A coastal landscape dotted with wineries, cellar-doors and farm-gates; it’s no surprise that the Mornington Peninsula boasts some of the best restaurants in Victoria. Whether you’re after an intimate dinner, a unique fine-dining experience or a casual catch-up with friends, we’ve rounded up our insider picks of the best restaurants in the region. What’s more? You don’t need to book accommodation or rent an Airbnb to check them out – these dining destinations are little more than an hour’s drive from Melbourne.
Tedesca Osteria, Red Hill
Tedesca Osteria is an intimate 30-seat restaurant recently deemed Australia’s best, taking out the top spot in the Gourmet Traveller Restaurant Awards in 2022. Set on a biodynamic farm in Red Hill, owner and chef Brigitte Hafner creates a daily five-course set menu in response to the best ingredients available that day. A typical menu might consist of antipasto, hand-made pasta, freshly caught seafood, a slow-cooked meat course and dessert, prepared over the grill or in the old-school wood-fired oven. Co-owner James Broadway has curated a considered wine list of local and international drops to complement the offering, with filtered rainwater from the farm and Vietnamese coffee served as part of the meal. Spanning over five hours, a leisurely lunch at Tedesca is top of the bucket list for local foodies.
Bistro Elba, Sorrento
A relaxed European bistro on Sorrento’s main drag, Bistro Elba offers a sophisticated, seafood-focused menu inspired by Southern French cuisine. A 90-minute seating might start with freshly shucked oysters and twice-baked cheese soufflé, before moving on to aubergine Bonifacio, citrus and olive oil poached barramundi or a rustic corn-fed chicken and tarragon pie. For dessert, perhaps try the pear tarte tatin, the tarte au chocolate, or the classic vanilla crème brûlée. The light and breezy dining room makes it perfect for long lunches or romantic dinners, with half-price oysters between 5pm and 6pm each evening.
Donna Maria, Flinders
Located in the sleepy seaside town of Flinders, Donna Maria is a top-notch Italian joint serving up a seasonal menu of handmade pasta, kitchen garden produce, and fresh seafood caught down the road. Diners can take their pick from the a la carte menu – featuring fried zucchini flowers served with spanner crab, conchigline with green garden pesto, and roasted lamb backstrap – or opt for the 3- or 4-course banquet spanning snacks, entrees, mains and desserts. To finish, we can’t go past the traditional tiramisu or zesty lemon curd cannoli. As for drinks? An extensive Italian-focused wine and cocktail list will see you from aperitifs to digestifs, with a decent selection of local drops available. Expect a warm and cosy atmosphere, with red leather banquettes, decorative frosted glass, and eclectic art adorning the walls. Donna Maria is our top pick for an intimate date night.
Moke Dining, Flinders
A standalone restaurant in Flinders, Moke Dining is a culinary destination in and of itself. The set menu changes daily depending on what local produce head chef Michael Cole gets his hands on. Delicate dishes demonstrate Cole’s technical prowess in the kitchen, from butter beans with salmon caviar and yuzu butter sauce to the standout steak tartare. Open Thursday through Sunday, Moke Dining is the perfect spot to gather those closest to you and celebrate a special occasion.
Rare Hare, Merricks North
Located inside the grounds of Jackalope Hotel in Merricks North, Rare Hare is a casual cellar door offering relaxed indoor/outdoor dining with views across the vines. Here, vegetables take centre stage, with an a la carte menu showcasing Mornington Peninsula produce. To start, try the ever-popular potato bread or the chive waffle with horseradish creme fraiche and salmon roe. Next up, there’s heirloom tomatoes with whipped tofu, charred asparagus with sea herbs, and wood-fired Lebanese eggplant with red miso and furikake. For sweets, go for gold with the wood-fired chocolate chip cookie fresh from the oven and topped with vanilla ice cream.
Montalto, Red Hill South
As one of the Mornington Peninsula’s leading winery restaurants, Montalto in Red Hill South offers diners a true garden-to-plate experience. The set menu is by culinary Creative Director Matt Wilkinson and is designed to share, featuring estate-grown produce paired with the vineyard’s award-winning wines. The 4-course menu might include fish cooked over the wood-fired grill, smoked meats, pickled and charred vegetables, roasted roots, hand-made pasta, and seriously satisfying desserts. After your meal, you can head next door for a tasting or take a stroll through the vines along the sculpture trail.
Ouest France, Mornington
Located up the top end of Main Street in Mornington, Ouest France offers a gourmet, sit-down experience inspired by chef Cesar’s hometown in Brittany, France. Patrons can expect rustic, authentic coastal French decor and a menu featuring simple, delicious fare. Dishes are carefully prepared in the traditional French style – think eye fillet with pepper sauce, duck à l’Orange and fish with white butter sauce. Naturally, the dessert menu features crème brûlée. Here, the wine list is just as important as the food, boasting a diverse range of organic wines from boutique French makers.
