It’s January in Melbourne, which means summer is in full swing and the 2017 Australian Open is just around the corner. If you’re in town for the tournament, you’ll find there’s more than just stadium food to satisfy your pre- and post-match cravings. From full-flavored Spanish tapas to decadent French cuisine to American-style BBQ, Melbourne boasts a world-class food scene. Check out our 2017 Australian Open Dining Guide for some of the Grand Slam-worthy options you’ll find throughout the city.
Sake Restaurant & Bar Hamer Hall, Melbourne CBD
When the action wraps up at Rod Laver, head down to the Melbourne Arts Precinct for some Japanese cuisine coupled with skyline views. Just a 15-minute cab ride from the stadium, the restaurant will be transforming its riverfront bar into a tennis-themed retreat for the duration of the tournament, complete with Aussie Open-inspired cocktails and outdoor ping pong tables. Take in the waterfront and snack on their refreshing kingfish with jalapeno or choose a selection from their extensive sake menu. Make a reservation at Sake Restaurant & Bar-Hamer Hall.
MoVida, Melbourne CBD
As much of a Melbourne institution as the Open itself, MoVida has set the standard for Spanish food for more than 10 years. Located in famous Hosier Lane, the subterranean dining room is a short walk from Rod Laver and a stone’s throw from Federation Square, Flinders Street Station, and the heart of Melbourne’s CBD. MoVida serves up classic Castilian fare, like mushroom and blue cheese croquetas, as well as new favorites, such as grilled calamari salad with white beans, chorizo, and compressed capsicum. If you’re looking for a slightly more casual alternative, head to MoVida Next Door for a simple plate of grilled prawns and a dollop of bisque aioli. Rafa would be proud. Make a reservation at MoVida.
Gazi, Melbourne CBD
Melbournians know to expect great things from celebrity chef George Calombaris, and Calombaris’s Gazi lives up to the hype. In a city bursting with Greek restaurants, this restaurant stands out for its elevated take on classic street food. You’ll find sophisticated but unpretentious bites, like soft-shell crab souva with mint, coriander, honey, and mayo, or grilled octopus with black garlic and orange butter. Open late and just a quick 10-minute walk from the courts, you can easily stop in for a bite between sessions. Make a reservation at Gazi.
Tonka, Melbourne CBD
First, check out some of the signature Melbourne street art in Duckboard Place. Then, head inside Tonka for equally colorful Indian cuisine and inspired restaurant decor. After a brief stroll over from Rod Laver, you’ll be rewarded with classic South Asian flavors inspired by family recipes. The kitchen includes two tandoor-style ovens, producing creative food using traditional techniques. Fill up on the adventurous flavors of smoked corn-fed chicken with garlic chutney, pomelo, and sweet papaya pickle, or cool off with a Tonka Lassi of rum, mango, yoghurt, and pistachio. Make a reservation at Tonka.
Ezard, Melbourne CBD
Representing acclaimed chef Teage Ezard’s creative Australian style, the menu highlights the best of Australian ingredients. Head chef Jarrod Di Blasi, winner of the prestigious 2017 Good Food Guide’s Young Chef of the Year award, has put together a pre-open menu featuring Asian-inspired plates. Highlights include scallop dumplings with soy mirin broth, Sichuan chili oil, and seaweed, as well as twice cooked pork belly with blood plume, balsamic glaze, five-spiced salt, and native mint. Wines from Europe and Australia have been selected to complement the four-course offering. Make a reservation at Ezard.
Lucy Liu, Melbourne CBD
At Lucy Liu, your dining experience starts in the entryway, where a red lit, industrial corridor ushers you into an energetic dining room. The urban vibe carries over into the menu, which focuses on contemporary Asian shared plates. Hop on a tram from the stadium and you’re less than five minutes away from enjoying street food-inspired bites, like tuna and Avruga caviar on fresh betel leaf or Peking duck dumplings with housemade hoisin sauce. Make a reservation at Lucy Liu.
Oter, Melbourne CBD
Melbourne’s restaurant scene is famous for hidden gems that are quite literally hidden. Tucked away in a Flinders Lane basement, just finding Oter is half the adventure. Head chef Flo Geradin takes a restrained approach to French cuisine, letting the individual flavors shine through each dish. After a 15-minute walk from Laver, indulge in the richness of asparagus with bone marrow and gruyere or the comforting tastes of butter beans with buffalo ricotta and hazelnuts. You’ll be glad you found this place. Make a reservation at Oter.
Fancy Hanks Bourke Street, Melbourne CBD
Walk into Fancy Hanks and you might think you’ve accidentally ended up at the U.S. Open. This barbecue joint prepares American-style smoked meats using the best of Australian local ingredients. Brisket and ribs reign supreme, but non-carnivores can enjoy the signature deviled eggs, one of Good Food’s top Melbourne dishes of 2016. Before or after your meal, head up to the Fancy Hanks rooftop bar, Good Heavens, to cool off from the courtside sun with a classic Mai Tai. Make a reservation at Fancy Hanks Bourke Street.
Nobu, Crown Melbourne, Southbank
If you can’t score a ticket to the matches, Crown Melbourne is your next best bet for taking in all the tennis action. Along the Crown Riverwalk, watch the Open live and enjoy cocktails from Chandon, Kirin, and Pimm’s. When you get hungry, take in the river views from inside Crown’s Nobu restaurant, and enjoy creative Japanese specialties like black cod miso or wagyu tacos. If you’re craving something other than Asian, check out other popular Crown establishments like Gradi, The Atlantic, and Bistro Guillaume. Make a reservation at Nobu.
Brooke H. Moy is a culinary nomad, living in such foodie capitals as New York, Montreal, Madrid, Chicago, and, most recently, Melbourne. Read more expat exploits at downunderupsidedown.tumblr.com or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Photo credits: Guy Lavoipierre (Gazi); Carmen Zammit (Oter); Tim Grey (Tonka); Keat Lee (Ezard).