If you are without transport, hop on an 8 tram that goes up Swanston Street, from outside Flinders railway station/Federation Square. Alight at the Elgin Street/Lygon Street intersection after a c 20 minute journey.
You are virtually straight in to the huge array of restaurants, mostly Italian but more diversified as you get to the far end. I reckon it is about a 10 minute walk from one end of the restaurant district to the other - mostly you are walking on the pavement between the restaurant and the pavement tables. Nice ice cream parlours as well.
A good local, lack of tourists atmosphere when I went on a sunday lunchtime. Well worth a visit even if you only have time for a cappuccino or ice cream. If you are really pushed for time, I reckon you can get out to Lygon Street by tram and back to the city centre, having had a decent look round, all within 90 minutes.
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