Time Out Food Awards 2013: People's Choice

Melbourne, you've spoken, and your favourite restaurant of 2013 is...

Winner: Chin Chin

Well Melbourne, it seems you still can’t get enough of the loud Thai dishes and neon bunnies at Chris Lucas’ Flinders Lane canteen. It’s been just over two years since Chin Chin changed the dining game with its placemat menus, good tunes and waiters in Lycra leggings, and the queues are as big as ever. And for good reason. It’s not hard to have a good time here. The joint is consistently pumping. Every table is packed with rowdy groups throwing down DIY spring rolls, nuclear grade jungle curries and sticky pork belly salads, and quenching the fire with boozy coconut ice slushies. They don’t shy away from big flavours here. It’s an acid-sugar-spice bonanza. Go for plenty of small things like explode-in-your-mouth flash fried son in law eggs with a dollop of chilli jam, and a cleansing plate of kingfish sashimi sluiced with lime juice, threads of chilli and kaffir lime leaf and cooling dabs of coconut cream. They’re not scared of a little controversy either. They’re known for showcasing some out-there art here, and just last month had a performance artist strut in naked and order an ice cream sundae. We can’t guarantee boobs on your visit, but we can promise a wait unless you get here early. We’re talking 6pm if not before. Many a friendship has hit the skids after one straggler has doomed the group to the waiting list. Although we’re not opposed to being relegated to Go Go bar downstairs. It’s in this black cavern that you can fire up your tastebuds up with chilli- and citrus-laced cocktails and plates of spicy wings. Chin Chin isn’t about fine dining. It’s about fun dining, and that, Melbourne is just the way you like it.

Runners Up


South Wharf

Restaurant titan Paul Mathis recently turned his mod-European Sharing House into a luminous emporium of Thai street food and Singha beers, which it turns out was a good idea. 



Brothers Mick and Will Balleau rode into the Mexican fray last year with nothing but six types of tacos, some Aztec décor and a ’64 Lincoln Continental. Now they’ve got a liquor license the good times are better than ever. 

Cumulus Inc.


It could be as simple as Ortiz anchovies on toast at the marble bar, a Champagne breakfast or a haunch of slow cooked lamb. This is chef Andrew McConnell’s idea of an anytime, easy-going bistro. And it’s ace.

Cutler and Co


Another McConnell legend, this is where the produce-loving chef really flexes some muscle and proves his mastery over food matter, producing deceptively simple plates with absolute finesse.

San Telmo


There’s a murder of cowhide coating the room, and more meat and malbec wines than any human should consume in a week. A great cocktail bar and breakfast empanadas to go seal the deal. 

Meatball and Wine Bar


A champion of the restaurant-bar hybrid, Meatball and Wine Bar has taken Melbourne by storm with meatballs, good tunes and a lot of testicular innuendo. 



Come for the Motown and cocktails and stay for a mind-blowing party of textures and flavours, gently coaxed from vegetables, beasts and flowers by soft-spoken French chef Nic Poelaert.

Stokehouse Café

St Kilda

After a serious renovation this year, it’s all beachy, breezy good times at Stokehouse Café. Load up with pork rolls, frosty beers and cocktails and watch the waves roll in.

Rockpool Bar and Grill


Neil Perry has a lot of venues in Crown (and Australia), but we can’t go past his temple of beef. Hit Rockpool for a serious steak fix, great wines and the best beef burger you’ll ever have the pleasure of destroying.


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First published on 16 Jul 2013. Updated on 13 Jun 2014.

By Time Out Melbourne editors   |  

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