Best outdoor dining spaces in Melbourne
In Melbourne, life revolves around food and hospitality. Naturally, in a post-Covid world, Melbourne has become one of the best cities in Australia for outdoor dining.
Chefs, restaurateurs, sommeliers and hospitality staff have used their downtime to create magnificent outdoor restaurants to complement their indoor dining rooms so that people can dine outside in style. Secret gardens decorated with fairy lights, inner city rooftop terraces with brightly painted murals, huge pots of lush plants juxtaposed with industrial furnishings, all complement the sophisticated menus of Melbourne’s greatest institutions and offer diners a fun, comfortable and safe restaurant experience. Check out some of our favourite, and most gorgeous locations to eat in the open air.
Tell tall tales at Fable, the newest rooftop dining destination in Melbourne.
From the city’s highest rooftop bar, you can see all the way from the Bolte Bridge to the spire of the Arts Centre. With a retractable roof that enables patrons to withstand the famous four-seasons-in-one-day Melbourne weather, the city puts on a twinkling show at night when the sky darkens and the lights go on. The restaurant is a cacophony of colour and texture, a true sensory experience from the plush seating to the tiled floor and bar, from the greenery tumbling down from roof planters to the leather bar stools, gold cutlery and handmade crockery.
Cocktails at Fable are mostly gluten free and vegan due to the mixologist, Alessandro Nardini, having dietary requirements himself. Each drink tells a story, indeed a fable, the meaning of which drinkers must discover for themselves as they indulge. Share plates are the order of the day here; try Mediterranean favourites such as burrata, Yarra Valley trout caviar, dolmades with broken rice, grilled halloumi, a vegan eggplant moussaka, or selections from the charcuterie, cheese or dessert menu. Fable is the epitome of outdoor dining in Melbourne.
Lunchtime vibes at Harlow, where you can BYO dog.
You know you're in Melbourne when your outdoor dining space has murals of super cute doggos on the wall. If you’re travelling and miss your furry friends, you’ll be sure to find some here. Melbournians love bringing their pooches (and their friends) to the beer garden for modern pub classics like chicken schnitzels, smoked brisket burgers, delicious plant based options and some ‘extra’ dishes like crispy halloumi drizzled with strawberry, balsamic and pepper sauce. Your friends will love the variety of options on the menu and the effort that chefs have made to address dietary requirements. Sensational gluten free, dairy free, vegetarian and vegan options are all available here.
Harlow also has a rooftop bar that has views of the city from all angles. TV screens abound for sport lovers and the good vibes flow freely in this brand new space. Crowd favourites on the list of fresh cocktails are the jalapeno and tequila based Netflix and Chilli, the spiced rum Maple Colada and the gin based Hide the Cucumber. For non-alcoholic options, try the NO’groni or the Dark & Spicy.
Pretty city views at Bomba in Melbourne.
Overlooking the treetops on Lonsdale Street, Bomba has gorgeous views of Melbourne's north and south. Whether you’re snacking pre-show or looking for somewhere to enjoy canape-style outdoor dining with friends in Melbourne, this rooftop bar, five floors up, is the place. On weekends, DJs create a vibrant party mood for drinkers and diners who want to live it up in the city. This one doesn’t take bookings, so get in early if you want to snap up a seat.
Although the rooftop has primarily a snack menu, the folks at Bomba won’t let you go hungry. Marinated olives, smoked nuts, patatas bravas, lamb chilindron, paprika potato crisps, goat’s cheese and garlic croquettes and corn nuts will satisfy the peckish. Also try the meats from the charcuterie or the queso (Spanish cheeses) before skipping to the churros with chocolate and dulce de leche and Portuguese tarts. If you love Spanish style eating, you’ll love Bomba.
Siglo: A decadent Parisian terrace bar in Melbourne.
Streetside at The European at the top end of town facing the Parliament building is the ideal spot for people watching. Stick with traditional entrees; oysters, caviar and champagne or indulge in a full meal of steak frites, scotch fillet with bearnaise sauce, a whole roast fish or a rich pasta with a leafy salad. Diners are encouraged to request specialty wines from the extensive cellars or choose their preferred drop from the City Wine Shop next door and have a corkage fee added to their bill.
Siglo is the venue’s rooftop terrace cocktail bar which serves only bar snacks in the way of food but is a great place for an after dinner (or after lunch) drink. You can’t book here either, so walk in and try your luck! Treat yourself to a fine Cuban cigar, if that tickles your fancy, and let the fun begin. From here, you can see the domes of the Princess Theatre and the spire of nearby St Patrick’s Cathedral while you sip classic cocktails and premium spirits poured long.
Naked in the Sky
Rain, hail or shine, Naked in the Sky is one of Melbourne’s favourite outdoor restaurants.
