Melbourne Dining

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Melbourne Dining
Melbourne's dining scene is buzzing, a reflection of the city's trademark creativity and multicultural mindset. The food is inspired, paying homage to the past while drawing from wide-ranging contemporary influences.
Photo courtesy of Industry Beans
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    Café Culture
    Melbourne's emphasis on extraordinary coffee is second to none, and 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 some of the city's best breakfast, so you can begin your quest in the morning as fog rolls through the city's lanes and carries the smell of roasting coffee beans. Start at local favorite Proud Mary for a flat white, Australia's caffeine hit of choice, or venture to Industry Beans, where coffee meets chemistry. From there—well, just follow your nose.
    Photo courtesy of Industry Beans
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    Fine Dining
    The fine dining scene in Melbourne exhibits a range of influences and is characterized by a desire to experiment, a love of local ingredients, and a clean aesthetic. Chef Andrew McConnell is one of the stars; visit Cutler & Co for a modern menu with nods to Spain, plus rarely utilized local ingredients like saltbush. Attica, helmed by Ben Shewry, is no less dazzling; the tasting menu features marron (crayfish from Western Australia), kangaroo, and whiting baked in paperbark. Vue de Monde is not only one of the city's best restaurants—chef Shannon Bennett has turned it into arguably the most environmentally conscious, too. Flower Drum, possibly the city's most expensive restaurant, features a Chinese menu using the best Australian produce.
    Photo courtesy of Cutler & Co.
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    Aussie Classics
    Although many of Australia's most famous dishes have been imported from other countries, they have still woven their way into the fabric of the nation. Fish and chips and meat pies are popular all over the country, but Melbourne certainly knows how to do them right. Try the former at Hooked, on Brunswick Street. Dinkum Pies at the Block Arcade makes meat pies that are flaky on the outside and perfectly seasoned inside. You can't visit Melbourne without trying the city's own invention: dim sims, or "dimmies." These meat dumplings—Chinese-inspired but thicker skinned and much heartier—are sold all over the city, but the ones from the South Melbourne Market are by far the most beloved.
    Photo by Ellen Callaway/age fotostock
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    Mediterranean Melting Pot
    Melbourne boasts the biggest Italian community in Australia and the largest Greek population in the world outside of Greece. These Mediterranean influences show up all over the city—most prominently in Carlton, where the Italian community is based, and in the Greek Precinct on Lonsdale Street. Be sure to stop at 400 Gradi on Lygon Street, where chef Johnny Di Francesco makes some of the best Neapolitan pizza found anywhere: He won the 2014 World Pizza Championships in Parma, Italy. On Lonsdale Street you can find authentic Greek food 24/7 at Stalactites, while Kalamaki serves up Greek street food, including excellent souvlaki. Near Federation Square, MoVida and MoVida Next Door do world-class Spanish food headed up by chef Frank Camorra.
    Photo by Antonio Capone/age fotostock
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    World Food
    The influx of people from around the world has certainly worked to the benefit of Melbourne's ultra-passionate foodies. Dimmies, a dish which many would call as Melburnian as it gets, are clear descendants of smaller Chinese dumplings. Malaysian laksa, a coconut curry soup, has become one of the city's favorite street foods; stop by Laksa King to try it. Continuing your world food tour, try Moroccan Soup Bar on St. Georges Road, which has certainly earned its passionate following. Later, snack on tacos at La Tortilleria, pho at Pho Chu, or chili beef soup at Richmond's Co Do. Thai, Indian, Lebanese . . . whatever you crave, you'll find it celebrated in Melbourne.
    Photo courtesy of La Tortilleria
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    With towering gates, red neon signs, and paper lanterns, Chinatown is the most easily recognizable of Melbourne's multicultural neighborhoods. The food does not disappoint. Supper Inn has a long-standing reputation and an excellent selection of traditional seafood dishes. Perhaps because of the ubiquitous dimmies, Melbourne is dumpling crazy, and specialists like Shanghai Village are crowded with good reason. Late at night, Supper Inn will keep you waiting in a stairwell but is definitely worth it. The food is superb; try the crispy noodles with seafood. Though it isn't Chinese, Melbourne's growing ramen scene is also based in Chinatown. One favorite spot is Fukuryu Ramen on Corrs Lane, with good food and free green tea soft-serve.
    Photo courtesy of Tourism Victoria
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    Yarra Valley Wine Country
    An hour outside of Melbourne lies the Yarra Valley, one of Australia's most consistently lauded wine regions. There are at least 50 wine cellars to visit, from big producers to small-batch independents, and the region has that genuine sense of friendliness that is unique to tightly knit communities. At Kings of Kangaroo Ground, you'll find artisan wines made of grapes picked from hand-pruned vines—and sold out of Australia's only post office/winery! Domaine Chandon, which spearheaded the Australian sparkling wine trend, is built at a Victorian-era homestead and owned by Moët & Chandon. If you'd rather have a beer, Coldstream Brewery pulls a great pint and also serves pizza.
    Photo courtesy of Tourism Victoria
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    Melbourne's Craft Cocktails
    Tinctures in tiny glass vials line the bar and hand-cut ice cubes clink in your crystal tumbler—craft cocktails are booming in Melbourne, with speakeasies and mixologist bars cropping up all over. Eau de Vie in Malthouse Lane is home to more than 700 back-bar spirits, an extensive cocktail list, and a whisky room hidden behind a fake bookcase. 24 Moons pairs cocktails with pop-up art events. South of the Yarra, Zhou Zhou is an experimental and progressive bar with a great selection of Asian beers. If your stay overlaps with the Melbourne Food & Wine Festival (held in February and March), try to nab a seat on the Speakeasy Cocktail Tram.
    Photo courtesy of Zhou Zhou
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    Whimsical Desserts
    If you have a sweet tooth, take note: Melbourne is an amazing dessert destination. Dessert bars like Om Nom create whimsical wonders like the Raspberry Field, sculpted to look like technicolor mushrooms. At Brunetti on Lygon Street, you can find gelato and every type of Italian baked good you've heard of—plus a few that you haven't. Find an Adriano Zumbo bakery for Australia's take on the cronut, and every version of macaron imaginable. Pastry chefs at Melbourne's fine dining establishments are as renowned as executive chefs. If you need convincing, consider Attica restaurant's Plight of the Bees, with honey curd, cracked meringue, mango, and freeze-dried apple shavings, a dessert so unique it arrives in a box made of Tasmanian oak.
    Photo courtesy of Tourism Victoria