35 Traditional Melbourne Restaurants with Outdoor Dining
Words by Sofia Levin
Images by Sofia Levin & supplied
Want to eat curiously in a courtyard? From street-side Sri Lankan to Egyptian en plein air, there are myriads of Melbourne restaurants and cafes with outdoor seating.
It doesn’t matter whether you’re COVID-anxious or looking for a dog friendly restaurant – there’s never been a better time to eat outside in Melbourne. If you want a dose of culture with the great outdoors, start working your way through these 35 restaurants.
1. Yuni’s Kitchen, Northcote
Tucked down the side of the local Uniting Church, Yuni’s is a small Indonesian restaurant with a huge courtyard that’s scattered with socially distanced tables. Outdoors is walk-ins only. At this neighbourhood gem, owner Yuni Kenwrick cooks the Javanese food of her homeland. She’s known for her sate, nasi bakar (rice and chicken cooked in banana leaves with Indonesian accompaniments) and laksa, but everything here is delicious.
251 High Street, Northcote, yuniskitchen.com.au
2. Frankie’s Tortas & Tacos, Fitzroy
This former kebab kiosk has been a Fitzroy favourite since it opened in late 2019. Frankie’s is one of the better spots for tacos in Melbourne, with the outdoor set up endowing street food vibes. Along with tacos are the namesake tortas, oversized white rolls with grilled Oaxacan cheese, black bean paste, pickled onion, avocado, coriander, lettuce and either al pastor (pork), crumbed beef milanesa or asado mushroom. Also try the house horchata and keep an eye on Instagram for specials.
384 Smith Street, Collingwood, tortasandtacos.com.au
3. My Asian Neighbour, Reservoir
This corner Sulawesi cafe and restaurant has ample outdoor seating, with tables spread under umbrellas on a corner patch of grass (dogs encouraged). Owner and cook Lily Lilak has undergone an incredible journey to get to where she is now. From grandma’s omelette on rice with sambal in the mornings, to Lily’s rendang pie for lunch, to her Manado cuisine for dinner (try ayam woku, chicken stir-fried in a homemade curry paste of pandan, makrut lime and candlenut), it’s easy to see why this is a neighbourhood favourite.
760 Plenty Road, Reservoir, myasianneighbour.com.au
4. Vola Foods, Brunswick
Melbourne’s only Cameroonian restaurant is in a burnt orange shipping container in a Brunswick parking lot. Run by former Plate of Origin cooking show contestants, Vola Foods’ menu includes tomato-spiked jollof rice, suya barbecued chicken and beef (suya is any skewered, smoky marinated meat) and snacks such as puff puff (spherical doughnuts). Beside the shipping container, barbecues fire whole fish in a special marinade, reminiscent of what you’d see on the side of the road in West Africa.
30 Ovens Street, Brunswick, volafoods.com.au
5. Food Truck Park, Craigieburn
This food truck park has eight vans and an undercover smoothie and dessert stand. It’s mostly Indian food (think curries, biryani, Bombay street sandwiches, samosa, chat and more), along with a Nepalese truck specialising in momo dumplings. It’s conveniently located right near Craigieburn Station and has plenty of outdoor tables.
1 Walters Street, Craigieburn
6. Taki’s Bakery, Coburg
Wedged between a cafe and a mini mart is tiny Taki’s Bakery, a Greek coffee shop and bakery from the Taki’s Balls sisters who specialise in loukoumades (Greek doughnuts). You can find their famed loukoumades made fresh every Saturday, along with bougatsa, a custard pastry traditionally eaten in Greece for breakfast. Both are a treat with coffee, and Taki’s offers Greek frappe, freddo espresso and freddo cappuccino. Taki’s opened in January 2020 with front courtyard seating only, an unexpected advantage when Melbourne plunged into lockdown soon after. Throughout the week, the traditional Greek menu offers Yiayia’s breakfast (two sunny side up eggs with fried potatoes, crumbled feta and oregano); homemade spanakopita and tiropita by the piece or tray (when pre-ordered); and the Thessaloniki sandwich with loukaniko sausage, feta, chips and aioli on a toasted roll.
