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On a black table there is a steak, potatoes a parma and several glasses of wine
Photograph: Parker Blain

The 50 best pubs in Melbourne

Here's the lowdown on Melbourne's best pubs in every corner of this great drinking city

Written by
Jade Solomon
Written by
Fred Siggins
&
Lauren Dinse
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Trying to choose the 50 best pubs in Melbourne is like trying to choose the 50 best taco stands in Guadalajara or the 50 best sushi joints in Tokyo. That is, it’s near impossible because there are just so many damn good ones. From the casual local boozers to the world-class gastropubs and rocking live music venues, we believe that our great city boasts some of the best pub culture in the world outside the British Isles (you win Dublin, we guess), and we’ll gladly die on that hill. 

What makes each of these pubs great is variable - perhaps it is located in a historic building, offers entertainment such as live music and trivia, and serves up quality food that you want to keep coming back for. Perhaps it has a stellar selection of beers on tap, great service and a community feel, or maybe it is welcoming to your four-legged furry friends or kids. No matter what the reason, these 50 pubs are the ones that we rely on, that we depend on like a close mate, that we keep coming back to again and again for just one more frothy, and that we are so thankful to have in our neighbourhoods. 

Take your drinking to new heights at the best rooftop bars in Melbourne, or explore the best beer gardens across the city.  

Melbourne's best pubs

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Bars
  • Fitzroy

Winner of both our Best Casual Drinking Venue and People's Choice awards, Marquis of Lorne is numero uno – not just on this list but in the hearts and minds of pubgoers all over Melbourne. In Melbourne’s fast-paced hospo scene, it’s easy to take for granted the local haunts we frequent over the years and have come to know and love. Bright, shiny openings dominate our feeds, and, especially in the food space, there’s always somewhere new and compelling to visit. But some places seem to maintain an indistinguishable allure, bolstered by their persistence to keep things fresh and their loyal patrons happy – and judging by Marquis of Lorne’s consistently packed-out capacity since its 2014 refurbishment, it’s one of them.

Time Out Tip: If you're feeling adventurous on the vino front, ask the bar for a taste of the 1.5L magnum they're rotating that week. 

  • Bars
  • Carlton

They slipped in an excellent wine list, an exciting collection of craft brews and a bistro menu that wouldn’t look out of place on white linen with candlelight at the Lincoln, all while not diminishing the heart and soul of this pub - something often easier said than done. Punters have loved this pub since seemingly the beginning of time (having been established in 1854), and it doesn't look like they're going anywhere else, anytime soon. Fun fact: The Lincoln won our Pub of the Year award in 2017.

Time Out Tip: Every Sunday, The Lincoln dishes up what could be considered the best roast in Melbourne for $34. Make a booking online to nab a spot. 

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  • Bars
  • Fitzroy

Part of Andrew McConnell’s Trader House group, the Builders Arms is one of the more low-key venues in the Melbourne-only collection. The front bar still feels like the neighbourhood boozer it has been since 1853. You can order counter meals to eat at the high bar tables, but the real action is in the attached bistro, which has been through a few changes of its own over the years. The bistro menu is ‘just’ pub food in the same way that truffles are ‘just’ fungus. Start with some snacks that will ruin you for any future bar munchies. Whipped cod roe is silky smooth, scooped with toasty flatbread soldiers, while anchovy, tomato and aioli on toast provides a perfect creamy-salty bite.

Time Out Tip: Do not skip the fish pie.

  • Restaurants
  • Pub dining
  • Footscray
  • price 2 of 4

Here at the Victoria Hotel, the old suburban atmosphere has been preserved far better than most, with paint peeling off bricks, concrete floors and the occasional floral print rug straight out of 1972. Big panes of frosted glass overlook comfortable booths built of fresh wood, and the classic rock on the stereo completes the picture of a true local. To wet your weary whistle, the drinks list aims for simplicity and quality over choice and intrigue. As you'd expect, the food is top-notch. The mains section sees pub classics done with serious skill, and there are even a couple of thoughtful plant-based  options such as the tacquitas with salsa, sour cream and guac, and a genuinely delicious Middle Eastern-inspired eggplant salad. While the footy plays on the weekend, the Victoria is a lot more than just a sports pub.

