Melbourne - a city where graffiti is as much a staple as its iconic coffee culture, where one can savour four seasons in a day, and a beloved, humble dish holds a title as coveted as the AFL Premiership - the champion of the best chicken parma.
Yes, the chicken parma, or parmigiana for those inclined towards the Italian finesse. Melbourne's culinary pride and standard pub fare, the parma, is a breaded chicken schnitzel, typically topped with Napoli sauce, a slice of ham, melted cheese, and a sprig of fresh basil. It’s a gastronomic ballet that brings a world of textures and tastes onto a single plate.
This mouthwatering medley has taken Melbourne by storm, becoming as essential to the city's identity as its unpredictable weather or tram network. Like those trams, the chicken parma has its own route, weaving through the city, from hipster havens in Fitzroy to St Kilda's beachside bistros and sports-loving pubs in Richmond.
What makes the best chicken parma? A crisp, tender schnitzel? A tangy sauce? The right amount of melted cheese? Or the inclusion of that quintessential slice of ham? Perhaps. But, between you and me, the real winner marries these flavours into one cohesive, taste bud-tingling experience.
Melbourne’s best chicken parmas are a feast for the eyes as much as the stomach - a golden-brown chicken breast, a molten lava of cheese, an artful draping of ham, and a sprig of fresh basil claiming victory atop this gastronomic mountain.
In Melbourne, the chicken parma isn't just a dish; it's a testament to the city's diversity, its love for good food, and its charm. As you embark on this parma pilgrimage, remember that each bite isn't just a meal consumed, but a narrative of Melbourne’s culinary journey.
So, with an adventurous palate and an insatiable appetite, dive into this parma quest. Sample, savour, and crown your own parma champion. Just don’t forget, the real hero of this story is the city itself, in all its glorious, chicken parmigiana-loving splendor.
How We Choose The Best Parma in Melbourne
The Culturlist team embarks on an epicurean adventure, fueled by our commitment to sample every chicken parma in Melbourne. We set out on many a parma night, unfazed by the task at hand, ready to explore all establishments and uncover the city's best.
Our process is simple yet methodical. We're seeking a well-crafted parma, one that boasts a crispy free-range chicken breast, slathered generously with Napoli sauce and draped elegantly with double smoked ham, all buried under a heavenly layer of melting cheese. Each element is critical; each bite an opportunity for assessment.
Our deliberations are intense yet fun-filled. We consider the balance of flavours, the quality of ingredients, and even the atmosphere of the establishment. Our aim? To create a curated list of the best parmas in town, a veritable guide for the city’s food-loving explorers. At the end of the day, we believe that the journey is as enjoyable as the destination, and in this case, the destination is a plate of the finest chicken parma in Melbourne.
The Culturlist's Best Parma in Melbourne
The Birmingham Hotel
Meet the Birmingham Hotel, a seasoned veteran standing at the crossroads of Fitzroy and Collingwood since 1853. Amidst its charming blend of history and modernity, a culinary star shines bright - their legendary parma. This dish, a masterpiece featuring a crumbed chicken breast layered with leg ham, smothered in Napoli sauce, and veiled in melted cheese, is an enchanting combination of flavours and textures. Served with chips and salad, the parma at Birmingham Hotel transcends the realms of ordinary pub fare.
Why We're Hooked
What's so mesmerizing about Birmingham's parma? It could be the interplay of textures, the perfect symphony of flavours, or the sheer craftsmanship involved. This parma has been consistently named Melbourne’s best since 2016, even clinching the title of Australia’s best. Each bite is a testament to its acclaim, offering a gastronomic journey that celebrates the true essence of a parma. The magic lies in its balance, the harmony between the ingredients, transforming a classic pub dish into a standout culinary experience. It's this parma that has us returning, hooked, and craving more. Check out their website here.
Grace Darling Hotel
Perched in the heart of Collingwood, the Grace Darling Hotel is an ornate 19th-century pub that effortlessly marries local produce with indie vibes. An integral part of our best pubs in Collingwood list, it offers a parma that's as characterful as the hotel itself. This parma boasts a juicy chicken breast coupled with double smoked leg ham, all blanketed under torched mozzarella and house sugo. Add a side of hand-cut chips and salad, and you have a dish that's a testament to the pub's commitment to high-quality local produce.
Why We're Hooked
Grace Darling Hotel's parma leaves a lasting impression, partly due to its generous portions and spot-on flavours, but also because of its impressive value - particularly on their chicken parma night every Tuesday. The enticing harmony of the juicy chicken breast and the double smoked leg ham, juxtaposed with the creamy torched mozzarella and robust house sugo, creates an unrivaled flavour profile. This well-executed classic, served in an ambiance that is as inviting as its dish, makes this spot a must-visit for both parma lovers and bargain hunters alike. Check out their website here.