101 Gaffney Street, Coburg, Facebook
7. Half Moon Cafe, Coburg
It’s sidewalk seating only at Half Moon Cafe, which has been serving Egyptian falafels made from broad beans – not chickpeas – since 2003. There are different wrap combinations, some with baba ganoush or hummus, others with haloumi or boiled egg. There's also lamb souvlaki or shawarma style, or you can order a large salad plate arranged with dips, pickles, fried cauliflower and eggplant. Finish with a thick, traditional coffee and baklava.
13 Victoria Street, Coburg
8. Moroccan Soup Bar, Fitzroy North
The Garden Room is a magical outdoor space to the side of Moroccan Soup Bar. It's sheltered but well ventilated, with curtains softening the space, tiled tables, lush plants and lanterns hanging from the timber pergola. The setting makes it worth a (re)visit alone, as is supporting the social philosophy of owner Hana Assafiri, who opened the restaurant in 1998 to employ and empower women. The vegetarian banquet menu is $35 and communicated verbally to encourage community. It might include summer specials such as harissa almond pasta, dolmades, kibbeh, muhamarra (made from capsicum and walnut) and the famous, oh-so-garlicky chickpea bake.
316 St Georges Road, Fitzroy North, moroccansoupbar.com.au
9. Little Tienda, Thornbury
For brunch and Friday nights festive with the flavours of Mexico and Southern Cali, look no further than Little Tienda. The all-weather courtyard is sheltered, so you can order huevos rancheros, pulled pork torta rolls with chipotle mayo, tacos and breakfast burritos, not matter what kind of weather Melbourne pulls out. They're also open for margaritas, mezcal, Mexican beers, natural wine and snacks on Friday from 5pm. started opening Friday nights from 5pm for summer, too.
410 Station Street, Thornbury, littletiendathornbury.com.au
10. Taita’s House, Thornbury
Taita's House is a Lebanese restaurant that's open for dinner Tuesday to Saturday and for traditional breakfast Friday to Sunday (10am until 2pm). The prime seating is out the back in the sunny, faux-grass courtyard. Fresh and zesty, tables are filled with falafel, kibbeh labneha (oval meat balls coated in cracked bulgur wheat and simmered in yghurt with dried mint), mokokhia stew made from mollow leaves and chicken, salads, vine leaves, dips and stews.
375 St Georges Road, Thornbury, Facebook
11. Cairo Nights, Carlton
New in 2021, this Egyptian restaurant and shisha bar boasts loads of tables on Lygon Street. Brought to you by the family behind South Yarra’s now-closed Casa Besta, traditional dishes include mombar rice-stuffed sausages, Egyptian clay pots, mixed grills and offal dishes such as mokh bel dukkah (breaded lamb brains coated with dukkah).
5/252 Lygon Street, Carlton, caironightsrestaurant.com.au
12. Ima Project Cafe, Carlton
Just around the corner from Cinema Nova, this Japanese cafe has outdoor seating curving from Elgin Street and down Drummond. Japanese breakfasts are the specialty here, with market fish grilled on the hibachi (often salmon), pickles, rice and miso soup. Other sets come with fried chicken or barbecued fish wings and are parried with rice, miso, pickles and potato salad. It’s also a lovely spot to stop in for an iced houjicha (roasted green tea) latte and cake.
169 Elgin Street, Carlton, imacafe.co
13. Teta Mona, Brunswick East
Inspired by teta (grandma), this Lebanese restaurant serves soul food from the mountainous northern region of the country. The bluestone courtyard is filled with greenery and sheltered by a retractable marquee. Take the guesswork out of ordering with a $40 or $50 per person banquet menu (seven and nine dishes respectively), or order a la cart: mezza, dips, yellow and green pea falafels, chilli-encrusted barramundi with herbs and tahini, stuffed and baked white zucchini, kafta meatballs, slow-cooked lamb and so much more. BYO wine and beer for $5 per person.
