From the bustling Victoria and Errol Streets to the quiet pockets around Queensberry Street, North Melbourne sits nestled a stone’s throw away from the city’s CBD edge. This former working-class suburb has evolved over time and today has a very bohemian and multicultural feel to the place.
Alongside classy bars and dolled up gastro pubs, North Melbourne is an underrated food hub the locals have been keeping secret for a while now. For the gastronome, this small part of town really is a melting pot for different food cultures. Korean, Vietnamese, Mexican, Italian, Mauritian and Ethiopian all make up this neighbourhood’s food landscape.
We’ve put together our list of the best restaurants to try in North Melbourne. After a day’s shopping at the nearby Queen Victoria Market, take the short walk over and taste some of the best food this area has to offer.
The 113-year-old pub standing on the corner of Queensberry and Peel St has had many different iterations over the decades. New owners Phil Gijsbers and Neil Mills have brought together their years of hospitality experience to transform the place into a modern version of its former self, with a considered menu, while still offering punters the opportunity to come in and have a drink.
The kitchen has an Italian-flare and does sharing plates and snack food along with delicious hand rolled pasta. Gorgeous dishes like the orecchiette with pistachio pesto, the spaghetti with squid, lemon and herbs, and the chilli mussels with housemade bread and butter show that this is no regular pub menu. Chef Sean Manning builds his specials menu based on the whatevers looks good at Queen Vic Market that week.
Bobbie Peels interior is dark and stylish, perfect for a cosy evening grazing and enjoying a glass or two of wine. The bar continues the pubs spirit of serving independant and craft beer, along with a range of modern and classic style wines that pair perfectly with the food on offer.
Footscray and Richmond aren’t the only places to go for authentic Pho. This staple on Victoria Street has constant queues and serves up aromatic bowls to regular locals all week long.
Pho Victoria’s owner Loi-Lee takes his cooking seriously, brewing the stock for ten hours to create a richly sweet broth that goes into his popular noodle soups. The pho may be the star of the show but there are plenty of other dishes worthy of attention, with the broken rice, salted fish, and vermicelli salad with spring rolls among the house favourites.
Pho Victoria has all the things we’ve come to love about Vietnamese dining; cheap seats, trinkets on the walls and counter, a tray full of condiments and complimentary tea on the table. This coupled with the low-fi chaos and, of course, the smell of fresh ingredients coming forming the kitchen, makes Pho victoria well worth a visit.
Address: 372 Victoria St, North Melbourne VIC 3051
Quite possibly the only Melbourne wine bar with a Mauritian menu, Chef Nagesh Seethiah pays homage to his heritage by serving the food he knows best. After spending time in the kitchens of Bar Liberty and Bar Rocheford, Seethia began Manze as a series of pop-ups restaurants and take-away before he committed his vision to a bricks and mortar outpost on Errol Street, bringing the flavour of Mauritius to modern dishes.
They keep it simple at Manze, with a small dedicated team putting together a nightly set-menu that changes with whatever great produce is in season. The menu centres around vegetarian and seafood dishes and generally spans over 5-courses coming as small bites, entree, main and dessert. Moira Tirtha, founder of Veraison wine magazine, puts together a cleverly constructed wine list.
Be sure to book ahead. Manze is a small space with only 24 seats, and popular timeslots often book out weeks in advance. They save a table or two every night for walk-ups, but if you wanna guarantee your seat, you might need to set your alarm six weeks in advance, when time slots open for bookings. It’s well worth the effort.
Nestled along Victoria street is El Sabor, a great little local cantina with a bustling local vibe. This place has a fun and friendly atmosphere, with lots of light, colour and Aztec artwork adorning the walls. The downstairs dining area offers cosy booths and bar seating and there is an upstairs dining room available for functions and larger groups.
The kitchen does a nice job of Mexican classics, using fresh and traditional ingredients to create authentic and tasty fare. To start, the grilled corn smeared with chipotle mayo and feta has that sweet flavour you hope for when it’s charred. They make ceviche with whatever fish looks good on the day at nearby Queen Vic Market and the nachos are a local favourite. Like most Mexican places, the most popular items on the menu are the tacos, and El Sabor knows how to make one, with six to choose from including marinated chicken, el pastor pork and Baja-style fish, along with a pretty decent vegan taco.
The drinks menu has all the Mexican staples, Corona’s, Pacificos and Tecates along with margaritas, tequila sunrises and palomas on the cocktail list. To stay quenched booze-free, they do a mean horchata, the full range of Jarritos Mexican soft drinks and a bunch of fun mocktails. Check out their weekly specials that offer yummy weeknight combos that will fill you up without breaking the bank.
White tablecloth service with dim lighting and a relaxed, cosy vibe makes this hidden North Melbourne gem well worth a visit. Sosta Cucina is a throwback to classic restaurants with traditional settings and high quality Italian fare.
