It’s little wonder Melbourne has a night owl reputation with these eateries serving late into the evening (and well into the early morning). If your only mid-session saviour is a good old fashioned snack, you’re in for a treat.
Bar Lourinhã isn’t open quite as late as your average tapas bar in San Sebastián (it closes at 1am on Fridays and Saturdays) but this little taste of Iberian culture in the heart of Melbourne’s CBD exhibits the freewheeling spirit that makes Spain and Portugal such seductive propositions. Amid the cheery chintz of the laneway bar – small yet so popular it occasionally feels like a competition to see how many people can get inside the narrow space – the European wines flow freely with tapas chasers, such as the signature black kingfish “pancetta” with lemon oil or the salted shrimp and chilli croquetas. Grilled Padrón peppers play chicken with the tastebuds (one in 10 is reputed to be scorching hot), while an aïoli-topped prawn tortilla arrives sizzling in a cast-iron pan. It’s a thrilling combination of food, booze and bonhomie... Spain without the airfare.
37 Little Collins Street, Melbourne; (03) 9663 7890
She’s a looker, the Dutchess. The second-floor restaurant at the expensively revamped Duke of Wellington Hotel – now simply The Duke – is all cream-leather circular banquettes and has a best-party-shoes vibe. Thursday to Saturday there’s a DJ spinning tunes during your dinner set, offering ’70s funk to accompany your barbecued octopus with tomato and dehydrated olives or hapuku grounded in caramelised cauliflower and seaweed powder. Chef Dylan Kemp earned his stripes at the salubrious Royal Mail Hotel in Dunkeld but that doesn’t mean he’s above a midnight-and-beyond menu. Until 3am on Friday and Saturday, the kitchen will whip up dishes ranging from the luxe kingfish and piped avocado in a ponzu dressing with a fresh finger-lime pop to the hangover-busting dry-aged beef burger with truffled fries.
Level 2, 146 Flinders Street, Melbourne; (03) 9810 0055
Hang out in Melbourne long enough and eventually your late-night road will lead up the threadbare staircase at this Celestial address. The room is nothing to shout about – “utilitarian” will suffice – but for 39 years this Chinatown institution has been pumping out excellent, affordable Cantonese fare until 2.30am every day. The menu might well be carved in stone but that’s not a problem when it features steamed oysters in ginger and soy with spring onions; meaty XO pipis; and an eggplant, minced pork and salty fish hotpot that’s as restorative as you’d want it to be after midnight. As for the barbecued suckling pig, just do yourself a favour and order it. Little wonder the city’s chefs and waiters head here when they knock off work for the night.
15 Celestial Avenue, Melbourne; (03) 9663 4759
- Larissa Dubecki
Evoking traditional Japanese eateries with a cosy wooden façade, there are lines snaking out from the entrance of this soothingly rowdy ramen restaurant at even the most unlikely time of day (or night). Specialising in the tonkotsu type of ramen – which drowns meat, veg and noodles in a thick, cloudy pork-bone soup as a result of over twenty hours on the boil – ramen is obviously the recommended choice. There are also smaller bites such as pork mince gyoza and fried croquettes, all worthy snacks to order with a beer or sake (of which there are plenty of options). The restaurant stops serving alcohol between five and seven am but, if you’re not here for the ramen, you’re probably missing the point.
225 Russell Street, Melbourne; (03) 9654 0989
Stumble into this 24-hour Bourke Street diner in the wee small hours of the morning and you’ll likely be thrilled with the hearty, heavy menu. Comfort food rules at this split-level restaurant – from classic grilled cheese toasties to chilli dogs with jalapeños and cheese, there’s plenty to soak up your excess abandon. The more health-conscious of late-night diners can still find an outlet – a roll of crispy tofu and Thai vermicelli slaw or a seasonal spring salad dotted with falafels and kimchi might do the trick. If not, a classic cheeseburger with bacon is the ultimate in democratic devouring.
10 Bourke Street, Melbourne; (03) 9639 7324
If the hordes of hungry customers (especially after a night out) don’t prove the cult-like status of this Melbourne institution, how does a Lord Mayor’s ‘Generational’ Commendation strike you? Since 1978, various generations of the Konstandakopoulos family have fronted the traditional Greek eatery Stalactites, serving up some of the city’s best lamb and chicken giros souvlaki, as well as much-loved options of tzatziki, dolmadakia and saganaki 24 hours a day. Sweets are just as tempting (homemade baklava and galaktoboureko – a custard and filo layered pastry with sugar syrup and cinnamon – both feature) so don’t fill up on the kalamari.
177/183 Lonsdale Street, Melbourne; (03) 9663 3316
Inconvenience aside, there are upsides to a queue – especially when it comes to a shopfront spruiking baked goods. When Daniel’s Donuts (opened after the success of Daniel’s Bakery) flung its doors wide in February for around-the-clock confection, the supply was met with demand. Customers lined up at all hours (yep, this donut den is open 24 hours a day) to get their hands on the pillowy sweet treats, signalling to the rest of us just how desirable these donuts were. And with delectable and inventive flavours such as lemon meringue and Golden Gaytime, it’s little wonder.
819 Princes Highway, Springvale; (03) 9547 5950
- Bridget de Maine