Melbourne & Sydney: how to spend 48 hours eating and drinking


Over the weekend I was lucky enough to spend a few days in Melbourne.

It’s one of those places that the more often you visit, the more you want to spend time exploring every laneway.

I was in town to see Rene Redzepi from Noma (currently, the world’s best restaurant) and David Chang from Momofuku speak at the Melbourne Food & Wine Festival. Both totally inspirational.

But rather than talk chefs and their philosophy, I thought I’d share my favourite Melbourne eating and drinking tips…

NOTE: If you’re looking for eating out tips on Sydney or other cities such as New York, San Francisco and Barcelona head over to the Stonesoup Travel Guide.

How to spend 48 hours eating & drinking in Melbourne

Breakfast Day 1. Kinfolk

One of my favourite cafes ever. Kinfolk is a great little spot for a coffee, breakfast or quick lunch. It’s totally non-profit and all the proceeds go to a variety of charities. Vote with a coffee bean on the way out for the charity you’d like to support. Love the teapot light shades.
update: On a recent visit I had lunch at Kinfolk – still great but think their breakfasts are better.

Lunch Day 1. San Telmo
Only open 3 months, this Argentinian inspired restaurant is the place to go if you’re in need of a serious protein fix. Make sure you try the 8 hour slow roasted lamb. Oh, and surprisingly, one of the standout dishes is the fried broccoli with ricotta salata. So don’t skimp on the veg!
update: The breakfast menu at San Telmo is out of this world. Actually had one of the best breakfasts I’ve had in recent memory. There’s even a breakfast steak dish – love it!

Dinner Day 1. Cumulus Inc
Cumulus is easily my favourite Melbourne restaurant. I just adore the casual atmosphere and huge windows. And the fresh, modern flavours. It’s the type of place where you can make it as quick and casual or long and leisurely as you like. Don’t miss the cauliflower or the tuna with fresh peas. The only down side is you can’t book, so make sure you go early and settle in for the evening.

Breakfast Day 2. Cumulus Inc
Yes it’s that good. I’d happily have dinner there and then back up for breakkie. The breakfast vibe is more relaxed and the menu simple and classic. Highly recommend the baked Turkish eggs.

Lunch Day 2. The Stokehouse
Melbourne isn’t known for its beaches or meals-with-a-view. Thankfully there’s the Stokehouse when you’re in the mood for a long boozy lunch with a view.
update: I recently had a lovely dinner at the Stokehouse. It was probably the best meal I’ve ever had there. Good to see an old classic going from strength to strength. If you’re having dinner go early so you can enjoy the sunset.

Dinner Day 2. One of the Movidas
It’s hard not to love the modern Spanish inspired food at Movida. If you’re organised book yourself a table at either the original Movida or Movida Aqui. If you’re more last minute, try to get to Movida Next Door early to snag a table.
update: Had a brilliant casual dinner in the bar area of Movida Aqui, previously I’d thought it was the poorer cousin to the original but this meal changed my mind. Especially enjoyed watching the action in the kitchen.

If you have more time…

Dead Man Espresso
Coffee may be the focus at this sunny cafe near the South Melbourne Markets, but the breakfasts are worth travelling across town for.

Earl Canteen
Named for the Earl of Sandwich, this is THE place to go for seriously amazing sandwiches. Run by fellow food blogger, the lovely Jack of ‘Eating with Jack’.

Bar Lourinha
If you can’t get into Movida, this is the next best thing. The menu is more Portugese and the decor a little more eclectic but the chorizo are just as good. Ditto the sherry.

Bistro Gitane
A lovely leafy outlook and warm inviting space. The food is modern bistro with enough twists to keep it interesting. Can’t wait to come back in Winter and hang out by the huge fireplace near the bar.

Pei Modern
Open less than a week, Mark Best’s ‘casual’ Melbourne outpost is well worth a visit. The food is more fine dining and fancy than expected, but still super delicious and without the fine dining price tag.