Time Out Tip: The breakfast burger here will cure your hangover, and bonus points, it comes with a crisp potato cake inside.

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  • Bars
  • Brunswick

For years, the Retreat has been a champion of live music in Brunswick. This is not just a good pub with a band room attached; here the music is front and centre, spilling out onto the street from the inviting front bar. Later on in the evenings, this will turn into one of the better dance floors in the area as the bands leave and the younger folk take over to throw some shapes. And even though it’s pumping till 3am on the weekend, you won’t get hassled on this floor.

Time Out Tip: On Monday and Tuesday night, Pumpy's Pub Quiz guarantees a good time. Round up a crew of mates and book a table online.

The Royal Oak Hotel's website proudly proclaims that it has been serving Fitzroy since 1871, and we can see why it's stuck around. With great service who know their stuff and are happy make a recommendation or two, plus tip-top pub fare that's definitely not playing second fiddle to the brews, this boozer may be a little off the beaten track but it's well worth the stroll from nearby Fitzroy North village. While you can find crowd favourites such as chicken schnitzel and battered rocking with chips, the Royal Oak takes things up a notch too with barbeced lamb leg and babaganoush, grilled octopus and pork rilette with cornichons. Bring a friend and make a night of it.

Time Out Tip: If your pooch gets seperation anxiety when you go out for a bev, don't despair! You can bring your four-legged friend inside.

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The Royston
  • Bars
  • Richmond

The Royston was the first pub in Melbourne to put craft beer on all taps. Like, before it was even cool. It still has the air of a smooth older sibling that was mates with that band way before they were famous and doesn’t even try to rub it in. The beers on offer range from standard and reliable to weird and wonderful, and Melburnians just can't get enough. 

Time Out Tip: Meat lovers, try their Cut of the Week.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Bars
  • Breweries
  • Collingwood

When Molly Rose first opened its doors in 2019 in a Collingwood backstreet, northside craft beer lovers rejoiced. Though it’s not difficult to find the local brewer’s creations in your everyday bottle shop, there’s something to be said for drinking at the spot where all the beer alchemy takes place – from the fermentation process to that final frothy pour. Earlier this year in March, the brewery enticed locals further with an ambitious expansion, involving a takeover of the building next door, the add-on of a leafy beer garden and the hiring of creative new Thai-born chef, Ittichai Ngamtrairai. Yes, you should definitely stay for dinner.

Time Out Tip: Book a seat at the Chef's Table for an immersive beer-paired dining experience. It's fantastic. 

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  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Restaurants
  • British
  • North Melbourne
  • price 2 of 4

While pubs that start from scratch have a fresh slate to work upon, the newly renovated Courthouse Hotel has had big shoes to fill since it reopened: its own. Here’s a venue that proudly earned two hats back in its heyday, once one of the most popular watering holes for great gastropub fare in North Melbourne. While it’s suffered a chapter or two of neglect since, new owners have recently swooped in to restore the restaurant to its former glory. If the crowds flocking to its doors are anything to go by, they've succeeded with flying colours.

Time Out Tip: Order the housemade pie. The flavours rotate, but the deliciousness is consistent.

  • Restaurants
  • Albert Park

The relaunch of the Albert Park Hotel back in 2020 was good news for locals, and for those keen beans willing to travel from further afield for good drinks and particularly stand-out food. The Happy Valley restaurant offers some seriously tasty Cantonese food, such as the Sichuan-style bang bang chicken salad, the spicy crispy beef puffs and the Shandong fish dumplings. The fit-out and the booze on offer are both grand and ambitious too, making this more gastro-pub than pub, but when you're in Albert Park, do you really expect anything less?

Time Out Tip: This place is pretty (and fancy) enough for a special occasion, so consider it for your next birthday or anniversary dinner.

