With the sad news that Prahran restaurant Golda is closing in mid-2022, we thought it a good time to take a look at some of the best establishments serving Middle Eastern food in Melbourne.
Golda was a gem of a restaurant. Serving modern Israeli cuisine in the trendy inner-city suburb of Prahan, Golda opened to rave reviews.
Golda brought the melting pot of flavours and culture of Israel to Melbourne. Head Chef, Rotem Papo, and co-founder Adam Faigen, created dishes that were fresh, bold and bright and perfect for sharing.
Modern Israeli cuisine is an ever-evolving one, and one not restricted by national boundaries. It reflects the influence of different cultures that migrated from Europe, North Africa and the Middle East.
The use of vegetables, fresh herbs and spices defined Golda’s food and illustrated the variety of flavours and textures possible within a meal.
Golda’s menu was unashamedly nostalgic in bringing together the best of the past with the best of today, and was influenced by:
…the journey of our ancestors through the Mediterranean, North Africa, Balkans and Eastern Europe. Our love of food and hospitality has been nurtured by our grandmothers and we’ve given it our touch.
Looking for a great Lebanese Restaurant in Sydney? See our guide
In not renewing the lease on their Commercial Road premises, Golda’s closure is further reminder of how the pandemic has caused so much angst and insecurity for the hospitality industry. Great restaurants suffer from financial uncertainty just as much as mediocre ones.
Golda’s demise also means the loss of another high quality modern Middle Eastern restaurant in a city that needs more (in our opinion). We are unashamedly fans of this cuisine and the exciting flavour bursts that erupt when traditional dishes are given a modern mix of spices, fresh herbs and citrus.
Middle Eastern food is designed to be shared amongst family and friends and those looking to explore a wide breadth of flavours. The best eateries deliver delightful small plates, packed with zest, verve and freshness, in an environment of warmth and friendship.
Continue on to read our selection of the best Middle Eastern restaurants in Melbourne.
Middle Eastern favourites such as kebabs are great for feeding large numbers. See our Catering Food Ideas For Engagement Parties for more suggestions.
The Best Middle Eastern Food In Melbourne
21 Bond Street, Melbourne 300 Ph: (03) 9629 5900
Let me open by stating that Eatability was lucky to dine at Maha recently. What’s more, we are delighted to report that at Maha, the generosity of a fabled Arabian Nights banquet is embraced through a number of enticing set menu options.
Maha takes the rich, aromatic flavours of traditional Middle Eastern and Mediterranean dishes and reimagines them. All with a fine dining polish in a slick contemporary restaurant.
Here, the Soufra definitely lives up to its name – it is an Arabic word meaning a table full of food. It opens with the silkiest, most addictive Smoked Hummus this side of Istanbul. From then on, a stream of enticing dishes are delivered to the table.
Highlights, of which there are many, include a fabulously fragrant plate of White Beans and Shrimps paired with Dill and Fermented Tomato and succulent Lamb Kibbeh. The Slow Roasted Lamb Shoulder is rightly revered as a stand-out dish. Meltingly tender lamb falls apart under the press of a fork, its mildly gamey taste enhanced by Fermented Capsicum Burnt Butter.
The standard Soufra is $95pp and, happily, there is also a vegan version for the same price.
It’s a pretty substantial meal. However, if you’re especially hungry, there are supplementary dishes that you can add at every course. So if the Lamb Shoulder isn’t sufficient, you could add in Dry Aged Duck Breast, Batata Harra, Basil, Saffron and Peaches for $28pp.
Alternatively, you could lose yourself in the wonders of the Maha’s fully-blown Tasting Menu (again, vegans won’t go hungry) at $140pp.
Now that’s a very appealing idea for next time we are there…!
Greek food is a much-loved Mediterranean cuisine. Click here for some of the Best Greek Restaurants in Sydney.
504 Sydney Rd, Brunswick, Melbourne 3056 Ph: (03) 9380 8425
Tiba’s Lebanese Restaurant is a world away from Maha in terms of decor and glamour. However, food-wise, it can compete with any of the flasher joints in town.
