The Melbourne Restaurants Hardest to Get Into

Navi Melbourne exclusive restaurants

Melbourne is easily Australia’s culinary capital, but that can make it hard to get into restaurants. It’s not just because the venue is in-demand — it might also have limited opening times or, in the case of a four-seater Japanese omakase in Footscray, only let in a certain number of diners a night.

Whatever the reason, in most cases, the wait for the table makes the meal taste that much sweeter. Ahead are 10 of Melbourne’s hardest-to-get-into restaurants so you can plan and book ahead.

Vue de Monde, CBD

Taking over a Carlton terrace in 2000, Vue de Monde had one other location before landing the spot it’s now on the 55th floor of the Rialto building in 2011. The restaurant only serves a tasting menu available for dinner from Wednesday to Saturday and lunch on Friday and Saturday. The restaurant is usually booked out weeks in advance, though you’ll have better luck getting a table on a weeknight.

Yugen Dining, South Yarra

Yugen Dining is an Asian restaurant in South Yarra on the corner of Chapel Street and Toorak Road. Walk-ins are welcome for its bar area, but dinner reservations, particularly on Fridays and Saturdays, book out far in advance. Make a reservation online or by calling the restaurant Tuesdays to Saturdays.

Flower Drum, CBD

Flower Drum serves traditional Cantonese in a cavernous space with red carpets and Chinese art lining the walls. It’s open for lunch and dinner every day, apart from Sunday when it’s only open for dinner. Despite the sheer number of tables and generous opening times, the restaurant books out weeks in advance. Dinner sittings are 6pm and 8pm.

Gimlet at Cavendish House, CBD

Gimlet at Cavendish House is a cocktail bar and restaurant, housed in a 1920s building, serving oysters, caviar and hearty wood-fired mains. It’s open for lunch and dinner seven days a week. On Fridays and Saturdays, ‘supper’ is served from 10pm ‘til 1am. Walk-ins are welcome, though to guarantee a spot, it’s recommended you book in advance.

Minamishima, Richmond

Minamishima is a fine-dining Japanese restaurant on Lord Street in Richmond with a capacity of 40 diners. Chef Koichi Minamishima cut his teeth at some of Japan’s best restaurants and after moving to Australia, in 2014, opened the sushi omakase restaurant. The restaurant accepts reservations a month or two in advance. To book, call the restaurant Tuesday to Saturday between 12pm and 5pm.

Matsu, Footscray

Matsu is one of Melbourne’s tiniest restaurants, seating just four people at a time. The restaurant is open for dinner from Wednesday to Sunday, with reservations open on the first day of each month from 10pm. You can book for two or four people at 6pm or 8:30pm. Due to the nature of the cuisine, the chef can’t cater to any dietaries or allergies.

Attica, Ripponlea

New Zealand-born chef Ben Shewry opened Attica in 2005 with the culinary vision of respecting Australia’s land and showcasing the country’s best ingredients. These days, it’s open for dinner Tuesday to Saturday with seating at 6pm and meals lasting on average 2.5 hours. Reservations are released at 9am three months in advance.

Enter Via Laundry, Carlton North

Enter Via Laundry started as a pop-up in Box Hill where diners walked through a laundry room to get to their seat. Today, its space in Carlton North has dining rooms Blue Room and Yellow Romo and a front bar. Reservations are open three months in advance. You can dine on a nine-course menu, which takes around three hours, or a five-course menu, which takes 1.5 hours.

Navi, Yarraville 

Navi is a fine dining restaurant and lounge bar in Melbourne’s west. Though walk-ins are welcome in the lounge, dinner spots on Wednesday to Saturday and lunch on Saturday are booked weeks in advance. Reservations for its 32 seats open on the first Wednesday of the month at 10am, two months ahead.

Pretty Little, Balaclava

Pretty Little in Balaclava is a cross between a dinner party and a wine bar. All 20 diners it allows are seated at a communal table or two seats at the window. Chefs prepare food at one end of the table and walk it to guests at the other end. The restaurant is open Wednesdays to Saturdays from 3pm ‘til 11pm. It does take walk-ins for the bar.

Related: The Sydney Restaurants That Are Hardest to Get a Booking For

Related: How Restaurants Are Making It Worth Your While to Dine In

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