18 of the best regional restaurants in Victoria, a bucket-list guide

Close up of dish at Brae restaurant with gum leaves on plate

Tianna Nadalin

Posted March 06, 2023

When it comes to food, Victoria’s regions are home to some of the country’s best. Here’s our guide to 18 bucket list regional restaurants that are worth the road trip.

It’s no secret Victorians have an insatiable appetite for good food. 

Victoria's backyard is a never-ending smorgasbord of exclusive restaurants, sophisticated fine diners, swanky bars and upscale pubs, with some of the country’s most accoladed and innovative chefs calling Victoria home.

But it’s not just the award-winning eateries, Hatted seaside diners and acclaimed culinary institutions that have foodies flocking to the countryside; the breathtaking scenery, convivial hospitality and exceptional local growers and producers make Victoria a venerable destination for all things delicious. 

So whether you’re planning an epicurean adventure, culinary road trip or gourmet weekend away, here’s our guide to the best restaurants in regional Victoria.  

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18 bucket-list restaurants in regional Victoria

Best restaurants on the Mornington Peninsula

Cape, Cape Schanck

Step into an earthy yet elegant dining space and brace yourself for an elevated culinary journey at Cape, where the modern Australian menu imbues European traditions while echoing the spirit of the Mornington Peninsula. Cape at RACV's Cape Schanck Resort is an award-winning Hatted restaurant that offers a set menu of eight expertly crafted courses with the option to include matched local wines to take the experience to the next level. 

Laura, Merricks 

Pt Leo Estate’s top-tier restaurant, Laura, is a gastronomic masterpiece. The menu, which showcases locally farmed, grown and sourced produce, is a culinary magic carpet ride through the Mornington Peninsula, with each dish defined by and in celebration of the local terroir.  


Cape Schanck Olive Estate supplies its acclaimed olive oil to RACV Cape Schanck resort

Best restaurants in the Goldfields

Underbar, Ballarat

There are seats for just 14 people at this intimate fine diner located in the heart of Ballarat. Helmed by three Michelin-starred chef Derek Boath, of Per Se in New York fame, the Underbar is a culinary flight of fancy through the seasons and surrounds and is located only a short drive away from RACV's Goldfields Resort

Lake House, Daylesford 

Ella Wolf-Tasker’s famed Lake House Restaurant in Daylesford is a highly acclaimed fine dining destination. With a focus on modern Australian cuisine, the restaurant uses locally sourced and seasonal ingredients to create innovative dishes, set against a stunning lakeside backdrop. 

Bar Midland, Castlemaine

It may be small, but Castlemaine’s 17-seat bar and dining room, housed in the thoughtfully refurbished 1870s Midland Hotel, sure is mighty. The kitchen, which uses no sugar in its cooking and only wild-caught meat, is garnering a cult following for its seasonal, sustainable, and locally sourced menu, which showcases the best of regional produce. 

The Garden Room at Blackwood Ridge, Blackwood 

Pull up a chair overlooking the lake and the extensive manicured gardens at Blackwood Ridge. The innovative restaurant is the nexus of this stunning five-acre oasis, once a derelict strawberry farm, where seasonality and locality have inspired the paddock-to-plate ethos behind the creative, modern Australian menu.   

Chauncy, Heathcote

From France to Heathcote via the Bellarine Peninsula comes Chauncy, an intimate 16-seat diner housed in a heritage-listed sandstone building on Heathcote’s picturesque main street. The menu du jour is an evolving selection of artfully designed plates celebrating the best of local and seasonally inspired produce, with a curated list of fine wines to match. 


Close up of person cutting piece of grilled saganaki at Ipsos in Lorne

Fresh, seasonal ingredients are the inspiration at Lorne's seaside diner, Ipsos. Photo: Visit Victoria.

Best restaurants on the Surf Coast and surrounds

Brae, Birregurra

Dan Hunter’s world-renowned restaurant, Brae, located on a hillside in the tiny town of Birregurra, is known for its innovative and envelope-pushing cuisine that invokes a sense of connection to place, seasonality and nature. The restaurant is set on a 12-hectare organic farm and offers guests a unique dining experience in a refined, natural setting.

Igni, Geelong

A minimalist aesthetic and pared-back menu make food the centrepiece at this unassuming, back-alley restaurant, where a charcoal grill – the inspiration for much of the menu as well as the restaurant’s moniker, which is Latin for ‘fire’ – is a real showstopper. Book a seat at the Kitchen Bar and watch on in awe as head chef Aaron Turner and his team craft food that is almost too pretty to eat.

