Melbourne a little sister to Sydney? Not even close says born-and-bred Melbournian and local chef Rebekah Pedler. Pedler has worked in the city's top kitchens, such as at Il Bacaro and Dinner by Heston.
"Melbourne is very culturally diverse. You can basically find any cuisine you want here...and people here are massive foodies across the board."
Pedler admits that Melbournians are massive breakfast people ("It's turned into our national dish, and always Instagram-worthy"), but there's more delicious food to be ate once you've finished your languorous morning meal. She told use her picks for the seven best restaurants in Melbourne—you're gonna wish they were your local haunts.
1. Slurp Up Noodles For Breakfast At Oneyada
"I like Asian breakfasts. I like to go and have noodles for breakfast. The people who own Oneyada also have a massive Thai restaurant that’s also really good, but the owner decided that he wanted to cook the food his grandma cooked for him so he opened up this tiny cafe. And every time I go there I don't know what to get because everything sound so amazing. The service is very good, the people there are very friendly. They're typically Thai—always smiling and very friendly. It's the kind of place I don't want to tell anyone about because I want it to stay my own, but I also want them to do well."
2. Grab Coffee To-Go From Hole-In-The-Wall Cafe Plug Nickel
"A nice thing about coffee here is that it's all independent—a guy opens up hole in the wall, that kind of thing. Everyone raves about Plug Nickel in Collingwood. It's off the main drag, down a little street. There are only four seats, so you have to get the coffee to go, but it's still insanely popular."
The coffee mania in Australia is real—and they're aware of the waste that it generates. Bring your own reusable cup and many cafes will give you a discount. Look like a local when you opt for the barista-approved Keep Cup.
3. Sip On Natural Wine For Lunch At Marion Wine Bar
"This quiet wine bar is owned by chef Andrew McConnell, who has Cutler And Co. The wine bar is attached. There is no set menu, but the dishes that day are written on the wall. It's simple food, perfect for a place that you can go to sit and relax and enjoy. You don't feel rushed. The staff are very knowledgeable about wines, in particular natural wines. Fittingly, the food is very clean and simple, a fried bit of local fish with browned butter, things like that. It's a great spot to just sit and chill."
4. Taste Australian-Chinese With A Snack At South Melbourne Market Dim Sims
"Dim sim is Melbourne invention. It's kind of like a big shumai or dumpling but more oblong. It has pork, cabbage and white pepper and it’s covered in thick dough. You can have it steamed but it’s more commonly fried. Perhaps not a high cuisine delicacy. My boyfriend is from Queensland and he had no idea what it was!"
5. Keep It Classic With Dinner At Matteo's
"Matteo's is a Melbourne institution that's been around for over 20 years. It's been through three chefs. The dining room is really beautiful with dark wood, mahogany banquettes, and waiters in ties. The food has changed with the different chefs, but it’s currently modern Australian with an Asian influence. It's a go-to place for special occasions and well respected in Melbourne."
6. Preorder Pineapple Cake For Dessert At Dinner By Heston
"You must try their signature dessert, which is also at Dinner by Heston in London. It's called Tipsy Cake and made with rotisserie roasted pineapples, which diners see turning during dinner. The fruit is lacquered with pineapple caramel. What you get is beautiful piece of this pineapple on top of baked brioche soaked in brandy and sauternes cream. It comes out all bubbling and cream has gone all caramel-ly and crusty on top. It's very special and you need to preorder it because it's baked to order and takes about 40 minutes. It will never go off the menu."
7. Finish It Off With An Off The Beaten Track Nightcap At The Everleigh
"The Everleigh was named as one of the best bars in the world a couple years ago but it's a bit off the beaten track. You need to go into a restaurant and up a flight of stairs to get there. All the bartenders are legit. If you don't know what you want, you can tell them what you like and they can create anything to suit your palate. You can also get snacks like meat and cheese plates there. An all-around great place to go for a nightcap really."