Melbourne's pub scene is rich and varied, full of history, tradition and solid microbrews. From typical Aussie watering holes – often with beer gardens and old-school public bars to modern gastropubs, the list is endless. Here is our pick of old faithfuls.
Old school charm and a cosy, neighbourhood atmosphere is created by the three female owners who run The Fox Hotel with an easy but efficient hand. At ‘the Fox', classic dishes are given high-standard flair while the drinks menu features a mammoth range of interesting beers from local microbreweries and the far-flung corners of the globe.
Founded in 1866, The Napier is laden with Fitzroy Lions memorabilia and a cosy front bar for local chatter. The pub is home to the legendary ‘Bogan Burger', which consists of sirloin steak, tomatoes, beetroot, caramelised onions, pineapple, bacon, Swiss cheese, chicken schnitzel, potato cake and egg in Turkish bread. Total weight: a staggering 2.715 kilograms. We hear the secret to eating it is to cut it into quarters, with an equal measure of beetroot and egg in each.
Collingwood's big heart still beats for the historic Grace Darling Hotel; the pub and restaurant at which the suburb's famous football club was first formed. Constructed in 1854 the bluestone building is one of the inner-city's last standing examples of a gold rush era hotel. The restaurant has a relaxed yet vibrant ambience and Modern Australian dishes with a contemporary twist.
Nestled in leafy North Carlton, the Great Northern Hotel was founded in 1883 and has been one of Melbourne's most popular pubs since. With a huge decked beer garden, twenty beers on tap and classic pub fare with generous weekly deals and a kids menu, this one is a consistent crowd pleaser. The bar has over over a dozen taps, including a hard to find Hand Pump, and it often stocks Feral beer, which is arguably one of Australia's best.
A North Fitzroy icon, The Empress Hotel restaurant merges the boutique grunge of Fitzroy with old-world opulence. Set over two rooms, the front bar doubles as an eating hall and bar, serving classic pub fare and a plethora of wine and beer from across Australia and New Zealand. If live music is your thing, be sure to check out the band room, constantly buzzing with fledgling acts from all over the country.
Full of character and busy with locals, The Pinnacle is an enchanting old Victorian-style, slice of pie building on a busy corner of Fitzroy North. It has earned a reputation as a go to first date place, and the beer garden is perfect for whiling away a Sunday. The food is above your average pub grub, and the rockabilly tunes make a pleasant accompaniment.
Affectionately known as the beer-lovers gastropub, Richmond's The Royston Hotel places a special emphasis on microbrews. Reminiscent of a 1950's steakhouse, the old-school fit-out is a great play on the modern pub fare menu, seamlessly blending new and old. For the beer aficionado's, there's also a rotating selection of 10 featured microbrews, making each trip to the Royston a unique one.
Proving that one man's dive is another man's local, the long standing Percy's Bar is a Carlton institution. Named after four time premiership player and owner Peter "Percy" Jones (chances are he will be propped up at the bar), the joint is always full of locals and students after a cheap and cheerful meal. This no frills pub advertises its specials on its windows and doors, so diners can decide what they want to eat well before they even walk in.
Collingwood's "Gem" is aptly named - a treasured local pub, it wears its rock credentials on its sleeve and offers great Mediterranean-style restaurant grub in a variety of dining settings. The seasonal menu is a real crowd-pleaser with everything from fish stew to a classic parma on offer, but stop by on Sunday's for the Texas BBQ, grilling up brisket, pulled pork and more.
Striking a fine balance between pub and restaurant, The Grand Richmond is a stylish space with a chic lounge bar, booth seating and one of the best beer gardens in Melbourne. The kitchen is open seven days for lunch and dinner and pumps out some seriously good Italian fare. Be sure to hang around on the weekends, when DJ's spin groovy tunes throughout.