Busy, chaotic and buzzing with the sounds of contented diners, this is a no frills place that prides itself on tasty Middle Eastern dishes, done really well.
The Hommos and Babaganouge Dips are both smooth and punchy. There are no dry, chalky Falafels here, only crunchy perfumed balls with a soft centre. Even something a simple as a Tabbouleh Salad is vivid with perfectly ripe tomato and bushels of fresh parsley.
Whilst Tiba’s is a dream dinner option for a vegan or vegetarian, carnivores will also leave happy. There are skewers of flame-licked Chicken or Lamb Kebabs, juicy Lamb Cutlets, piquant Lebanese Sausage and Lamb and Chicken Sharma redolent of the spice market in Marrakesh.
Apart from the delicious, authentic food, Tiba’s holds another major drawcard. It’s heart-warmingly budget-friendly. Despite its popularity, Tiba’s Lebanese Restaurant remains true to its roots and knocks out some of the best, cheapest Middle Eastern food in Melbourne.
Who doesn’t love a bowl of creamy hummus? It’s so loved here in Australia, you often find it on brekkie menus. See our post on the Best Breakfast Joints in Brisbane for proof.
217 Carlisle St, Balaclava, VIC, 3183 Ph: 9525 9127
Balaclava might seem like an unusual spot to find a cutting edge modern Turkish restaurant, but Tulum has been drawing locals and foodies alike for some time now. And with good reason.
In a cosmopolitan, food-obsessed city like Melbourne, presenting dishes that are new and exciting is a challenge. Yet Tulum is doing this and more.
In his New Anatolian Kitchen, Turkish born Chef/Owner Coskun Tulum is reworking Ottoman classics with Aussie ingredients and an innovative spin. Regional dishes are championed and flavour combinations are bright and exhilarating.
The Soufra To Share at $89 pp feature winners such as a delightful Lentil Kofte matched with a moreish Smoked Date Butter (Yum!) and an outstanding Baked Cumin Lamb Kibbeh Pie. Even a comparatively simple plate of Fava Beans Pate is elevated with Raki Pickled Grapes and a spiky Cumin Dressing.
The Taste of Tulum $110 pp offers a culinary tour of Turkey. Each of the 7 courses are named for a Turkish Province and highlight a dish associated with the area.
It’s a delicious way to experience the thrilling diversity of Turkish cuisine without leaving the wilds of Balaclava.
Finally, special mention has to go to the serving staff. When we ate at Tulum some time ago, we were struck by the friendly, knowledgable and attentive service. Having checked recent online reviews, it seems that this superb level of care is still a trademark of Tulum. How wonderful!
9/993 North Rod, Murrumbeena, VIC 3163 Ph: (03) 9570 1122
Let me confess that few things give my food-loving heart more pleasure than a couple of hours browsing and grazing at the fabulous Oasis Bakery.
The Makool family have created a one-stop shop for all aspects of Middle Eastern food in Melbourne. And all in an unassuming location, next to a busy road.
Oasis has everything. There’s a glorious shop complete with a deli, bakery and a diverse grocery section.
However, the jewel in the Oasis crown has to be the exhaustive spice range. If you want some saffron threads for a tagine, Oasis is the place to go. Looking for a dukkah to serve with oil and Lebanese bread? At Oasis the only issue you’ll have is deciding which one to choose.
Moreover, Oasis doesn’t limit itself solely to Middle Eastern flavourings. Their spice shelves also run from smokey Mexican chipotle through to warming Indian coriander. We recommend giving some of their signature spice blends a go sometime.
Once you’ve filled up your shopping trolley with stuffed vine leaves and za’zatar dusted flatbreads, head to the cafe. Oasis has a dining area churning out tempting fare from breakfast ’til early evening.
Or perhaps you’d rather have a Wrap? There are numerous options, including Chicken or Lamb Shawarma, Falafels and a plant-based Kafta for hungry vegans. The list goes on.
As if this isn’t enough, Oasis also offers a catering service if you’re hosting an event and runs a cooking school where you can learn to prepare Lebanese delicacies yourself.
Oasis has a further store at Fairfield and has plans to open another outpost in Mornington.