Best New Restaurants in Melbourne for 2020
From Mexican to modern Australian, these are the best new restaurants in Melbourne to kick start the new year.
A bubbling hotpot of gastronomic indulgence, Melbourne’s buzzing food scene is one that never disappoints. From cult classics to luxurious fine dining, there is no better time than the summer to sample the new and revived eateries around the city. Whether you're looking for somewhere different to try for date night or casual catch-ups with the girls, the new kids on the block are giving the rest a run for their money.. Whatever you're in the mood for – be it lobster and champagne or a new spin on European classics – these slick new restaurants in Melbourne have you covered.
If you're a true Melbourne foodie, chances are you have dined at one or all of chef and restaurateur Scott Picketts award-winning eateries. The brains and brawn behind South Yarra's Matilda, Estelle Bar & Kitchen, and the newly acquired Longrain, Pickett has one last hand to play before year's end. Opening on the 16th December, Chancery Lane will open its doors within the historic Normanby Chambers building, to deliver an inclusive experience. Bergman and Co in collaboration with Raft Studio and Stuart Neil were assigned the difficult task of updating the space while staying true to its significant history. A twist on European classics, the approachable menu offers a wide variety of dishes from dry-aged duck burgers to indulgent seafood platters.
430 Little Collins Street, Melbourne
When Ishizuka first opened its doors in 2018, it brought with it Japan's time-honoured haute cuisine traditions of Kaiseki. While this sophisticated underground eatery is not technically a new restaurant per say, it has made some big changes during 2020. Now under the watchful eye of the newly appointed Creative Director and Michelin Star chef Masahiko Yomoda, Ishizuka has launched their brand new summer menu and boy, is it good. Combining his Japanese heritage with classic french training, Chef Yomo's seasonal kaiseki menu is designed around the freshest ingredients of the day so every visit feels like the first. While the menu itself is under wraps, what we can tell you is that it is served in nine delicate courses with an optional wine pairing to match.
Basement level b01/139 Bourke Street, Melbourne
They say absence makes the heart grow fonder and after months of craving one of Pinchy's out of this world King Crab tacos, all we can say is welcome back my old friend. Bourke Street's prized lobster and champagne bar has re-opened its doors just in time for summer. Be one the first to try their brand new bites like the highly prized Moonlight Flat Oysters from the Oyster Bar or the heavenly Kingfish Ceviche and Prawn Toast. Seafood and bubbles go hand in hand so order a glass and bask in the peachy-pink perfection that is Pinchy's.
Level 1/200 Bourke Street, Melbourne
Best New Restaurants in Melbourne: October
There is something about Gimlet at Cavendish House that makes you want to sit back and sip on cocktails (gimlet’s of course) until the wee hours of the morning. Bringing old-world charisma to this landmark 1920’s Chicago-style building could only be the brainchild of renowned restaurateur Andrew McConnell (Marion, Cumulus Inc, Cutler & Co, Supernormal) and Sydney firm Acme & Co. Contrary to what the name suggests, the food is held in equal regard as their prized Gimlet which can be paired with fresh rock oysters, premium wood-fired meats and seafood. If you’re looking to really step things up, the caviar service is always a go too.
33 Russell Street, Melbourne
For over 15 years, Melbourne CBD institution Longrain has been serving up Thai classics on Bourke St. Like so many, Lisa and John van Haande were sadly forced to close their doors for good due to COVID-19. Now after almost 8 months, restaurateur Scott Pickett of Pickett & Co. has stepped in to continue the Longrain legacy. The interior has been revamped and some banging new dishes have been added to the menu under new head chef Arté Assavakavinvong. The menu is comprised of two banquet offerings; the signature banquet with all your favourite OG classics and the Royal Banquet with some mouth-watering additions like Morton Bay Bug Cakes.
44 Little Bourke Street, Melbourne
It’s no secret that Fitzroy has some of the best restaurants in Melbourne. With its landmark Victorian terraces, emerging designer boutiques and some of the best coffee around, South Fitzroy’s Gertrude Street is the perfect marriage between old and new. Looking to continue the legacy, Bergman and Co’s latest project Poodle Bar & Bistro is determined to carry on the legacy. Spread across two terraces and, each comes with its own distinct vibe. Pull up a stool at the grand, art-deco inspired public bar or make your way over to the bistro. Make the most of the coming months in the courtyard that was made for Aperol Spritz in the sun.
81-83 Gertrude Street, Fitzroy
When your venues include Hanoi Hannah, Tokyo Tina and Neptune all we can say is “shut up and take our money”. Firebird is the newest project for the Commune Group who have been serving up some of the city’s most cherished Asian menus for years. What does it take to be one of the best new restaurants in Melbourne? The secret behind their Vietnamese menu is right there in the name – fire. In fact, we challenge you to find something on the Vietnamese menu that hasn’t hit the charcoal grill or wood fire.