Le Bouchon, Balnarring
In the rural town of Balnarring, Le Bouchon is a sophisticated French bistro combining country charm and classic French cuisine. Chef and Owner Stephane Saleres (ex-France-Soir in South Yarra) serves up an authentic menu including the usual favourites – soupe a l’oignon, escargot, steak tartare, crepes and crème brûlée. With its Parisian-chic interior and well-stocked bar, this is the perfect spot to book that special anniversary dinner or take your Euro-obsessed friend out for a boozy lunch.
Ten Minutes by Tractor, Main Ridge
As one of the Mornington Peninsula's most esteemed estates, Ten Minutes by Tractor is leading the way with its curation of culinary experiences and cool-climate wines. Incorporating an award-winning restaurant with an underground cellar, private dining rooms, an architectural cellar door, an expansive outdoor terrace, and a casual wine bar serving snacks and small plates, the experience is well worth the slow and winding drive into the hinterlands of Main Ridge. Head Chef Hayden Ellis – previously of Dinner by Heston and Vue de Monde – leads an innovative menu with a sustainable, low-waste philosophy. His three and five-course tasting menus celebrate produce pulled from the estate’s regenerative farm, foraged from the nearby coastline, or sourced from local suppliers.
Many Little Bar & Dining, Red Hill
Amongst a boutique strip of shops in leafy Red Hill, Many Little Bar & Dining is a sophisticated outpost from the team at Polperro Winery. A modern Sri Lankan menu showcases earthy Peninsula produce sourced from their farm down the road. Here, Executive Chef Gayan Pieris creates authentic cuisine that draws upon his Sri Lankan heritage, using specific origin-spices to recreate the flavours of his homeland. Choose from a five-stage Chef’s menu or dine a la carte with a selection of short eats and flavoursome feasts, with Polperro’s estate-grown wines to match.
Located down the beach end of Main Street, D.O.C is an institution serving up the best quality pizza Mornington has to offer. Choose from a classic menu of pizza, focaccia, and calzone, all made using simple, imported ingredients. If you’re in the mood for pasta, you can’t go past the lasagna, or build-your-own antipasto from the mozzarella bar if you’re feeling snackish. Expect the place to be packed every night of the week, with the lights turned low and the music loud.
Cptn Jacks, Somerville
You can’t get closer to the ocean than Cptn Jacks, literally on the water’s edge at Yaringa Boat Harbour in Somerville. Chef Matt Knoops curates a seasonal, seafood-centric menu of small plates – from Hiramasa Kingfish crudo to tuna tartare and hand-rolled gnocchi. Mains might include Bermagui swordfish with zucchini gazpacho, O’Connor butcher’s steak with smoked potato and peas, or Aylesbury duck leg pie with cauliflower and fine herbs. Here, dessert is no afterthought, with local-inspired sweets including the strawberry and white chocolate semifreddo made using Hawke’s Farm strawberries. Expect dishes as pretty as the nautical decor, with a vintage caravan serving drinks on the lawn throughout the summer months.
With its monochrome awning, gold signage and Parisian bistro chairs, Wildgrain has the look and feel of a sophisticated French brasserie. Owned by two ex-chefs, the restaurant combines casual charm with culinary excellence, making it the perfect destination for a multi-course dining experience or an elegant pre-or-post dinner drink. Head chef Leo Howard uses traditional techniques to transform simple ingredients, with seasonal produce cooked over coals or pickled and fermented to enhance the natural flavours. Offering bookings across lunch and dinner, Wildgrain is a contemporary dining destination and a welcoming speakeasy for night-time revellers wandering down from Main Street Mornington.
Yabby Lake, Tuerong
If you’re after a relaxed winery restaurant with water views, Yabby Lake Vineyard is the place to go. Drive up the dirt road and enter the timber-clad dining room, with views stretching across the lawn and over the vineyards to Port Phillip Bay. The estate specialises in single vineyard and single block wines thoughtfully paired with a two- and three-course lunch menu in the restaurant. With a dedicated vegetarian and vegan offering, this spot is sure to please everyone.
Barmah Park, Moorooduc
Set amongst rolling farmland, it’s easy to miss Barmah Park when travelling along the rural stretch of Moorooduc Highway. The picturesque property was once an old cattle station, until the first pinot gris and pinot noir vines were planted in 2001. Since then, the ten-acre estate has expanded to include a cellar door and an award-winning restaurant. Here, the pace is relaxed, the service polished, and the menu a celebration of the surrounding countryside, showcasing produce grown and gathered locally. It’s the perfect spot to savour a long lunch whilst remaining off the well-trodden tourist route and away from the crowds in town.
Red Gum BBQ, Red Hill
An American-style barbecue joint in Red Hill, Red Gum BBQ is all about southern-style hospitality. As you approach the giant shed, you’ll be greeted with the aroma of smoking meat and the sound of locals jovially tucking into good food, good beer, and good times. The setup is as authentic as it comes, and the smokers are fuelled by – you guessed it – redgum wood. Their beef brisket is a bestseller and new specials are pumped out weekly. Slather one of Red Gum’s homemade sauces on your plate, and you’re set for a quality feed. With an enormous bar and a huge array of local brews on tap, it’s the perfect spot to bend an elbow as well.