On weekend evenings, a long line of beautiful people snakes out the door of street level restaurant Naked for Satan and winds its way out onto Brunswick Street. The lovely ones are in line for the lift to the rooftop destination, Naked in the Sky. Anyone will tell you that the striking city and suburban skyline views from this iconic Fitzroy rooftop bar are worth the wait. You won’t be disappointed, summer or winter, by the shucked oysters, wild boar salami, cornichons, fried squid, jalapeño and cheddar croquettes with red pepper sauce, prawn skewers with pancetta, the baked Camembert or the twice cooked pork belly.
Jugs of sangria are cheap and plentiful and the house makes a full range of infused vodkas (think chilli and cherry, opium and rose, ginger, violet, watermelon). Gin, too, is revered at Naked in the Sky and you can choose from an elegant, refreshing, bougie, floral, savoury or refined gin experience.
The French, Italian, Spanish and Australian wine list is perfect for those days when a cheese platter and a tipple with friends makes the perfect dinner. Spend an afternoon or a long evening relaxing in this fine space.
Enjoy the calming greens of the Gippsland forests right in the CBD when you dine on the rooftop at Farmers Daughters.
Indulge the produce of Gippsland at this CBD restaurant that is as green and soothing as the grass and hills of the region where every menu item is sourced. From the vermouth, whisky and gin in the aperitif menu to the pale ales and cider available, this restaurant is all about revealing the delights of southeast Victoria. The wine list showcases the range of Gippsland soils and environments and has everything from riesling to shiraz.
The rooftop bar is an oasis for drink lovers and offers snacks of marinated Tarago olives, Farm style soda bread sweetened with maple syrup and lathered in St David’s Dairy cultured butter, Jones potato fries will dill aioli, small plates of zucchini with burrata, smoked chilli and preserved lemon, terrines with black garlic chutney or Gippsland cheese platters.
Eating downstairs at outdoor tables in the lane or on the street is a true pleasure. Take the guesswork out of it and avoid FOMO by requesting the chef’s selection and settle into your chair for the next few hours as the waiters deliver the most popular dishes of share plates to your table. Start with Caffresco Organics green beans with boiled Forge Creek eggs and mustard, followed up by Eaglehawk Creek leg ham with green olives, then main meals of Lakes Entrance fish or O’Connor’s beef with pickled vegetables.
Yarra Botanica: A floating ode to Victorian produce.
The newest addition to the outdoor dining scene in Melbourne is Yarra Botanica aboard a two level pontoon, a green oasis in the city’s bustling business district. For pub style dining with a focus on local, sustainable and native Victorian ingredients, this venue is sure to float your boat. The garden beds on board double as herb gardens and are overflowing with edible plants that can be used to create garnishes and flavour the gin that is a focus of the buoyant restaurant. 100% of the drinks and 90% of the produce on the menu are from Victoria, so both locals and visitors can sample the best of what the state has to offer in one of the best outdoor dining spaces in town.
Sit under the shade of the umbrellas or jump into a booth and order some fresh seafood or a woodfired pizza to share. If you’re lucky, you’ll snap up a day bed where you can stretch out and enjoy the cruisey tunes the DJ is pumping out. For a quieter session, head to the Upper Storey for a sunset cocktail.
Di Stasio Pizzeria
Discover the secret courtyard garden at Di Stasio Pizzeria.
Wander down a pebbled laneway lined with white pots planted up with greenery next to the newly opened Di Stasio Pizzeria and sit in the secret garden, a delightful outdoor dining space, a hidden courtyard in the midst of Carlton, one of Melbourne’s premier Italian dining precincts. The centrepiece of the garden is a fountain which has been imported from the Roman countryside.
Rinaldo Di Stasio tasked his chefs with making the ‘perfect’ Margherita pizza and the results are splendid. The thin based pizza gives way to the tangy taste of the San Marzano tomato, known to be the ultimate Italian tomato for making sauces, with just enough of chef Federico Congiu’s handmade jersey milk mozzarella fiore di latte to balance the tartness.
Next door, the King and Godfree complex on the corner of Lygon and Faraday streets has a spectacular rooftop bar if diners want to finish their evening from a higher vantage point.
Melbourne Food and Wine Festival Outside
Join the longest lunch table in the Treasury Gardens.
Held in March 2022, Melbourne hosted the Herald Sun World’s Longest Lunch, an outdoor dining experience under the trees at the Treasury Gardens. Ben Shewry of Attica designed the three-course menu. Also at the Treasury Gardens, for the Dan Murphy’s World’s Longest Brunch, Shane Delia of Maha, Joseph Abboud of Rumi and Kirsty Chiaplias of Babajan helped Melbournians celebrate their love of Middle Eastern food. At the open air Victoria Market, The Big Spaghetti was like a massive Italian pasta festival on the first weekend in April. Stay tuned for 2023 details!