Enjoy a slice of Italy right in the heart of Melbourne. Next door to its sister restaurant Tipo 00, Osteria Ilaria lives up to its name, serving plates full of taste, including grilled calamari, rabbit terrine and baby octopus. Pair your meal with something from the impressive wine list featuring drops from the world over. Just in case you need more reason to dine here, it’s already an award-winning restaurant after cleaning up at the 2017 Time Out Food Awards.
For anyone on a specialist diet — be it due to food intolerances or a lifestyle choice —MOM in Prahran is a haven of delicious, nutritious food that caters to a range of needs. Nutritionists, naturopaths and medical professionals are behind this well-researched diet-friendly menu, brought to life by former Nobu sous chef David Selex. Whether you’re gluten free, fructose free, dairy free, vegan, paleo or on the FODMAP diet, you won’t find any subpar meals here – just fresh eats that are designed to help boost your immunity.
Acclaimed chef and restaurateur David Thompson’s Long Chim brings vivid Thai flavours to Crown Melbourne. Expect authentic, flavoursome dishes, but be warned: there’s also authentic spiciness. Be sure to tell your waiter ahead of time if you don’t want them to bring the heat. Long Chim translates to “come and try”, and if you’re a fan of fragrant Thai food, you should do just that.
Brunetti is an institution, offering sweet treats and Italian delights at its outlets peppered across Melbourne. In November, it opened the doors to its brand new, fifth location — it seats 300, no less — on vibrant Flinders Lane. Check out the selection of pizzas, paninis and pasta, made the traditional Italian way, as well as an almost overwhelming variety of sweet treats that can all be enjoyed until midnight on Fridays and Saturdays. With its very own gelato counter, as well as a Campari and aperitif bar, Brunetti is an emporium of Italian food and drink.
If you’ve been out exploring the city into the evening and hunger strikes, Twenty Pho Seven is the place to go. Peruse the menu of tasty, steaming-hot pho — including the aptly named Pho the Vegans (tofu and vegetable pho) — that's available around the clock. Homemade spring rolls, bun and bahn mi are also on offer for your eating pleasure. The masterminds behind this pho house are also responsible for the ever-popular Hochi Mama a vibrant Vietnamese fusion restaurant on Liverpool Street. The cool vibes from Hochi Mama have unquestionably carried over to Twenty Pho Seven, with its exposed brick interior decorated with street art and neon signs, as well as the cool beat that play into the night. Don’t forget to try the alcohol-infused bubble tea.
Archelin is the late-night cocktail bar from Australian restaurant royalty the Grossi family, headed by renowned chef Guy Grossi. They have revived a deteriorating Mornane Place with the magic of street artist Makatron and some playful lighting. The modern decor, including an arched roof lined with cork, oozes sophistication, while the bar menu has a hint of playfulness and comes with the quality you would expect from a Grossi eatery. Think sloppy joes and spaghetti jaffles alongside ox tongue and oysters. The cocktail and wine lists are impressive and if you can’t decide what to choose, go for the Kitty High Ball (red wine, sweetened ginger, lime and soda).
Say aloha to Hana, a Hawaiian-inspired restaurant offering share plates, poke bowls (raw fish salad) and a range of tropical cocktails and organic wine. It’s the creation of Matteo Bruno, the man behind the always-busy Meatball and Wine Bar. The playful decor, featuring palm leaves and bright colours, will have you feeling the island vibes the minute you walk through the door. If you’re with a group, order a cocktail with the ‘volcano upgrade’. It will come to you in a big yellow bowl, perfect for sharing with a few friends.
For a farm-to-fork experience not far from the CBD, check out Mr & Mrs Anderson in Hawthorn East. The ingredients used are primarily sourced from the cafe’s farm in Gippsland and local producers, and you’ll notice the difference this makes in the tasty food. The operation is headed up by chef Lasse Povlsen, who brings experience from Danish Michelin-star restaurants such as Henne Kirkeby Kro and Nimb Louise to the leafy eastern suburbs. Brewing Axil coffee, roasted in Hawthorn, Mr & Mrs Anderson is already hit with the locals and die-hard brunchies from further afield.
417 St Kilda Road, Melbourne
Comfort food and vegan food might seem an unlikely pairing, but at The Alley on St Kilda Road, it’s a reality. Here, the idea that burgers can’t be healthy and vegan food can’t replicate the taste of meat and cheese is obliterated. The maple bacon burger, with its patty of Portobello mushroom, sweet potato and adzuki beans that’s been topped with mock back and salad, comes highly recommended. Add some sweet potato fries and a craft beer, and you’re set.
216 Swan Street, Richmond
A Sunday session that kicks off early enough so you (hopefully) won’t feel the effects of it the next day? Genius! Fargo & Co offers bottomless brunch, with all the prosecco and mimosas you can handle, until 2pm, plus there’s a DJ spinning tunes to accompany your fried chicken and waffles. Set in a heritage building that was once a bank, the fit-out manages to retain a lot of original character while never appearing dated. Think geometric tiling, industrial elements and fluoro lighting teamed with sparkling chandeliers.