Melbourne’s best restaurants for cosy winter dining
Warm up with a full belly and a glass of wine at these cosy winter dining spots.
When it comes to winter dining, Melbourne restaurants really know how to turn up the heat. From intimate Italian trattorias and toasty South American-inspired bodegas to basement wine bars and nostalgic taquerias, these are 10 of the cosiest places to get your feast on this winter.
San Telmo. Image: Supplied.
Hanging cowhides, vintage leather booths and warm timber accents set a cosy scene at Argentinian steak house San Telmo, in Melbourne’s CBD. The Meyers Place institution has been plating up some of the city’s best ceviche, empanadas and asado (BBQ) since firing up the traditional charcoal grill – or parrilla – in 2011. What better way to warm up than with a plate of O’Connors premium dry-aged, pasture-fed sirloin and a side of fried potatoes with salsa, washed down with a glass of imported malbec.
Tom Pockett Cellars. Image: Supplies.
If you've been looking for Melbourne's best fried chicken, the search is finally over. Tom Pockett Cellars, a laid-back wine bar in leafy Glen Iris, has been slinging some of the city's most succulent spiced bites since swinging open its doors in 2015. Head down on Friday nights for a spicy margarita while being serenaded by a live acoustic set, or choose a bottle of your favourite drop from the wine wall and wash it down with a delectable veggie flatbread and a bowl of fat chips tossed in TPC's secret seasoning. There's also a solid selection of craft beers and spirits if, like Premier Dan Andrews, you're looking for something a little higher up the shelf.
Bar Margaux. Image: Visit Victoria.
What's not to love about a late-night basement bar and brasserie that serves fine wine, French comfort food and classic cocktails until the wee hours of the morning? Bar Margaux, from the same team that brought you The Everleigh and Heartbreaker, is the city's slickest late-night love affair. Head in for a late-night supper, or tuck into a juicy MGX burger and pommes frites with a glass of Burgundy wine.
Fondata 1872. Image: Kangaroo Ground.
Who doesn’t love wrapping their tastebuds around 12-hour slow-cooked lamb shoulder while sitting by an open fire in a revival restaurant that used to house the iconic Wellers at Kangaroo Ground? Fondata 1872, a reincarnation of the northeast's iconic eatery has seen the restaurant given a new name and rustic Italian menu, while still retaining the venue's heritage charm. Grab a house-made pasta and choose from an extensive collection of wines and craft beers with which to wash it down. The building also boasts a bluestone cellar and tasting room, as well as stunning views of Kangaroo Ground’s rolling hills.
Copper Pot, Seddon. Image: Facebook.
Inky, moss green walls juxtaposed with carrara marble tabletops set a sophisticated scene at Seddon's refined neighbourhood bodega, Copper Pot. Here a seasonal menu spins European-inspired bistro classics, albeit with a refined edge. Don't miss the mussel and prawn spaghetti with saffron, chives and bottarga crumb, or the guanciale and speck carboana with fresh fettucini.
Hochi Mama, Melbourne CBD. Image: Facebook.
Is there anything more enticing on a cold winter's night than a steaming hot bowl of fragrant massaman curry mopped up with flaky roti bread? Enjoying it from the comfort of plush velvet bench seats while sipping on signature cocktails, of course. And that's what it's all about at vibrant Vietnamese fusion restaurant Hochi Mama. The cracking menu is designed for sharing so you'll want to grab a couple of your most gluttonous foodie friends and eat your way through every dish because, trust us, you won't want to miss a thing. Special shout-outs to the delectable red duck curry and the Hochi chicken banh bao.
Don't miss this indulgent rigatoni ragu at Neptune Food & Wine. Image: Facebook.
With an open fire, hearty Italian cuisine and seriously impressive wine list, Neptune Food & Wine in Windsor is the ultimate winter triple threat. Pull up a booth in the exposed-brick diner or grab a seat by the fireplace and treat yourself to a bowl of perfectly al dente rigatoni with rich beef ragu and lashings of freshly grates pecorino, or stop in on a weekend for a belly-warming lunch of polenta chips, nduja jaffles and decadent tiramisu.
Channel all the summer vibes at Hotel Jesus. Image: Facebook.
When you can't take a trip to Central America, get your fill of retro Tex Mex vibes at Collingwood's quirky Hotel Jesus. From the same team who started Melbourne's Mexican wave with Mamasita back in 2010, this casual neon diner is a throw-back to the kitschy coastal aesthetic of '70s-inspired Mexican taquerias. Sure, it might not be the cosiest restaurant, but if the cheerful interior doesn't brighten your spirits, the mouthwatering menu definitely will. Try the lamb barbacoa tacos and the brisket mole.
Prepare for a Lebanese feast at Mama Manoush. Image: Facebook.
If an authentic Lebanese-style feast of the most epic proportions doesn't warm your heart, enjoying it under a fairy-lit roof while sipping on Lebanese wine at Brunswick East's Mama Manoush is sure to. With too many delicious things from which to choose, you'll want to book in for the Mega Banquet so that you don't have to painstakingly decide what to order. And even if it's not your birthday, be sure to dob in a fellow diner and get ready to be sung 'happy birthday' while the rest of the restaurant cheers on.
Movida Next Door. Image: Facebook.
When it comes to cosy restaurants, this city stalwart takes the cake. Melbourne's OG Spanish restaurant, Movida Next Door, has it all: hearty tapas, warm hospitality, an impressive wine and sherry list, and inimitable ambiance, as well as an enviable Hosier Lane location. Stepping inside is like taking a trip to the bustling tabernas of owner Frank Camorra's Andalusian home. Warm up with some patatas bravas, crispy croquettes and Wagyu beef skewers, but be sure to leave room for dessert because you'll kick yourself if you're too full to treat yourself to Movida's deliciously fluffy churros with decadent chocolate sauce.