We’ve dined on souvlaki, grilled meats and zesty salads to bring you the best Greek restaurants in Melbourne.
￼History came full circle in 2015, when Alex and Dominic Talimanidis took up the same oceanfront site that housed their parents’ acclaimed Greek restaurant, Kosta’s, for 28 years. Now the younger generation is showing the holiday hotspot how Greek food is done, with a kitchen that deploys excellent produce – much of it local seafood – treated simply and respectfully. The taramasalata is a case in point: a creamy, silken dip embedded with the salty tang of Australian roe. Chargrilled octopus with kipfler potatoes and tomato salsa and the lamb keftethes (meatballs) with tzatziki also kick goals for excellence. Aided by smart service and an equally smart wine list, Ipsos is a beacon of hospitality that outshines the coast’s famous lighthouse.
48 Mountjoy Parade, Lorne ￼ (03) 5289 1883 ￼
The Press Club
￼It can be hard to know which way to turn with George Calombaris’s Neo-Grecian empire, which includes three Hellenic Republic tavernas, a modern party joint known as Gazi and six lickety-split Jimmy Grants souva shops. But heading to the pointy end of the chef’s culinary ambition means dining at The Press Club, the luxe restaurant where the décor approximates a billionaire’s yacht anchored off Corfu and the dégustation menu is set to impress. The mini Hills hoist pegged with snacks has become a signature, replete with Aussie-Greek intent, while contemporary takes on traditional flavours – charry octopus served with lemon three ways; lamb shoulder and pickled caper leaves; yoghurt sorbet with fennel flowers and caramelised olive oil – display no less wit.
72 Flinders Street, Melbourne ￼ (03) 9677 9677
Kalimera Souvlaki Art
￼It’s cheap as chips, though the record ought to note that the chips are mighty good at this jumping joint run by an expat Greek couple in south-east Oakleigh. But, then, everything on this tight menu is mighty good. Chef Ben Shewry, from Melbourne’s globally esteemed Attica, reckons the souvlaki – with fluffy Greek pita bread, chips, tzatziki and oregano-flecked meat – is the best you’ll find anywhere. The pork gyros platter also gets his seal of approval (you can opt for chicken, lamb kebab or mixed skewers, too). Just add housemade dips, such as taramasalata, spicy cheese and eggplant, and a healthy Cretan salad with barley rusks, fetta, tomato, olives and capers. Then sit back and reflect on Melbourne, the city said to have the largest Hellenic population outside of Greece.
41 Chester Street, Oakleigh ￼ (03) 9939 3912
The diffusion label to George Calombaris’ upmarket Press Club, Hellenic Republic isn’t so much about reinventing the wheel as polishing it until it shines. These two slick Greek tavernas have jettisoned the clichés but doubled down on great produce handled sympathetically, whether it’s the heat-licked rotisserie meats or the crackingly vibrant village salads.
434 Lygon Street, Brunswick East; (03) 9381 1222
26 Cotham Road, Kew; (03) 9207 7477
Compact and cosmopolitan, Demitri’s Feast has been plying a tasty Hellenic line in lamb keftedes and loukamades since 2009, which makes it a bona fide Richmond institution. Once a daytime-only café, its remit now extends to dinner six nights a week, to which we can only say – opa!
141 Swan Street, Richmond; (03) 9428 8659
Operated by the same Greek family since 1978, Stalactites is renowned for its namesake stalactite-decorated ceiling and its 24/7 opening hours. Popular with shift workers and the night owl hospitality crowd, the two-story haunt on a prime corner in Melbourne’s Little Athens is equally adept slinging breakfast souvlakis (stuffed with bacon, fried eggs and salad) as it is alcohol soppers such as mince-stuffed cabbage rolls.
177-183 Lonsdale Street, Melbourne; (03) 9663 3316
Jim’s Greek Tavern
Big, bustling and BYO, Jim’s bonhomie could conceivably power the greater Collingwood area. This most theatrical of Greek restaurants features a chorus of waiters who could recite the menu in their sleep (highlights include the cavalcade of multi-hued dips, toasty saganaki and charry prawns) amid mural-painted walls happily evoking that holiday in Santorini.
32 Johnston Street, Collingwood; (03) 9419 3827
Get your Crete on at this chic Camberwell restaurant, where an elegant Art Deco space is matched with a kitchen taking the hardscrabble island’s rustic food to the next level. All the meat is free-range (including a show-stopping slow-cooked lamb shoulder) and the menu is stuffed full of Cretan specialties such as kalitsounia (bite-sized pies with a mixture of sheep and goats’ cheese). For those in the know, Tuesday nights are brilliant value with three courses and a glass of wine for $50.
871 Bourke Road, Camberwell; (03) 9882 8877
A Greek restaurant in Melbourne’s Chinatown? Yes, we like Kri Kri’s insouciant style, almost as much as we like its mezethes-style approach to eating. Discuss the small-plate movement’s antecedents in ancient Greece over charry octopus, herby dolmades and marinated roast peppers.