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Safari of Flavours: Best African Restaurant - Melbourne Uncovered

Embark on a Melbourne food safari with us, exploring the city's best African restaurants. Get ready to savour tantalising flavours that await

Safari of Flavours: Best African Restaurant - Melbourne 


G'day, intrepid gastronomes. Join me on a trip down under, not to gawk at adorable marsupials, but for a quest of something a touch more...spicy, wouldn't you say? Welcome to Melbourne - a city famed not just for its trams, trendy lanes, and Victorian-era architecture, but also for a culinary scene that bursts forth with as much diversity as a West African market at midday.

The aroma of barbecued meats, simmering stews, and fresh-baked flatbreads fills the air, reeling you in, seducing you with their exotic allure. Your gob waters at the tantalising scent of berbere, fenugreek, and a melee of 'other spices' - a beautiful chaos of flavours that's as bewitching as Africa itself.

They say the spirit of a place can be discovered in its tucker, and Melbourne, a crossroads of cultures, has somehow managed to capture the vibrant heart of Africa within its culinary scene. In a way, it’s like dining in Lagos or Accra, without the bustle and the heat.

Queen Victoria Summer Night Market

Amidst the array of African food, there's the comforting warmth of jollof rice - a staple that has more versions than Melbourne has coffee shops. Jollof, the heartthrob of West Africa, stirs up more debates than a cricket match against the Poms. Its hearty, tomato-based flavour, caressed by the fires of Scotch bonnets and nuanced with the right balance of herbs and spices, is a dish that captivates the palate and sparks lively conversation.

And let's not forget the rich tapestry that is Ethiopian food. Ah, the vibrant stews served atop the spongy injera, a food so exquisite that we’ve already dedicated an entire piece to the top Ethiopian restaurant in the city (cue the suspenseful music and a theatrical drum roll, please). To read that saga, just click here.

The essence of a culture is embodied in its cuisine. The resilience, the vibrancy, the community, and the soul of Africa have found a home in Melbourne, nestled in every bite of the city's African food scene. Every forkful is an encounter with a proud history, a shared humanity, and a symphony of flavours that traverse borders.

And so, as we embark on this gastronomic expedition, be ready to experience a culinary symphony where African beats merge with Aussie harmony to create a multicultural feast unlike any other. Hang onto your forks and spoons, mates. This journey through the best African restaurants in Melbourne is bound to be a ride as thrilling as a safari jeep darting across the Serengeti, only with less dust and more good tucker.

Press and fly

Choosing The Best African Restaurants in Melbourne

At The Culturlist, our Melbourne adventure took us on a whirlwind tour of East & West African cuisine. We savoured the earthy richness of egusi soup, relished the bold, berbere-infused Doro Wat served atop tangy injera, and discovered the surprising depth of toasted barley flour. The unique texture of okra soup challenged our perceptions, while the warm hospitality and rich tales spun around each dish elevated our dining experiences. Our curated list of Melbourne restaurants not only promises tantalising African flavours but also shares a piece of the continent's vibrant cultures.

The Culturlist's Best African Restaurants in Melbourne

Abyssinian Restaurant

Abyssinian Restaurant

Tucked away on Racecourse Road, Kensington, you'll find Abyssinian Restaurant, an intimate corner of Melbourne where Ethiopian and Eritrean flavours dance upon the palate. Greeted by vibrant orange walls adorned with traditional crafts, it's easy to lose oneself in the enchanting ambiance. The food, slow-cooked over hours, manifests a beautiful ballet between traditional cooking techniques and a complex medley of African ingredients, breathing life into dishes that mirror the heart and soul of Africa.

Why We Love It

What had us head over heels for Abyssinian was, without a doubt, the Chef's Platter. Picture an array of main dishes, each carrying its unique narrative, served on a canvas of Injera - a sourdough-risen Ethiopian pancake. It's an edible tapestry of flavours, allowing one to sample a bit of everything. Every mouthful told a tale, a delightful harmony of tastes which managed to be simultaneously diverse yet cohesive, showcasing the nuanced brilliance of African cuisine.

Why You Should Go

Abyssinian Restaurant is more than a dining experience - it's a journey. With the pulsating beats of African music serving as your backdrop, the place resonates with an irresistible vibe. Combine that with the fantastic service, and you have an atmosphere that's just as vibrant and inviting as the food on your plate. It's a place where you don't just feed your stomach, but also your soul, immersing yourself in a culture rich and beautiful. Simply put, Abyssinian Restaurant is not just about value for money; it's about valued experiences. Trust us, a night here is one you won't soon forget. Check out their website here.

Little Africa Restaurant

Little Africa Restaurant

Nestled in the heart of North Melbourne is Little Africa Restaurant, a beacon of Ethiopian culinary delights in a city of diverse cuisines. Walking into the cosy establishment feels akin to stepping into a cherished family home, one that is adorned with traditional artifacts, each narrating a piece of Ethiopia's rich history. The menu offers an array of homestyle curries and stews, a comforting echo of traditional Ethiopian kitchens.

Why We Love It

Little Africa's pièce de résistance is their Aletcha, a simmering ensemble of mixed vegetables, delicately spiced with garlic and seasonings. Each spoonful unravels the nuanced depth of this homely dish, a testament to the mastery of simple ingredients in the hands of those who respect the culinary traditions of their homeland. It's humble, it's comforting, and it's cooked with a love that's palpable with each mouthful.

Why You Should Go

Visiting Little Africa is not just about filling your belly. It's about embracing the communal spirit of Ethiopian culture, where food is shared, savoured, and celebrated. So, gather your mates, bring your family, and head down to this North Melbourne gem. As you eat communally from the same platter, you become part of a wider community, connected by the profound respect for food and the bonds it creates. Little Africa Restaurant, in its heartwarming simplicity, offers an enriching experience where you're not just dining – you're making memories.

