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CBD bar crawl: Chinatown

You come for dumplings and duck, but you stay for the drinks. Here are the top spots for a stiff drink in Chinatown

Photograph: Graham Denholm

If you're in Chinatown, chances are you're filling up on dumpling and raring to go out for a night on the town. Don't leave yet – there are plenty of bars in the three-block stretch of Chinatown on Little Bourke Street. 

Been out for a boogie and need a refuelling? Find your closest late-night eatery, stat! You might also need a good spot for brekky tomorrow, so we'll just leave our guide to Melbourne's best breakfasts here. 

Chinatown bar crawl

Charlton's Bar

It's sticky, loud and we're not ever sure that the elevator is going to make it to the middle floor, but by god is this the best/worst karaoke and pool hall in the city. Unless you have been banned for life at least twice, you can't truly call yourself a fan.

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Melbourne

Croft Institute

Just getting to the Croft Institute feels like an adventure. Located at the bottom end of Croft Alley, the ground floor resembles a dark and eerie med-school classroom, upstairs is the waiting room and the top floor is styled after an old-fashioned high school gymnasium.

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Melbourne

Double Happiness

One of a pair of Chinese-themed bars, Double Happiness skillfully blends Communist-era kitsch with subdued old-world touches and a drinks menu that is short and to the point. 

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Melbourne
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The Exford Hotel

Guarding the gates to Chinatown, this heritage style pub with heavy wooden bar and regular comedy nights is just the ticket for when you need a tall, cold glass of cider and a seven-dollar pizza.

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Melbourne

Ferdydurke

Ferdydurke is a bar for the adult in you who demands a good drink, with a serve of grungy fun for your never-say-die side. With stencil art, an outdoor smoking deck and Vietnamese snacks at school lunch prices you could take it for a swish student joint, but the back bar holds its own against most cocktail dens in town.

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Melbourne

New Gold Mountain

Up above Double Happiness, New Gold Mountain is an emerald green and gold-beaded pocket rocket with a bit of a burlesque-parlour-meets-oriental-tea-house feel. They have a whole mess of interesting drinks here, best enjoyed with Billy Holiday and Frank Sinatra crooning through the speakers.

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Melbourne
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Section 8

It may technically boil down to a vacant lot in Chinatown, but Section 8 is loaded with booze, good-looking hipsters and enough intriguing graffiti to fill a whole other laneway. While some of the barstaff are more ornamental than skilled, the drinks selection is solid and ranges from top-shelf spirits to longnecks.

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Melbourne

Union Electric Bar

Look for the big shiny lightning bold pinpointed by light globes among Chinatown's dumpling signs, and you'll find Union Electric. Step through a small wooden door to be transported from Chinatown to a chilled out cocktail bar complete with a portrait of Bill Murray from Lost In Translation. "For relaxing times, drink Suntory Time."

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Melbourne

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