You’ve booked for Harry Potter and the Cursed Child and need to fit in a meal between theatre sessions? No matter what you’re in the mood for, you will find it in Melbourne. From rooftop drinks, to cheap eats, or indulgent dining experience – there is something for all tastes, time and budgets.
Cheap eats in and around Chinatown
Stroll down Little Bourke Street and choose from the dizzying array of delicious and authentic cheap eats. There’ll be time to stop in a bar for a cheeky drink afterwards. Local favourites include long-time student haunt Shanghai Dumpling House, known for its speedy service and generous serves. There’s also the ever-busy Shanghai Street and ShanDong MaMa, famous for its authentic flavours and friendly hospitality. Or head to Ajisen Ramen, for fresh Japanese, specialising in tonkotsu ramen, donburi and bento. Read Cheap Chinatown eats for more ideas.
Near to Princess Theatre
Within a couple of nearby city blocks, there’s tempting aromas from all around the world, beckoning you to pull up a pew and peruse the menu. Wicked cocktails and tidy wine lists complete the package. Options close to Princess Theatre include Grand Trailer Park Taverna, a casual burger-and-bar diner with a dreamy balcony; mouth-watering Sardinian fare at Pomodoro Sardo; American BBQ purveyors Fancy Hank’s and The European on Spring Street. Tasty Argentinian fare can be found at laneway steakhouse San Telmo; delicious Thai and a buzzing vibe at Magic Mountain; and budget-friendly pizza, pasta and beer at Tazio. Collins Quarter has multiple bars, an outdoor courtyard and a menu of modern European eats, or get together over on tacos and tequila at Touche Hombre.
If you’re making it a really special night out at the theatre, consider adjourning to one of these well-established restaurants, boasting top shelf reputations. People-watching opportunities par excellence are a bonus. Longgrain offers South-East Asian fare that’s big on flair, while nearby Punch Lane is favoured theatre dining haunt with a seasonal Mod Oz menu. For modern seasonal Italian, head to Becco, while sake with exquisite sharing plates can be found at Izakaya Den. The hidden underground haunt Meatmaiden features a wood burning smoker and delivers slow-cooked meats, along with eclectic cocktails.
Hard-to-get-into foodie hotspots
Some of the hottest restaurants in town are also the hardest to get into, but the 4pm to 7pm window between shows is your chance to casually turn up and avoid the wait. Offering super tasty tacos and premium tequila, Mamasita has been drawing the crowds to the top end of Collins Street for over a decade. Cumulus Inc, around the corner, serves up fresh flavours and produce that sings in a light and airy dining hall. Over on Flinders Lane, other favourites include: Chin Chin, hawker-style dining that packs a flavoursome punch; Supernormal, with elegant Asian sharing plates and legendary lobster roll; and Meatball and Wine Bar, home of reliably delicious meatballs with your choice of sauces and carb bases.
Tricky to find and glorious to be in rooftop bars are a Melbourne obsession, and in the summer they come into their own. Brave the stairs or locate the lift and find yourself a prime vantage point to enjoy a tipple in the open air. Some nearby options include retro-styled Good Heavens above BBQ joint Fancy Hanks, the up-high beer garden on the Imperial Rooftop, and Heroes, offering multi-levels of hawker food and fun. Siglo, an understated and sophisticated rooftop above The European on Spring Street, and the party-vibe of QT Rooftop, are great date-night options. Or head a couple blocks further down on Lonsdale Street, and stake out a place on the Emerald Peacock for beautiful views of the city skyline.
Coffee and cake
Perk yourself up with a cup of Melbourne’s finest brews and a slice of decadent cake. Coffee is a religion in Melbourne, but the search for the holy grail of coffee is unending! Always reliable options include Pellegrini’s, the original Italian espresso bar and a coffee institution since 1954; cafe and creative space Self Preservation; and International Diethnes Cakes, with its myriad of Mediterranean sweet treats. Further down on Flinders Lane, Brunetti is a coffee-and-cake behemoth which does a brisk trade in all-day Italian dining. $10 spritzes are served in its back bar till late. For more great options, hunt down the most Melbourne ways to have coffee.
Want do more than just wine and dine? Check out our list of things to do between the show, including parks, street art and shopping.