Located in Kensington, Hardimans Hotel is the quintessential local pub, boasting an art deco feel after its 2018 refurbishment, yet managing to retain its old-school charm. The highlight of their menu? The standout Chicken Parmigiana. This dish showcases a fusion of flavours, featuring smoked shaved ham, served alongside chips and a mixed leaf salad, brought together with a honey mustard vinaigrette. Each ingredient contributes to a parma that redefines pub food, showing a commitment to culinary artistry that's truly inspiring.
Why We're Hooked
What draws us to Hardimans parma? It's an intriguing blend of flavours and textures. The chicken parmigiana's succulence, the smoky whisper of the shaved ham, and the gentle kick of the honey mustard vinaigrette make each bite a culinary delight. And, for those seeking a unique spin on the traditional parma, they offer a tantalizing eggplant parma. These creative takes on a beloved classic, served in a pub that embodies warmth and conviviality, make Hardiman's Hotel a true gem in the Melbourne parma scene. Check out their website here.
The Exchange Hotel
The Exchange Hotel, situated in bustling Port Melbourne, serves up ambiance and culinary delights in equal measure. As a stylish pub-bistro that sports a relaxed vibe with a fireplace and leather sofas, it's no surprise that it also features on our best pubs in Port Melbourne list. The standout dish here is their hand-crumbed Chicken Parma, layered with smoked ham and blanketed in Napoli sauce and mozzarella. A side of slaw and fries round out this delectable offering, showing off the pub's knack for elevating traditional fare.
Why We're Hooked
The Exchange Hotel's Parma is a spectacle in itself, bursting with layers of flavour, and complemented by its picturesque location near the water. The crunch of the hand-crumbed chicken coupled with the smokiness of the ham, the tanginess of the Napoli, and the creamy mozzarella make for an unforgettable tasting experience. The added crunch of the slaw and the hearty fries adds another dimension to the meal. Its proximity to the waterfront, and the bonus of outdoor seating on the street, makes this spot an ideal destination for parma enthusiasts who enjoy good food with a view.
Located in North Melbourne, The Leveson is a marriage of tradition and modernity. Housed in a Victorian building with a sleek interior and courtyard, it's a place where gastropub fare meets DJ sets and acoustic music. Its culinary piece de resistance is the Chicken Parmigiana - a stellar rendition of the dish that starts with smoked ham, adds in Napoli sauce and mozzarella cheese, and is rounded out with chips and a leaf salad.
Why We're Hooked
The Leveson's Parma isn't just about the delicious layers of the chicken, ham, Napoli, and mozzarella - it's about the whole experience. The outstanding service and attention to detail, the welcoming atmosphere, and the perfect balance of flavours in their Parma make every visit memorable. The texture of the tender chicken, the smoky ham, and the creamy mozzarella intermingling with the tangy Napoli, all complemented by the crispy chips and fresh salad, makes this a dish worth returning for. This, combined with the exceptional service and atmosphere, makes The Leveson a standout spot in the Parma landscape of Melbourne.
The Park Hotel
The Park Hotel in Abbotsford exudes a mellow charm, harking back to traditional tavern aesthetics while offering hearty pub grub. It's a spot where pool tables meet covered beer gardens, where stories are swapped over pints, and where the parma reigns supreme. Their standout Chicken Parmigiana, served with a side of chips and a crisp cabbage salad, isn't just a dish; it's a homage to the comforting essence of pub food, a masterpiece that showcases their culinary prowess.
Why We're Hooked
The Park Hotel's parma is a delightful culinary experience, an embodiment of what makes pub grub so universally adored. The tender, richly flavoured chicken parmigiana, the crunch of the chips, and the refreshing lightness of the cabbage salad create a satisfying interplay of textures and tastes. But the magic doesn't stop at the plate. The laid-back atmosphere, complete with a covered beer garden and pool table, amplifies the enjoyment of this hearty dish, making it a showstopper in its own right. The Park Hotel is a place where the parma isn't just a meal; it's part of the pub's storytelling tapestry. Check out their website here.
The Best Parma in Melbourne For You
n our culinary sojourn through Melbourne, we've found that the humble parma – a delightful medley of chicken, smoked ham, Napoli sauce, and a layer of melted cheese – has been transformed into a gastronomic art form in the hands of skilled chefs.
From the award-winning Birmingham Hotel to the quaint The Leveson, each venue we visited has reimagined the standard pub fare of a chicken parma into something truly remarkable. Each bite, whether of the hand-crumbed goodness at The Exchange Hotel or the tantalizingly fresh creation at The Park Hotel, offered a moment of sheer culinary delight.
So venture out, fellow parma lovers. Explore these top spots, savour the best chicken parmas Melbourne has to offer, and enjoy the heartwarming atmosphere that accompanies this beloved dish. Here's to a journey of flavour and discovery. Your perfect parma awaits.