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donovans melbourne salmon restaurant mealMelbourne'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 1892. It offers sandwiches, salads, hot dishes and wonderful cakes at reasonable prices.

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 wild pigeon soup and barbecue squab. Reservations are essential.

Dinner with a view is served up at Donovans, located right on the beach in St. Kilda. The extensive menu boasts options from both land and sea, including chilled spring pea soup with tea-smoked duck breast and oven-roasted cod. Several 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 (the simple menu includes a pasta or fish of the day, as well as a small selection of starters and desserts); at dinner, seasonal menus might feature dishes like pot roasted kid goat or crumbled veal cutlet with eggplant parmigiana.

Longrain offers a blend of Thai and Southern Chinese flavors in a chic CBD location. You can order off the a la carte menu -- which includes dishes like smoked turmeric chicken with roasted pepper relish or caramelized pork hock with chili vinegar and crisp garlic -- 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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