100A Lygon Street Brunswick East, Facebook
14. Bowl Bowl, Collingwood
Local favourite Bowl Bowl offers reliable Sichuan food with hand-pulled ramen noodle dishes, dumplings and vegan options. There's a huge courtyard outside with a corrugated iron roof, timber tables and decorative cushions. Start with Xinjiang spiced lamb ribs and mala wontons or dumplings, and then move onto spicy beef brisket noodle soup or dan dan noodles. If there are a few in your party, order the 10-hour slow-cooked pork hock, served with bao for stuffing.
95 Smith Street, Collingwood, bowlbowl.com.au
15. Elephant Corridor, Glen Waverley
This 12-year-old Sri Lankan restaurant has an oversized parklet out the front, sheltered by a large marquee. Visit for an all-you-can-eat hopper banquet on Monday and Sunday, or order dry dark pork curry, kothu roti, homemade sambols and Jaffna crab curry. There are north Indian dishes here as well, including a sizable tandoor menu. BYO wine.
179 Coleman Parade, Glen Waverley, elephantcorridor.com.au
16. Mizraim, Camberwell
This authentic Egyptian restaurant has a spacious open-air seating area out the back with tables for dining, lounge chairs for smoking shisha and twinkling fairy lights. On the regular menu there’s scrambled egg and beef basturma (air-dried beef), laffa bread kebabs, mixed grilled meats, dips and fresh salads, or order in advance for specialties such as whole freekeh-stuffed duck, hamam (squab) and mombar rice-stuffed sausages.
541 Riversdale Road, Camberwell, mizraim.com.au
17. Dale La Pau, Camberwell
Rendang specialist Dale La Pau has a manicured courtyard garden with shaded tables. For lunch there's nasi ramas, rice served with any combination of 25 dishes ($2 to $9.50), but always with mixed vegetable curry, red chilli sambal and other sides. There's also rendang on rice for $16.50, fried or grilled Indonesian-style chicken and fusion dishes such as rendang toasties and bao. Dinner also offers share platters and larger plates.
255 Camberwell Road, Camberwell, dalelapau.com
18. Hibiki, Camberwell
The sheltered outdoor area at Hibiki has timber decking and backs onto the Anniversary Trail cycle path. The considered aesthetic moves from indoors to out, finding its way into Japanese breakfasts, brunches and dinners. In the morning the teishoku set is popular, while poached eggs come on okonomiyaki and avocado toast scattered with nori and beetroot-tinted daikon. In the evenings, move from takoyaki octopus balls and gyoza to omu rice, pork katsu curry and a parma that’s been re-imagined Japanese-style.
1161 Toorak Road, Camberwell, hibikimelbourne.com
19. Bia Hoi, Glen Waverley
Chef Jerry Mai’s Vietnamese beer hall is located on the edge of The Glen Shopping Centre in its outdoor dining precinct, with seating surrounding its perimeter. Crispy chicken skin, grilled beef in betel leaf and fried chicken ribs with fish sauce caramel make for the perfect beer food, while lau canh chua (hot and sour tamarind broth with pineapple, rice paddy herb, noodles and fried barramundi) tastes just like Vietnam. Visit with a crew – you'll need extra stomachs to sample more of the exciting menu.
The Glen Shopping Centre, 235 Springvale Rd, Glen Waverley, biahoibar.com.au
20. Levanter Cafe, Balaclava
Simple, comforting Syrian food from a mother-and-son duo that arrived in Melbourne as refugees. Start early with shakshuka baked eggs, or order kibbeh (bulgur and beef meatballs) and ful medames (a warm fava bean salad). The traditional sweet treats are especially enjoyable taken with coffee at the shaded communal table out the back.
298 Carlisle Street, Balaclava, levantercafe.business.site
21. Nikos Cakes, Oakleigh
Oakleigh’s Eaton Mall is primed for outdoor dining. Almost every cafe and restaurant has tables outside, along with extras in the centre of the pedestrian thoroughfare. Nikos dates back to 1987, and while they specialise in cakes and sweets, you can visit for bougatsa and koulouri breakfasts, pastitsio and moussaka, yemista stuffed capsicums and homemade spanakopita (filo pastry filled with spinach and ricotta) and tyropita (feta and ricotta).
