Heading to the tennis? We’ve gathered some ace places to dine that are an easy tram ride or walk away. From bar snacks to indulgent meals, Melbourne serves up just what you want before, after or between matches.
Great value Italian
Surely there’s no faster, tastier, good-value meal on the planet than pizza? Tazio Birraria & Pizzeria ticks all three boxes, with toppings like Tassie smoked salmon and Meredith goats cheese. They have frequent specials, including one-litre champagne cocktail jugs for $39.50 all summer long on weekends and from 7pm Fridays. Saluti!
From 5pm, drop by Brunetti City in Flinders Lane for Brunetti Aperitivo Italiano. $20 gets you a drink, cicchetti all night and live entertainment. The cicchetti menu includes arancini, olive ascolane, crostini misti, prosciutto e melone and pizza e focaccia con prosciutto. Drinks include multiple spritz flavours, Negroni, Americano, Bellini, and rosé, with extra drinks just $10. Fridays 18, 25 Jan and 1 February (also on offer at Brunetti Carlton on 1 February).
Serving affordable meals (including eye-catching dinner specials) from lunch until late every day, Il Pom Italian at Federation Square is a good Plan A. Fancy a quick afternoon focaccia? Want to cap off a great day with a long, leisurely feast that starts with prosecco and ends with tiramisu? It’s love-all at this little pocket of Italy in Federation Square.
Lello Pasta Bar sure does good pasta, but you might want to check out their authentic, crisp-crust pizzas too. Especially on summertime Mondays, both lunch and dinner, when it’s $25 for a Peroni Red beer and any pizza on the menu. The only challenge is deciding which one, from the classic Margherita to the Messina topped with tiger prawns.
On The Duke Of Wellington’s rooftop, with views of Fed Square and The Forum, you’d never know this joint dates from 1853. Melbourne’s oldest pub recently emerged from a schmick, top-to-toe renovation, with a smart menu to match. So everything from breakfast to late-night snacks and cocktails are a very cool, very tasty 21st century pub experience.
With three sprawling floors and food options ranging from steamed bao to 300 grams of sirloin, Garden State Hotel suits every mood. The shady, indoor-outdoor greenhouse-like atmosphere of the beer garden is our top tip at this time of year though. Especially if you’ve got a Miami Vice slushie in hand – cheers!
At Beer De Luxe, tennis is on the big screens throughout the venue, all tournament long. Plus you can see Federation Square’s giant screen from the burger bar. Australian brews, and some Kiwis and ciders, are on tap to wash down posh beer-friendly bites like red curried pork sausage rolls.
Alfresco and waterside dining
A rooftop terrace with a high-Victorian vista of the Princess Theatre and Parliament, Siglo Bar oozes smart-casual class. Enjoy refined snacks like caviar and charcuterie with something from the delightful drinks list. Whether you’re craving a classic cocktail or a bottle of Champagne, it’s calling every night until 3am.
The pretty city views along Fatto Bar & Cantina’s riverside terrace don’t necessarily come with an eye-watering bill. This casual Italian’s yummy $10 pizzas and $5 Peronis hit the spot rather than your wallet. But if you feel like wining and dining in a style worthy of the vista, they’ve also got you covered. From spanner crab spaghettini to affogato espresso, it’s la dolce vita.
Sprawling along a scenic stretch of the Yarra, Riverland Bar is a Melbourne summer essential on hot afternoons and balmy nights. This alfresco venue has tennis on screen, Lexington Hill cocktails on tap, and irresistible bites on offer. Want something really chill with your sticky chicken drumettes or poké bowl? Our hot tip is the house frosé, made with dehydrated raspberries.
Want to arrive in style? Take on one of The Deck’s delicious pre-game set menus (with bites like corn-fed chicken breast, ocean trout and more), then book a water taxi to drop you off at the game. Simple!
Must-visit hot spots and Melbourne classics
A byword for casual dining in this city, Andrew McConnell’s Cumulus Inc can take you from breakfast right through supper in style. At this Flinders Lane cafe-cum-restaurant with an upstairs wine bar, the minimalist, light-filled space is as smart as the food. Morning coffee and house-made crumpets? Wine and cheese, or the good-value chef’s selection menu from $75? The ball’s in your court.
Superchef Andrew McConnell’s Asian-inspired Supernormal is one of the city’s hottest foodie destinations. Whether you’re going for snacks like beef tataki and duck bao or the $95 banquet, don’t miss the Australian Open cocktail. The Courtside is a summery mix of Sipsmith London Cup, Tanqueray gin, ginger-infused elderflower syrup and dry ginger ale. At just $16, this smart twist on the classic Pimm’s Cup is almost impossible to resist.
As they say in Spain, donde está la movida? Where’s the action? Not just on the tennis court: Movida has been buzzing with good food, drinks and vibes since it opened in 2002. Raise a glass to chef Frank Camorra, whose iconic tapas place made Melbourne fall for share plates in a big way. Then tuck into his superlative little Spanish dishes, like the tostada: pressed pork sandwich with red onion jam and quail’s egg.
Want to admire Melbourne’s scenic southside, including the Yarra River and Arts Centre, while sipping and supping? Taking in some of Melbourne’s best views, Transit Rooftop Bar’s expansive balcony is a hot spot for cool breaks from the tennis. With fabulous food like wagyu burgers from Taxi Kitchen downstairs, there’s every reason to linger as the city skyline lights up.
Modern Vietnamese flavours await at the ‘Paris End’ of Collins Street, from tempura fish banh mi to the Mekong Splice cocktail. Uncle Collins St, the new-ish CBD offshoot of the St Kilda original, turned a former office space into a smart, airy restaurant. At this time of year, with the windows wide open and summery drinks flowing, it’s in an almost tropical mood.
Dining at the Australian Open
Just need a quick bite between matches, or simply want to stay put? At the Australian Open itself, there’s something for every taste, time frame and budget. Finger-lickin’ street food like Biggie Smalls kebabs, Hunky Dory fish and chips and the Vegemite food truck. Fine dining by stellar restaurants Nobu and Rockpool. Quality ice-cream, coffee and even real Champagne at the Piper Heidsieck bar. Game, set and match!