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 their door to a whole new level. Seek them out to be rewarded by juicy dumplings, top tier sashimi and creamy chocolate pave with peanut butter ice cream.

A red neon sign at the end of a hallway
Lucy Liu

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.

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. Executive chef is Italian-Indian Adam D’Sylva, whose many claims to fame include being the first chef at Longrain. Try his next-level butter chicken, the snapper crab betel leaf with green chili chutney and roasted pineapple, and the mustard chicken tikka.

A laneway with neon signage at night time
Tonka in ACDC Lane

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, charred veal, short rib and more.

San Telmo

Simple Argentine cooking at San Telmo keeps the restaurant bustling. Follow the neon sign to find a vibrant menu filled with share-style dishes. Warm weather? Sit outside for an al fresco evening set against the backdrop of Mike Makatron’s amazing Meyer’s Place mural. And make a date in April for a meat-loaded long lunch as part of Melbourne Food and Wine Festival.

People dining in a Melbourne laneway
San Telmo

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.

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 coutyard 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

Sushi Hotaru

Wallet hurting after all those lobster rolls? Venture a little further down the arcade to Sushi Hotaru, a cheap eats sushi train hidden among nail salons and Korean boutiques.Hotaru means firefly, and it’s as fast, reliable and efficient as a Japanese bullet train. Classics like smoked bonito, seared wagyu beef and eel with cheese whiz off the conveyor belt. And they all clock in at just $3.70 each!

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. After something sweet? Order banana and strawberry 'la gourmande'. Bon appetit!

More hidden Melbourne bars

Romeo Lane

Exceptional cocktails, great service and a relaxing atmosphere.

Eau de Vie

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

Heroes

Multilevel karaoke venue with private rooms, open mic karaoke bar and rooftop bar.

Berlin Bar

A cocktail bar inspired by the German capital.

More hidden Melbourne cafes

Traveller

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

Union Kiosk

What they lack in size is certainly made up for with their tenacity and 100% vegan menu.

Croque Monsieur

French toasties and a Parisian brasserie vibe.

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Last updated on Tue 12 Apr 2022

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