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  • Bars
  • Collingwood

Ah, the Fox. This happy little pub is our pick for the best family-friendly joint in town because you’ll always be welcomed with open arms. Hang out at the cosy front bar to enjoy great banter across the counter, a live blues, jazz, country or soul performance and a pint of the constantly changing craft taps pouring local craft heroes, with many more in the bottle. If the weather’s good, pop out the back with your pooch for a session in the sunny little courtyard. 

Time Out Tip: Date you brought not the best conversationalist? There's a stack of nostalgic board games here, so you can break the ice with a game of Scrabble. 

The Union Club Hotel
  • Bars
  • Fitzroy
  • price 1 of 4

The suburban backstreets of Fitzroy are riddled with character-filled old pubs – relics from its past as a working-class stronghold. Those days may be long gone, but the boozers are as vital as ever, and none more so than the Union. Traditional but not stodgy, it attracts a varied crowd of Fitzroy denizens. The covered garden that wraps around the rear of the building is always popular, whether there’s sunshine or rain falling on the roof. Back indoors, boasting a fireplace, well-loved couches made for slumping in and a pool table, it’s an excellent place to pass an evening when the weather outside is unfriendly.

Time Out Tip: Head upstairs to the rooftop deck in summer.

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  • Bars
  • Pubs
  • North Melbourne

In yet another winning pub revamp for 2023, the folks at Central Club Hotel have unveiled one of the most sustainable renovations to grace Melbourne's hospo scene. The venue has achieved an Aussie first for a commercial space, meeting all the requirements of the Passivhaus Standard by designing every element to be as energy-efficient as possible. But while you might marvel at the seamless integration of the 150-year-old building’s original jarrah wood in the new furniture and joinery housed within the barely touched Art Deco exterior, it’s the revived food and drinks offering that has our hearts aflutter.

Time Out Tip: The organic steaks prepared here from neighbouring butcher Hagen's are exceptional, so it's worth pairing that pint with a feast.

  • Bars
  • Pubs
  • South Melbourne

The Palace remains one of the brightest jewels in the crown of Melbourne pubdom. On every scale one could judge a pub, this place just about tops the list. From beer to sports, to food, to service, this unassuming little boozer has you covered. First and foremost, the Palace is made for regulars. It has a community atmosphere that’s hard to find these days, as most pubs have become either sad old boozers or too bright and trendy. Not so here, where the crowd is diverse in age and employment, kids are welcome, and the big shady beer garden is proudly pooch positive. 

Time Out Tip: There's also a Palace Hotel in Camberwell, so if you're meeting a friend make sure you send the right address.

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  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Bars
  • Pub dining
  • Melbourne

For those of us old enough to remember, it always felt fancy to get a pint at the European Bier Café. The multi-level pub housed many a liquor-fuelled adventure as groups of uni students and workers embarked on their own Euro trip across the beer taps, right in the heart of Exhibition Street. Though those hazy nights may be behind us (mostly), it’s hard not to feel a pang of nostalgia as you look at the familiar and beautifully preserved facade of the 1920s building, reimagined today as Morris House. But grab a friend on a day you’ve had a light lunch, and head in to sample the unexpected joys of new world-old world Melbourne. Once you sit down in one of the plush booths here, it’s honestly hard to leave.

Time Out Tip: Check the website to see who's performing in the NYC-style comedy basement downstairs. Dinner's good but dinner and a show are even better.

  • Bars
  • Pubs
  • St Kilda

The Esplanade Hotel in St Kilda, probably Melbourne’s most iconic pub, is far too big and sprawling to simply pop by for a pint. It's easy to spend all day at the Espy and go from front bar to restaurant, band room to basement bar, public bar to courtyard, and cocktail bar to balcony before realising it's going to be quite the stumble home. 

Time Out Tip: Line your belly pre-sesh with an old school pepperoni pizza from in-house Italian diner Louey's. It's super cheesy, super saucy, and – you guessed it – super tasty.

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  • Bars
  • Pub dining
  • Richmond

Richmond's Prince Alfred is the ultimate local pub, ticking all the boxes that a solid neighbourhood watering hole should. Now open seven days a week, you can get around nightly specials every day of the week. On Monday nights, you can score a half-price pizza; Tuesday's $25 steak night; Wednesday's all about $20 burgers (and they're big 'uns too); Thursday's the night for chicken parma lovers; and you can also get decent happy hour specials if you pop in on a weekday from 4pm until 6pm. are all about kicking off the week with a bargain counter meal, with mains going for just $15. The Prince Alfred also loves your doggo as much as you do, with the beer garden now fully accommodating four-legged friends.

