cattle from Union Station Farm and serve it up in a variety of ways — all equally viable (and the reason it’s one of Melbourne’s best steak restaurants).


4. The European

Best Restaurants Melbourne CBD

With a quarter of a century of history behind it, The European is a bastion of old-world charm and one of the first restaurants in Melbourne that sowed the seeds of its world-renowned dining obsession. A part of the group that also owns the Melbourne Supper Club, Siglo and The Spring Street Grocer, The European serves up a hybrid of continental cuisines that spans French, Spanish, Italian, Greek and beyond. Expect high-quality pasta, premium cuts of meat and an excellent wine selection.


5. Gimlet

Best Restaurants Melbourne CBD

Pulling people to the corner of Russell Street and Flinders Lane is the latest opening from Andrew McConnell, Gimlet at Cavendish House. And out of all the new restaurants to open in Melbourne across the past few years, this is one with some of the most serious staying power.

Aside from the elegantly designed interior and quick-witted service, the food and wine have been drawing rave reviews across the board. One of the keys to this success is the steak that McConnell has wisely turned into a cornerstone of the menu, offering the signature 250g scotch fillet served simply with Cafe de Paris.


6. Uncle Collins Street

Best Restaurants Melbourne CBD

One of the city’s best contemporary Vietnamese restaurants, Uncle Collins Street opened its doors back in 2016 under the management of owners Rene Spence and Dai Duong. Serving up classics with a twist — such as crispy pig’s ear banh mi with pickles and peanuts, lemon grass marinated Black Angus scotch fillet (MS+4), and lettuce-wrapped master stock crispy pork hock banh hoi.


7. Embla

I still remember the first time I went to Embla — almost entirely because of the smokey barbecued broccoli and house-made bread slathered in garlic butter — because it had all the hallmarks of a future institution. A restaurant that also functions wonderfully as a wine bar, there’s a distinctly Melbourne charm to Embla that might have something to do with the friendliness of the staff or the soaring exposed timber ceilings, but it is one spot you need to visit if you’re after a CBD date night restaurant.


8. Pellegrini’s

“Institution” is a word that’s getting used a lot in this list, but there’s almost no other noun that more accurately describes Pellegrini’s place in the Melbourne hospitality scene. A family-run Italian venue that’s been serving CBD visitors for decades, it’s another time capsule of a venue that’s so well loved it doesn’t need to change or adapt — Pellegrini’s doesn’t even have a website. It’s far from fine dining, but with classic pasta staples, Italian espresso and the kind of barstool seating that transports you back in time, it’s a rare treat.


9. Supernormal

Best Restaurants Melbourne CBD

Andrew McConnell is the man behind a number of Melbourne’s best restaurants (Gimlet at Cavendish House, Cutler & Co., Builders Arms Hotel, and many more), with Supernormal one of the finest gems in his crown. With a slick Japanese-inspired feel to the venue itself, influencing a number of the dishes too, there are also distinctly Korean and Chinese elements to the menu such as house-made kimchi and Szechuan white cut chicken. Melbourne is known for its “Asian-fusion” scene, but Supernormal is indisputably one of the stars of the city.


10. Dom’s Social Club

A relative newcomer to the CBD, Dom’s Social Club operates across three levels that include a pizzeria, a public bar and a rooftop cocktail spot. The pizza is excellent, from the quality of the dough and oven to the creativity of the ingredient combinations and the wines to pair, you won’t leave hungry or disappointed.

We didn’t stop for a drink at the public bar, but are happy to report the rooftop to be an ideal — and as yet relatively unknown — spot for an after-work cocktail. If one negroni turns into three and you’re after some food, simply order up to the rooftop, or pop downstairs to satisfy your hunger.


11. Izakaya Den

Best Restaurants Melbourne CBD

Unambiguously Japanese-inspired, while also being thoroughly Melbourne, Izakaya Den is both intimate and contemporary thanks to its underground setting. Serving up a selection of Japanese dishes paired with imported sake and beer, you shouldn’t miss the flame-grilled octopus, but no matter what arrives at your table, you’re in for a treat.


12. The Moat

Best Restaurants Melbourne CBD

The Moat remains one of Melbourne’s best-hidden gems — literally. Tucked away beneath the Wheelers Centre in The State Library, the entry courtyard forms “the moat,” while the red-carpeted interior and gold-leaf-covered walls combine to create an elevated intimacy you’ll struggle to find anywhere else.

