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Melbourne Dining

Café Culture
Melbourne Dining
Australian chefs regularly rank among the world’s culinary greats, and many of them call Melbourne home. After training abroad, they often return to the city to work, infusing their food with international flavors and boundless creativity.
Photo courtesy of Collingwood Coffee Colllege
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    Café Culture
    Café Culture
    Melbourne’s emphasis on extraordinary coffee is second to none, meaning aficionados will have their work cut out for them if they want to sample even a fraction of what the city has to offer. Luckily, many of Melbourne’s cafés also serve top-notch breakfasts, so you can begin your quest in the morning as the fog carries the scent of roasting beans through the streets. Start at local favorite Proud Mary with a flat white (Australia’s caffeine hit of choice), Au79 for coffee roasted on-site, or Industry Beans, where coffee meets chemistry. If you want to learn to make the perfect “cuppa” for yourself, take a class at Collingwood Coffee College.
    Photo courtesy of Collingwood Coffee Colllege
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    Fine Dining
    Fine Dining
    Influenced by a range of cultures, Melbourne’s fine-dining scene exhibits a desire to experiment, a love of local ingredients, and a clean aesthetic. Among its biggest stars is chef Andrew McConnell; visit his restaurant, Cutler & Co, for modern dishes that nod to Europe and incorporate rarely used local ingredients like saltbush. Attica, helmed by Ben Shewry, is no less dazzling, with a tasting menu featuring marron (crayfish from Western Australia), kangaroo, and whiting baked in paperbark. You can also experience some of the city’s best, most environmentally conscious food at Shannon Bennett’s Vue de Monde, or explore the flourishing “casual fine dining” scene at Scott Pickett’s Saint Crispin or popular wine bar Embla.
    Photo courtesy of Cutler & Co.
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    Aussie Classics
    Aussie Classics
    While many of Australia’s most famous dishes come from other countries, they’ve managed to weave their way into the fabric of the nation. Fish and chips and meat pies are popular all over the country, but Melbourne does them especially right. Try the former at Hooked on Brunswick Street, or Stokehouse right by the beach in St. Kilda. And for meat pies that are flaky on the outside and perfectly seasoned on the inside, look no further than Dinkum Pies at the Block Arcade. If you’re yearning for something authentically Melbourne, opt for the city’s own invention: dim sims, or “dimmies.” The meat dumplings—inspired by the Chinese version but heartier and with thicker skin—are sold all over the city, but the ones at the South Melbourne Market are particularly beloved.
    Photo by Kristoffer Paulsen
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    Mediterranean Melting Pot
    Mediterranean Melting Pot
    With the biggest Italian community in Australia and the largest Greek population in the world outside of Greece, Melbourne is full of Mediterranean influences—most prominently in Carlton, where the majority of Italians live, and in the Greek Precinct on Lonsdale Street. Be sure to stop by 400 Gradi on Lygon Street, where chef Johnny Di Francesco (winner of the 2014 World Pizza Championships in Parma, Italy) makes the best Neapolitan pies in the city, as well as Tipo 00 for primo pastas. If you’d prefer Greek, head to Stalactites for authentic dishes, or Kalamaki for traditional street food, including excellent souvlaki. For Mediterranean of a different kind, go to Federation Square, where MoVida and MoVida Next Door offer world-class Spanish food from chef Frank Camorra.
    Photo by Kristoffer Paulsen
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    World Food
    World Food
    Melbourne foodies have definitely benefited from a multicultural population. The city’s signature dish, “dimmies,” are clear descendants of Chinese dumplings, while popular street food laksa (coconut curry soup) comes directly from Malaysia. Try the latter at Laksa King, then continue your world tour at Moroccan Soup Bar on St. Georges Road, which has earned a passionate following for its namesake item. Later, snack on tacos at La Tortilleria, pho at Pho Chu The, Seoul-style fried wings at Kong BBQ, or chili beef soup at Co Do in Richmond.
    Photo courtesy of La Tortilleria
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    Chinatown
    Chinatown
    With towering gates, neon signs, and paper lanterns, Chinatown is the most easily recognizable of Melbourne’s multicultural neighborhoods. More impressive than its appearance, however, is its food. Supper Inn has a long-standing reputation for its traditional seafood and noodle dishes, while Shanghai Village draws crowds for its specialty dumplings. Melbourne’s growing ramen scene is also based in Chinatown. For some of the best, try Fukuryu Ramen on Corrs Lane, which has great food and free green-tea soft-serve.
    Photo courtesy of Tourism Victoria
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    Yarra Valley Wine Country
    Yarra Valley Wine Country
    An hour outside of Melbourne lies the Yarra Valley, one of Australia’s most consistently lauded wine regions. The area offers at least 50 wine cellars to visit, from big producers to small-batch independents, as well as a genuine friendliness that’s unique to tightly knit communities. Kings of Kangaroo Ground hand-prunes vines to make its artisan wines, while Domaine Chandon, located on a Victorian-era homestead and owned by Moët & Chandon, is credited with spearheading the Australian sparkling wine trend. If you’d rather have a beer, head to Coldstream Brewery for a pint and a pizza.
    Photo courtesy of Tourism Victoria
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    Melbourne’s Craft Cocktails
    Melbourne’s Craft Cocktails
    Craft cocktails are booming in Melbourne, with speakeasies and mixologist bars cropping up all over the city. Eau de Vie in Malthouse Lane boasts more than 700 spirits, an extensive cocktail list, and a whiskey room hidden behind a fake bookcase, while award-winning Black Pearl on Brunswick Street offers unique tipples and table service in its secret area, The Attic. South of the Yarra, Zhou Zhou is an experimental bar with a great selection of Asian beers. If you’re visiting in February or March during the Melbourne Food & Wine Festival, try to score a seat on the Speakeasy Cocktail Tram.
    Photo courtesy of Black Pearl
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    Whimsical Desserts
    Whimsical Desserts
    If you have a sweet tooth, Melbourne is your city. Here, dessert bar Om Nom offers whimsical treats like the Raspberry Field, sculpted to look like Technicolor mushrooms, while Brunetti on Lygon Street boasts gelato and every Italian baked good under the sun. If you’re more of a cake person, head to Burch & Purchese Sweet Studio, though be warned—the gâteaux are so pretty, you might not want to eat them. At Melbourne’s fine-dining establishments, pastry chefs are as renowned as the executive chefs themselves. Take, for example, Attica, where the Plight of the Bees dessert (made with honey curd, cracked meringue, mango, and freeze-dried apple shavings) is so unique that it arrives at your table in a box made of Tasmanian oak. If all of these special sweets have you inspired to sharpen your own kitchen skills, take a cooking class at The Essential Ingredient, where Melbourne’s best chefs lead the lessons.
    Photo courtesy of Tourism Victoria