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flower drum melbourneMelbourne's restaurants are as diverse as its population, and food in Australia is very good with plentiful fresh produce and fish. Chinatown, in the city center, has a plethora of Asian restaurants, and Lygon Street in Carlton is lined with one Italian restaurant and cafe after another, creating a sidewalk buzz at night (though less so during the day). It's touristy but fun to walk past the eateries before choosing one that appears to be the most crowded with locals.

Hopetoun Tea Rooms, located in the Block Arcade off Collins Street, is an old-fashioned and legendary cafe that dates back to the late 19th century. It offers breakfast items as well as sandwiches, salads, hot dishes and wonderful cakes.

For a pricey but elegant meal, head to Flower Drum, which some have called Australia's best Chinese restaurant. Cantonese favorites include Peking duck and dim sum, alongside exotic fare such as pearl meat and barbecue squab. Reservations are essential.

Another great spot for a splurge is Donovans, located right on the beach in St. Kilda. You can enjoy the view as you enjoy selections from the extensive menu, which includes options from both land and sea. A few dishes are designed for two to share. For family travelers, there's a kids' menu as well.

Among the many Italian restaurants in Carlton, the intimate Scopri is a local favorite. Lunch is served on select weekdays, while dinner is available Tuesday through Saturday. The simple menu includes a fish of the day, as well as a small selection of starters, main dishes and desserts.

Longrain offers a blend of Southeast Asian flavors in a chic CBD location. You can order off the a la carte menu -- which includes dishes like barramundi with hot and sour broth or caramelized pork hock with chili vinegar -- or enjoy the banquet menu for the whole table if you're in a group of four or more. Arrive early, as reservations are only accepted on a limited basis.


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