From fiery Malaysian to Israeli street food, Korean desserts and secret Italian bars, this lengthy laneway strip has it all. Take time out from your shopping to explore the best of Hardware Lane.
Best restaurants in Hardware Lane
Khao Man Gai
The family who run Khao Man Gai has dedicated their entire restaurant to one dish – Thai chicken rice. The menu features eight variations of the super aromatic South East Asian favourite – from the true blue authentic style to a plate with a generous serving of fried chicken. On the drinks menu you'll find sweet milk tea, local Thai beers and fruity cocktails.
Lulu's Char Koay Teow
Order a big plate of sticky stir-fried noodles and decide once and for all, is this Melbourne’s best char koay teow? Hardware Lane eatery Lulu’s makes its eponymous dish true to Penang street food form. Pick your protein, perhaps duck egg or blood cockles, then choose your spice level. The heat goes all the way up to a fiery 3X that will have you reaching for the teh tarik.
The pitas are bursting with flavour at Israeli street food restaurant Miznon. They can cater to vego, gluten-free and vegan diets. Big groups can book ahead and smash the $35 set menu option. It comes with a delicious stacked pita each, shared veggie side plates and a dessert. Try the classic 'cheakypita' with falafel burger, roasted cauli and tahini numbers, or juicy grass-fed lamb feasts.
Funghi e Tartufo
This pasta wonderland in Hardware Lane is 100 per cent vegan. Housed in a 19th century warehouse, Funghi e Tartufo specialises in traditional Sicilian cooking. Twirl your way through bowls of silky spaghetti carbonara, and try potato gnocchi in a rich mushroom bolognese sauce. The restaurant also caters to coeliac and low FODMAP diets, so no one misses out on an Italian feast.
Claypots Barbarossa is Melbourne's Mediterranean seafood paradise. Come for a casual seafood brunch and try ultra-fresh dishes like spaghetti marinara, mussels and Moroccan claypot. Or visit on Friday evenings when the vibes kick up a notch with live jazz music. Claypots also does a traditional Euro-style aperitivo hour. Enjoy a seafood buffet of tapas-inspired snacks, free when you buy drinks. Plus score daily $5 happy hour bevs.
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.
Located at the Lonsdale Street end of Hardware Lane, Amigos has the right atmosphere for any occasion. Choose from three levels, including alfresco laneway seating, and a menu of temptations. Will you go classic corn chips, pice de gallo and burritos? Or score the set menu, which starts at just $35 per person.
From Hanoi to the corner of Hardware Lane and Lonsdale Street. Follow the lines snaking out the door to try Pho Thin’s 40-year-old recipe for the perfect pho. Order the signature dish, the stir fried rare beef pho. Or try a steamy bowl with red wine sauce. Don’t forget a side of Vietnamese fried donuts, perfect for dunking and mopping up the aromatic broth.
Best bars in Hardware Lane
Kirk’s Wine Bar
There's nothing better than sipping on a glass of red in a laneway wine bar. Kirk’s on Hardware lane is rustic, chic and laid-back all at once, it’s a Melbourne institution for a reason. Carb-load on exquisite pasta dishes (like hand-cut pappardelle with confit duck leg), or nibble on a plate of French cheese with your pinot noir. You can have it all here.
The Hardware Club
Love herb-infused cocktails, inventive Italian food and hidden spaces in equal measure? Join the club. The Hardware Club, that is. This upstairs diner has everything. From simple plates (anchovies and harissa butter, cacio e pepe toasties) to fancier delights. Think spaghetti with chilli crab and smoked duck leg ragout.
Tiny but mighty, Gracie is the coolest new laneway bar on Hardware. With high ceilings and stunning interiors, it’s the perfect place for post-dinner drinks or a romantic first date. Try house cocktails with yuzu, elderflower or black tea. The sake flights pair very nicely with Izakaya-style bar snacks, too.
Best cafes and dessert bars in Hardware Lane
It’s the OG laneway brunch spot that ended the era of basic eggs on toast. French-inspired Hardware Societe deals in anything but the ordinary. Sweet treats include fried brioche with raspberry compote, ruby chocolate sauce and nougatine. Cheese lovers will delight in brie baked eggs, parmesan souffle and croque madame drenched in gruyere bechamel. Find their little nook at 123 Hardware Street.
Alien & Coco
Cereal milk gets a Korean twist at Alien & Coco (4/111 Hardware Street). ‘Jolly Pong’ (a famous Korean cereal) infused milk is used in iced lattes and shakes alike. The crew also specialise in Korean street toast and sandwiches. We rate the kimchi and cheese loaded toastie, as well as the bulgogi milk bun. Bizcoff and yuzu flavoured iced lattes are also on the menu.
Pandan Dessert Bar
Be transported to Malaysia at Pandan Dessert Bar (27 Hardware Lane). This popular spot features authentic desserts like monkfruit jelly, silky tao fu fah pudding with lychee, tong shui (a sweet dessert soup), and bingsu topped with sweet beans, grass jelly, peanuts and nutmeg. Need a sweet treat but no time to eat in? Grab a bingsu in a cup to enjoy on the go.
Maker is in good company; occupying the coveted corner of Hardware Lane and Little Bourke Street alongside iconic watering hole Kirk’s Wine Bar. Sleek interiors and reclaimed timber counters make for a dreamy space. Soak up the rays in the laneway and pair your locally roasted coffee and baguette with some people-watching.
Ten Square Cafe
Venture a little further down Hardware Lane to find a cute little courtyard nook called Ten Square. Smash some oh-so pretty date hotcakes and a matcha latte. Plant-based brunchers will go wild for the vegan and gluten-free chocolate waffles. The colourful dish comes topped with honeycomb, meringue and fresh berries.
With flawless interiors, laneway location and creative dessert options, Nimbo was bound to be an instant classic. Join the queue in Hardware Street and order the fan-fave ube (purple sweet potato) flavour, topped with cornflake clusters. Try inventive Thai tea mochi milk toast or the matcha Basque cheese keki. Or go dairy free with vegan options, including a tofu pudding bingsu.
More of the best things to do in in Hardware Lane
Enjoy pure and authentic Italian gelato from Piccolina's Hardware Lane shop.
Max on Hardware
From pizzas to succulent steaks and burgers, Max offers authentic Australian-Italian cuisine.
Last updated on Fri 17 Nov 2023
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