Time Out Tip: If it's sunny, grab a spot in the leafy beer garden. The buzzy, feel-good vibes out here are contagious. 

  • Bars
  • Port Melbourne

If you can remember what fancy pub steakhouses were like in the 1980s, you know all about the Railway. The dining room sports maroon carpets, white paper-on-cloth covered tables, and ’70s house brick walls are crowded with framed netball heroes, jockey colours and Don Bradman driving for the boundary. It’s packed even on a Tuesday with an eclectic crowd of families next to groups of businessmen in shirtsleeves, next to tradies in hi-vis. 

Time Out Tip: Don't skip dessert. The sticky date pudding here is just too good, served with a scoop of vanilla ice cream. 

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  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Bars
  • Pubs
  • Prahran
  • price 1 of 4

Mt. Erica is doing something few have managed to pull off: it’s both a fun place to smash frothies with the lads, or to drink and eat really well no matter the size of your group. It'd be easy for these guys to grab a big commercial beer contract, stick a parma on the menu and be done with it. But this pub respects its clientele and wants to give them the beer, food, wine and service they deserve. Don't miss the great deals on offer weekly. You can get a sirloin steak with bearnaise sauce and chips for just $24 on a Tuesday night.

Time Out Tip: This place can get loud depending on where you sit, so you might as well get amongst it and watch the game.

  • Bars
  • Collingwood

On any given night at this Collingwood bluestone stalwart, punters of all sorts are sinking cheap pints, smashing pizzas and standing shoulder-to-shoulder watching gigs on the mezzanine level of the 350-person bandroom. All of this is thanks to a new direction that the Gaso took several years ago, to create a warm, welcoming environment that would reflect Melbourne’s incredibly diverse music scene, and the people who make up that ecosystem. 

Time Out Tip: The whole ceiling opens up here, meaning you can watch your fave local band play under the night sky. It's magic.

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  • Bars
  • Pubs
  • Abbotsford

Tucked away in the neighbourhood streets of Abbotsford just off of Johnston Street, the Retreat is a marvel of Victorian pub design. The original chandeliers and dark-turned wood survive, and stained glass decorates the windows, doors and the cabinet above the bar that follows its S-curve through the cosy front room. The Retreats serves up a real quality-without-pretence brand of kick-ass pubdom. 

Time Out Tip: There's a fairly generous function space upstairs with two fireplaces, state-of-the-art AV equipment and room for about 20 to 80 people. Great option for a work function! 

  • Bars
  • Pub dining
  • Prahran

Ask any Prahran local, and they’ll probably have a fond story for you about the Duck. The much-loved hotel has been servicing the neighbourhood since the late 1800s, with one of the few intact Victorian-era hotel facades remaining in the area. When it came time to its recent refurbishment, the team made sure to stay true to its rich 150-year-plus history, elevating its gastro-pub status with a new layout and refined menu. Head chef Ben Pigott offers up a classic brasserie menu, centred around the new wood-fired grill. 

Time Out Tip: This establishment is very accomodating for dietary requirements, so if you can't eat gluten, meat or dairy, don't fret. The kitchen will still whip you up a mean feed.

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  • Bars
  • Pubs
  • Abbotsford

The Carringbush Hotel stands out from a sea of other great pubs thanks to its inventive food offering. Tacos and nuggets, sushi rice bowls and lasagne, but here's the kicker: it's all vegetarian or vegan. Don't miss taco Tuesdays, where the tacos are on the cheaper side, and they're all vegan. You'll find wines on tap, ethical ceramics and plates, beers on tap rotating between local favourites and left-of-centre drops. 

Time Out Tip: The kitchen closes at 9pm sharp so head here for dinner a little earlier.

