Jess Lu
March 22, 2023

Melbourne Restaurants With The Best Ambiance

We’ve curated some of the best restaurants in Melbourne whose ambiances are unrivalled, with a wide enough array to suit any mood.

Interior shot of Hero @ ACMI

When we go out to eat we generally look for a restaurant that can give us the best experience overall. We want and expect the best food, best service and appropriate prices to elevate an eating experience. There’s the expectation of getting our money’s worth when we go out to eat, or else we’d be dining at home all the time! There’s places that do an unmatched meal but the overall experience turns out to be a flop, simply because the wrong music was on. Whether you’re in the mood for a chill evening out to eat midweek, or you want a fine-dining escape for a special occasion, the ambiance is often what can make or break a restaurant. In this list we’ve curated some of the best restaurants in Melbourne whose ambiances are unrivalled, with a wide enough array to suit whatever mood you’re in.

Panda Hot Pot

100 Victoria St, Carlton 3053

With an impressive entrance and even grander interior, Panda Hot Pot is a boisterous escape from a cold night as you are greeted by the monolithic dragon above, and take your place around the beautifully decorated wooden tables, surrounded in lush red and gold decor. The authentic Sichuan menu is full of exciting menu items, as you pick your soup base and food items. Panda Hot Pot took over the old Dracula’s site in 2019 and transformed it into a dining and theatre experience. That’s right: a free nightly show with your spicy hot pot! If chilli isn’t your thing, do not fear, as there’s a variety of soup bases to try - and you get to mix your own sauces to decide how much heat you can handle! A good feed is best shared with a group here, from around $25 per person. The hot pot here will be an experience that is unforgettable.


122 Russell Street, Melbourne 3000

While technically a wine bar, Embla is a gorgeous inner city ‘uncomplicated’ bar near Carlton. Its chic, rustic interior boasts a wood and cast iron decor, with a wine list that is bound to excite your taste buds. The food prices range from $7 - $74, but you can grab a decent sized meal for under $40. The place to go with friends to try, Embla is guaranteed to leave you wanting another glass of vino, as you listen to groovy tunes and chat to the calm and professional waiters. If you visit you have to try the braised ricotta stuffed zucchini flowers, and try one of the many tasty desserts. The atmosphere is jovial, excited and warm - although it could be too dark at night for sight impaired folks, the intimacy of the small restaurant is what makes it so special.

Hero @ ACMI

Federation Square, Melbourne VIC 3000

This swanky casual fine-dining restaurant offers a cool and collected interior as soon as you walk through the massive glass doors. The celebrity portraits that hang opposite the bar provide a relaxed atmos, as you take your chair and peruse the seasonal menu. The waiters become your friend as you dine - and you can ask them for the best recommendations and pairings for the meal. While the menu item prices range from $20-$50 the food is fresh and delicious and leaves you feeling nourished.. The Chef’s Hat awarded food is one of a kind. From pillowy potato bread to gnocchi to swordfish there’s something for everyone. The music is funky and trendy, but non-invasive, working well with the smartly designed acoustics lending itself to chit-chat and revelries. If you can’t fit another bite in, the bar is a comfortable and friendly place to sip on Italian wines, or well-made classic cocktails. Hero is a must try for fine-dining enthusiasts.

Chin Chin

125 Flinders Lane, Melbourne VIC 3000

Ten years on the hospitality grind and Chin Chin still remains a state favourite. You may have seen the long, long queues winding their way from the entrance of Chin Chin so we recommend planning in advance and booking. Once you get past the (justly) busy front of the restaurant you will find yourself in a comfy chair, in a very swanky venue. The menu has a deep and varied array of items to try, with something for the vegans and the vegetarians to fill up on too. You can have a good feed here with drinks for around $40, and you will go home dreaming of the food you just ate. The staff are all casually friendly and helpful, and the music and lighting will put you in a groovy mood - perfect for a date or before a night on the town. Chin Chin has become an institution in Melbourne, and is a must try if you’re visiting, or you haven’t had a chance to try!

This is but a small taster of the many delights that await your taste buds in Melbourne. The CBD holds many nooks and crannies that can open you up to an experience of a lifetime. (Here's just a few of them.) You’ll want to take an evening wandering the many alleyways that hold culinary discoveries, but these are a few good places to start.

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