Akwaaba Restaurant and Bar

Akwaaba Restaurant and Bar

Akwaaba Restaurant and Bar, perched on Fitzroy St, St Kilda, is a true embodiment of West African culinary exuberance. The fusion between traditional and modern cooking styles results in a menu that is as diverse as it is appetising. From tantalising meat, chicken, and fish dishes to intriguing vegetarian and vegan options, Akwaaba promises an unforgettable gastronomic journey.

Why We Love It

The pièce de résistance for us was undeniably the Suya Platter. This showcase of African-spiced grilled meats, served with golden plantain and a fresh salad, is a melody of flavours that sings to your taste buds. Each bite bursts with the smoky, subtly spicy tones of the well-seasoned meat, harmonised beautifully with the sweetness of the plantain.

Why You Should Go

Akwaaba Restaurant and Bar stands as a testament to the uniqueness and richness of West African cuisine. With food that surprises and delights in equal measure, dining here is an exploration of culinary diversity. Whether you're seeking a unique dining experience, value for money, or simply a journey into the heart of West Africa's food culture, Akwaaba has it all. A visit here is more than a meal - it's a flavourful story waiting to unfold. Check out their website here.

New Somali Kitchen

New Somali Kitchen

On Racecourse Rd, Flemington, you'll stumble upon a unique culinary gem - New Somali Kitchen. This family-owned establishment stands as a beacon of Somali culture and cuisine in Melbourne. Born from the longing for the flavours of home, Abdo and his family began their culinary journey, serving the burgeoning Somali community. Now, they offer Flemington a taste of traditional Somali dishes, with a playful Aussie touch, using 100% halal and the freshest ingredients.

Why We Love It

The standout dish for us was the NSK Classic - a delightful showcase of tender lamb seasoned with an array of Somali herbs and spices. Served atop fragrant rice with braised vegetables and fresh mixed leaves, each bite transported us to a place where Somali traditions and modern Aussie flavours coalesce into a tantalising symphony.

Why You Should Go

New Somali Kitchen presents a warm and welcoming atmosphere that complements its mouthwatering food. It's a place where every visitor is made to feel like an honoured guest at a Somali family feast. The combination of its comforting ambiance, exceptional service, and high-quality dishes makes it a culinary destination well worth exploring. The delectable dishes here are not merely meals, but an invitation to partake in the rich tapestry of Somali culture. It's a dining experience that will linger in your memory long after the last bite. Check out their website here.

Adonai Foods

Drummond St, Carlton, hides a vibrant Nigerian treasure - Adonai Restaurant, fondly referred to as 'Little Lagos in Carlton'. This bustling culinary haven invites you into the warm heart of Nigerian culture and cuisine, promising an authentic and rich dining experience that will transport you straight to West Africa.

Why We Love It

Our culinary adventure at Adonai was marked by the memorable Pando Yam served with Efo Egusi. The soft, velvety yam complemented by the nutty, spinach-filled Egusi soup, created a texture and flavour combination that was nothing short of magical. It’s a simple, traditional dish, yet it's powerfully representative of the rich and diverse Nigerian cuisine.

Why You Should Go

At Adonai, the robust flavours are as welcoming as the friendly staff. The space itself is clean and spacious, inviting relaxation and culinary exploration. With generous portions that offer fantastic value for money, the restaurant provides a comforting glimpse into Nigerian dining culture. Whether you're in for a quick bite or a leisurely meal, Adonai's blend of excellent food, amicable service, and a tranquil atmosphere offers an indulgent taste of Nigerian hospitality. It's more than just dining; it's a voyage to a warm, vibrant culinary landscape, right in the heart of Melbourne. Check out their website here.

Best African Restaurant in Melbourne For You

Melbourne, a city known for its vibrant culinary scene, hosts a gastronomic universe within its diverse neighbourhoods. In the heart of this universe, we found pockets of African delight, pulsating with the rhythm of distant drums and brimming with the warmth of far-off lands.

From Kensington to Flemington, St Kilda to Carlton, we feasted on a banquet of African cuisines. The intimate corners of Abyssinian Restaurant warmed us with rich Ethiopian and Eritrean flavours, while Little Africa delighted us with its comforting Aletcha. Our taste buds danced to the West African rhythm at Akwaaba Restaurant and Bar, savouring the smoky tones of the Suya platter. We found ourselves part of a wider community at New Somali Kitchen, sharing in the joy of their NSK Classic, and explored the vivid flavours of Nigeria at Adonai Restaurant.

Yet, as we relished the vibrancy of Melbourne's African food scene, we remembered the unique charm of Saba's Ethiopian Restaurant, a cherished spot in the heart of Melbourne's culinary tapestry. Though it sadly no longer opens its doors, its memory adds a bittersweet note to our gastronomic journey.

So, fellow food lovers, don't let this story be the end. Let it be the start of your own African culinary journey. Explore the hearty Ethiopian curries, the tender Somali lamb, the smoky Suya platters, and let the warm embrace of these restaurants transport you to a continent known for its good food, rich history, and communal dining. From the robust flavours of West Africa to the rich, other spices of Ethiopia, Melbourne's African restaurants offer a window into a world of culinary wonder.

Come, the feast awaits. Taste, experience, and create your own stories because after all, isn't that what the love of food is all about? In the words of a wise man, "Food may be essential as fuel for the body, but good food is fuel for the soul." Let these restaurants fuel your soul with their culinary artistry.

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