223 High Street, Prahran
It’s safe to say that we all want to forget 2020 so why not do it rocking out to 70’s and 80’s classics at Mr Brownie. Each of the four levels has its own unique vibe including an epic rooftop with killer city views. For cocktails head down to the Boom Boom Room – an intimate bar with “mood” lighting. The ground floor is for all the crafties with over 1400 craft beers from Melbourne and beyond. If food is your vice then head upstairs to the dining room where all of your pub grub favourites are on offer. After months of iso, the rooftop is no doubt where you want to be. So, be sure to grab a drink at the open-air tiki-style bar at sunset.
343 Clarendon Street, South Melbourne
Food doesn’t need to be complicated to be special and that is exactly what Zsa’s owner Zowie Minchin set out to prove. Stepping into the bistro-bar-deli hybrid gives a sense of homely comfort that is difficult to find outside of Europe. Fresh pasta is our favourite decoration and Zsa’s has it in abundance. Grab a seat in the relaxed bistro or pick some up to cook at home from the deli along with other Zsa’s staples like their signature fish tins. While the mejillones (Spanish tinned mussels), and zamburiñas (small scallops) have been imported from Europe, much of Zsa’s offering is from Victoria which is always a plus.
202 High Street, Northcote
Best New Restaurants in Melbourne: March
The Windsor’s latest residency sees former Merricote and Quay chef Rob Kabboord put an Australian stamp on the classic Dutch bistro, complete with Dutch art on the walls and tulips on every table. Whether you buckle in for the five-course set menu or graze your way through snacks, you’ll find sharp, adventurous bites like smoked salmon cigars and tartare made from pademelon, a native marsupial, served with kombu oil and smoked oyster mayo. End your meal with picks from the cheese trolley and creative spins on traditional Dutch desserts. If this piques your fancy, make haste - while there isn’t an end date in place, this pop-up won’t be here forever.
1 Bourke Street, Melbourne
Named for the Hindi word ‘crazy’, chef Vikram Kotamraju is applying the madness of molecular gastronomy to the flavours of Indian cuisine. Drawing on years of experience working in European restaurants, the mind-bending results include Blackman Bay oysters housed in spiced, edible shells and topped with coconut ‘pearls’ and a potato-inception dish that sees a spud rolled in hay and hessian, fired in the tandoor and plated with parmesan dumplings fried in potato stock. Pagla’s fitout is equally attention-grabbing, with vibrant photographs of traditional Indian dress contrasting against brushed grey walls and abstract lights, and this one of the reasons you quickly see why Pagla is one of the best new restaurants in Melbourne.
401 Rathdowne Street, Carlton
The bustle and colour of Thailand’s street food markets have been transplanted to QV via Thai Town, where you’ll find dishes spanning well-known classics, street-sidefavourites and regional specialties. Hot, spicy, pungent and sour – the team doesn’t shy away from flavour here, with pickled crab salads, boat noodles and crisp whole fried barramundi just the tip of the tasty iceberg. Vintage posters, murals and colourful lights (along with a midnight closing time) make it an instant top contender for boisterous group dinners aided by tropical cocktails and towers of frosty Singha. Making this one if the best new restaurants in Melbourne.
25 Artemis Lane, Melbourne
You’d be forgiven for mistaking spiffy new hotpot restaurant Chef David for a nightclub, with all the neon lights, chrome chandeliers and patent leather seats in tow. A new sibling venue to soupy stalwarts David's Spicy Pot and David's Hot Pot, you’ll find not only the standard, tongue-numbing Sichuan beef broth here but eight other options including Thai tom yum, Malaysian seafood and oxtail soup. From there you can take your pick of thinly sliced high-grade meat, vegetables, tofu, seafood, dumplings and noodles to bolster your pot. You’ll want to have a crack at the drinks list, too, with an extensive list of everything from beer and bubble tea, as well as mocktails andcocktails designed by former Lûmé head bartender Orlando Marzo.
1/462 Elizabeth Street, Melbourne
Fresh contender for Melbourne’s most fun and best new restaurants to eat is Dohtonbori, a DIY okonomiyaki restaurant that’s bringing a little slice of Tokyo to Docklands. Each table is fitted with a teppan hotplate, on which you or a staff member will cook your okonomiyaki, a savoury pancake packed with veg and protein. Pick fillings such as pork belly, squid, lobster, fried noodles and corn cheese, assembled before your eyes and finished with a crosshatch drizzle of sauces. The menu also extends to Japanese favourites across sushi, yakitori, gyoza and more, while fruity cocktails and matcha parfaits satisfy the sweet tooths.
Level 1/14B Star Circus, Docklands
Best New Restaurants in Melbourne: February
Burgerheads, rejoice! After a brief pop-up last year, famed Sydney burger joint Mary’s is setting up permanently in Melbourne this month. Enter via a laneway off Franklin St into a dim red and black cave blasting music and emanating a rowdy vibe. In addition to the Mary’s canon – cheeseburgers, fried chicken, mash’n’gravy – there’ll be Melbourne-exclusive dishes, plus everything on the menu can be made vegan. You’ll want to have a crack at the drinks list too, with a 100-strong natural and local focussed wine selection joined by cocktails and non-alcoholic refreshments.