  • Bars
  • Coburg

It might look like a tiny German castle, or maybe an elaborate British firehouse, but inside the Woodlands Hotel it’s an all Victorian party, all the time. Seriously, these people are walking the walk when it comes to local produce. The tap list is primed with a variable selection and the bottled beer list widens its territory – it’s more Victorian than a VFL premiership in there. And you can bet your bootstraps that the local focus extends to the kitchen.

Time Out Tip: Head out into the beer garden to spot some cute doggos on weekends.

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The Drunken Poet
  • Bars
  • West Melbourne

Opposite Queen Victoria Market on Peel Street, the Drunken Poet is Melbourne’s cosiest little shebeen. This place pours some of the freshest pints of Guinness in the land, Vegemite-rich with living yeast, and a cracker Kilkenny to boot. Behind the bar you’ll usually find a friendly publican who’ll remember your name and provide service with a smile. 

Time Out Tip: Check out the portraits of famous authors lining the walls.

  • Bars
  • Craft beer
  • Fitzroy

In an age where revivals, renovations and glossy makeovers are making social climbers out of our bars and pubs, our love for the resistance grows, and nowhere do we love better for its rough edges than the Catfish in Fitzroy. It’s a rambling, weathered boozer that knows you care much more about what’s in your glass and what’s on the stage than whether or not the walls are millennial pink and if there’s a Montauk theme to the furnishings (there’s not, obviously). 

Time Out Tip: Get one of their famous philly cheesesteaks for dinner. 

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Bobbie Peels
  • Bars
  • North Melbourne

Formerly the Crimean, Bobbie Peels holds the spot of one of North Melbourne’s classic old corner pubs. With plenty of space for group bookings and events and flexible catering options, this is a great space for your next casual celebration. The menu changes often and features market specials, think mussels with white wine, grilled peaches with stracciatella or braised pork and apple cassoulet.

Time Out Tip: The bar boasts some interesting aged wines, so take a walk on the wild side and try something different here.

  • Bars
  • Carlton

The Curtin’s band room has a full schedule of local, national and international acts and there are free live gigs in the front bar every Saturday arvo. Gig posters cover the walls and band stickers plaster the bar fridges, which chill glasses for craft beer on tap like Brooklyn, Barrow Boys and Two Brothers. After takeovers at Huxtaburger and Bluebonnet BBQ, Sonny's have now set up a permanent fried chicken kitchen inside the Curtin. The chicken is brined here for 24 hours and you can order dark or white meat, wings or even a whole bird. 

Time Out Tip: Check out the upcoming gigs.

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Goldy's is a favourite hangout for Collingwood locals for many reasons. A friendly and welcoming atmosphere, sweet tunes, cool drinks and tasty food means that Goldy's is everything you want from a pub, and even then a little bit more. A slightly Japanese-leaning menu (on special at the time of writing) gives options beyond the classic parma and cheeseburger (don't worry they are still on offer too), so get your hands dirty on a Japanese chicken curry pie, fried yakisoba noodles or a tuna tataki onigiri kit. 

Time Out Tip: Bring a friend for a good old-fashioned game of pool!

Cherry Tree Hotel
  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Bars
  • Cremorne

The Cherry Tree is a local's delight – whether you live or work nearby, you'll be grateful to call this your neighbourhood pub. With everything you could want for a business lunch, a knock-off pot and an easy quick bite to eat. There's free trivia on Tuesday, $25 steak night on Thursday, and even $10 pizzas on Monday. You can't really go wrong!

Time Out Tip: Catch an open pic poetry show on a Saturday arvo. 

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The Napier Hotel
  • Bars
  • Fitzroy
  • price 1 of 4

At catty-corners with the Fitzroy Town Hall lies the almost equally venerable Napier Hotel. Founded in 1866, it’s an atmospheric old-style pub with its original high ceilings, decorative plasterwork and stained-glass windows intact. Animal heads stare down from the walls, and the shelves are loaded with statuettes, old toys and other tchotchkes accumulated over many years. The menu includes old favourites, interspersed with a couple of dishes you may not have ordered at your local pub before, such as Sichuan lamb ribs.