25 Portman Street, Oakleigh, nikoscakes.com.au
22. Mythos, Oakleigh
Mythos is ST’s outdoor dining pick for dinner in Melbourne’s “Little Athens”. It’s split into the original grill and gyros bar and a seafood-centric restaurant, divided by Eaton Mall. Owner George Karakousis is usually sitting down with a customer somewhere if he’s not on the floor serving. Ask him what’s good (he’ll also tell you what’s not!) and complement your meat or seafood main with horta (wild greens boiled and drowned in olive oil and lemon juice).
Mythos, 15 Eaton Mall, Oakleigh, Instagram
23. Bon Chicken and Beer, Carnegie
Open daily and until 11.30pm on Friday and Saturday nights, this Korean beer and chicken hall has a sizeable outdoor area with seats both in the sunshine and undercover. It has house lager on tap, along with Kirin and Collingwood Draught. Chicken comes deep fried with sweet chilli, soy garlic or spicy sauce (cheese sauce is extra). There's boneless whole chooks ($32), gluten-free options, wings and giblets, and traditional Korean dishes ranging from boneless dakbal (chicken feet) with rice cakes to skewered fish cakes.
121 Koornang Road, Carnegie, bonchicken.com.au
24. Taste of Borneo, Springvale
This Malaysian restaurant opened just before the pandemic hit. It specialises in Sabahan cuisine from the Malaysian state at the northern part of Borneo. There are a similar amount of seats indoors as there are beneath the marquee, which is fenced off and surrounded by a faux lawn. Try fried fish topped with stink bean sambal, spicy sambal clams, ribs in Borneo-style creamy black pepper sauce, mee basah noodles in gravy and Sabahan laksa.
1678 Centre Road, Springvale, tasteofborneo.com.au
25. Hop & Spice, Braybrook
This traditional Sri Lankan restaurant might look small from the front, but out back there’s a shaded outdoor area with a mini children’s playground. Visit for kothu roti (roti bread chopped on a flat grill with egg, vegetables and your choice of protein) and lamprais (aromatic rice on a banana leaf with pickled eggplant moju, a fish croquet, boiled egg and seeni sambol), stay for bowl-shaped hoppers (crepes made from fermented rice flour and coconut milk batter) on weekends.
284 Ballarat Road, Braybrook, Facebook
26. Magic Momo Kafe, West Footscray
The namesake momos (Nepalese dumplings) are the specialty at this restaurant at the western end of Barkley Street. Stuffed with either meat or vegetables, they’re prepared a dozen different ways: steamed, fried, in chilli, jhol momo (in soup), drenched in gravy, flame-grilled, roasted in ghee and more. Chow mein, fried rice and thukpa Tibetan noodle soup are also on the menu, as are Newari specialties, the cuisine of Nepal’s Indigenous people. The bamboo-fenced beer garden is the best place to sit.
588 Barkly St, West Footscray, magicmomokafe.com.au
27. Houston’s Barbecue, Keilor East
Arguably Melbourne's – if not Australia's – most authentic Texan barbecue, Houston's is open from 11am until sold out on Friday and Saturday only. It’s $10.50 for 100 grams of brisket (add $3 to make it a burger), pulled pork, pork ribs (minimum 300 grams) or beef ribs (300 to 600 grams). House sausage, southern fried chicken thighs, yardbird fried chook, smoked and fried wings and all your usual sides there, too. For dessert, think classic pies like pecan, key lime and peanut butter. There’s only outdoor seating here, whether at a wooden picnic table or on the grassy lawn.
99a Slater Parade, Keilor East, houstonsbbq.com.au
28. Food Truck Park, Werribee
It’s all about the food at this collection of eight to 10 Indian trucks, which pull up in a parking lot opposite the Pacific Werribee shopping centre. The Indian community orders kebabs, inhales egg ghotala with soft pav rolls and pours tamarind water into pani puri. Most trucks close around 11pm to midnight on Friday and Saturday nights.