167 Franklin St, Melbourne
Matt Wilkinson has handed over the reins at Pope Joan City and returned to Brunswick with a cosy botanical-themed restaurant. Crofter takes over the old Hellenic Republic site, spinning a brief that reflects how we increasingly eat today – vegetables are star of the show, and meat the supporting act. With crunchy XO summer beans, zucchini swiped through parmesan clotted cream and potato gems sprinkled with gin salt and curry sauce on the menu, no one will ever accuse vegetables of being boring again. That’s not to say meat is an afterthought, with protein kicks coming from glorious golden-crusted lamb shoulder plus various nibbles and sides.
434 Lygon St, East Brunswick
Housed inside a lovingly restored Victorian building, with a refined wine list and delectable menu offering, Elsternwick’s newest all-day diner is a classy affair. Named after two female entrepreneurs who worked on the same block in the 1800s, Carter Lovett’s offering is a meld of the classic and the contemporary – think Chablis-splashed pickled mussels, barley risotto with nettles and ox tongue cheeseburgers. Meanwhile, mornings are for French press coffee and Brit-inflected breakfasts enjoyed on sunlight-dappled tables.
329 Glen Huntly Rd, Elsternwick
It’s been a long wait, but legendary ramen shop Gogyo has finally arrived in Melbourne. They’re famed for their burnt miso ramen, which features a smoky yet smooth broth that’s made using theatrical techniques – they literally set miso and fat on fire. It’s an intensely rich bowl, and not for the faint of heart, while other options include tonkotsu, chilli shoyu and a veggie soba made with a shoyu porcini base. Assemble a spread with sashimi and snacky sides, before refreshing the palate with house made sorbet for dessert.
413 Brunswick St, Fitzroy
Ever heard of pinsa romana? Well it’s about to become your new pizza of choice, thanks to St Kilda’s Flour Child. Their specialty is pinsa, which uses a wheat, soy and rice mix flour along with a unique kneading and rising process that results in a base that’s shatteringly crunchy while remaining soft inside. Sporting a full cocktail-shaking bar and vibey atmosphere, we’re predicting this one will be a favourite for birthdays and boozy group dinners.
Level 1/77 Acland St, St Kilda
Best New Restaurants in Melbourne: January
When acre farm & eatery describes itself as a ‘farm-to-table’ establishment, it’s not just paying lip-service – the urban farm and eatery grows 70 types of produce over 2500 square metres of land. There’s everything from a vertical strawberry garden to a worm farm and quail coop, as well as plots upon plots of root veggies, fruits and greens. They funnel into the rustic farmhouse-style restaurant’s minimal waste, produce-first menu of modern Australian cuisine, well matched with an all-Victorian wine list.
70 Middleborough Rd, Burwood East
Prahran welcomes Nudge Nudge, a lively new spot for modern Thai and inventive cocktails. Tropical drinks like the Bangkok Sour with gin, muskmelon, kaffir and matcha green tea, or the Thai Thai bubbles with citron vodka, fresh basil, lemongrass and coconut will get the party started before snacks and shareplates hit the table. All your favourite noodles and stir fries are on the menu, plus fresh additions like zingy pomelo salad and crispy mussel omelettes topped with salmon tartare – making this the go-to best new restaurant in Prahran for Thai.
132 Greville St, Prahran
Considered one of the best new restaurants in Melbourne, Frankie's isn’t a proper restaurant or a wine bar, but a ramshackle former kebab stand in an empty Collingwood lot. That hasn’t stopped Frankie’s Tortas and Tacos packing out from open to close, with devotees coming from near and far for their next-level tortas – a beloved Mexican street food sandwich. Cheese is grilled into the bread before being layered with black beans, avocado, lettuce, pickles, coriander and then juicy spit roasted pork, crumbed and fried beef or mushrooms. Nab a stool for tacos too, washed down with imported sodas and refreshing horchata.
384 Smith St, Collingwood
The hotpot craze sweeping Melbourne continues with the arrival of Jiyu, which unlike most other purveyors offers Thai-style soups to do your dipping in– the best new restaurant in Melbourne for Thai hotpot. Among the choices are a hot and sour tom yum and coconut-creamy tom kha, into which you throw your choice of fresh seafood, meats, veggies and noodles to create an even more aromatic broth. To cool you down there are fruity cocktails on the menu and smooth coconut sago for dessert, while the jungle-themed décor will transport you straight to the tropics.
1/208 Little Bourke St, Melbourne
Fun fact – the suburb of St Kilda is named after a famous ship that was moored here in the 1840s and shipwrecked off Tahiti. Also taking its name is this spirited new Mediterranean restaurant, though we can assure you that an evening here will end much more pleasantly. Expect summery plates like kingfish ceviche dressed in pineapple chilli, grilled prawn pitas with mango chutney and their signature lima bean hummus loaded with tomatoes, parsley and minced beef, while a full bar mixes tropical cocktails with names like the Tipsy Sailor and Malaga Sunset – the best new restaurant in Melbourne for Thai hotpot.
204 Barkly St, St Kilda
Looking for more of the best new restaurants in Melbourne? We've got plenty of delicious eateries to fuel your appetite. From gourmet burgers and Italian pizza joints, to romantic date nights and boozy brunches, we've whittled down the coolest things to do in Melbourne to make sure your next dinner date is a complete success.
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