New CBD Restaurants & Bars
Stuck in a foodie rut? Shake things up and check out the latest restaurant, cafe and food-shop openings in the city, plus some hot new bars.
The fun-lovin’ kids behind Holey Moley Golf Club, B. Lucky & Sons and Archie Brothers Cirque Electriq invite you to the 70s. Juke’s karaoke bar is a boogie wonderland with your choice of the main bar, complete with piano man, or luxe private rooms. The colour palette’s totally psychedelic, food options include fondue and prawn cocktails, and the liquid cocktails’ names alone will inspire you to sing.
Feel like Japanese but can’t make up your mind between BBQ, yakitori, hot pot or tempura? Then we’d like to welcome you to the concept of Izakaya, where all Japanese food is created equal. Try it for yourself at the newly opened Bincho Boss, a lunch and dinner spot on Little Bourke Street showcasing the highlights of Japanese dining. Menu must tries include soy ginger fried chicken, salt crusted char-grill wagyu and tempura battered ice-cream. They even make their own tofu! Still can’t make up your mind? Live the boss life with a 10-course set menu for $85 per person.
The Windsor dessert cafe and shop by Om Nom’s former pastry chef, Christy Tania, now has a CBD sibling. Sweet dreams come true at Glacé, a yellow submarine full of eclectic ice-cream, fancy cakes and their ice-cream cake love-children. Watch for limited edition desserts inspired by new season fashions at Glacé’s fellow Emporium retailers.
The Oxford Scholar
Here’s some A+ news for RMIT students past and present, and a whole lot of Melburnians besides: The Oxford Scholar is back! One of the city’s oldest pubs has re-opened after a big, beautiful renovation. The building’s exposed 1857 red bricks, and contemporary elements in natural materials like glass and wood, are the new menu’s fresh setting. There are pub-grub classics of course, as well as fresh fare like Korean beef ribs and crispy tofu curry.
The grand 1928 T&G Building’s massive foyer has had a makeover, and wow is it 21st century! Like the David Jones food hall on steroids, Liminal Melbourne is a delicious one-stop shop. Amid sleek stone, custom light fixtures and invitingly upholstered furniture, there’s everything from wine and cheese shops to a grab-and-go section. Dine in, host a meeting, catch a kitchen demo, have a coffee. Your day is sorted.
Cuff Food & Wine
With its name and little button logo, Cuff Food & Wine pays homage to Flinders Lane’s rag-trade past. Otherwise it’s all about contemporary cafe eats and drinks in a gorgeous 19th century space with high ceilings and big arched windows. From eggs benny with your choice of pulled pork, smoked salmon, ham or bacon, to lunchtime’s karaage chicken burger, it’s so 21st century Melbourne.
Straight Outta Saigon
Goodbye Twenty Pho Seven, hello Straight Outta Saigon! Russell Street’s all-night pho joint has been reborn, and while you can’t slurp noodly soup at 4am anymore, there’s still lots to love. There’s traditional Vietnamese street food, from rice paper rolls to pho, plus tricked-up treats like banh mi sliders and South-East Asian-inspired cocktails.
Start with Colombian-style coffee and eggs with arepa (a sort of cornbread). Come back for a Colombian classic like bandeja paisa, a dish loaded with nine ingredients including rice, pork belly and plantain. Wash it down with sugar-cane lemonade. Sounds like you’re on holiday, right? Not if you’re at Queen Street’s Club Colombia, which is full of Latin colour and accents, plus live music on Friday nights. That’s when you’ll be wanting a jarra de refajo, or jug of Colombian beer-and-soft drink cocktail.
Dr Marty’s Crumpets turned Melbourne back onto these holey little delights, and now he has a rival – that’s easier to find too. Holy Crumpets has gone from selling like, er, hot cakes at farmer’s markets to a new CBD crumpet cafe. Get ‘em dripping with one of six honeys, go for other spreads like peanut butter, or savoury options including grilled taleggio. Grandma was right, crumpets are rather good, so you’ll be glad to know they’re also available un-toasted in take-home packs.
Nuts About Tella
There are two kinds of people: those who like nutella, and those who are nuts about it. Whichever you are, you’ll want to check out Nuts About Tella, whose menu is loaded with this choc-hazelnut spread. From sweet pizzas and burgers to shakes and ice-cream, they always say yes to nutella!
This new dive bar is for everyone. The menu ranges from fried chicken burgers to vegan barbecue brisket, and local and international live bands play everything from garage rock to funk. The music’s free too, so rich or poor, you’re in. Plus Globe Alley‘s queer nights deliver a whole lot of dancefloor love. Cheers!
Little Brother Cafe
A pioneer of Melbourne’s current obsession with Vietnamese street food is back after a revamp. A line-out-the-door lunchtime favourite since it opened in 2015, Little Brother Cafe is now kicking on through dinner, with posh drinks too. So now you can sip on a salted caramel Vietnamese espresso martini while contemplating the new menu. Or just go straight for the must-have steamed barramundi wrapped in banana leaf.
Foodies, it’s time to rethink food courts! At least at Melbourne Central’s ELLA, a zone inspired by Asian mega train stations’ classy eating, drinking and shopping hubs. Among fresh art, music and tech, you’ll find eateries like Atlas off-shoot Colours Bowls, Son in Law’s noodle spot The Pad, Sam Sam’s Korean-style chicken, and the Dainty Sichuan team’s Pick-a-Stick Chinese Skewers. There’s more to come mid-year, including upscale cocktail bar Byrdi and divine pastries by Pierrick Boyer.
Here’s a heads-up for lovers of sweet treats and all things Japanese! If you don’t know about kurimu, you soon will because Kurimu will be making them to order from mid-July in Melbourne Central. The queue starts now for these long, crisp choux pastries, stuffed with crème custard filling and covered in a nutty topping.
The folks behind two of Melbourne’s coolest bars, Heartbreaker and The Everleigh, have wowed us all over again with Bar Margaux. This Paris-via-New-York-Meatpacking-district-inspired late-night venue oozes vintage style. Think black-and-white tiles, zinc-topped bar, red-leather banquettes and custom light fixtures. Food includes French bistro classics like duck frites, and drinks are pure sophistication, including Champagne and craft cocktails.
Edwin Wine Bar & Cellar
You don’t need to stay the night to check out luxe apartment-style hotel Shadow Play by Peppers. Just step into Edwin Wine Bar & Cellar on the ground floor of this shiny new Southbank tower. The wine list is exclusively Victorian, and has an almost 50-50 ratio of male and female winemakers. Snacks and meals are driven by local produce, like Yarra Valley goats cheese and Gippsland lamb.
Coppe Pan Japanese Bakery
Chicken katsu is having a moment in Melbourne. If gourmet sandwich spots are a bit of a stretch for your current budget, this newbie at Melbourne Central has you covered. At Coppe Pan thick, juicy cuts of crumbed chicken breast cushioned in freshly baked bread will set you back a slight six dollars. Or feast on katsu sausage, prawn fry and Japanese-style filet-o-fish sandwiches for $5.80 each. Want something indulgent? Croque Monsieurs and decadent french toast is also on heavy rotation for just five dollars – and that includes a cup of coffee!