You can tell the kitchen puts a lot of love into their craft, with delicate, hand-crafted pasta and seasonal Italian food, including gluten-free options. Dishes are prepared with the highest attention to detail. The gnocchi sorrentina with buffalo mozzarella, the pappardelle with slow cooked lamb ragu, and the cotoletta di vitello lamb cutlets are just a few of the menu highlights
Whether it be a casual dinner, birthday, date or family get together, Sosta Cucina has you covered with a set menu and A La Carte options. Entertaining and knowledgeable, you can tell the waitstaff enjoy what they are doing. They can guide you through the wine list, specials and some of their personal favourites from the menu.
Formerly two separate entities, Joe Taylor and Oskar Pizza have joined forces on Errol Street to give North Melbourne locals the pizza and cocktail venue they never realised they needed. A fun place for a first date or great spot to catch up with friends, the staff are passionate about their pizza and cocktails and are happy to run you through their favourites on the menu.
The menu revolves around the wood-fired pizzas of course, with the San Danielle prosciutto, bull boar sausage and roast pumpkin among the favourites. If you’re looking for something lighter to accompany your cocktail, the kitchen offers charcuterie and cheese boards, as well marinated olives, pork meatballs and a range of tasty croquettes.
The place offers Wine and Dine deals on Mondays and Tuesdays and cocktail specials throughout the week to keep things fresh. If you’re here during the day, be sure to check out Hot Poppy cafe next door, which is also mentioned in our Guide To North Melbourne’s Best Cafes.
This family-run Italian beauty has been a North Melbourne staple since the 1950’s and is still the go-to for locals wanting a quality night out. Always busy and bustling, an old school Italian place wouldn’t be right without original photos adorning the walls of long-retired owners Guy and Paula Amiconi along with friends, family and local celebrities that have eaten here.
With so many buzz-restaurants clogging up Melbourne foodie’s to-do lists, there’s something comforting when you come back to the places that stand the test of time and still hold their own. Amiconi has wonderful, hearty and home-cooked Italian food you can tell has been passed on with love from generation to generation.
The team at Amiconi treats every guest like family. Whether it’s your first meal with them or ninety-first, they pride themselves on making you feel like you’re at home. They even offer BYO. That said, it’s worth leaving your bottles at home, as their hand- picked selection of local and Italian house wine that pairs perfectly with every dish.
This hidden gem dishes up some of the best Ethiopian food in Melbourne. For those new to African food, think aromatic spice combinations paired with fresh ingredients in stews, curries and vegetarian dishes. The restaurant is great for a night out with friends to share combination plates and try a little of everything.
Menu highlights include the split lentil stew, mashed fava bean “fool”,slow cooked spiced lamb and the sauteed shrimp. Like many African restaurants, Little Africa encourages its guests to eat the traditional way with their hands. Everyone is catered for here though, and if you’re a little unused to using your hands there’s cutlery available.
The friendly staff are always smiling and are happy to guide you through some of the kitchen favourites. The place isn’t huge which creates a nice and cosy atmosphere, but might mean it’s worth calling ahead to book a table, as it often gets busy.
The word Hallah is derived from the name of South Korea’s highest mountain peak, and does not refer to halal food, as some may be mistaken. The mountain sits on Jesu Island, a popular holiday destination in South Korea that is renowned for its food and culture. With this in mind, Hallah Korean BBQ invokes these cultures and traditions to treat its guests to the comforts of Jesu style dining.
The BBQ set menus take centre stage with Korean spiced and marinated meats melting in your mouth with every bite. Much of the menu, like the kimchi and soups, are made in-house. You might have a hard time deciding on what to order here, as the bulgogi bowls and hot pots are just as good as the BBQ dishes.
This place is popular amongst Korean expats and locals in the know. It gets busy in the evenings, so don’t be surprised if you have to line up for a few minutes.
The Town Hall Hotel has been serving thirsty north Melbourne locals since 1872, and the quality pub grub has made the perfect painting to the cold and frosty beers they serve. With the staff playing their favourite tunes in the front bar, there is a real sticky carpet atmosphere here.
Whether in the rowdy front bar, the cosy dining room or out in the beer garden, the meals are hearty, the atmosphere is warm and the staff and locals are welcoming. The kitchen offers all the classics, including steak sandwiches with sauteed onions on a turkish bread, beer battered fish and chips, chicken parmas, black angus porterhouse steaks, and a rotating roast of the day. Vegetarians are well looked after also, with lentil shepherd’s pie, veggie lasagna and eggplant parmigiana.
Once you’re well fed, stick around to watch some local and emerging bands strut their stuff on stage, or get in on the Townie Trivia Night every Tuesday.
Whether you’re after cheap and cheerful, a bit more luxe, or something you haven’t tried before, North Melbourne covers everything on the food spectrum. If you’re planning to stay in town, the boutique apartments Veriu Queen Vic Market are right around the corner from all these great restaurant options.