As many hungry travellers know, although Melbourne's CBD has a huge selection of great restaurants, it can be hard to find a table on a busy night without a booking or a strategy.
If you are organised enough to plan ahead, you'll secure a seat at some of the favourites but there are many that don't take bookings and you have to queue for a spot. It's easy to see which restaurants these are because the queues can stretch around the block as they do at Chin Chin.
I asked two Melbourne food experts, Andrew Prior from Queenie's Food Tours and Fiona Sweetman from Hidden Secret Tours for some insider tips on how to best find table on a busy dining night near the hotel where I was staying, Doubletree by Hilton in Flinders Street. They shared the restaurants where you are most likely to find a spot and some strategies for success.
The obvious tip is to dine early, but if you're looking for a seat on a busy weekend night think very early or late at restaurants where the kitchen stays open longer than the average.
Pastuso, ACDC Lane
This is the new Peruvian restaurant at the end of the laneway. Andrew says try the ceviche or the Feed Me menu. Fiona likes the prawn skewers with a pisco sour.
Neopoli, Russell Place
This restaurant has a high turnover which makes it easier to bag a spot. Order the beef meze and ask them to recommend a wine match. You can wait with a drink in Bar Ampere next door,
Super Normal, Flinders Lane
This is another restaurant from Andrew McConnell (Cutler & CO and Cumulus). Andrew recommends the New England lobster rolls and the Peking Duck. It's a good restaurant if you are on your own as half servings are available and the kitchen is open until late. Don't miss the peanut butter parfait.
Om Nom, Flinders Lane
A dessert bar in the lobby of Adelphi Hotel, which also serves entrees and mains. Andrew says try the dessert degustation for $55.
Izakaya Den, 114 Russel Street
The kitchen here is open until midnight. Fiona says keep going to find this one, you might think you are lost but you are not.
Coda, 141 Flinders Lane
Fiona's tip is that there could be room at the bar here. You'll need to head up the stairs to check out the crowd.
The Deanery, 13 Bligh Place
You'll be excited by their award winning wine cellar with 400 wines on the list at The Deanery. Sit on the mezzanine floor and order the slow cooked beef with root vegetables says Fiona.
Can't get a seat in the city?
Fiona says take a seat at the restaurant bar and browse your way through the bar snacks menu. If the sporting event has started, Fiona's tip is try The Arbory near Flinders Street Station. If the theatre has started, go to Fatto Bar and Cantina at 100 Saint Kilda Road and order the crab spaghettini.
Still looking for a feed?
It's time to hop into a taxi. Head to Smith Street in Collingwood where you'll find Le Ho Fook, Northern Light, St Crispin and Huxtables.
Disclaimer: Ed+bK was visiting Melbourne as a guest of Tourism Australia for #ATE15