Many of Melbourne’s favourite foodie spots are also the hardest to find. But they're always worth the journey.

Lucy Liu

An iconic eatery in an unknown laneway tucked behind mysterious neon. Lucy Liu has taken hiding its door to a whole new level. Follow the glow to seek it out and you'll be rewarded. The spoils might include juicy dumplings, shortrib rendang and Vietnamese coffee ice cream with Chinese donuts.

A couple are walking into a restaurant lit in up in dim red lights
Lucy Liu

Life's Too Short Bar 

Tucked away in the old bluestone cellars of the original brewery in Victoria Parade is Life’s Too Short Bar. Offering 13 brews and over 50 unique cocktails, it's no rookie in the bar game. Order delicious curated grazing boards, a range of international cheeses, cured meats and more. Looking for something a little extra special? Book the Chef’s Table for an intimate eight-course degustation dinner.

Johnny's Green Room

Find the hidden neon-lit entry behind King and Godfree and fly up above Lygon Street to Carlton rooftop spot Johnny's Green Room. Take a seat and and soak up the city views then feast on pizzas loaded with potato, prosciutto or mortadella. Pair with fresh salads and generous helpings of stracciatella and burrata. You can't say no to a limoncello sgroppino. The cocktail comes with a big scoop of lemon sorbet from downstairs neighbours, Pidapipo.

A group of lovely ladies are sitting on a rooftop bar under sun umbrellas with a city skyline view
Johnny's Green Room

Serai

Melbourne has a fiery new spot for traditional Filipino food, hidden in a laneway. Venture down tiny Racing Club Lane to find Serai. Grab a seat at the chef’s omakase table to watch your meal cooked over the open fire in front of your eyes. Pair colourful cocktails with dishes like smoked pineapple with caviar, duck with banana hot sauce and lamb ribs with sticky adobo sauce.

Khaosan Lane

Named after a popular street in Bangkok, new Thai bbq joint Khaosan Lane is the place to go for steaming seafood hot pots, sizzling cook-your-own meat and giant fruity cocktails served jugs. Stretching down a hidden laneway and lined with rainbow-coloured string lights, the atmosphere is more South East Asia than it is Melbourne. To add to the party vibes, live music kicks off at 8.30pm every night.

Group of 4 sitting at a table next to neon art work. Table has lot's of food on it including Korean BBQ style meats.
Khaosan Lane

Cookie

Curtin House was one of Melbourne’s first so-called ‘vertical laneways’. But the tenant that put it on the map was Cookie. A bar, Thai restaurant and club rolled into one, this venue is worth the stairs. Perfect pad thai and sticky beef ribs are served with hand-picked gin, margaritas and Trappist monk inspired beer.

Pearl Chablis & Oyster Bar

Venture a little further down the arcade from Pinchy's to find its sister venue, Pearl Chablis & Oyster Bar. French wine and premium oysters are the heroes at this intimate spot, a marriage it calls nature’s perfect pairing. Pull up a velvet stool at the bar, and consider the day’s fresh selection. Try rock oysters sourced from around Australia. And order a glass from the country’s (and perhaps the world’s) largest Chablis library.  

Two friends are sitting in a dimly lit bar
Pearl Chablis & Oyster Bar

Mugen Ramen

What’s more hidden than a tiny robot-themed laneway bar projecting anime from the ceiling? The neighbouring ramen shop with a secret basement bar. Located down Bligh Place off Flinders Lane with essentially no signage, it’s not hard to skip right over Mugen. Detour down the lane and grab a seat in the minimalist dining room. Or head to the mood-lit basement, where classic Japanese films are projected on the wall.

Otōto

If discreet fine dining with dramatic Japanese flair is on your wish list, enter the world of Ototo. Dark and moody, lit by a rosy ribbon of light overhead, it’s tailor-made for clandestine catch-ups. Take your seat by the bar and watch as expert mixologists shake up custom cocktails. Indulge in seasonal set menus, wagyu frid rice and spicy tuna tacos.