Time Out Tip: Get the peppery 'roo steak. It's famously good.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Bars
  • Fitzroy North

Whether you're looking for a beer garden, a spot of live music, or a place to watch the footy, your needs will be met at the Pinnacle. There are ten rotating taps serving up a selection of Australian and New Zealand craft beer and cocktails, from makers such as Stomping Ground, Garage Project, Molly Rose, and Cloud Cuckoo cocktails. The Pinnacle does $20 taco Tuesdays and $25 steak Thursdays, while also recognising the classic with parma Wednesdays where you can get your hands on a parma and pot of Pacific Ale for just $25 – and get front row seats to a night of amateur stand-up comedy from 8:30pm.

Time Out Tip: Check out the cheeky wall art in one of the bathrooms. You'll thank us later.

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  • Restaurants
  • South Melbourne

Located in South Melbourne, the Montague Hotel is a popular backstreet destination for wine, craft beer and top pub grub. Its corner aspect means it can fling open the doors on a sunny day allowing for some fresh air to accompany a long afternoon of drinking. If you're hankering for a quality counter meal, the bangers and mash here are rich, savoury and juicy with a heart-stopping amount of butter in the mash.

Time Out Tip: Share the grazing board for a cracking selection of cured meat and cheese.

The Corner Hotel
  • Bars
  • Pubs
  • Richmond

It’s the quintessential live music venue to all Gen Y kids, but it’s much more than that. The Corner Hotel is an iconic pub. Sometimes it smells funny and the carpets will always be sticky. You’ll see everyone from your dirty rocker types, bikers, hip-hoppers, groupies, uni students and young families with kids at the Corner, with the crowds spilling over into the rooftop bar at all times of the day and night. 

Time Out Tip: Get tickets to a show.

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  • Restaurants
  • Pub dining
  • Armadale

Standing tall on the corner of Orrong Road and High Street is Armadale's Orrong Hotel, a pub that's been pouring pints since 1875. Its 150-year (plus) tenure has earned it the status as one of the neighbourhood's most beloved watering holes. Inside, you'll find a relaxed bar and dining experience highlighted by warm timber interiors, bold patterned flooring, leather banquette seats, vintage artworks and ambient lighting. And like any good pub, Orrong offers a line-up of delicious weeknight specials. The menu here is filled with elevated pub classics, including Louisiana-style hot wings and a fresh burrata salad.

Time Out Tip: If you feel like travelling back in time to the '70s, Orrong does an authentic classic prawn cocktail with rose sauce. 

  • Bars
  • Fitzroy

While you'd be much more likely to see the crowd that frequents the Rochester at Meredith than at a metal gig, the attitude here is still far more Jack White than Jack Johnson. The Rochester is a pub that’s matured with the neighbourhood, as we all get a bit older and prefer a good chat and a craft beer to cheap pots and a night of blurred memories. But we still know how to party, and so does the Rochey. 

Time Out Tip: This old haunt has a thousand stories buzzing beneath its walls, so you might as well get chatting to the bartender to find out some fun facts.

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Town Hall Hotel: North Melbourne
  • Bars
  • North Melbourne

The Town Hall Hotel in North Melbourne is one of those brilliant little pubs that time has forgotten, left to marinate in nostalgia like a rockabilly grandparent. A touch on the shabby side, this is not the place for you if you like your pubs slick and shiny. But if you like a joint that's a bit rough around the edges and honest as the day is long, this little pub should be right up your alley.

Time Out Tip: Head in on Tuesday night from 8pm for trivia, which features a (somewhat bizarre) smoke machine encompassing your host. There are some great prizes to be won.

Junction Beer Hall and Wine Room
  • Bars
  • Newport

This chilled-out pub pours a top-notch range of craft beers with sours, IPAs, stouts and easy drinking ales. A sign proclaiming the love of Aussie beer offers suggestions from every state of our great, beer-soaked nation, and the immaculate chalkboard speaks to the heavy tap rotation. A leather-bound beer bible has bottles listed by style with full descriptions. 

Time Out Tip: Drop in at lunchtime on a Friday and you can get a very tasty hot roll and chips for just $15. 