Ipsos, Lorne 

For a curated coastal feast set against a glistening beachside backdrop, look no further than Ipsos. in Lorne. Located right by the beach, the restaurant boasts stunning ocean views and a relaxed atmosphere that's perfect for a long lunch or romantic dinner. But don’t be fooled by its laid-back demeanour; the food at Ipsos is anything but. The contemporary, ever-changing Australian menu has a focus on fresh, local flavours, expertly prepared and beautifully presented. 

Moonah, Connewarre 

Down a dusty dirt road overlooking a natural billabong you'll find Moonah, a charming, 12-seat diner nestled amongst the vines of The Minya Winery in Connewarre. Here, a historic weatherboard façade belies a thoroughly modern fit-out and menu that earned it two chefs hats in the Age Good Food Guide 2023 as well as regional restaurant of the year. Located just a short 20-minute drive from RACV's Torquay Resort, this is a must-visit on any gourmet map. 


Close up of pastry at Jones Winery

Tradition and progress combine at Jones Winery, in Rutherglen. Photo: Facebook.

Best restaurants in Gippsland and beyond

Sardine Dining, Paynesville

A seaside restaurant that has a focus on fresh, local and sustainable seafood. That’s the calling card for this refined waterfront diner in Victoria’s vibrant boating capital. Think freshly shucked oysters, duckfish tartare, King Island lobster rolls and kingfish crudo. 

Stellina, Traralgon

This unassuming Italian restaurant is a true hidden gem in the bustling Gippsland city of Traralgon. Housed in the heritage-listed former Star Hotel, which was originally built in 1875, the converted weatherboard cottage is not home to bustling, boutique Italian restaurant with a fairy-lit vintage brick courtyard. Here they’re slinging hand-made pasta, authentic woodfired pizzas and creative cocktails. 

Tinamba Hotel, Tinamba 

A Gippsland dairy farming town with a population of just 500 isn’t the first place you’d expect to find an award-winning regional restaurant. But that’s exactly what you’ll find in the quaint town of Tinamba. The Tinamba Hotel prides itself on providing a first-class dining experience with a side of authentic country hospitality. 

Best restaurants in the High Country

Jones, Rutherglen 

Regional gastronomy shines bright at this eclectic Rutherglen restaurant. Dining at Jones Winery Restaurant is like taking a culinary journey through French gastronomy. With Le Cordon Bleu-trained chef Briony Bradford steering the Hatted ship, guests can expect a sustainable, zero-waste feast that showcases local and native ingredients, enhanced by perfectly matched wines. 

Elm, Bright

Victoria’s High Country is home to some epic restaurants. Among them is Elm Dining, a breezy riverside restaurant housed in an iconic Bright building. Under the stewardship of head chef Brendon Chadwick, the refurbished restaurant is breathing new life into the old cottage with the seasonally inspired menu designed to encourage connection and sharing, and bringing people together over an unforgettable meal. 


The RoyalMail hotel

The Royal Mail is the gateway to the Grampians. Photo: Visit Victoria.

Best restaurants in the Grampians and Murray Region

Wickens at The Royal Mail, Dunkeld 

On a quiet country road, with Mt Sturgeon rising like giant granite statue behind, you’ll find the Royal Mail Hotel. As well as a world-class restaurant (Wickens by multi-award-winning chef Robin Wickens) and architect-designed on-site accommodation, there’s also a 30,000-bottle cellar with the southern hemisphere’s largest collection of Bordeaux and Burgundy that has been luring galivanting gourmands to the rugged southern Grampians town of Dunkeld for an unrivalled food and wine experience. 

Stefano’s, Mildura 

Stefano de Pieri’s namesake restaurant has been bringing a taste of Veneto to Milura for more than 30 years. The now-iconic restaurant, which opened in the original cellars of Mildura’s historic Grand Hotel in 1991, is renowned for it simple yet elegant Italian cuisine, with the food paying homage to Stefano’s.

Honourable mentions

  • Doot Doot Doot, Merricks North
  • Audrey, Sorrento
  • TarraWarra Estate, Yarra Glen
  • Oakridge, Coldstream
  • The Woodhouse, Bendigo 
  • The Surly Goat, Hepburn Springs
  • Bar Merenda, Daylesford 
  • Mr Jones, Ballarat 
  • Lago, Point Lonsdale 
  • Samesyn, Torquay 
  • La Cachette, Geelong
  • Midnight Starling, Kyneton
  • Hogget Kitchen, Warragul
  • Anerie, Cowes

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