Want to treat your folks to a meal in the city? Try these spots that tick all the boxes – affordable, not too noisy and you can book.
Did your mum or dad go to Melbourne Uni? Chances are they spent a bit of time at University Cafe back in the day. They’ll be glad to see it hasn’t changed a whole lot, and only for the better. There are plenty of Italian classics on the menu, like minestrone, cannelloni, tiramisu and of course wine and espresso. This Lygon Street legend has been doing them right since 1952. Bookings are old-school too: phone or email.
Go west for the best pub classics in Kensington at this recently renovated 1870s corner hotel. Who wants the 300 g porterhouse steak? The spicy fried chicken burger, or the sticky date pudding? From mezze plates to apple pie, Hardimans Hotel is also across modern, international tastes. You’re spoilt for choice when it comes to beer too. There are 20 craft brews on tap.
If Becco is a bit beyond your budget, try the more casual, retro-smart Italian sister trattoria Lupino. This semi-secluded laneway favourite offers a concise menu that includes a handful of pasta dishes and a few pizzas. And all of it is handmade. Don't leave without trying the traditional tiramisu. Even with dessert and a bottle of wine, there’s no need to stress about the bill.
The French Brasserie
A classic Paris bistro meets modern Melbourne in this beautiful space with soaring ceilings and glass expanses. Would you prefer The French Brasserie’s main dining room, the upstairs mezzanine or outdoor terrace? Wherever you dine, the fare is ooh la la, from confit duck leg to crème brûlée. Perhaps start with onion soup, or are you game to try the escargots?
There’s nothing like dinner with a view to celebrate a special occasion. Berth offers a waterfront panorama without the eye-watering prices. Plenty of dishes are under $30, or you could splash out on a chargrilled steak. Maybe share a mezze board, then move on to mains like soft shell crab burgers or mushroom gnocchi. Want to keep watching Melbourne’s lights twinkle? White chocolate brûlée and sticky date pudding are among your evening’s final sweet temptations.
Planning a Melbourne day out, including lunch or dinner within walking distance of the main event? La Camera is close to city essentials like the sports precinct, Eureka Skydeck and Melbourne Arts Centre. Need more convincing? How about gorgeous Yarra River views from two decks, and spacious indoor dining. Plus a menu of classic Italian dishes, like vegie risotto and spaghetti bolognese.
Garden Restaurant at NGV
The National Gallery of Victoria’s Garden Restaurant is a top option for a special meal doubling as a day out. It’s one of Melbourne’s most hushed dining rooms, with a serene sculpture garden view. There’s food with flair, focused on seasonal, local produce. Like gin cured salmon, or Victorian rack of lamb.
Affordable, convenient and delicious, China Red is where it’s at for a fuss-free family meal. Order via the touchscreen, then watch in wonder as mouth-watering Chinese morsels appear. They're made by skilful noodle throwers and deft dumpling chefs you can see at work behind a window. Be sure to order a double serve of the porky Shanghai xiao long bao. You won’t regret it.
The Duke Of Wellington
After a major renovation a few years ago, The Duke of Wellington has become a CBD favourite for various occasions. Choose from three smart-casual levels, including the rooftop and its super city views. The menu is a feast of popular pub meals, like chicken and eggplant parmas, burgers and lamb pie. Crème caramel to finish, anyone?
The stunning city skyline vista alone makes BearBrass a winner, from breakfast through dinner. But it's not all style over substance at this restaurant and bar named after Melbourne's early moniker. You can enjoy classic dishes including smashed avo, barramundi and slow cooked beef cheek. How about some share plates like hot wings and calamari? Psst! There's also a $20 weekday lunch special!
Looking to splurge?
Extra special occasions call for a slightly ritzier affair. And don’t stress – you can still book!
Grossi Florentino has set the bar for Italian fine dining in Melbourne since 1928.
Flower Drum Restaurant
An iconic upscale Cantonese restaurant serving delicious food.
Last updated on Thu 27 Apr 2023
Sud has an intimate and stylish ambiance, and a seasonally driven Italian menu.
The best restaurants for a long lunch in Melbourne
Whether it's a special occasion or a catch-up with friends, lock in a long lunch at these spots.