125 Flinders Ln., CBD
The old adage “eat where the locals eat” rings especially true in Melbourne, and Melburnians have a penchant for the sweet, sour, and often spicy food of Southeast Asia. Chin Chin on Flinders Lane is easy to spot; just join the always-there snaking line (there are no reservations here). The menu is modeled on that of a classic Southeast Asian dining hall. The interior oozes cool Aussie industrialism with weathered red brick, high ceilings that amplify diners’ lively chatter, and rotating exhibits from emerging artists. Dishes like sticky, soy-glazed duck and steamed fish wrapped in betel leaves pair exceptionally well with a tangy beer. Roll up with a crowd, overorder, and dig in.
111 Lonsdale St., CBD
Bar Margaux is sexy, undeniably so. Sexy in that very French, monochrome tile, oxblood leather booth, oysters, and too much champagne way. Prepare to fight for a seat, because on the weekends, half of Melbourne is perched on stools, packed into booths, and crushing the bar. Buttery, herby escargots; extra-crispy matchstick fries; and mounds of steak tartare have mass appeal, but it’s the lobster croque monsieur that grabbed—and held—our hungry attention. An order that with a glass of icy rosé somehow tastes better when you pleaded for your seat. And Margaux is open late, seven nights a week. Images courtesy of Gareth Sobey photography.
133 Russell St., CBD
QT excels at crafting hotels that are both sumptuously comfortable and quirkily cool. A Wes Anderson–inspired eccentricity pervades the Melbourne iteration’s 188 rooms and communal spaces, with clashing velvets, dark wood, concrete ceilings, and sculptural light fixtures. The rooms are spacious, cozy, and highly functional, with Bose sound systems, Nespresso machines, deep tubs (bring a G.Nite soak), and gorgeous wallpaper-lined wardrobes. The restaurants in QT are lively, and the rooftop is an ideal spot to soak up panoramic city views, get your bearings, and sample a locally made gin and tonic.