14 uniquely Melbourne experiences to add to your foodie bucket list
A deliciously eatworthy guide to 14 of the best only-in-Melbourne foodie experiences.
Melbourne might be the self-proclaimed foodie capital of Australia but, as well as offering a smorgasbord of high-end restaurants and cosmopolitan bars, this gastronomic mecca is also brimming with unique dining experiences. From clandestine cocktail bars and sky-high suppers to laneway saloons, floating feasts, fine dining and gourmet grills, there’s an epicurean experience to suit every palate.
Better still, many of the most exciting venues offer special offers and discounts to RACV members when booking direct through RACV Attraction Tickets. So, give in to your culinary cravings. Here are 14 uniquely Melbourne quests to add to your foodie bucket list.
Line up for Chin Chin, dine high at Lui Bar and drool over dessert at Om Nom Kitchen on a walking degustation dinner.
Spirit of Melbourne Cruising Restaurant
Forget riverside restaurants. A floating four-course dinner on the Yarra River takes river views to the next level. The Spirit of Melbourne Cruising Restaurant is a must-do dining experience, offering unparalleled vistas of the twinkling city skyline as you glide along in air-conditioned comfort. All food is prepared on the boat, with four fresh courses and a selection of drinks included. Book now.
Melbourne Restaurants Walking Tour
Can’t decide between Melbourne’s astonishing array of top-notch nosheries? A Melbourne Restaurants walking tour takes in three of the city’s best in one progressive degustation dinner. Bring an empty belly, because you’ll have nine matched food and wine tastings across three top-rated restaurants, including Neapoli, Izakaya Den, Taxi Kitchen and OmNom. Book now.
It wouldn’t be a guide to stand-out establishments without including one of the city’s gourmet game changers. Chin Chin, in the middle of Melbourne’s iconic eat street – Flinders Lane – opened in 2011 and, nearly a decade later, the cult Southeast-Asian eatery still attracts as much hype and attention as the day people starting lining up to get through its doors. The only difference is, thanks to the pandemic, in 2021 you can actually make a booking for groups less than 10. Silver linings. Visit chinchinrestaurant.com.au.
Witches in Britches Theatre Restaurant
If you’re after a full belly and some serious belly laughs, a night at Witches in Britches is the ultimate excuse to let your hair down. As well as a three-course meal, this wickedly good night out also features a two-hour live comedy show, so you can get your fill of slow-cooked lamb, LOLs (and some decadent chocolate brownie) before heading to the dungeon for a kooky cocktail. Book now.
When it comes to must-do Melbourne foodie experiences, add sipping champagne and nibbling mini sausage rolls on the 55th floor of the Rialto Tower to the top of your list. Lui Bar is the sleek, sophisticated sister of Shannon Bennett’s acclaimed fine-diner Vue de Monde, and offers the same first-class views of Melbourne’s stunning skyline. Visit luibar.com.
Feast and fly on board the Melbourne Star Observation Wheel.
Choo Choos at Curtin House
Date night? On the second floor of the city’s historic Curtin House, you’ll find not only one of Melbourne’s live music mainstays (The Toff in Town), but also a Southeast-Asian inspired eatery that offers atmosphere and intimacy in spades. Settle into a private booth inside an old train carriage, where you can close the doors and ding a bell for service. It’s open Thursdays to Saturdays from 5pm and both the food and funky fitout are sure to impress. Visit thetoff.com.au/carriage-side.
A ship-shaped bar under a bridge over the Yarra River? It’s Melbourne, so, of course there is. Down a spiral staircase off the pedestrian bridge between Flinders Street Station and Southbank, you’ll find Ponyfish Island, a sun-drenched sip spot where, if you squint hard enough, it almost feels like being on a superyacht in the Mediterranean (just kidding). Snack on chilli peanuts and wagyu beef dumplings while taking in the views of Southbank and the sparkling city skyline.
Melbourne Star Fly and Dine
When it comes to dining experiences in Melbourne, the sky is the limit, literally. The Melbourne Star Fly and Dine experience will take you 40 storeys high, for panoramic views of Melbourne’s city skyline and across the bay to Mornington Peninsula and Dandenong Ranges, before coming back down to earth for a lunch or dinner and drink at Docklands’ Urban Alley Brewery. Book now.
A themed cocktail bar atop a sprawling city terrace? What’s not to love. Grab a cheeky cocktail (the Madame’s D.D. Cup is a delicious choice) at the hedge bar, then pull up a chair on the faux grass and settle in for a sky-high garden soiree with serious retro flair. Visit madamebrussels.com.
Go on a guided tour of the Queen Victoria Market
Wandering through the produce-laden aisles of the largest open-air market in the southern hemisphere and sampling cherry-picked items from some of the top traders is about as close to culinary heaven as a foodie can get. But getting an insider’s knowledge of which vendors to hit for the silkiest hand-made pasta or stinkiest artisan cheese courtesy of an expert guide – that’s priceless. On this 90-minute small group walking tour, you’ll get to taste test the produce at some of the market’s best stores, as well as indulge in a glass of local wine, a seasonal fruit platter and, of course, a famous QVM hot jam doughnut.
Bourke Street Green is a lush urban oasis in the heart of the CBD.
Melbourne BBQ School Classes
Don’t just talk the talk. Master the art of the grill at Melbourne BBQ School and you’ll be able to walk the walk, too. Learn everything from American-style meat smoking to the secrets of perfectly seared seafood, and get ready to cook up a storm. With your newfound command of the coals, your next backyard barbie is bound to be a hit. Book now.
Bourke Street Green
Industrial chic meets urban oasis at this chic garden bar, where concrete tables, timber booths and a retractable roof make it the ideal all-seasons entertainer. Whether it’s laid-back after-work drinks or a long lazy lunch with friends, Bourke Street Green is prime territory for a drop of fine Victorian vino, a bite of artisanal pizza, or a BSG signature cocktail – our pick is the Blood Orange South Side Fizz with Nosferatau blood orange gin, lemon juice and mint. All in the heart of the Bourke Street business district. Visit bourkestreetgreen.com.au.
Get into the spirit of long lunches on board Arbory Afloat, Melbourne’s largest floating outdoor restaurant and bar. A built-in pool, private cabanas and day beds evoke an Aussie beachhouse vibe, while the summer-inspired menu includes a selection of fresh-made woodfired pizzas, chicken and gravy sandwiches and lobster spaghetti, as well as a curated list of the finest local gins. Visit arbory.com.au.
The Duke of Wellington
For a slice of history, head to The Duke of Wellington, Melbourne’s oldest pub. This iconic heritage-listed hotel has occupied the corner of Flinders and Russell streets since 1850, with the first beers flowing from the taps in 1853. Though the original facade remains, the interiors have undergone a swanky facelift. Head up to the rooftop for sublime city views, as well as royally good pub fare, including maple and buffalo fried chicken, club sandwiches and classic chicken parmas. Visit dukeofwellington.com.au.