13 Melbourne Restaurants You've Never Heard Of

Meet the new venues that mainstream media missed

In today’s dispatch I’m taking a break from regular programming to share a list of 13 Melbourne restaurants you won’t have read about anywhere else. The Alt-Breakfast Series will return soon, along with a deep-dive into the state of food guides in Australia, which I assure you will be enlightening.

Sofia x

A “family portrait” at Semosh Turkish restaurant in Bodrum, I mean, Melbourne.

13 New Melbourne Restaurants that Mainstream Media Missed

It’s almost impossible to keep on top of the glut of restaurants and cafes that open in a city like Melbourne, and it’s even more difficult to uncover venues that don’t hire PR companies or use social media to get the word out. That’s where Seasoned Traveller comes in.

My mission has always been to share the lesser-known and encourage people to #EatCuriously, which takes a lot more digging. The first three restaurants in this list are free for anyone to read, but to enable me to continue to spend my time where other publications and influencers won’t, I encourage you to subscribe for the price of a coffee a fortnight to access this whole list (if you haven’t already). Thank you for helping me shine a spotlight on small businesses that might otherwise never be shared.

1. Muli, Carlton

The D&K Live Seafood family of long-standing Footscray fame opened their first restaurant at the start of August on an unassuming Carlton street corner. The original seafood shop is known for its wide array of oysters in tanks, which you can order here with mignonette, yuzu granita, nam jim or lemon. They’re starting off with a short menu while they find their feet, putting their focus into shucking masterclasses, which are bookable by Instagram direct message. Your best bet at the moment is to pop in for a snack that pairs well with bubbles, like a smoked lobster and caviar roll, or kingfish sashimi with yuzu miso dressing and green chilli. Mains are limited to a handful of dishes for now, but include mixed seafood tapioca noodle soup (better known as banh canh cua, a nod to the family's Vietnamese heritage) and gochujang and soy-marinated blue swimmer crabs with rice. Dessert is about as unique as it gets: uni ice cream.

184A Rathdowne Street, Carlton, instagram.com/muli_melbourne

2. The African Calabash, Footscray

Melbourne has far more East African restaurants that West African, but The African Calabash is the best place in town to get a taste for the latter. Named after a hollowed-out bottle gourd used as a kitchen utensil, this Footscray spot has been operating quietly for just over a year now. Start with a classic West African comfort dish of goat pepper soup, or try egusi soup, made from the protein-rich seeds of a particular gourd that looks like a watermelon. It’s generally accompanied by dough-like pounded yam (rolled into a ball and broken apart with the fingers) or fufu, which is equally filling but made from cassava. Main courses include suya (spiced, skewered beef) or jollof tomato rice with whole deep-fried fish, grilled chicken or goat. You'll also find boiled potato and cassava leaves served with rice here. A note not to expect “Footscray cheap eats” – these are labour-intensive meals made with niche ingredients. Consider yourself lucky to access to them at all.

143 Nicholson Street, Footscray, theafricancalabash.com

3. Roslyn Thai Cafe, West Melbourne

This new Thai-inspired brunch cafe is at the top end of King Street, just past Flagstaff Gardens. "Mama Rin" (aka @cookwith_mamarin) opened her West Melbourne cafe in July after the success of her home-based business, which she started in 2020. There are various chiffon and shortcakes alongside traditional desserts with sticky rice and taro balls, but the savoury side truly shines. Think jok (Thai congee) with pork balls, flaky roti murtabak with curried mushrooms and satay, and caramelised pork belly with son-in-law eggs and rice. Order a house-blend tea or cold drink with ingredients such as foi thong golden egg threads and sala (a popular Thai syrup based on the salacca palm fruit).

477 King Street, West Melbourne, roslynthaicafe.com

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