Two women dining at a bar with a red ribbon light sculpture on the ceiling.
Otōto

Tonka

You can’t get more Melbourne than the back of an alley. Tonka’s modern Indian cuisine is very well hidden in Duckboard Place. Try his next-level butter chicken, chargrilled octopus and fried cauliflower with garam masala. For something sweet, order the mango lassi ice cream in a chocolate brownie sandwich or the delightful saffron poached peaches.

Pinchy's

Midcity Arcade is probably one of Melbourne's most underrated foodie spots. Downstairs you can find a wave-mural izakaya, a robot dessert machine and one of the best ramen shops in Melbourne. Pinchy's awaits upstairs, bathed in neon-pink signage and drenched in champagne. Take your crew onto the leafy courtyard and feast on lobster rolls, truffle fries and sparkling rosé into the night.

A pink cocktail bar with a neon sign
Pinchy's champagne bar

Mjolner

Getting inside Mjolner Melbourne is an achievement in itself. Weave your way down Hardware Street and look for the solid concealed door surrounded by iron gates. Head below street level for blazing cocktails in the bar or dine on Viking-inspired delights in the restaurant. Order your drinks shaken, stirred or served in a giant horn, then feast on roast bone marrow, tomahawk steak and grilled whole rainbow trout.

Yum Sing House

Karaoke, Cantonese food and 1960s kitsch. Yum Sing House has all the good stuff in spades. Seek out the unassuming door on Sutherland Street, which gives way to an expansive, mood-lit dining room. Order everything from spanner crab croquettes to crispy skin spatchcock. Try mango sago with coconut jelly, knock back an espresso martini and head upstairs to the secret karaoke room.

A group entering a restaurant in a bright green building.
Yum Sing House

Dikstein's Corner Bar

This hidden gem might just be one of Melbourne’s best kept secrets. Dikstein’s is a narrow and cosy wine bar with an old-school pub vibe. You’ll find it in a Victorian terrace on the corner of Bank Place and Little Collins Street. Feast on rustic bistro fare like the incredible truffle-loaded pizzas. If the weather turns it on, dine alfresco in the European-inspired laneway. 

Roule Galette

Peek down Scott Alley to find a slice of Parisian paradise at Roule Galette. Their savoury crepes (called galettes) come filled with ham and cheese, decadent truffle salmon and more. Pair it with a refreshing glass of cider for the full French experience.

More hidden Melbourne restaurants

Soi 38

Soi 38

Soi 38 is inspired by Bangkok street food and named after the side streets of the Thai capitol.

Bar Holiday

Bar Holiday

A hidden bar with casual Italian dining.

Torissong

Torissong

Torissong Japanese restaurant specialise in yakitori chicken skewers, seafood and ramen.

Waiters Restaurant

Waiters Restaurant

Serving unfussy, home-style Italian food to a late-night crowd since 1947.

Hidden Melbourne bars

Eau de Vie

Eau de Vie

A bar with liquid nitrogen cocktails, tasting menus, plus a secret lounge hidden behind a bookcase.

Berlin Bar

Berlin Bar

A cocktail bar inspired by the German capital.

The Charles Dickens Tavern

The Charles Dickens Tavern

A homely, comfortable haven for lunch and evening dinner or just a few drinks.

Melbourne’s best bars behind hidden doors

Melbourne’s best bars behind hidden doors

Find these secret bars hiding in unlikely spaces across the city.

Hidden Melbourne cafes

Bakemono Bakers

Bakemono Bakers

Inspired by bakeries in Japan and Korea.

Tom Thumb

Tom Thumb

Tiny shop in Flinders Lane serving consistently good coffee.

Little Rogue

Little Rogue

A small and welcoming cafe popular with local coffee lovers.

Traveller

Traveller

This pocket-sized cafe is run by the Seven Seeds team.

Last updated on Thu 21 Mar 2024

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