With plenty of quirks on the menu (including tap beer served in beakers from a science lab), the 12-hour slow-cooked lamb shoulder has been on the menu for at least a decade with good reason — it’s incredible. From the regular literary events and poetry readings that are held inside, to the friendly staff and hearty menu, it’s a lunch or dinner spot that you need to visit.


13. Cumulus Inc.

(Photo by Kristoffer Paulsen)

Another Andrew McConnell venue that helped set the tone for Melbourne’s bustling hospitality scene, Cumulus Inc. doesn’t let any pretentiousness get in the way of its main focus: great food. The menu experiments to create surprising fusions of flavour and texture, but not to the point of being distracting or unfamiliar, while the 25-page wine list has been carefully selected to arm you with a perfect pairing no matter what your food order looks like.


14. Kisumé

The Lucas Group is another of Melbourne’s most successful and well-regarded venue owners (including spots like Chin Chin, Baby, and Society), with Kisumé arguably the sleekest of the bunch. There are a number of different ways you can enjoy the contemporary approach to Japanese cooking at Kisumé — from the private dining room to the New York-style sushi bar — but an experience you’re unlikely to find anywhere else in the city is the “The Chablis Bar” that pairs your choice of 80 different chardonnays with seafood.


15. Society

The Lucas Group’s latest offering to hungry Melbournians is the elevated fine-dining restaurant Society, where the dining tables are watched over by a set of Louis XIV-worthy chandeliers and smokey mirrored ceilings. The service is strong, while the menu includes sharing plates such as boeuf en croûte, Margra lamb rack, and Angus tenderloin, complimented by a wine cellar boasting more than 10,000 bottles.


16. Vue de monde

Best Steak Restaurants Melbourne

Widely considered one of the best restaurants in Melbourne, Vue De Monde more than earns its place on this list (especially for its incredible steak offering). The acclaimed fine diner has just undergone a significant refit and is invariably best experienced with the chef’s menu, which changes so often that it’s tiring to keep up with Executive Chef Hugh Allen and his passionate expression of Australian native ingredients.


17. Maha Restaurant

You might recognise Maha Restaurant chef Shane Delia from the SBS cooking show Spice Journey (after cutting his teeth at Le Restaurant in the Sofitel). His menu serves up familiar Middle Eastern flavours and textures, with a range of different set menu options and a decent wine list, while the fit-out feels contemporary without demanding your attention. If you’re after something other than the quintessential Melbourne Asian-fusion or French-inspired offerings, Maha Restaurant is well worth your time.


18. Chin Chin

Without getting too excited, it’s hard to understate the impact that Chin Chin has had on Melbourne’s dining scene. Thanks to the no-reservations policy, the venue has had a line snaking out of its doors for more than a decade, with locals and tourists alike waiting patiently for their chance to enjoy a fresh — but enduring — interpretation of modern Thai cuisine.


19. Mamasita

An ode to Mexico City dining, Mamasita has established itself as one of the go-to spots for compelling Mexican cuisine with a contemporary angle on what’s being served. The menu features refreshed classics like slow-cooked beef short ribs, Yucatán ceviche, and chargrilled corn, while for those keen to wet their whistle, the range of tequila and mezcal is almost peerless in the CBD.


How Boss Hunting Chose Melbourne’s Best CBD Restaurants

After growing up in Melbourne and working in the CBD for a number of years, I was a regular diner at a number of the longer-standing restaurants on this list, and have visited the younger establishments since they opened. This list is far from exhaustive, however, it covers all of the very best well-known restaurants in Melbourne — as well as several lesser-known gems that deserve wider appreciation.

For more on how we put together lists like this please have a read of our editorial policy.


Did you find this list helpful? Check out some of our other Melbourne dining content.


Frequently Asked Questions

What food is Melbourne famous for?

Melbourne is famous for almost all international cuisines, however, its approach to Asian-fusion food is well-known around the world as being excellent.

What is the hardest restaurant to get into in Melbourne?

As far as reservations go, Gimlet is one that sometimes requires booking months in advance of your dinner.

What is the best restaurant in Melbourne?

This is a question of personal preference, however, the very best restaurants include Gimlet, Supernormal, Kisumé, and Embla.

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Nick Kenyon
WORDS by
Nick Kenyon is the Editor of Boss Hunting, joining the team after working as the Deputy Editor of luxury watch magazine Time+Tide. He has a passion for watches, with other interests across style, sports and more. Get in touch at nick (at) luxity.com.au

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