Melbourne is known for being the food capital of Australia. A melting pot of cuisines, you'll find something from every stretch of the world in this city.
It's also home to an extensive array of innovative restaurants, with chefs and bakers upgrading regular food staples with a Melburnian spin that you'll never forget. If you’re feeling peckish (as the Aussies say), we found 12 foods you have to try in Melbourne.
Alright, alright, you can get coffee anywhere, we know. But Melburnians are notorious for being coffee snobs—and for a good reason. The coffee Down Under is strong, yet finely crafted. When you’re in town, order a flat white, and prepare to shell out between AU$5–7 for a perfectly brewed coffee. It’s worth it to try one from a specialty cafe such as Higher Ground, Brother Baba Budan, or Axil Coffee Roasters. Careful, though: You might never be able to drink Starbucks again.
Golden Gaytime Cheesecake on a Stick
You read that right. A Golden Gaytime is toffee and vanilla ice cream that's been dipped in chocolate and coated in honeycomb crumbs. Lisa Dib, owner of pop-up dessert bar Stix, made this beloved Aussie treat into a cheesecake flavor, chilled it, then stuck a slice on a stick to create an instant favorite Melbourne snack. Australians will say it tastes like a Golden Gaytime, only ten times better. You tell us. Stix opens every night at 5 p.m. in Coburg.
These are not your average doughnuts. When you’re walking around Melbourne, you may notice a few storefronts with fancy, decorated pastries on display. They’ll make you do a double take, whip out that phone camera, and post an Instagram. Yes, they’re that beautiful. Places like Doughboys Doughnuts and Bistro Morgan have a rotating menu of doughnut flavors such as French Toast, Gaytime Crunch, and Cookie Monster. If you’re searching for a classic, American Doughnut Kitchen at Queen Victoria Market serves the best jam-filled doughnuts around. Oh, and don’t overlook the pulled pork and maple bacon doughnut from Slider Diner.
An excellent espresso martini is valued—scratch that—admired by Melburnians. Sure, the drink costs an arm and a leg (about AU$18–20), but that’s the price to sip on coffee-flavored alcohol to get the buzz going. The best espresso martinis can be found at Arbory Bar and Eatery, where you can order a nitro espresso martini on tap, and at Mr. Myagi. The cocktail here is called “cold drip martini” and blends shochu, vodka, coffee, and sake coated with white chocolate foam.
Melburnians do burgers a bit differently. They’re still big and juicy, but here, they’re decorated to perfection. You’ll find squid ink buns, doughnut buns, matcha buns, charcoal buns, and don’t even get us started on the gourmet toppings. To eat a burger like an Aussie, order it with beetroot topping. PHAT Pizza Burger Bar does a vegetarian version of this: a zucchini fritter burger topped with grilled halloumi, spicy mayo, beetroot, tomato, onion, and lettuce. Then there’s One Plus Piece that serves a mean Angus beef cheeseburger, complete with beetroot, lettuce, jalapeños, caramelized onions, sweet chili, and mayo.
Chicken pahh-mee, as the Aussies call it, isn’t strictly a Melburnian food, but it is proudly Australian. It’s an extra-large breaded chicken breast that’s deep-fried and covered in red sauce and melted mozzarella cheese. It’s usually accompanied by heaps of French fries and a petite side salad. It’s a filling meal, and definitely a must-try food when you visit Melbourne. Chicken parmesan is a staple pub feed that you’ll find at La Roche, The Local Taphouse, and The Grosvenor Hotel.
As stereotyped as avocado toast is, it doesn’t stop Melburnians from loving it. Melbourne cafes get crafty creating different versions of the beloved breakfast item. Places like Muharam Cafe make kimchi and avo toast topped with crispy enoki mushrooms, radish, and kewpie sesame mayo. Then it’s simply turned into artwork at Light Years Cafe as they do a pixel avocado that is almost too beautiful to eat. Go on, enjoy a devilishly good avocado toast in Melbourne, we won’t tell anyone.
The cronnoli is a recently invented masterpiece from M&G Caiafa in Queen Victoria Market. Basically, it’s the love child of a croissant and a cannoli. The bakers at this Melbourne cafe filled a buttery croissant with the sweet, creamy ricotta of a cannoli. It’s offered in different, limited-time flavors such as Oreo, blood orange, and pistachio. How’s that for innovation?
It’s a right of passage to try a meat pie when you’re in Australia. It’s exactly as it sounds: a mini pie filled with marinated meat. You can get wild with this meal (a snack to some) by getting crafty with the filling. Go for the popular lamb, goat cheese, and truffle pie at Princes Pies, or the chicken, mushroom, and tarragon pie from Pure Pies. Warning: You’ll need to sit down and use plenty of napkins when eating a meat pie. It gets messy—but in the best way possible.
If you haven’t noticed by now, Australians love their desserts. Lamingtons are 100% Aussie, made with sponge cake that’s layered in chocolate sauce and dipped in shaved coconut. It’s a sweet treat to have after a day of exploring and pairs perfectly with a cup of coffee or hot tea. You can find out-of-this-world lamingtons at Candied Bakery or Tivoli Road Bakery. We won’t blame you for ordering two.
As you’re walking around the city of Melbourne, you’ll notice heaps of signs for bubble tea. It may be a Taiwanese-invented drink, but Melburnians jumped on the bubble tea train and made it their own. The drink varies in flavor and size, but at its core, it’s milk tea topped with custard, jelly, or foam and filled with chewy tapioca balls. If you already love bubble tea, try it at Gotcha or Tmix. Don’t be surprised if you see a line wrapped around the corner at either of these places.
Fairy floss is Australia’s version of cotton candy, but Melbourne does it a bit differently. It's still a sugar-spun confection, but it’s been upgraded to make eating fairy floss more of an experience. Try the fairy floss at Son In Law, where it's made into larger-than-life cartoon characters. If you happen to be enjoying a sunny day at Luna Park, grab a gigantic hot pink fairy floss from one of the cafes and snap a photo before you devour all of it.