There ‘s a lot of good food, drink and times to be had in Melbourne – and not to harp on about how Melbourne’s been voted Most Liveable City year after year – but the place has got it going on.
So while you’re visiting, why not chuck on a beanie and explore the institutions that Melbourne locals hold sacred? The worst that can happen is that you’ll be mistaken for an inner-city hipster.[related_articles]29829,19772,9124,13669[/related_articles]
Where: Various locations
People are obsessed with Readings – there’s even a cult following complete with printed tote bags – which has stores in Carlton, St Kilda, Hawthorn, Malvern and The State Library. This year it won Bookshop of the Year at the London Book Fair, and it’s not hard to see why. The stores are designed for long-term browsing – people sit reading in corners for hours, and others flick through new release vinyls. Readings also hosts regular events, such as launches, so keep your eyes peeled.
The aisles are wide and the shelves tall, so whatever your interests are, Readings has something for everyone.
#2 Polyester Records
Where: 387 Brunswick Street, Fitzroy
They should make a miniseries out of Polyester Records – it has the cool location, the music and the struggle, Empire Records style. It survived cassettes, CDs, DVDs and MP3s, downloads and streaming, Melbourne’s favourite record store is not just a store – they also host events and manage their own label.
If you’re not sure what you’re looking for, spin a few of your favourite tunes via the Polyester team and they’ll be able to find you something fresh you’ll love.
#3 Supper Inn
Where: 15 Celestial Ave, Melbourne CBD
This late night Chinese restaurant will take you up a laneway and down another, then up some stairs and into a clamouring room for possibly some of the best late-night dining you’ll ever taste. From the outside Supper Inn is a little ominous, but it’s a great chill-out point in between your evening of bar-hopping. If you so choose, you can even BYO to have with your sizzling pork, hotpots and spicy soups.
#4 Degraves Street
Where: Melbourne CBD
Degraves is a welcome mat for weary tourists – across the road from Flinders Street Station, it’s close to hotels, hostels, transport and nearby galleries. Most of all, it’s the coffee break you’re after and on Degraves you’ll certainly get it. Here, the tables heave with happy diners between their adventures.
#5 Rooftop Bar
Where: 252 Swanston Street, Melbourne CBD
If you’re into filtered snaps and hashtags, Rooftop Bar in Curtin House is an absolute must. You’ll get the best views here – but you’ll have to climb for it. Curtin House has a few good bars (like The Toff and Cookie), but ignore them for now, and keep climbing. It’ll feel never-ending, but you’ll get there – and the views are so worth it. In warmer months, the space transforms into the Rooftop Cinema, and is worth some forward planning to catch a flick.
#6 Waiters Club
Where: 20 Meyers Place, Melbourne CBD
Known for its ‘70s décor, this traditional Italian restaurant is close to some good bars and is a great pit stop before or after a show. The food is hearty and delicious and the place runs on efficient service, meaning you might not be charmed into buying a second bottle of wine or a serving of garlic bread, but it’s so good that you’ll want to order it anyway.
#7 Moroccan Soup Bar
Where: 183 St Georges Road, Fitzroy North
When Melburnians talk about their favourite places, Moroccan Soup Bar is high up on the list. Moroccan Soup Bar is a surprise to newcomers, because it’s popular (like, really popular) but not too fancy. The cheerful red and yellow walls, mismatched furniture and scattered decorations aren’t what people think of when they hear of a celebrated restaurant. Always packed, customers cheer for the famous chickpea bake, tabouleh and cauliflower stew. It’s a given you’ll come away with good memories and a happy belly.
#8 An AFL game at the Melbourne Cricket Ground
Where: Brunton Avenue, Richmond
Dubbed the ‘G, the MCG is an iconic 100,000 seating stadium, best known for hosting some of the greatest games of the aerial ping pong that defines winter – aka the AFL. If you get a chance, grab a ticket and some hot chips and snag a seat at a match for a truly spiritual experience. Games go for about two hours, so grab a team beanie, a pint and a Four ‘n’ Twenty beef pie to really get into the swing of things. You’ll need to choose a team to cheer, and here’s a warning: once you’ve chosen, you can’t go back.
Where: 213 Barkly Street, St Kilda
Having the best seafood in Melbourne is a disputed honour, but Claypots is an easy contender for numero uno. Be prepared to relax into Claypots’ live music as you slurp an oyster or dig your fork into a hearty platter of seafood paella. The produce comes straight from the market, so it couldn’t be fresher. Basic furniture, cozy atmosphere and quirky art all hint to what Claypots is about: good food, wine and chilled out afternoons.
#10 The Community Cup
Where: Elsternwick Oval
The leafy suburb of Elsternwick hosts the Reclink Community Cup, a much anticipated charity footy game beloved by locals and held annually in June. Kids, pets, drinking and streaking are all invited.
Scattered with food trucks, live music and celebrity appearances, the aim of the day is to stir community spirit. And win, of course. So grab tinny, hot chips and choose your team; the Rockdogs, made up of members of Melbourne’s band scene, or the Megahertz, made up of community radio staff from local stations PBS and 3RRR.
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Cara Gillespie is Melbourne-based writer and editor, and is completing her degree at RMIT. While planning her next big trip around Australia and beyond, she’s enjoying all the secret pockets Melbourne has up its sleeve.