If you’re hankering after a great pizza, Ladro is your best bet.

Izakaya Den
As close as things get to a real Japanese Izakaya or pub in Australia. Cool downstairs space. If you’ve spent much time in Tokyo, you might be a little disappointed but better than no sake or sushi.

Rockpool Bar & Grill
The Sydney version wins in terms of the space. But both are on par for brilliant simply cooked food from the grill. The only problem is narrowing down your choice.

Giuseppe Arnaldo & Sons
Brilliant for casual modern Italian at a reasonable price. My Irishman adores the roast spuds along with pretty much everything else on the menu. If you’re going to Sydney though, I’d go to North Bondi Italian instead. Same delicious menu with beachy views.
UPDATE: This restaurant has now closed.

On my list for next time…

Meatball Wine Bar
Loosely based on the fabulous Meatball Shop in New York. I did try and have breakfast here in early Oct but they weren’t doing breakfast food just yet. By now they should be in full swing for all day dining. Can’t wait to try it!

Dainty Sichuan
Apparently David Chang’s (of Momofuku) favourite restaurant in Melbourne. Be prepared for lots of heat!

The highest ranking Melbourne restaurant on the S. Pellegrino best restaurant list. After hearing the humble chef, Ben Shewry speak of his inspiration and his passion for local ingredients, I’m very curious to see how it all translates onto the plate!

A casual Spanish place on Gertrude St.

Monk Bodhi Dharma
All my Melbourne mate who are into their coffee rave about this place in out of the way Balaclava. I’ve been assured it’s worth the trip.

I have a soft spot for Turkish food after spending 6 weeks backpacking there years ago. So always up for trying Turkish restaurants closer to home.
UPDATE: This restaurant has now closed.

Named after the Persian poet. Serving modern Middle Eastern flavours.

A newish food store and eatery in Flinders Lane with a great sounding menu.

updated: October 2012

With love,
Jules x

ps. For future reference, there’s a ‘TRAVEL’ link in the nav menu above if you’re ever looking for Stonesoup travel tips again.


  • This post is gold! Cumulus is one of my favourite brunch spots in Melbourne. Wish I can go back soon, to try the others out.

  • I never been to Australia but it is definitely on my traveling list. I´ll have this bookmarked for when that occasion arises. Thank you!.

  • I love all your posts, but this was fantastic, I am so keeping it for our next visit to Melbourne, loved the variety of choices and the enthusiasm you have for all variety of food. Thank you.

  • I’m a Melbournian and think you’ve made a wonderful foodie list. Cumulus definitely warrants the double mention!
    I have just been reading about Rene Redzepi’s Nordic Manifesto at and find him inspiring!

  • Loved the post. I visited Sydney and Melbourne back in the early 90’s and found the food to be outstanding. I was overwhelmed by the number of first class bakery selections on only one street. At a restaurant in Melbourne I had my first taset of top rate Malasian food and Sydney had some of the very best Asian food I’d ever had. Thanks for the post, it made my mouth water and brought back fond memories.

  • Fleur
    Thanks so much for the thumbs up from a native Melbournian! It means a lot.

    Thanks for sharing your experience of Australian food… I’d say a lot has changed since the early 90s.. but in a good way!

  • This post couldn’t have come at a more appropriate time given I’ve spent the last 17 hours in Melbourne!

    Lunch at Kinfolk was yum – kipfler potato salad with soft boiled egg… need I say more?

    Dinner at San Telmo was brilliant – I agree the lamb and broccoli were stand out dishes – along with the roasted sweet potato with spring onions!

    Thanks for the suggestions Jules – I’ll be keen to visit more on your list the next time I’m in Melbourne

  • Thanks for the tips Jules! V. helpful for me, as I’m moving from the UK to Australia later this year (if everything goes smoothly).

    Btw, how do you get that cool scratchy effect on the edges of your pictures? I’d love to steal that for my own site ;)

    Cheers, Benedict

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