279-281 Heaths Road, Werribee
CBD & Surrounds
29. Big Earle's Roadhouse Barbecue, Port Melbourne
In an industrial part of Port Melbourne just before Ingles Street ducks under the Westgate Freeway, Big Earle's Roadhouse serves American barbecue from custom smokers to big eaters. The whole set up is outdoors with seats both undercover and in the sunshine. There’s a junkyard aesthetic, courtesy of the shipping containers and used cars, and there’s a regular rotation of live music. The Mega Tasting Plate is piled with beef brisket, pork butt, barbecue pork ribs, spicy sausage, fries, slaw, house sauces and McClure's pickles. Brisket and pork also come in a brioche roll and on top of loaded fries.
273 Ingles Street, Port Melbourne, Instagram
30. Chez Bagou, Albert Park
Located on the corner of the Bridport Street roundabout beside a pharmacy, you'll spot Parisian rattan chairs on the sidewalk at Chez Bagou. It’s named after Normandy-born owner Aurelien Bagou, who earned his stripes in the kitchens of Michelin-starred restaurants. His menu is a best-of French bistro classics: escargots cooked in garlic butter, soupe a l'oignon, confit duck, beef bourguignon, entrecote steak and fries, beef tartare and more.
132 Bridport Street, Albert Park, chezbagou.com.au
31. Big Esso, CBD
If you read Seasoned Traveller, you already know it’s a big supporter of Nornie Bero, the Torres Strait Island-born chef who has worked in hospitality for decades but only started her native Australian food journey in 2018. Big Esso is her second restaurant, with plenty of tables outside looking over Federation Square and into the city. Come here for the best example of Indigenous ingredients, whether saltbush and pepperberry crocodile, succulent emu steak or green ant martinis.
Federation Square, Melbourne, mabumabu.com.au
32. Lulu’s Char Koay Teow, CBD
You’ll find one of Melbourne’s best examples of smoky CKT noodles (char kway teow) at Lulu’s, with prime outdoor seating on Hardware Lane. There are traditional versions with prawns and chinese sausage, along with specials where the noodles are tossed with blood cockles and razor clams. Other Malaysian hawker dishes including jawa mee, where yellow egg noodles, hard boiled egg, bean curd and beans sprouts are sloshed with gravy made from sweet potato, prawn stock and tomato; and Penang white curry chee cheong fun, where shrimp-loaded gravy is poured over rolled rice noodles.
27-31 Hardware Lane, Melbourne, Facebook
33. Namsan Korean, Melbourne
This Pocha street food spot is at the ground level of the 200 Queen Street complex, accessible via Little Bourke Street. Inside the low ceilings give it a feeling of bustling authenticity, while outdoor tables on fake grass are COVID and canine-friendly. You can order boiled trumpet shell snails with spicy sauce, japchae potato noodles and tteokbokki spicy rice cakes to snack on with beer, or dive in with spam and kimchi-loaded army sausage or beef tripe stews and Korean fried chicken.
3/200 Queen Street, Melbourne (corner Goldie Place and Little Bourke Street), namsanmelbourne.com
34. Pho Thin, Melbourne
Some 40 years after the original Pho Thin opened in Hanoi, a branch opened in Melbourne on the corner of Lonsdale Street and Hardware Lane. The pho here uses all natural ingredients, including Aussie beef, and is free from MSG. Order yours with rare beef, brisken, chicken, a combination or beef wirh red wine sauce. Add quay (fried dough sticks, also known as youtiao in China) for dipping and then sit back with a Vietnamese iced coffee or coconut juice.
Shop C 389 Lonsdale Street, Melbourne, phothin.online
35. Miznon, Melbourne
Miznon is hardly a secret or underrated – many Melburnians are familiar with the Israeli pita concept that’s also in New York, Paris, Vienna, Tel Aviv. The outdoor tables are bookable and take in all the atmosphere of the Hardware Lane location. Pita picks include hot chickpea with tahnini and boiled egg; the Tunisian with tuna, potato and pickles; and the wagyu and roots stew. Don't miss the "bag of golden meat" (fried brisket with onions and black pepper) or the schnitzel malka stuffed with potato puree.
59 Hardware Lane, Melbourne, miznonaustralia.com
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