The wait is over. These top new venues are open for drinking, dining and all-round good times.
Victoria by Farmer's Daughters
Love the Gippsland-themed fare at Farmer's Daughters? Get a taste of the whole state at the team’s new venue in Fed Square. The sharing menu is a love letter to local farmers and producers, with dishes cooked over woodfire in the open kitchen. Flit across the countryside with verjus-drizzled Bannockburn chicken or Lakes Entrance grilled fish and caviar butter sauce. Stake out a spot on the all-weather terrace to take in the riverside views.
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, rock oysters with ponzu, deluxe sashimi and fiery dishes fresh from the grill.
Located in the historic Olderfleet building, Freyja feels like something truly novel. With a Nordic-approach to Aussie fine-dining, dishes are infused with the complex flavours of our native produce. The restaurant introduces Melburnians to Scandi gastronomy and you can expect unique flavour pairings that are beautifully executed. Think trout roe with waffles, smoked oysters dressed with buttermilk, juniper and Geraldton wax and fluffy fermented crispy potatoes. All paired with Nordic rum cocktails.
Located in an intimate, futuristic space, Archer's needs to go right to the top of your special occasion dining list. Beautiful beams of light glow warmly against the unique, vault-like interiors. And the menu is an ever-changing celebration of seasonal, local flavours. Don't miss a trip up to the 15th floor for drinks at neighbouring Sunset House.
A 113-year-old pub that’s been modernised in all the right ways. Family-owned pub Bobbie Peels is a North Melbourne neighbourhood gem worth discovering. Pub classics are in high supply and there's a rotating specials menu. But hand-rolled fresh pasta is the star here. Try the silky pappardelle with beef and pork ragu. Or perhaps a vegan orecchiette with pistachio pesto. To drink there’s back-vintage wine and a large selection of beer, including five rotating taps of independent craft beer.
Bar Bombay Yacht Club
A playful new offering from Daughter in Law chef Jessi Singh, this bar disrupts the notion that clubs are stuffy and exclusive. The staff periodically shower guests under a bubble gun. And cocktails span from fruit-topped tropical concoctions to the delightfully miniature negronis. A snacky sharing menu heroes modern Indian flavours. Try crab dum biryani with coconut sambal and the fresh, zingy balls of happiness.
Find a fiery new spot for traditional Filipino food, hidden in a laneway. 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 kingfish sinuglaw and pork belly with smoked pineapple palapa.
Traditional Indian cooking and Melbourne's modern food scene collide in this stunning space. Elchi is in the former home of Press Club and maintains the restaurant's elegant decor. Think giant gold lights and sleek leather booths. Dubbed the curry queen of Geelong, executive chef Manpreet Sekhon is elevating family recipes. Order a cocktail and try the gold leaf-coated chicken mussalem and the spice-soaked apple jalebi dessert.
Pearl Diver Cocktails and Oysters
Take a pre- or post-theatre foray into the French Quarter of New Orleans at Pearl Diver. This chic bar dishes up modern tropical cocktails and the freshest oysters from around Australia. Although cocktails and oysters are its bread and butter, Pearl Diver also has a full wine list and more to nibble on. The aptly-named 'not oysters' menu features bites like steak tartare and raw kingfish with pomegranate.
The latest dining sensation from Chris Lucas' empire is a Northern Italian-inspired steakhouse for the ages. Grill Americano boasts a marble bar, open kitchen and opulent decor, set to impress on any occasion. The pasta is handmade, the woodfire oven was hand built in Naples and the dessert menu includes tiramisu table service.
Di Stasio Pizzeria
The Italian masters behind Di Stasio Citta have made their first foray into pizzas with a new Roman-inspired venue in Carlton. Part art gallery, part pizzeria, the walls are splashed with neon-bright modern art pieces. Enjoy a spritz by the fountain in the sunny courtyard. Then head inside for the main event – woodfired pizzas and Italian snacks.
Nomad's food is inspired by travels through Spain, Morocco and the Middle East, but grounded in Australia's fine local produce. Dishes are cooked with fire and smoke, think smoked mussels and wood-roasted eggplant escabeche. Add a side (or three) of burrata and fennel jam and mop it up with wattleseed za'atar flatbread.
A riot of colour and punchy flavours, Chris Lucas' Yakimono is a high energy all-day eating house. Follow the neon signs into the Japanese-inspired eatery, reminiscent of Tokyo's Izakaya bars. Enjoy flame-fired cooking and off-grill options like noodles and sushi. To drink, it's sake and cocktails named after Tokyo neighbourhoods.
Connie's Italian Diner
You might have tried Connie's pizzas on a hazy night out at rock'n'roll bar Heartbreaker. Now this well-loved hole-in-the-wall pizzeria is a full Italian restaurant above the bar. Connie's is styled after New York's Italian diners with leather booths and checked tablecloths. Alongside the iconic pizzas are traditional dishes served family-style. Try eggplant parmigiana, Sunday ragu and a tiramisu sundae.
More of the best new spots in Melbourne
Asia’s diverse flavours and traditional techniques are reinterpreted for modern-day adventurers.
Crossley St Cantina
Late night Spanish food and booze, located in the CBD's theatre district.
Reimagining timeless charm this European style bistro is suited for any occasion.
Features Japanese grilled dishes, sashimi, pork katsu and select cuts of premium beef.
Bringing a new layer of fresh, flavourful Indonesian dining, with delicious cocktails to match.
Head to Ronnie’s in Rialto Piazza to enjoy a menu celebrating the best of New York Italian.
Gimlet at Cavendish House
An elegant cocktail bar and dining room from renowned chef Andrew McConnell.
Hero at ACMI
A contemporary day-to-night food and wine bar experience with chef Karen Martini at the helm.
A glamourous restaurant and bar with contemporary dining and bespoke cocktails.
Lulu's Char Koay Teow
The true taste of authentic Penang flavours from a family of passionate cooks.
Experience a menu of remixed classics sitting alongside bold innovations.
Chef David fire up the barbecue with their Sichuan BBQ grill menu.
Last updated on Fri 6 Jan 2023
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