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 Christmas shopping to explore the best of Hardware Lane.
Best restaurants in Hardware Lane
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.
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.
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.
Best bars in Hardware Lane
Kirk’s Wine Bar
Nothing says summer like lazing on a stool on the corner of Hardware Lane, slowly sipping a glass of red outside Kirk’s. Rustic, chic and laid-back all at once, it’s a Melbourne institution for a reason. Carb-load on exquisite pasta dishes (like black garlic tortellini sprinkled with caviar), or nibble a basket of fries over rose. You can have it all here.
It’s always a European summer atop Campari House. The rooftop bar is your best bet for lazy drinks and grazing plates. All those stairs and spritzes can work up a mean hunger, so don’t skip a trip down to the restaurant. Order up classic pasta dishes, hearty pizza (with GF options) and the cult-status coffee panna cotta.
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, dragon fruit or Chrysanthemum. The sake flights pair very nicely with Izakaya-style bar snacks, too.
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 lobster spaghetti and spanner crab ravioli.
Best cafes and dessert bars in Hardware Lane
Dari Korean Cafe & Bar
In a quiet nook on Hardware Lane, Dari is one of Melbourne’s original Korean cafes. The idol sandwich is a must-try. It’s an unusual combo of cabbage slaw, strawberry jam and potato egg salad served on thick white toast. Apparently this oddly delicious combo was born at the SBS cafe, and gained huge popularity with visiting idols. Other sweet treats include pumpkin milkshakes and sweet soy rice cake tiramisu.
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 jalapeno bulgogi sub. Bizcoff and yuzu flavored iced lattes are also on the menu.
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.
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 toasties like miso cheese or pear and foie gras. Or go dairy free with vegan options, including a tofu pudding bingsu.
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.
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.
Vons Restaurant and Bar
Quaint cafe-restaurant serving Mediterranean and modern Australian fusion cuisine.
Il Nostro Posto
Regional delights from southern Italy served in a historic 19th-century warehouse.
A Megaformer fitness studio located in Melbourne’s Hardware Lane.
Orchid Day Spa
Centrally located day spa with a range of beauty treatments.
Last updated on Sun 6 Nov 2022
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