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Terminus Hotel, North Fitzroy
  • Bars
  • Fitzroy North

You can tell a lot about a pub from its taps. The Terminus stocks such a stellar lineup of craft beers that as brew havens go, this pub hero is one of the best. A renovation in recent years saw the old pub split in two. The south side is a lean, clean beer bar full of shiny fixtures, blonde wood and a beer-friendly menu. The pub’s north end remains a stronghold for fans of the classic local.

Time Out Tip: If you're after a more elevated feed than your standard pub grub, make a booking at the secret steakhouse hidden within the building.

The Sherlock Holmes
  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Bars
  • Melbourne
  • price 1 of 4

As far as Ye Olde English pubs in Melbourne go, the Sherlock Holmes never misses a clue. Down a flight of steps from Queen Street, this cosy basement pub is encased in ancient brick and beams and is always a welcome retreat from the busy Melbourne streets. An excellent and often changing list of English pub ales dominate the taps, all served up with a chipper and helpful attitude. , but won’t think twice about reminding a cheeky punter to keep a civil tongue. The menu is mostly brown and grey foods, in the great British tradition. Bangers and mash, a pie of the day, corned beef with cabbage (our pick of the menu) and fish and chips are all on offer, and while they’re not exactly topping the charts in flair or flavour, these vittles are true to form for a traditional English pub, and will definitely warm you up on a cold night.

Time Out Tip: Book a table. This place can get busy!

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  • Music
  • Brunswick

This old-school boozer and major historic player in Melbourne's live music scene may no longer be a destination for heaving late-night raves, but its replacement is still worth checking out. The new Railway boasts a beer garden, multiple TVs to catch a game, and plenty of comfort food and brews to keep the good times rolling – and you can still catch a top-notch (vinyl-only) DJ on a Saturday night. On top of its appeal as a sports pub, the Railway also draws crowds with its pizzas, swanky dining alcoves and a large tapped beer collection. 

Time Out Tip: Don't let that famous 2016 drug bust put you off. This joint may have a hairy past, but the new Railway is nothing like the old one with new owners and a slick, fully renovated fit-out. 

The Standard
  • Bars
  • Fitzroy

The Standard Hotel has been facilitating the "fine art of good times" since 1865, meaning you know it's got it down to a tee. A local favourite, people flock here early in the week for a counter meal, a pint or two, and a chat with whoever pulls up next to them. Pretension is an anathema to the Standard, so much so that they even went through a period in the early ’90s when they refused to serve anyone in a suit. But fear not, all are now welcome with open arms. 

Time Out Tip: Get the parma. We reckon it's one of Melbourne's best.

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The Quiet Man Irish Pub
  • Bars
  • Kensington

The Quiet Man is something of an anomaly in a world of plastic-paddy pubs. Sure, they have Kilkenny and Guinness on tap. Setanta Sports lights up the big screen on Sundays and there’s also traditional and contemporary Irish music most nights. On Mondays, they even have set dancing classes so you can high-step it like you’re in steerage on the Titanic. But first and foremost, this is a good, solid, local where it’s far more about good craic than leprechaun tat. It's also an institution for the people of Flemington, who aren’t especially well serviced for pubs that aren’t brimming with pokies. Legitimately Irish bar staff will pull you a beer with a cheeky glint in their eye. It’s mostly the big names joining the Guinness – James Squire, Stella Artois and Heineken, but it’s a frosty pint from clean taps and that’s what counts.

Time Out Tip: Come for the food, stay for the banter. The Irish can be a very merry bunch!

  • Bars
  • Hawthorn

Standing proudly on the corner of Auburn Road and Victoria Street since 1888, the historic pub is a popular spot for drinks, pub grub and post-work gatherings. A recent multi-million dollar expansion boasts a new woodfire pizza bar, picnic tables, kids' play area and an extended sunny lawn area for family-friendly afternoons. The adjoining dining hub is a casual, laidback space for wining and dining, which includes a function space and sprawling deck to catch the rays during happy hour.

Time Out Tip: Looking for a budget-friendly meal? If you pop in on a Monday night, you can get a main that won't set you back more than $20.

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The Wesley Anne
  • Bars
  • Northcote

The venerable Wesley Anne is one of Melbourne’s oldest and prettiest pubs. Housed in a former church, its rough stone walls have seen generations of drinkers, musicians and sinners, in general, come and go. It’s divided into three parts with three very distinct characters: there’s the slightly Gothic main barroom, a warm and comfortable band room and the large, leafy beer garden. Pop into all three or settle into one; either way, you're in for a pleasant arvo or evening of drinking. 

Time Out Tip: If you're a fan of jazz, you'll be in good company at the Wesley. You can check out the current gig program here.

Great Northern Hotel
  • Bars
  • Carlton North

If footy is a religion, the Great Northern Hotel is its mega-church. Nestled away in the inner North, this sprawling sports pub has a well-earned reputation as the premier destination for locals and visitors alike to watch the game. The main dining area can feel like mission control during the crossover between dinnertime and the match, thanks to a massive, wall-spanning screen. Bodies spring up to roar success, while groans of despair rumble under the celebrations. If the main event isn’t to your liking, a bit of table real estate can be claimed in the pup-friendly beer garden. 

Time Out Tip: This pub knows its craft brews (and has plenty of good ones on tap) so make sure you grab a frosty pint or two.

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  • Bars
  • Pub dining
  • Fitzroy

Corner pub The Gertrude Hotel has re-opened its doors with brand-new owners and a fresh Italian-inspired makeover – just in time for 2024. The dream team behind the renovations, Iza Dawkins and Andy Lockyear, have completely transformed the historic watering hole to create a lighter, airier atmosphere, with dedicated spaces for dining and drinking woven throughout. It's a bold new chapter for The Gertrude, which has seen multiple owners and reinventions over the decades. The menu has also been blessed with a major glow-up, of course, with Dawkins and Lockyear dishing up Italian fare and gastropub classics to draw in the lunch crowds. Think housemade pasta, juicy heirloom tomato salads, fior di latte-topped parmas, steak and fancy dressed-up pizzas.

Time Out Tip: Check out the Drewery Bar upstairs if you're a history buff. Named after the pub's original moniker back in 1854, the moody space features the building's original bluestone (look carefully and you'll even spot newspaper from the 1850s wedged between the rocks!). 

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Bars
  • Pubs
  • Richmond

Union House is a reliable, low-key, no-fuss drinking hole for the lovely folk of Richmond. Long benches along the street outside offer plenty of opportunities for a beer/doggo combo, while footy on the screens inside keeps the punters entertained. Beer on tap skews crafty and fun, and there's a solid selection of pub grub on offer. Sitting here with the footy on, a cracking local beer in hand, kids running around the tables, rock on the radio, and the old-fashioned trams ding-dinging their way down Swan St, it's as if someone has distilled Melbourne into a single scene. And it's a scene we love, and one we're glad venues like Union House are keeping alive. 

Time Out Tip: The portion sizes for mains aren't scant here, so you might want to skip that late arvo snack.

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  • Bars
  • Collingwood

Decorated with skulls, red-tinted stage lights and skateboard decks, the Bendigo is presided over closely by the lords of hard rock. The Bendigo attracts those with tatts and piercings, who drink Jack Daniel's and who lost their hearing years ago from exposure to constant excessive volume levels. There's always something happening at this rowdy spot, so check it out next time you're looking to live a little on the wild side, and don't be scared, they won't bite (at least we don't think they will). 

Time Out Tip: There's free open mic comedy every Sunday, so if you fancy yourself the next Carl Barron, here's your chance to shine.

Kingston Hotel
  • Bars
  • Richmond

The Kingston Hotel has recently undergone a substantive renovation, ushering in a new era for the neighbourhood favourite. At the heart of the transformation is the new Marble and Pearl, an upscale dining room designed to show off premium Australian beef and seafood cooked over the charcoal Parrilla grill. A curated list of cocktails and wines from around the globe round out this elevated-pub experience.

Time Out Tip: This is one of the few places in Melbourne where you can get a delightful seafood chowder, so if you're a fan of the dish, make sure you try the Kingston's.

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